Scottsdale is one of the nine choicest destinations in the world to visit this year, according to one of the world’s most elite travel publications. 

Condé Nast Traveler – an award-winning luxury travel magazine – elevated Scottsdale to the ranks as the likes of Rio de Janeiro; Alentejo, Portugal; and Chiang Mai, Thailand in their Best Destinations in the World: The Gold List 2022. It is the only American city to make the magazine’s cut.

“When I can’t take another minute of winter, I head to Scottsdale ... Recently, though, the Valley of the Sun has come into its own, claiming its stunning desert setting and Southwest culture in new ways,” Conde Nast Editor Rebecca Misner wrote. 

Adding to the prestige of Scottsdale’s listing is the fact that for the first time, the 2022 Gold List features a single global collection curated by the editors of Condé Nast Traveler’s seven international editions in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Italy, India, the Middle East and China. 

“CNT’s long-running Gold List is one of the most awaited – and more personal – annual roundups we publish. This year marks a truly impactful moment for the brand, with editors around the world – from New York to Dubai to Beijing – joining together to reveal their most beloved hotels, places and experiences,” said Divia Thani, global editorial director of Condé Nast Traveler, adding: 

“These selections reflect the sensibilities and tastes of our editors and audiences across the world, who have as many preferences in common as they do unique traits when it comes to travel. Our Gold List is a testament to our audience’s love of experiential travel and hotels that deliver on authenticity and world-class hospitality. It is designed to be a guide for our global audience during this new era of travel.” 

The inclusion is a huge honor, said Experience Scottsdale Director of Community Affairs Stephanie Pressler.

“Consumers really have more choices than ever,” Pressler said. “Scottsdale’s visitors tend to be more affluent like the readers of Conde Nast Traveler and like everyone, they’re really dreaming of getting out and traveling again. That’s why at Experience Scottsdale, we’re not just competing with similar warm weather domestic destinations for visitors. We’re really competing with any of those destinations that are on Condé Nast Traveler’s list.” 

One of the things Scottsdale can offer that not just every other warm weather destination can is the “luxury of space,” Pressler said.

“They are looking for these wide-open spaces and you think of the beautiful vistas we have in Scottsdale with the mountains and everything,” Pressler said. “That’s why at Experience Scottsdale, we’re not just competing with similar warm weather domestic destinations for visitors. We’re really competing with any of those destinations that are on Condé Nast Traveler’s list.” 

You may be able to catch a Broadway show in New York, but can you catch a sunrise like those over the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale?

“We have this beautiful Sonoran Desert that is at times misunderstood but when you see it, you see how beautiful it is,” Pressler said. 

“Through Experience Scottsdale, we always try to showcase the beauty of the desert. But we also have these luxury resorts that are casita style. So there’s lots of space even when you’re at the resort. We have all of these golf courses. We have all these hiking trails. A lot of people have been seeking out these outdoor opportunities.” 

Misner lists that luxury of space in her reasons for selecting Scottsdale for the list in the first place – that and the fact that “solo or with family, I can always bank on sunshine, a great exhibit at Phoenix’s nearby Desert Botanical Garden and excellent Sonoran-style Mexican food.”

Misner pinpoints two hotels as Scottsdale’s creme-de-la-creme. 

“If I’m bringing the kids, the 1929 Frank Lloyd Wright–designed grande dame, the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort (on the border of Scottsdale and Phoenix) is my place,” she writes. “It has sprawling grounds and seven pools, one with a legitimate waterslide, and just underwent a much-needed facelift.

Sans children, Misner recommends the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort.

“Terraced into the side of its namesake adobe-hued mountain, has my favorite spa in town,” she writes. “Its adults-only pool on weekends and easy access to sunrise hiking give me plenty of excuses to leave the kids at home.” 

Being named to the haute monde of destination spots isn’t pure coincidence.

“This is part of Experience Scottsdale’s work with our public relations team,” Pressler confessed. “We work to build relationships with magazine editors like those at Condé Nast for just this reason so that Scottsdale is top of mind when editors are working on or assigning out stories.” 

“Public relations is the name of the game with a limited advertising budget,” Pressler said. 

“Our public relations team has been working hard. Last fiscal year our team, with the pandemic as it was, they were able to help generate over 800 media hits about Scottsdale” Pressler said. “Our marketing budget is limited but we extend the reach of our messaging through those public relations efforts and we help garner free publicity for Scottsdale’s hospitality businesses. This is what we do. And those media hits we were able to secure last year, they were worth over $31 million (in advertising dollars).” 

The public relations efforts often involve bringing writers and editors here to see first-hand what Scottsdale is about. 

“And with Condé Nast travelers specifically, we’ve had editors come out for the Travel Writers’ West Conference which is held in Scottsdale every other year, although it was delayed a few years because of the pandemic,” Pressler added. “But they were just able to come out again in November and that conference brings 60 editors and free-lance writers to Scottsdale every other year.”