Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain enjoys a legendary history filled with Hollywood celebrities and international tennis stars. The story begins in the early 1950s when the unique mountainside property was bought by a group of prominent investors including Hollywood stars John Ireland, Joanne Dru and Sydney Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin’s son. Ireland envisioned a prestigious racquet club nestled into the north slope of Camelback Mountain modeled after the Racquet Club in Palm Springs.
After acquiring the site, the group hired architect Hiram Hudson Benedict, a protégée of Frank Lloyd Wright, to design a clubhouse and a prototype casita. Ireland and Dru developed the clubhouse, five tennis courts and a prototype casita which became John Ireland’s Arizona home. Known as the Paradise Valley Racquet Club throughout the 1950s, the tennis club quickly attracted a bevy of stars.
In 1965, local real estate entrepreneurs Les Heitel and Vik Jackson brought together a group to buy the property. Together, they purchased the 53-acres that included the clubhouse, casitas and tennis courts. Jackson’s group contacted tennis entrepreneur John Gardiner and with his wife, Barbara. Gardiner decided to expand their California tennis operation to Arizona. The owners agreed to operate the property both as a membership club and a resort. They constructed 41 casitas on the site and developed a dozen large homes around the perimeter of the property.
In 1967, a local civic group, headed by Senator Barry Goldwater, formed to preserve Camelback Mountain. The owners of what was then John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch, provided strong support for that movement which eliminated any development of land above the 1700 foot level of Camelback Mountain.
In addition to helping to save Camelback Mountain, the resort also supported community causes by holding celebrity charity tennis tournaments on the property. The first tournament benefited the Arizona Children’s Colony and attracted many Hollywood stars including Jimmy Durante, Liza Minelli, Dino Martin, Desi Arnez Jr. and others. The resort also sponsored the Senator's Cup tennis tournament that attracted prominent members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
In 1992, an private investor who owns several homes and casitas, bought the majority interest in the property. In 1999 the property was renamed The Ranch On Camelback Mountain. In November of that same year, Westroc Hospitality was introduced as the new management company for the resort.
In May 2000, The Ranch on Camelback Mountain closed its doors for a complete renovation and transformation of the property.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain opened in March 2001 presenting the first phase of the exciting new vision for this legendary property. The first phase of the project introduced 82 contemporary-designed new casitas, renovated lodge, elements restaurant and jade bar, both created by Executive Chef Charles Wiley, garden terraces and a vast infinity-edge resort pool. The complete transformation debuted October 2001 with the addition of 24 new, multi-level, elegant spa casitas followed by the introduction of Sanctuary Spa in January 2002. This 12,000-square foot intimate spa features a Watsu pool, 12 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, movement studio, 25-yard lap pool and fitness center.