My wife and I are redeeming points to go to Phoenix from December 29th to Jan. 4th. I have read some conflicting reviews on which property to stay at. We have it narrowed down the the Desert Ridge, Camelback, and the Buttes. Any clearcut winner. I am leaning towards Camelback but I did see that some people dinged the guest room quality. Can anyone else attest to that?
Out of 311 traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.com about the Camelback, 86% rated their experience as Very Good or Excellent. OK - there is one solitary Insider who gave a thumbs-down about the room at Camelback and went so far as to cancel spa appointments commenting more like a Best Western and not worth the price paid.
Who does that at a JW? If your room doesn't meet expectations, call the Front Desk and request a change/upgrade. Camelback is in the desert. The resort is stunning and responds to the environment resembling an adobe village of mostly single-story structures. I'm not an expert on Best Western, but have never seen a strip motel like Camelback.
Since you are Platinum Elite, why not call Platinum prior to arrival to request a room that is close to the amenities that you will use most often. Enjoying an early morning swim and a late evening dip after a day of sightseeing, I always request a room steps from the pool.
I am currently staying at Canyon Villas adjacent to the JW Desert Ridge. We have access to all of the facilities at the JW, and it is a beautiful property. There is a lazy river in addition to several pools, two golf courses, a great spa with well-equipped workout facilities, and the Desert Ridge shopping center is about a mile away. The area is very peaceful and scenic. We enjoyed excellent meals at Tuscany (try the veal ravioli) and the Meritage steak house at JW. (Both also accept the dinner for 2 certificates). I don't know what the rooms are like at the hotel, but the facilities are outstanding. My wife really enjoyed her massage and facial at the spa, and I have heard others comment that the spa is one of the nicest they have ever visited.
I have not stayed at Camelback, but would highly recommend the JW. For a few dollars or points more, you may want to consider staying at the Canyon Villas. In addition to the extra space and kitchen, parking is free. I hope you enjoy your trip.
I just got back from a 6 night conference/liesure stay at Desert Ridge followed by a 5 night solo getaway at Camelback. Both are wonderful places and your choice should be guided by the experience you are seeking.
My take was:
Desert Ridge: Beautiful property with many amenities including the lazy river, Roy's on site, spa etc. Negatives - can be overun with conference crowds and expensive to taxi anywhere. Pluses - great spa and spa restaurant, spacious and high energy, great staff
Camelback: The casita experience makes you feel like you live there. Intimate and totally relaxing place to chill, great place to get away from it all. Charming! Negatives: Jackrabbit pool small and attracts the kiddies (get around that by going to the spa pool) Pluses: Lots nearby, live music nightly, fab spa and upscale old arizona resort atmosphere.
Would go back to either in a heartbeat but will always have a special place for Camelback!
Mornings sums things up very well, I think, with regard to choosing between Desert Ridge and the JW Camelback Inn. One thing I would add is that if it is just you and your wife, I think you'd like Camelback Inn much better, as there is a wave pool or somthing of the kind at Desert Ridge, and it attracts a lot of families. Camelback Inn is certainly family-friendly, but it also has a more sophisticataed atmosphere, and, as Mornings says, a more intimate feel. The other big advantage of Camelback is the proximity to everything in Scottsdale, vs the relative isolation of the spot where Desert Ridge is located. I've stayed three different times at Camelback Inn and the views and service are great; and when I leave the property I rarely have to get on a freeway or face a long drive to get to where I'm going because the hotel is in the middle of Scottsdale. The Inn is, in fact, one of my favorite resort properties in North America, so I may also be a bit biased in its favor!
While it is pretty difficult to get into Canyon Villas (or any MVCI timeshare) on MR points in platinum season, it's a much greater way to enjoy a holiday in Phoenix. You have full use of the TS facilites and pools but also the JW Desert Ridge facilities and you have about 1250 sq ft with two balconies (2 bdrm suites) to enjoy.
If you are renting you get daily maid service but if it's a TS exchange you have to make your own beds. And there's no room service. But catching the shuttle over to the hotel is easier than the 15 minute walk, and when there you can charge everything back to your room and earn points just like at the hotel.
I stayed a week in the hotel - got a nice room facing the pool and included the Cloud room lounge, but it wasn't nearly as spacious as Canyon Villas. I bought a week there in 2002 when they included 500,000 MR points for the $17,000 purchase (Platinum) with the intention to go there EOY and trade for 110,000 points in between - that's worked just as planned for me to help replenish MR points we've used. Owners can split the 2 bdrm suite into two parts if you don't need all that space and can stay for an extra week for only $75 ... and earn 14 night 'stays' in the process. Parking is free just outside the door.
Let your interests and inclinations guide your choice. We have stayed at a number of the resorts in the Phoenix - Tucson area. We just came back from a week at the Camelback, and it is definitely our top choice because of the desert experience. The casitas are charming,and we enjoyed having our breakfast on the patio while the Gamble quail and jackrabbits foraged nearby. The property is beautifully maintained, and we have nothing but rave reviews for the staff. We personally preferred the old Chapparal restaurant to the new BLT Steakhouse. The food was great at both, but the latter was incredibly noisy. In hindsight, we should have dined outside there. The El Chorro restaurant nearby is currently closed for renovation, but is supposed to reopen by the time you visit. We always spent our first and last nights in Phoenix there in order to enjoy the evening desert experience between the Camelback and Mummy mountains.
I live in Scottsdale, so I haven't stayed at either the JW at Desert Ridge or Camelback, but I've spent time at both properties (played golf at both several times, attended conference at Camelback, had dinner at BLT Steak at Camelback...)
I concur with the previous assessment that Desert Ridge is more family oriented, and that Camelback is probably the better choice for couples. Also, Desert Ridge is fairly new and therefore very similar to many other JW Marriotts (Palm Desert and Orlando come to mind). Camelback is an older resort and feels more genuine in the desert. It also went through a giant remodeling project a couple of years ago, so I would discount any opinions from before that (very different experience.)
If you want to play golf, both resorts offer good courses, but I'd give the edge to Wildfire at Desert Ridge. The courses are designed by Palmer and Faldo; both classic desert golf courses distinguished by the fact that the Faldo course is slightly shorter but has 108(!) sand traps to make up for it. The Camelback courses are more traditional in style (less desert, more trees).
Finally, I recommend dinner at BLT Steak - I went there a couple of months ago and had a great experience with a nice view of Camelback Mountain.
I have been going to JW Camelback in Scottsdale for over 25 years and never was disappointed. They have a wonderful spa, golf, and tennis and fun activities for children. The rooms are older but most have a back door with patio. Because I stay at 100’s of hotels, I always go back this one when I want to relax and have fun…. In addition, for food, the Sunday buffet is the best in town. One thing, not sure if this is a category 6, maybe 7 or 8. The other choice is the Butts althought the rooms are tired.
I have stayed at all of the hotels you are considering. My favorite BY FAR is Camelback Inn. We have been going there for over 20 years and it just keeps getting better. The food used to be marginal, but even that issue has resolved. The grounds keep getting more beautiful and the smell of the flowers is heavenly. BLT steak restaurant is beautiful, eating on the porch with a view of Camelback. The spa is lovely. The Jackrabbit pool is also terrific. The staff is great too--everyone seems content to work there. Enjoy your trip!