Arizona’s AAA 5 Diamond Resorts Offer Top-Rate Stays

Choosing a place to stay during your vacation can be a challenge. That’s why so many travelers rely on the American Automobile Association’s Diamond rating system to make their trip planning easier. For more than 80 years, a team of AAA independent inspectors have been conducting unannounced, in-person property inspections across more than 30,000 hotels, resorts and lodgings in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Exterior shot of expansive Fairmont Scottsdale Resort with pool

AAA’s inspectors evaluate each property for quality, cleanliness and condition, range of amenities, and levels of hospitality. If they meet AAA’s standards, they are awarded one of three designations:

            • Approved: Noteworthy by meeting the industry-leading standards of AAA inspections. Great for budget-friendly short stays.

            • Three Diamond: Comprehensive amenities, style, and comfort level. Great for family travel.

            • Four Diamond: Upscale amenities with the right touch of service. Great for a romantic getaway.

            • Five Diamond: World-class luxury, amenities, and indulgence for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Great for the ultimate in relaxation.  

All properties are inspected annually, and they must maintain their standards in order to retain their Diamond status. Ratings may — and have been known to — change depending on the inspector’s findings. And each year, AAA releases its list of those accommodations that are awarded the coveted Four and Five Diamond ratings. AAA released its 2023 list on May 1, and five resorts in Arizona were recognized as being the ultimate in luxury and sophistication.

Here are Arizona’s 2023 AAA Five Diamond properties.

Entry drive to Fairmont Scottsdale Princess with signage, palm trees and saguaros

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Located in North Scottsdale, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has been on the Five Diamond list since 1991. The sprawling 64-acre property is a top-rated spot for family vacations, romantic escapes, and summer staycations for Valley locals. It’s also one of the state’s leading meetings and convention destinations.

The Spanish colonial-style Princess offers 750 rooms, including 66 Fairmont Gold rooms and 223 suites. Sixteen rooms are handicap accessible. But you’re not going to want to stay in your room while here.

The hotel has six swimming pools, including one with a white sand beach, a kids’ pool with water slides, and an adults-only pool. The luxurious 44,000-square-foot Well & Being Spa includes a sauna, steam room, waterfall grotto, and aromatherapy room. And golfers can enjoy a day on the greens at the legendary TPC Scottsdale, home of the PGA Tour’s WM Phoenix Open.

For business clients, the Princess offers more than 316,000 square feet of event space, perfect for conventions, trade shows, and corporate retreats. There are two 23,000-square-foot ballrooms, 47 meetings rooms, and 21 outdoor venues.

After a day of sun and activities — or serious meetings — guests can dine at one of the resort’s many restaurants. Popular choices include the AAA Four Diamond Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina and La Hacienda and Toro Latin Restaurant and Rum Bar, both by Richard Sandoval.

The resort recently announced expansion plans that will add 155 new rooms, enhanced conferences spaces, a new on-site Italian restaurant, an indoor/outdoor coffee shop, and a 1,000-space three-story parking garage.

For more about the Princess, click here for an earlier review.

Overview of Phoenician resort with pools and grassy lawn

The Phoenician

A Five Diamond resort since 2004, this refined desert oasis, tucked away at the base of Camelback Mountain, is part of Marriott International’s Luxury Collection. It offers 645 rooms, including 64 suites and many that are handicap accessible. For the ultimate getaway indulgence, stay in one of the four 1,800-square-foot Presidential Suites.

The resort is designed in an arc that overlooks the swimming pools, Forbes Five Star spa, and 18-hole golf course. Its location provides easy access to Scottsdale’s shops, galleries, and dining options while also having unparalleled access to mountain trailheads.

Start your day with a sunrise hike to the top of Camelback Mountain. Then spend the afternoon relaxing poolside at the expansive three-tiered swim complex that includes the signature hand-tiled mother-of-pearl pool, an adults-only area, and a kid-friendly section with waterslides, a treehouse, and a splash pad. Take in the beauty of the surrounding desert while perfecting your swing on the Phoenician Golf Course, designed by Phil Smith. Or, spend the day being pampered at the spa, which offers a full menu of wellness treatments, skin and beauty care, and fitness classes such as yoga.

There are eight dining destinations on-site, ranging from the casual Marketplace and elegant Afternoon Tea to the poolside Kalio Kabobery and course-side 19th Hole Grill and Patio. For something a little more sophisticated, Mowry & Cotton and JG Steakhouse frequently top lists of best local restaurants. Afterwards, head to the Thirsty Camel for a nightcap and live entertainment and watch the sun set over the Phoenix skyline.

Check out our earlier review about The Phoenician for more information.

Aerial shot of Canyon Suites resort building at base of mountain

The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician

A resort-within-a-resort, this boutique property located on the grounds of The Phoenician is the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort in the greater Phoenix area. Opened in 1997, it has held the Five Diamond designation since 2007.

The Canyon Suites’ 60 rooms are more like residential accommodations than hotel rooms. The decor showcases an elevated Southwest-inspired aesthetic that’s sumptuous yet comfortable.

Guests at The Canyon Suites experience the same amenities and offerings as do those at The Phoenician — and have access to everything on The Phoenician grounds — with additional exclusive touches. There is a separate check-in process, a dedicated Canyon Ambassador to assist with any needs or requests, daily executive breakfast buffet in the Canyon Lounge, and a separate infinity pool with spacious cabanas for Canyon Suite guests only. You can check rates at Hotels.com.

Aerial view of pools and desert landscape at Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

The only Five Diamond property located outside of Greater Phoenix, this southern sanctuary is located just 30 minutes from downtown Tucson in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains. As such, its setting may conjure images of the Wild West, but there’s nothing rugged about this luxurious resort, which has held Five Diamonds since 2015.

A $10 million renovation a few years ago elevated the property even more. The 209 guest rooms and 44 suites were revamped with hardwood floors, plush linens, and spa-like bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. Fourteen mountain-facing rooms with patio fire pits also were added. The restoration also added an arcade with video games and theater chairs and refreshed the inviting pool deck that’s set among the towering saguaros and desert landscape.

The spa is a destination unto itself with soothing treatment rooms, a serenity pool, and a fireside outdoor hot tub. Treatments are inspired by local Native Americans’ approach to wellness and incorporate gemstones, desert stones, and local flora.

Five dining options include a takeaway cafe, a poolside Latin American-inspired tequila bar, a steakhouse, and a cocktail bar. Follow a morning hike with fresh-picked orange juice and an invigorating massage, soak up the sun at one of the property’s three pools, or watch the sunset and listen to the coyotes howl while sipping a glass of wine on the patio.

And like at most Arizona resorts, there’s plenty for golf enthusiasts to love. The Golf Club at Dove Mountain offers 27 holes spread across three courses designed by Jack Nicklaus. Go to Expedia for rates and booking.

View from pool to Puebo-style buildings of Four Seasons with rocky mountain cliffs in background

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Located on 40 acres in North Scottsdale, the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North has been on the Five Diamond list since 2019.

Showcasing modern Pueblo-style architecture that blends with the region’s rock formations and boulders, the resort offers 210 casitas and suites scattered over 40 acres. Featuring breathtaking views of Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding desert, the rooms embrace Arizona’s indoor-outdoor lifestyle. One hundred feature flat-screen TVs on the patio, 19 have private plunge pools, 20 have outdoor showers, and three have fire pits. And a renovation in 2018 refreshed the rooms with a bright and airy contemporary Southwest feel.

Take in the stunning landscape from the resort’s bi-level pool. Rent a luxury cabana, complete with a private bar stocked with nonalcoholic beverages, a flat-screen TV, and a dedicated server to cater to your every need. Or pamper yourself at the on-site spa, which offers massages; skin, nail, and hair care; aromatherapy; and fitness classes. And guests of the resort are afforded privileges at the private Troon North Golf Club, which is home to two Tom Weiskopf-designed courses.

Four dining options include a poolside eatery for light bites, sandwiches, and cocktails; an American comfort food restaurant that offers craft beers and bourbons; and a sophisticated small plates and cocktails terrace bar. Then there’s Talavera, the acclaimed modern Latin steakhouse that serves some of the best paella in town.  

For a more in-depth look at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, check out our review.

Stay at a AAA Five Diamond Resort

If you’re planning on visiting Greater Phoenix or Tucson, you can’t go wrong with any of these properties. And with so much to see and do on-site or nearby, these resorts are perfect for couples or families with kids. And all of them welcome pets, so even Fido can join in on the fun.

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