I stayed in 2 of Arizona's top hotels. They explain why Scottsdale is a luxury travel hot spot.

Left: Exterior of the Phoenician with a fountain in front. Right: A fountain in front of a casita at the Hermosa Inn
Business Insider's reporter stayed at the Phoenician in Scottsdale (L) and the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Joey Hadden/Business Insider
  • Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona, offer luxury travel experiences.

  • The vast majority of hotel rooms in both Phoenix suburbs are upscale.

  • I stayed in the area's top-rated hotels, the Phoenician and the Hermosa Inn. They epitomized luxury.

Secret exits, private outdoor spaces, high-tech golf carts, dramatic chandeliers, award-winning restaurants, and cowboy artifacts — I saw them all during my trip to Scottsdale without leaving my hotel.

Tourists travel to Arizona for luxury resorts, spas, and golf clubs, Condé Nast Traveler reported in 2023.

Scottsdale, in particular, draws affluent travelers with its health and wellness scene, upscale dining experiences, and top-tier golf courses. So, it's no wonder the area caters to high-end travel.

Scottsdale has more luxurious hotel rooms than standard ones — 80% of the city's 12,500 rooms are classified as luxury level or higher (upscale and upper upscale), according to a Scottsdale tourism report published in 2022 in partnership with Experience Scottsdale, a travel company that has helped establish the city's luxe tourism reputation.

The only place in the area with a higher concentration of luxury accommodations than Scottsdale — 90% of rooms — is Paradise Valley, the wealthier suburb between Phoenix and Scottsdale.

But tourists see Paradise Valley as a part of Scottsdale, according to the report — probably because the towns are close together and offer comparable pampering experiences and jaw-dropping views.

I recently spent two nights in Arizona and booked one night in each suburb's top luxury hotel.

I spent my first night at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, a luxury Marriott Hotel dubbed "Arizona's leading resort" in the 2023 World Travel Awards.

On day two, I headed to Paradise Valley to stay at the boutique Hermosa Inn, which Travel + Leisure called the best hotel in Arizona in 2023.

These similar superlatives made me think the Phoenician and the Hermosa Inn would provide comparable luxury experiences. In reality, the two hotels were completely different.

Still, both showed me why these Phoenix suburbs are hot spots for wealthy travelers.

In Scottsdale, I stayed at the Phoenician — an upscale mega-resort.

A boxy hotel entrance with a large, circular fountains out front and blue skies in the background
The entrance to the Phoenician, a luxury hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

The multimillion-dollar luxury Marriott Hotel opened in 1988 and has been renovated several times to amp up its upscale offerings — most recently in 2018.

The Phoenician has 645 rooms on its 600-acre property at the base of Camelback Mountain. The gated hotel grounds are full of activities ranging from sports to relaxation. It's the kind of hotel with so much to do that guests could spend their whole vacation on the property.

In Paradise Valley, I stayed at the Hermosa Inn, a boutique hotel with a completely different vibe.

An adobe building on the left and a garden path on the right at Hermosa Inn
The lobby entrance at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Joey Hadden/Business Insider

The vast majority of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley hotels have more than 50 rooms, making the wealthier suburb's 43-room Hermosa Inn a unique option for those seeking seclusion.

The Hermosa Inn isn't luxurious in a glitzy sense. Instead, it marvels guests by making them feel like they traveled to the 20th-century Western era.

Its roots as a 1930s cowboy's home and studio are evident upon arrival with adobe bricks, beehive fireplaces, historic artwork from paintings to silk, and artifacts like worn saddles and Stetson hats.

I thought the Hermosa Inn was ideal for travelers craving privacy and a personal touch.

Left: A gate behind flowers and trees with a mountain in the background. Left: A floral archway leading to a fountain and a casita
The Hermosa Inn has secluded casitas and secret exits.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

The Hermosa Inn's 43 stand-alone casitas are secluded accommodations situated next to discrete exits. Guest service agent Tami Norton told Business Insider that the hotel often hosts celebrities and executives in the public eye, and its small size allows it to accommodate special, personalized requests.

For example, Norton noted a recent guest in town to perform.

"The hours they keep are quite different; they arrive back on the property late at night and need to sleep in during the day," she said of performers. "So that particular guest needed the room totally blacked out before they came. We blacked out everything from the skylight down to the glow of the thermostat."

AZ Central reported that Clark Gable, Whitney Houston, David Spade, and Tyrese Gibson have dined and stayed at the Hermosa Inn.

Norton told BI that actors often have strict dietary restrictions that the kitchen accommodates by ordering special ingredients and portioning them out with a scale. She added that guests can also request small appliances in their rooms for protein shakes and other quick meals.

Both hotels had upscale rooms with king-sized beds, large bathrooms, and private outdoor spaces.

Inside a modern hotel room with a king bed, a selection couch, a sitting area, and a TV and media center. There's a balcony at the back of the room
Inside the deluxe room at the Phoenician.The Phoenician

My deluxe room at the Phoenician was filled with modern furniture with Southwestern accents. From the comfy bed and oversized tub to the balcony, the room epitomized 21st-century luxury.

While the Phoenician room was modern, the Hermosa Inn casita had a more traditional luxury brand.

Inside a western-style room with brown leather chairs, a king size bed, and a red rug
Inside the author's casita at the Hermosa Inn.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

At the Hermosa Inn, I slept in what was essentially a small house. It was easily the biggest hotel room I've stayed in.

Unlike the Phoenician, the Hermosa Inn's room didn't feel modern at all. The Southwestern vibe was all-encompassing, from the furniture to the decor. It felt more unique than the room at the Phoenician while boasting the same amenities, including a large tub and bed.

The Hermosa Inn room also had a beehive fireplace and a skylight. Rather than a balcony, the one-story accommodation had a private patio.

Both hotels housed renowned dining hot spots.

Left: A dimly lit dining room with round wooden tables and gold accents. Right: outdoor dining patio surrounded by green trees and pink flowers
Award-winning restaurants at the Phoenician (L) and the Hermosa Inn (R).Joey Hadden/Business Insider

The high-quality dining at each hotel attracts more than just hotel guests with buzzy, award-winning restaurants.

Three of the Phoenician's eight dining venues and bars — Mowry & Cotton, J&G Steakhouse, and Thirsty Camel — have received kudos from Forbes Travel Guide, Open Table, and Trip Advisor, according to the hotel's website.

LON's, the Hermosa Inn's only restaurant and bar, is known by Food & Wine for its romantic vibe. It offers outdoor seating surrounded by vibrant gardens and beehive fireplaces. Open Table has included LON's in its roundup of the best brunch menus in the country for four years running.

The Hermosa Inn's restaurant added a wine cellar 20 years ago for ultra-VIP dining.

Inside a wine cellar with a square table seating 11 in the middle
Inside the wine cellar at the Hermosa Inn.The Hermosa Inn

In its 2003 renovations, LON's upgraded its VIP offerings, adding a small dining room in an underground wine cellar and an exclusive tasting menu.

The Phoenician has also gotten several upgrades, including an award-winning, three-story spa with two pools.

Left: inside the luxuriously decorated spa lobby at the Phoenician. Right: A glass door with a sign that says dry bar at the top
Inside the Phoenician's three-story spa.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

With the most spas per capita in the US, according to Go Banking Rates, Scottsdale is a hot spot for health and wellness tourism.

The Phoenician is ideal for a rejuvenating trip thanks to its award-winning, three-story spa renovated in 2018.

The dramatic entryway greets patrons with an artistic chandelier and golden details throughout the spa. In addition to massage and facial treatment rooms, a sauna, and a meditation room, the facility has two pools — one on the rooftop — a nail salon, and a dry bar for hair styling.

There's also a fitness room where guests can work with a personal trainer.

The same hotel has five more outdoor pools, including one made of pearl tiles imported from Italy.

The mother-of-pearl pool at the Phoenician in front of the spa building
The Mother-of-Pearl pool at the Phoenician resort.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

The massive Phoenician pool complex includes a splash pad and an adults-only pool.

But the most luxurious of the five is the serenity pool made of Italian Mother-of-Pearl tiles that cost $1 million, according to the company's website. The hand-placed tiles give the pool an iridescent shine similar to the inside of a sea shell.

The Phoenician Golf Club takes the upscale sport to another level.

A golf course lined with palm trees with mountains in the background, clear blue skies
A view of the Phoenician golf course from the top level of the clubhouse. Joey Hadden/Business Insider

I'm no golfer, but it's easy to see why those who play would stay at the Phoenician.

The 18-hole course and club, renovated in 2018, wowed me with views and high-tech features. Players rode around the pristine course lined with gardens and fountains against a mountain backdrop in golf carts with GPS screens that stream news and entertainment.

Whether you're looking for a private vacation or one where you don't have to leave the hotel, Scottsdale has it all.

Left: A resort with pools and palm trees in front of a mountain with blue skies in the background Right: A pool lit up with palm trees around it and an adobe hotel behind it. Mountains in the background at dusk
Wide views of the Arizona resorts, the Phoenician (L), and the Hermosa Inn (R).Joey Hadden/Business Insider, Hermosa Inn

After staying at both resorts, there was undoubtedly more to do at the Phoenician. I could see why travelers craving a mega-resort vacation where they don't have to navigate the city to have a good time would pick the Phoenician for their luxury vacation.

But the Hermosa Inn is a better choice for those desiring a unique and exclusive stay with large, private accommodations and plenty of personal attention.

If you stay at both, as I did, luxury travelers can have it all in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. That's why I think so many wealthy vacationers choose the Arizona hot spot for their getaways.

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