I tried my best —I really did— to maintain an air of well-traveled sophistication upon entering the Phoenician’s pristine marble lobby. But by the time I found myself gazing out on the desert panorama, fringed by impossibly tall king palms and serenaded by baroque classical music struck up on cue as I entered the room, my head was swimming and I couldn’t wipe the giddy smile from my face. No doubt it’s this champagne-buzz bliss that keeps everyone from Saudi royalty to professional athletes coming back, again and again, to the Phoenician’s secluded, sumptuous world in the shadow of Camelback Mountain.
It’s not only the obvious amenities—gorgeously plush linens, the sheen of ever-changing sunlight reflected through the fountains within and without the foyer. It’s also the unflaggingly attentive staff, and the little details they provide—from folding floor-strewn clothes and leaving behind chocolates, to the enthusiasm with which they present high tea in the lobby parlor. While the resort offers a panoply of activities (golf, yoga, spa treatments, a water park-style pool), my favorite by far was sinking into a divan beside the bonfire on the Thirsty Camel patio, overlooking the twinkling desert nightscape and realizing what it feels like to be royalty.