The gorgeously mild Phoenix winter draws visitors from around the U.S. and Canada to the Valley for more than 6 months a year. However, during the blazing hot summer, those visitors leave and good luck convincing many new visitors to brave the scorching temperatures.
To try and keep some business, hotels in the Valley drop their room rates by 60 percent and sometimes even more. A room that during the winter would cost you a good chunk of your monthly salary suddenly enters a reasonable range – for a luxury hotel.
If that isn’t enough to entice both locals and budget-seeking visitors, many hotels offer special summer deals on top of the reduced prices that can get you meal credits, discounted spa days and other amenities. Don’t forget you’re also not paying for the electric bill, so crank up the a/c and enjoy some comfortable temperatures.
We know you’re interested, so let’s take a look at what you’ll need to pay to stay at the Valley’s most exclusive resorts. Note that these prices don’t include taxes and fees. However, you can often get even lower prices than what we’ve listed by haggling a bit, or with a third-party option like an AAA or AARP membership.
One more caveat: Most ultra upscale resorts, including most of the ones we list, have facility (resort) fees and charge for parking. Both can get pretty pricey and add exponentially to these special rates. Check out what’s included before booking. Also find out what you’re entitled to through the resort fee. It may be as meaningless as “use of the pool facilities and grounds.”
Some include free parking and a waived fee. In those cases, it could be the best bargain, even if the stated price is a little more. If these things are not included, you can always call and see if they’ll throw them in. Some will; many won’t. Just don’t think you can argue about it at check in or, worse, during check out. The time to get a deal for any hotel is before you book.
1. The Phoenician
When you think of luxury resorts in the Valley, The Phoenician probably comes in near the top of the list. This iconic hostelry is actually part of what Starwood calls “The Luxury Collection,” in case you need to be hit over the head with the atmosphere they’re going for. From the richly appointed rooms to a raft of high-end restaurants, along with golf, tennis and extensive pool facilities for both adults and kids, its claims of luxury are fairly well justified.
During the winter, the least expensive rooms at this up-scale resort run around $479. During the summer, that figure drops to $219, and you can drop it further to an almost frugal $169 if you take advantage of the SUMMER promo code. That’s a whopping 75% savings over winter rates.
Typically, the more exclusive Canyon Suites at The Phoenician offer even steeper summer deals, however, it’s closed until August 12 for renovations. Check back after that date for any grand-reopening opportunities.
2. Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa
Neither a church, a home for endangered animals nor a reference to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain offers a unique getaway with 53 surrounding acres of beautiful Arizona landscape and plenty of windows and outdoor activities to soak it in. And, as the name implies, it’s not AT Camelback Mountain, it’s actually quite a ways UP that geologic landmark, affording incredible daytime views, lingering sunsets to watch and distant twinkling city lights after dark.
During the summer months, prices for a basic room (basic being relative) drop from $500+ to $209. In addition, there are some summer-specific packages, such as the “Arizona Residents 2016” package that saves you another 20% on a two-night stay, and the “Summer of Love” package, which includes a one-night stay, dinner for two at their glass-fronted Elements restaurant, topped off by champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Sanctuary is also a true spa resort, offering award-winning signature treatments onsite.
3. Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
Situated at Troon North, sited at the desert-adjacent far northeast corner of the Valley, Four Seasons Scottsdale reflects its southwestern desert aesthetic with adobe-inspired rooms, and decor highlighted with bright colors and rustic accents. However, you’ll still find Four Seasons’ trademark luxury touches like poolside cabanas, high-end dining and drinking, plus access to golf, biking, horseback riding and more.
For summer, the resort offers three “value periods”: July 5-14, July 18-28 and August 7-18. During these date ranges, you’ll get the lowest prices available, such as a Desert Garden Casita Room for just $179 a night (down from $449 during winter months). If you’re planning on staying more than one night, be sure to take advantage of the Experience More package that includes a $100 resort credit. For a staycation that involves lounging at the pool, the Sleep and Swim Package nets you a pool cabana ($100-a-day value) and refreshments. You can also take a look at the spa packages and family activity options.
4. Royal Palms Resort and Spa
Built in 1929 as a home for New York industrialist Delos Willard Cooke and converted into a hotel in 1948, the Royal Palms Resort holds closely to the original home’s beautiful Spanish Revival architecture and decoration. While not a tiny resort, the villa walls and lush landscape give it a sense of closeness and intimacy. That’s reflected in the resort’s heavy focus on romance, and not surprisingly it’s often been voted the Valley’s best option for a honeymoon. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or just the fact that summer’s half over, it’s a good option for a couple staycation.
For a basic stay during the summer, rooms start at $199 vs. $429 at other times of the year. For a longer stay, check out the Third Night Complimentary package that gives you the third night free with any two-night stay, plus $25 resort credit for T. Cook’s restaurant and $25 for the Alvadora Spa. For a romantic getaway, check out the Royal Romance, Via Cappello Dining or Juliet Experience packages.
5. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
If your idea of a good vacation revolves around the pool, or you have kids or pets, the Fairmont deserves a serious look. It features 6 (!) pools, that range from intimate to spots to mingle. Families will particularly enjoy Sunset Beach, which includes waterslides, a 9,000-square-foot, white-sand beach; dine-in movies; mermaids; and Saturday-night fireworks. For the golfer in the family, you can access two championship-level golf courses including the home in winter of the Phoenix Waste Management Open. And for the kids, Fairmont offers the Trailblazers Family Adventure Center that keeps them entertained with games, crafts, swimming, sports and more.
To fully enjoy the beach pool, look at the Sip, Savor & Sand package. Valid from June to the beginning of September, a standard Fairmont room costs $179 (down from $319), and you’ll additionally receive a $50 resort credit and access to the Sunset Beach pool.
6. Arizona Biltmore
Built in 1929, the Biltmore’s gilded guest list has included history Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Irving Berlin and just about every president in office since it opened. (All but one, actually. Can you guess which president hasn’t visited?) Today, as a Waldorf Astoria Resort, it defines old-school luxury with exclusive restaurants including a High Tea room off the lobby, a spa and salon, tennis and 8 (!!) pools, including one with a 92-foot water slide tucked into outdoor decor that was designed by famed Valley resident Frank Lloyd Wright. If blue tile and peace and quiet are more your style, don’t miss the Catalina pool. It was Marilyn’s fave.
For the summer months, the Biltmore breaks out its Arizona Resident Offer. For $215 a night, you receive a Classic room ($349 in winter), plus breakfast, lunch and dinner for two, 20% off spa services, self-parking ($12/night), no daily resort charge ($28/night) and a $25 daily resort credit. You simply need to show proof of Arizona residency. Tip: There are also very low prices for room-only specials. Be sure to negotiate for a recently remodeled room; some of those “Classic” ones are too historically accurate.
If you’re traveling from out of town, you can get the same deal with the Summer All-Inclusive Package. Both offers can be applied to the more expensive Cottages for a little more.
7. Boulders Resort & Spa
Nestled next to a massive 12 million-year-old boulder formation, the Boulders Resort & Spa offers a mix of luxury and awe-inspiring outdoor activities. Stay in one of the newly renovated Southwest-style rooms, eat at the restaurant or a café, and then head out for a round of golf or hike/climb the boulders. (If you are doing this in summer, however, start early and finish by 8 or 9 a.m. and take plenty of water.) The resort also features a full spa and fitness room, four pools and tennis courts.
Like most upscale resorts, they tack on a resort fee, but this one includes a little more. One fun included perk is transportation on the golf carts that zip around the large property. Just hop on and the driver will take you to any onsite destination or even to The Pedregal shopping area “next door.” If you don’t see a cart, call for a pickup.
During summer, try the Best of Boulders package. Rooms start at $134 ($349 in winter), and include a $50 daily resort credit. Boulders also features a range of golf and spa packages, if those activities are of special interest.
Want to know more about Phoenix’s amazing hotels and resorts? See 10 of the best luxury hotels in the Valley. And if you like history, check out 10 historic Valley hotels you won’t want to miss.
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org