Just back from a splendid family vacation at the JW Camelback Inn in Scottsdale (although, probably, actually, Paradise Valley), Arizona. A great experience, including brief excursions to the Grand Canyon and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin. Much to report - and much to see (yup, photos). But the summary is simple and straightforward:
I hadn't been at the Camelback for many years, but - as I remembered - it's a wonderful, well-managed property that's definitely, "something different." It's pricey - no doubt about it - but at least you know where you're money's going - it's a massive, visually engaging, enterprise. Budget travelers, look elsewhere. But, if you're willing to make a significant investment (of cash or points), this is a memorable property worth considering.
I love Arizona (and New Mexico), but here's a litmus test. Does this image speak to you?
So many thoughts on the Camelback Inn.
As for the Grand Canyon, well, there's a reason they call it ... Grand...
To be clear, it's a very (very) long day-trip from Phoenix/Scottsdale to the Canyon (but we thought it was worth it). We recommend https://www.silverspurtours.com/ without hesitation for an excellent, customized, VIP experience (and if you can get Duane as your driver/guide, we were very pleased with him). In a perfect world, it makes more sense to spend more time at the Canyon, it just wasn't in the cards for us on this trip.
Unfortunately, we went on a day the weather was "difficult" (OK, really cold, ice/snow risk, and pea soup fog) - but our guide stuck with it, and we enjoyed a sufficient number of epic views.
And, another day, yes, a short drive (and a reservation - don't go without one) took us to see Frank Lloyd Wright's former home - OK - working camp - and architecture school (still in operation, offering a master's degree in architecture) - Taliesin West. Just two images of Wright's "shining brow" - first, the "side" view or toward the beginning of the tour:
I admit, Frank Lloyd Wright is not my favorite, and, frankly, I think he was insane - creative genius, maybe - but the more I read/learn about him, well, I can't say he grows on me..... In any event, it's an extraordinary structure, well integrated into the mountain, here's the "front" view...
That's probably enough for now. My bottom line: A nice vacation, and my spouse, sons, and mother-in-law all came home happy. A satisfying Marriott experience!
ssindc Thanks for a great, detailed report on your Arizona vacation. It's good to know the JW Camelback is maintaining its high standards. As a local, I don't experience it first hand, but my wife loves the spa. From your description of the rooms and private pool, it must have required real will power to go off premises! jerryl is right about El Chorro, and another nearby good restaurant experience is Lon's at the Hermosa Inn.
OK, AZDesertRat and jerryl, since you both weighed in on other restaurants, now I'm curious as to what your experience has been with - or what you've heard about - this place: The House Brasserie in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona
Either of you had any experiences - similar or, hopefully, better - with the place?
Like jerryl we haven't eaten there, and based on your experience, probably never will. For consistent excellence, we like Houston's on Scottsdale Road, which is very popular, always crowded, and within easy reach of the Camelback Inn. Sorry you had such a miserable experience at the House Brasserie - but generally "good" or "excellent" can best be understood when you experience "bad" or "inferior." Too many places are just mediocre.
Awesome review of the JW. It's been a while since we've been there in fact just after it changed to the JW was out last visit and it is great to hear they are taking very good care of the place. Your room sounds amazing and yes with your own pool heaven is in your suite!
Will be in Scottsdale near the first of February staying at North Scottsdale Hotel | Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains and will be returning definitely be returning to El Chorro Restaurant - Paradise Valley, Arizona as well as trying out Lon's. Only there for three nights and we must visit another favorite of ours Sapporo | Teppan Yaki • Pacific Rim • Sushi Restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ so we will be busy!!
Thanks for the review and for the dining information as well guys, Insiders ROCKS!!!!
IAHFLYR have you stayed at the Marriott at McDowell Mountains previously? I'm looking to get down to the area hopefully early April with my dad to visit his brother who lives in the area. I'd love to go earlier but a few work trips are pushing me into April and a little heat will feel pretty darn good. We were looking at either McDowell or Tempe at the Butte, any thoughts? I should mention there will be no golfing so that's not a consideration ....
bacon14, I haven't stayed in the Buttes since Marriott acquired the property ... but ... many years ago - OK, back in the 1980's, when it was (if I'm correct) the Westcourt In the Buttes, that was my favorite property in the area. It's a unique and fascinating place, and it's definitely worth a try.
I would take Marriott McDowell Mountains over the Buttes. I have stayed at the Buttes and it is a nice facility with some good views of the valley, if you look past the major freeways that it fronts. The back side of the Buttes is an industrial part of town, so not a lot happening nearby. I have not yet stayed at the McDowell, but it is well located in North Scottsdale with a lot a nearby restaurants and it is next to a golf course.
We stayed at the Buttes and liked it for its uniqueness. Enjoyed the pools, the breakfast was good, and so was dinner (and a great view of the valley) in the restaurant. I enjoyed watching the planes take off and land at Sky Harbor while on the treadmill in the exercise room. Service was good all around, parking was either very inexpensive or free. We went for a baseball game.
So glad you and your family enjoyed such a nice winter vacation! Private heated pool? Wow. They have those at the JW in Venice (Alas, I did not experience first hand.)
Table side prepared guacamole is such a rare treat!
I love the Grand Canyon shots with all of the weather going on, which somehow makes it all seem that much more visceral.
Thanks for sharing.