Eight Valley properties made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the Top 75 Resorts in North America, and all are in or near Scottsdale.
More than 28,000 subscribers of the upscale travel publication voted for their favorites in numerous tourism categories, with the results published in the November issue. The frequent travelers rated hotels on service, design, food, rooms, location and activities.
The 654-room Phoenician Resort, the posh east Phoenix inn with the S cottsdale address, was named third best on the continent, leaving even fellow local honorees in the dust.
Next best Valley spot is the boutique-sized, 40-room CopperWynd Resort in Fountain Hills, which snagged 29th in the upscale travelers’ esteem.
Subscribers ranked Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North 35th best, The Boulders Resort & Spa in Carefree 40th, the Royal Palms Hotel & Casitas in east Phoenix 49th, and the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley 52nd.
The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in northeast Phoenix and the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess tied at 73rd.
Also listed among the Top 75 is the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, which was rated 19th best.
All Valley favorites except the JW Marriott, which is about three miles west of the Scottsdale-Phoenix border, are marketed by the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The JW Marriott wanted in but got the snub from Scottsdale hoteliers last year because the resort collects bed tax — a charge paid by hotel guests — for Phoenix.
The Phoenician and the Royal Palms, which also pay Phoenix bed taxes, each got a pass because the two inns are among the founding members of the Scottsdale tourism bureau.
Visitors bureau president Rachel Sacco said she’s pleased about the Conde Nast ratings.
"Since the vast majority of those noted are in the Scottsdale area, it says a lot about the resort appeal here and speaks to the affluent (travelers) that are Scottsdale’s target market," Sacco said.
"That target market also is very interested in Conde Nast Traveler as a vehicle to gather information about vacations."
Sacco said the list’s release just before local high season could mean more business for the destination.
"This is perfect timing because people are starting to look at where to go for winter or spring vacations, and it will keep us top of mind," she said.
The top-rated Phoenician inched up from fifth place in last year’s Conde Nast rankings — a tough trek when competing with the top-tier properties, said general manager Mark Vinciguerra.
"I don’t know that we were surprised," Vinciguerra said of the rise. "But it’s very rewarding."
The Phoenician, which slipped somewhat in surveys by a similar publication, Travel & Leisure, during the last couple of years but improved in other travel service rankings, has been on an aggressive improvement program, he said.
Since the start of the year, the Phoenician has been trying to identify what services the resort is performing and how well, and making sure all employees join in the effort, Vinciguerra said.
Parent Starwood Hotels & Resorts helped by kicking in $7 million to enhance the golf course, restaurants Mary Elaine’s and the Terrace Dining Room and all the meeting rooms, he said.
"Everybody is recommitted to being number one," Vinciguerra said.
"We feel we’re headed in the right direction and taking it to the next level this year."