Sedona, Arizona

 

Red Rock views from L’Auberge de Sedona
Red Rock Views from L’Auberge de Sedona give guests a feeling of tranquility.

 

Twice a year, I travel to sunny Scottsdale for my TAMS (Travel Agency Management Solutions) meeting. Traditionally, my trip has involved a long connecting flight followed by two days of intense and enlightening meetings which leave me thoroughly drained as I rush to return to the office with a notebook full of ideas and a body full of exhaustion. The hurried pace often leaves little time for reflection about how I will take on the world of travel again. However, on my most recent trip to Scottsdale in February, I decided a trip to Sedona with my significant other, Gary, was just what the doctor ordered.

During our two-hour journey north from Scottsdale, you could see a marked change in the landscape as we climbed in elevation. The saguaro cactus slowly disappeared as the mountains emerged in the distance. Along the way, Gary suggested a stop at the Caduceus Cellars winery in the historic, and most haunted, town of Jerome and I couldn’t have been happier. The town of only 400 residents is perched atop the mountain and is one of the coolest places I have been to. The houses are placed one on top of the other and connected by a main road, which winds up the mountain and past stores, galleries, restaurants and, oh yes, some of the most delicious wineries. With a vibe similar to a village in Tuscany and the charm of the old west, Jerome was both fascinating and fun and a must see for any traveler looking to take in true Americana.

Vista Suite at L’Auberge
The View from Vista Suite at L’Auberge is a 180-degree panorama.

After a wonderful afternoon, we continued north to Enchantment Resort, about 15 minutes outside of the city of Sedona in a remote canyon at one of Sedona’s well-known vortexes, which made it ideal for our sunrise hikes and mountain biking adventures. With red rock canyon walls rising on three sides of the resort, the locale provides spectacular views and unlimited outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, tennis, health and wellness classes, and extensive kids programs. The rooms are spacious and the MiiAmo spa has a feel of serenity. With an $18 million renovation to the lobby and restaurant close to completion, Enchantment is just the place for guests who want lots of options in an environment that is truly relaxing and laid back.

There are vortexes located around the world; some have major monuments built on them, such as the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia and the Bermuda Triangle. The vortexes of Sedona were of particular interest to me, as I had heard that they have healing powers and provide one with a sense of energy and a renewed spirit, which I definitely needed. So with a map from the concierge and a good pair of hiking shoes, Gary and I set off to find our Mecca in the desert. After a short hike with beautiful views, we arrived at the first of Sedona’s four major vortexes. As I understand it, a vortex is a spot where a strong amount of energy is released in almost a tornado-like fashion—and looking at the juniper trees that sat on the vortex with branches completely twisted like a pretzel, you definitely get that feeling.

Exterior Creekside Cottages
Exterior Creekside Cottages at L’Auberge de Sedona have wood-burning fireplaces.

Our visit to Sedona would not have been complete without a visit to the local artist galleries and shopping venues. Although I found uptown to be a bit too touristy for my taste, the Tlaquepague Arts & Crafts Village was right up my alley. Tlaquepague, meaning “best of everything”, has over 40 specialty shops, including art galleries featuring local artists, restaurants and wine bars. Built in the 1970s as a Mexican-style village with vine-covered stucco walls, cobblestone walkways and magnificent arched entry ways, you get the distinct feeling that it has been here for centuries. I highly recommend a stop at the Oak Creek Brewery Company for one of their freshly brewed beers and dinner at Elote where you should be prepared to wait up to two hours in line, since they do not take reservations. If you have the patience of a saint, you won’t be disappointed.

Our visit to Red Rock Country concluded with a brunch and tour of the L’Auberge de Sedona. Located in the heart of Sedona and within walking distance of almost everything, this resort is on the banks of Oak Creek, which completely drowns out the busyness of the surroundings and gives guests the feel that they have been transported to a different world. Cabin accommodations are strategically perched on the hill, giving them a killer view of the Red Rocks above and although the log cabin exteriors may look rustic, they are certainly not. With modern and bright décor, some with fireplaces and outdoor showers, these cottages are ideal for a romantic getaway. The restaurant is located along the side of the creek and has a wonderful outdoor dining option when weather permits, which is almost always. One can’t forget to take the time to feed the resident ducks or sit by a campfire, as these are some of L’Auberge’s best-kept secrets.

Our weekend getaway had to come to an end but not without an overnight at the Canyon Suites at The Phoenician in Scottsdale. Just 15 minutes from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, this resort was a great location for our early morning flight home and was a wonderful example of an exclusive, concierge-style experience, combined with all the activities that The Phoenician has to offer. The Canyon Suite, with its own private entrance, lobby and pool included many wonderful complimentary amenities, and was a fitting way to end our journey. Even though our personal ambassador, Julian, persuaded us to dine in one of the many restaurants at the Phoenician and tempted us with rounds of golf and spa treatments, wild horses couldn’t have pried us out of our Canyon Suite. I’m not sure if it was the palatial estate we called home or the feeling of relaxation we had gathered from Sedona but this was, in fact, the best ending to a perfect Arizona getaway. Of course, I still returned to my office with all the fresh ideas and plans we had made at our TAMS meeting but I was now rested, relaxed and ready to take on the world.

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