Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

(Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to take advantage of the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain with a media discount that I received.  Everything is based on my own experience.)

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

After Attending the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference for work (and the MONTHS of planning before that), I decided that it would be great to have my husband and daughter fly out at the end of the week and enjoy the luxurious backdrop that the Camelback Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona offers. Since we love to travel and don’t always go back to the same spots, we put in a lot of effort to find getaways that are different from anything else that we could experience. The last time we were in Scottsdale, a little over a year ago, we celebrated my husband’s Global MBA graduation from Thunderbird School of Global Management with his parents and sister. We had a glorious stay at The Phoenician but wanted to try something different this time.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain


Address:  5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

Phone Number:  (480) 948-2100

Check In

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As soon as pull into the resort you realize you’re in for a new treat. You’re ushered out of your car so that you can check in at the front desk, a couple feet below. When you come back to your car, you’re asked to follow an attendant in a golf cart who gives you ice cold water and drives you to your parking spot.


Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain


There are 105 Casitas that give you a chance for private relaxation in with a beautiful backdrop. They range from 500 sqft to 1500 sqft and some include a separate seating area with a huge fireplace and private balcony (with doors leading from the living room and bedroom):

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

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Our Mountain Vista Suite included a huge spa tub with bath salts and a separate mosaic tiled shower as well as a kitchen alcove in the front with burners, a dishwasher, and bar area.

After parking, our attendant loaded us and our luggage into the golf cart and quickly whisked us to the front-door of our casita. It was dark when we arrived but we could see the city of Scottsdale illuminated with lights across. He opened our door and gave us a quick tour of the votive lit rooms softly flickering across the rooms. There was a bedroom (some casitas have two bedrooms) and he let us know we could contact the front-desk for turn down service for our 11 year old daughter. While we went to dinner we asked for the service and were pleased to come home to a neatly tucked away, plush bed, robe, and slippers in her size.

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Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain


Infinity and Satellite Pool Options

We stayed for three nights which was wonderful to really have enough time to unwind and enjoy the resort and city. Although the website mentioned kids being able to use the main infinity edge pool on Mondays through Thursdays, we were relegated to one of the satellite pools for guests with children under 15 years old. It was handled politely and we enjoyed the pools just as much, if not more. They were stocked with coolers of ice cold water, plush towels, and pool lounge mats and other floaties. We were able to get drinks from the bar that were golf carted up to us (15 minutes to 25 minutes wait time.) They also called for a golf cart to whisk us up the hill and the pool was maybe 50 feet from our casita. There are two satellite pools in addition to the infinity pool by the main resort and spa. We had great views from our pool too, no complaints.

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Ranked “Top 5 Hotel Spas in Continental U.S.” and “Top Spas Overall” in 2014 by Travel + Leisure’s World Best Awards, I was not disappointed during my fabulous spa experience. Always enjoying trying something new, I poured over the spa menu with a lot of deliberation. A lot of the treatments were Asian-inspired and took place in twelve indoor and outdoor treatment rooms. There is also a zen meditation garden where you can lay outside on loungers and listen to a babbling fountain. I received the following treatment which was amazing, especially after standing and greeting 8,000 women at the conference.

luk pra kope

Meaning “to massage with medicinal herbs,” luk pra kope begins with soaking your feet in a fresh lime and essential-oil bath. After your feet are cooled and exfoliated with fine, white Thai clay and fresh lime, a blend of steamy, organically grown herbs is rolled, massaged and pressed into tight muscles and onto problem areas and energy pathways. Along with Thai massage, the heated compress soothes sore and aching muscles, enhances circulation, reduces joint stiffness and refreshes the skin.

After my relaxation I soaked in their hot tub and sauna. In addition to their spa, there is also a fitness center, lap pool, tennis courts.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

Dining Options

Taste the excitement of elements’ award-winning cuisine by Food Network star Chef Beau MacMillan. Savor the sunset at jade bar or on elements dining deck, and enjoy The Pour – raising the bar for Scottsdale happy hour. More details in a future blog post.

Special Offers

The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain offers a range of deals to enjoy their luxurious package deals. I definitely recommend checking them out before you book.

Social Media

Connect with Sanctuary on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Disclaimer:  Although I received three complimentary nights at the Buena Vista Palace, I was not asked to write any posts and all opinions are definitely my own.

Last week my family and I visited Orlando, Florida to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday! (Happy birthday Gigi!) During this time we had the incredible opportunity to stay at the beautiful Buena Vista Palace, an official Downtown Disney Hotel. Recently awarded Trip Advisor’s “2013 Certificate of Excellence” I could easily see why.

Just 20 minutes from downtown Orlando and the Orlando International Airport (MCO), Buena Vista Palace is situated on 27 beautifully landscaped acres in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, it’s literally across the street from Downtown Disney. We didn’t even have time to take a refreshing dip in one of three outdoor pools. A little bird also told me the entire pool area is about to undergo a renovation at the end of 2013 and can only imagine how incredible it will look afterwards! If you’re overwhelmed by all the Disney adventures and need a quick break you can also schedule a soothing treatment at their full-service Kay Casperson Spa & Boutique.




Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

When you’re ready to book your trip make sure you check out all their current specials and packages! I saw a lot of great deals when I was looking at Orlando hotels. At check-in I received an exclusive guide for hotel guests, with discounts and specials for area dining, shopping and entertainment including the LEGO store, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants, and hotel Disney character buffet! What’s also convenient is the Disney store located in the hotel that allows you to purchase your tickets before heading to the park (avoiding additional lines…look for a post on Disney coming soon!)

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Buena Vista Palace Downtown Disney Orlando Hotel

Family Suite 2 Queens

Located adjacent to the main tower of the resort, we stayed in a beautiful one-bedroom suite with two private balconies, two bathrooms, and plenty of room for a family on the go!

JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa

If you’re looking for a fantastic spa day in which you literally leave your stress at the door, the JW Marriott San Antonio’s beautiful Lantana Spa is for you. Of course everything is already bigger in Texas, and at 26,000-square-foot facility, the Lantana Spa is the largest in Texas!

JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio

Upon arrival at Lantana Spa you will be given a piece of red ribbon for the “Seven Knots Ritual,” to release worries and stress and prepare you for the spa experience. In the past the Curanderos, Native American healer, suggest tying seven knots in the ribbon, one for each worry, the seventh knot creating a complete circle. Before starting your spa journey you leave the knots in a bowl with everyone else’s worries.

JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio

Spa treatments are extensive and heavenly and don’t end when the appointment does! Check out the entire list of treatments here and get the latest monthly specials. There are wonderful massages, facials, body treatments, treatments for two, and nail options. I had an organic massage that not only released the tension in my back but also made feel as if I could breathe more deeply afterwards!

JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio

I was guided by the attendant to the locker room where I could change into a luxurious fluffy robe.

JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio

Then I refreshed myself with some chilled cucumber infused water and meander from their beautiful outdoor, spa guest only pool, steam room, sauna, and maternity friendly inhalation room.

JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio

In addition to spa treatments, the resort also offers fitness classes and equipment. Complimentary day use with spa treatment!

After a fabulous treatment and possible workout, stop by Replenish Spa Bistro for a locally sourced meal filled with organic ingredients. Check out their latest specials here. During our tour of the facilities, we enjoyed lunch at the Bistro and sampled the amazing hummus, addicting guacamole, and rich corn chowder with jumbo lump crab.

JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio

Not ready to leave? Don’t! You can also book the treatment as part of a vacation package! Stay a couple days at the beautiful resort (more details to come in future posts!) Check out their latest spa vacation packages here a perfect treat for out of towners or staycationers alike.

And any product used during the services could be purchased in the spa’s boutique afterwards, prime for the holiday seasons coming up soon!

I would definitely take advantage of the spa treatment and make a day of it.

  • Arrive early to complete paperwork and start the relaxation!
  • Stop in their sauna or steam room to loosen up before your treatment
  • Bring a swim suit to enjoy cocktails and get some sun, safely at a cabana or lounging in the beautiful pool
  • Grab something to eat on your way out to prolong the relaxing journey
JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio
JW Marriott San Antonio Lantana Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio


Disclaimer: I was invited to the JW Marriott San Antonio to experience their Lantana Spa and Replenish Spa Bistro. All opinions expressed here are my own.

The Phoenician Resort | Scottsdale, AZ

It seems counterintuitive that going on vacation requires a lot of work. Unfortunately, most of the time, it does. You have to research the best places to stay, things in the area to do, great places to eat. And if it’s an out of town vacation, you want to get the best bang for your buck, do everything you possibly can, and avoid at all costs the feeling of regret when you come home because you missed something. At least that’s how I normally vacation. Not so relaxing.

Enter The Phoenician. After reading what I’m about to describe, you might not believe me…but this oasis in the Arizona dessert exists! It offers everything anyone could ever want. And it’s even more fabulous in person!

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The Phoenician

6000 East Camelback Road

Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (map)

Phone: (480) 941-8200

Location, Location, Location

Literally at the base of Camelback Mountain, this beautiful, AAA Five Diamond Resort was only 15 minutes from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and minutes from Scottsdale’s shopping districts, it was easy to get onto major highways (when we headed to my husband’s graduation).

Home Suite Home

There are almost 650 guest rooms available that come in three different types:

  • Guest Rooms – centrally located, fantastic views, large living space, beautiful restrooms
  • Casitas – doorstep parking and private entrances
  • Canyon Suites – the boutique resort within a resort, offering a secluded pool and cabanas

We stayed in the beautiful, Grand Deluxe Room, and were not disappointed! Slippers were laid out for us by the beds, three chocolates laid on the pillows every night and every morning we enjoyed a beautiful view of the pool from our private terrace.

The closets had an easy to use safe, plenty of wooden hangers, a shoe horn, luggage rack, and two fluffy robes, waiting to envelope me. So I slipped on my robe and my slippers and prepared for a relaxing soak in the massive tub (separate from the equally massive shower.)

Oh, and did I mention that housekeeping comes TWICE a day, once in the morning and once in the evening to turn down your sheets.

Fabulous Phoenician Features!

There is so much information to offer about the Phoenician, it’s hard to mention it all. (So I’ll be doing a series of posts!) Here are some fabulous features we enjoyed this past weekend:

  • A dazzling $25 million dollar art collection. Many of the late Allan Houser’s life-size Native American bronze sculptures, along with photorealist waterscapes by David Kessler, as well as rare European paintings and antiques, are prominently displayed throughout the resort.

  • A two-acre Cactus Garden. Stretching along the northern edge of the resort’s grounds at the base of Camelback Mountain, this scenic spot showcases 250 varieties of cacti and succulents. Also home to several “local residents,” including cottontail rabbits, chuckwalla, chipmunks and quail.

Phoenician Fun!

  • Grape & Grain. Retail shop offers complimentary cocktail mixology class on Fridays and Saturdays at 3pm.
  • Hoppy Hour. Kids can stop by the Funicians Club from 4-5pm daily and pick up a special gift!
  • Activities at The Park. Cnter includes a movie theatre, air hockey, foosball, board games, video games, basketball court and covered playground.
  • Koi Fish Feeding. A guest favorite, meet at the Necklace Lake Lagoon daily at 9:30am sharp as schools of exotic Koi fish surface for food.

Poolside at the Phoenician

  • Endless water. The resort boasts NINE refreshing pools and a 165-foot waterslide. The Canyon Suites offers an “edgeless” oval swimming pool covering more than 2,800 square feet and filled with nearly 74,000 gallons of water. The resort’s “signature” pool with The Phoenician logo in the center is inlaid with hand-crafted iridescent mother of pearl tiles.
  • Poolside luxury. Private cabanas feature ceiling fans, telephone, computer hook up, daily newspaper, robes upon request, lip balm, fresh fruit, bottled water, two reserved lounge chairs and two teak sitting chairs and a love seat. Cabanas at the Canyon Pool measure 200 square feet and feature a bathroom with a shower and amenities.
  • Necklace Lake Lagoon. This environmentally designed lagoon is woven throughout the casita area to create humidity for tropical plants and serve as a recirculation system for watering the resort’s landscaping. The lagoon is the home for multi-colored Koi (Japanese carp), Tilapia (small fish from Africa,) Striped Bass, Red Eared Turtles, Canadian Geese and wild Mallards.

Dining In

Although I’ll be featuring the restaurants in another post, here are some teasers about the Phoenician I found tasty!

  • Oenophiles take note: The resort employs one of only two master sommeliers in the state of Arizona.
  • Afternoon Tea. The resort’s daily afternoon tea service features “Oberon” patterned Wedgwood china. (More to come!!)

  • Toasted to perfection. In-Room Dining delivers a toaster to the room (instead of toasting breads beforehand) to ensure warmth.
  • In-house pasta and bake shops. The resort’s pasta and bake shops prepare fresh pasta, pastries and candies, as well as breads and rolls daily. Many of the resort’s artisan breads are available for retail purchase.
  • Evening treats. Belgian chocolates are provided every evening during turndown.

Disclaimer: The Phoenician offered me a media rate which I gladly accepted. All my high opinions of The Phoenician are my own.

15 Daily Deal Travel Sites

15 Daily Deal Travel Sites

Is your New Year’s resolution to see the world? Are you obsessed with daily deal sites? In no particular order are 15 daily deal travel websites! Many are invitation only…fear not, I have an invite for you! Click on the image or link in the “About” section. About half are dedicated to just traveling deals (including packages, hotels, airfare, etc.) while others are subsets of larger daily deal sites. Definitely keep an eye out on your favorites!

Best Travel Deal Websites

Sign up and become a member of the sites today! I bookmark them all and open all the sites in the same browser window at the same time. I can quickly scan each site’s page for the latest and great deals. Many sites offer significant savings and packages. Always look at the company’s website to make sure you’re getting the best deals possible!!

P.S. And once you know where you’re headed, sign up for all the local daily deals for that city so you can be armed with Groupons once you arrive at your final destination!

15 Daily Deal Travel Sites

P.P.S I have included the Twitter and Facebook pages…you’ll want to start following them to get additional deals and offers made only to those loyal fans!


Travel Deal Site About Twitter Facebook
Travel Deal websites - Amazon Local Subscribe for email alerts for the cities you’re travelling to! @amazonlocal Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Groupon Getaways From the people that brought you Groupon local deals, tons of great travel deals, some lasting 24 hours, some for a couple of days! @GrouponGetaways None
Travel Deal websites - Living Social Escapes Living Social Escapes @LivingSocialESC Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Eversave Travel Saves Division of the Eversave deal site offering travel and getaway deals! Click on the “Travel Saves” link. @TravelSaves Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - KGB Deals Click on the “Destinations” tab for additional travel deals! @kgbdeals_usa Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Urban Delight In addition to local daily deals, Urban Dealight also offers “Departures” for travel deals! @urbandealight Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Jetsetter Check out Jet Setter and check out their flash sales for your dream destination! @jetsetterdotcom Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Haute Look Getaways In addition to all the sales at Haute Look, click on the Getaways tab for fabulous vacations! @hautelook Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Rue La La Rue La La also offers “Travel” offers, destination packages, and hotel deals! @RueLaLa Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Snique Away Another private sale site dedicated to travel deals, Snique Away rocks (and looks great too!) @sniqueAway Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Tablet Hotels Another private sale site, use this link to sign up for fabulous travel experiences. @tabletHotels Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Trip Alertz Trip Alertz offers beautiful destination packages! Sign up and find your dream vacay! @tripAlertz Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Vacationist Vacationist is a partnership if Luxury Link and Travel & Leisure to offer deeply discount trips people actually want to take! @goVacationist Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Voyage Prive Voyage Prive is another private membership site that you can sign up for with the link! @VoyagePriveUS Become a Fan
Travel Deal websites - Ideeli Ideeli has their own Travel section where you can check out some more great deals! @ideeli Become a Fan