The Camelback Inn – The Last Stop on our Arizona AAA Five-Diamond Resort Tour
The Camelback Inn was created in 1936, and became Scottsdale, Arizona’s very first luxury resort.
The original resort cost $75,000 to build and accommodated 75 guests. The resort immediately attracted wealthy travelers who endured long train rides to Phoenix from the East Coast and Midwest, then another 12-mile trek down bumpy dirt roads to reach their Southwestern resort adventure. Horseback riding, desert exploration and other outdoor excursions introduced vacationers to the wonders of their secluded surroundings.
Today, after a $50 million face-lift in 2008, and enhancing the resort over the years with a 31,000 sq. ft spa, and a 36-hole championship golf course with spectacular 36,000 sq. ft. pueblo-styled Clubhouse, the Camelback Inn continues to dazzle people from around the world.
Another significant feather in the cap of the Camelback Inn is found in the fact that they have been a AAA Five-Diamond resort (34 years and counting) since the very beginning of this prestigious award. There are only three resorts in the whole United States who can make that claim. (Update 1/18/2013: The Camelback Inn lost their AAA Five-Diamond rating in 2013, and is now rated a AAA Four-Diamond hotel)
Here are a few of the highlights of our Camelback Inn experience:
- Immediately noticeable is the staff’s earnest desire to create a memorable experience, bending over backwards to create very important first impressions.
- To be completely forthright, we were somewhat disenchanted with our room’s furnishings and appointments as compared to other AAA Five-Diamond properties we have recently visited. Unfortunately, the Camelback Inn team also dropped the ball and completely left us out of a turn-down service on our first night. I have been fretting about whether to mention this, but we feel that it is important to be completely open about our experiences, be it good, bad, or indifferent. We would also want you to know that these things, in light of all the other splendors of this resort, would most definitely not keep us from a return visit. In just two short days, we grew to love this property. Fair enough?
- I was completely taken aback by their casual dining restaurant, Rita’s Kitchen. I went in expecting typical casual dining fare, but was dumbfounded when I experienced what was likely the best fish dish of my life! Carol’s enchiladas also left one mute with amazement. They were that good! More on Rita’s Kitchen in another post.
- We were hosted to a sensational wine-parring diner at the resort’s BLT Steakhouse. The food was so good we returned back, after checking out of the resort, to sample BLT’s “typical” dining fare. The food at BLT Steakhouse is remarkable. More on that in another post.
- The Camelback Spa! Boy, how to describe this amazing place. We spent a whole day in this spa. We enjoyed a workout in their well equipped gym, and then both retreated to the confines of our separate gendered facilities to enjoy total relaxation. Carol enjoyed a massage/wrap, while I greatly enjoyed a eucalyptus steam, and a shower with, I think, 13 shower heads. I also dipped my toes in the cold dunk tank, but the water was 56º so I chickened out from a full dunk. After 90 minutes of sheer relaxation, we headed out to our private deluxe cabana. Here, we were waited on hand and foot. We were greeted with a bowl of fresh fruit, had a refrigerator stocked with bottled water, were provided all day with chilled Aromatherapy face cloths to keep us cool from the hot 100º weather, and enjoyed a fabulous lunch from Sprouts, their in-house healthy fare restaurant. Our cabana provided us lots of privacy, two chairs, two lounge chairs, and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. I can certainly see a return day trip to this spa in our futures.
Overall, we had a very memorable experience at the Camelback Inn. If you can afford it, I would spring for one of their many suites over the standard casita guest rooms. Be that as it may, regardless of where you lodge at the Camelback Inn, we can assure you of a most memorable experience coupled with some of the best service we have experienced anywhere. In fact, we hope to return again soon!