The title has more meaning now, since many of us have been on this planet for over half a century. Sometimes it just gets too overwhelming and we want to escape the ‘real world’. However, there are places, right here in the US that you can visit which will provide an escape into the terrestrial powers of nature, beauty, tranquility and demonstrate its true majestic grandeur.
Right here in the United States, we have a place that some may refer to as the ‘most uniquely beautiful site on Earth.’ Sedona, Arizona has a spectacular landscape that is accented by massive red-rock formations which seem to be placed like nature’s sculptures, situated in the mouth of one of the Southwest’s most spectacular canyons.
On a recent soujourn from Los Angeles, we had an eventful itinerary which was designed by the savvy Sedona Chamber of Commerce and were able to get a thorough overview of this magical place. Arizona Spa and Wellness had great resources to guide us to the best of the best.
Here in part one, we will explore some of the special spots to get a summary of this place they call “Arizona’s Scenic Sensation”.
Day 1: We arrived midday and our first stop was Enchantment Resort, which is the most spectacular haven nestled in the arms of Boynton Canyon. Every view was designed to capture the incredible scenery. After a long drive, the first impression of this Shangri-La was a sense of being ‘comforted and sheltered from the chaos of the modern world.’ The absolute best was the Mi Amo Spa, a separate enclave with some of the world’s top treatments. With a full spectrum of healing modalities the spa menu is replete with luxurious pampering choices. We had a treatment on the newest WaveTable, which delivers a massage by way of a kinetic flow. The spa menu describes it best, “A gentle, fluid and rhythmic motion, dispersing energy throughout the body for optimal health. By utilizing multiple massage techniques on the innovative WaveTable™ helps the muscles begin to relax deeply. This leads to a decrease in muscle tension, reduced stress, and improved blood circulation.” This treatment is exclusive to Mi Amo, and no wonder Spa Finder Magazine rates this place on top year after year.
Destination: L’Auberge de Sedona. After a short visit to Uptown Sedona, the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village and Hillside Sedona, we checked into the L’Auberge de Sedona. This is a little gem tucked behind the village, down a private road, right on the Oak Creek. In late August, Sedona is on alert for monsoon rains. This creates the most dramatic experience. Picture this, you’re sitting creekside at a AAA Four Diamond luxury petite retreat, awaiting your lunch. All of a sudden there is a bellowing of cicadas that fill the air and echo throughout the creek in a symphony of sound. It is at first eerie if you have never encountered this before. They seem to chime in harmony for quite a while and then stop immediately. We were told that if they stop for a longer time, it is most likely that the rain will occur. We sat around waiting for the next chime, but instead, a downpour appeared and we had to move inside for our sumptuous meal. Check this out if you want to hear the real deal:
A MUST: Try out the Himalayan Salt Glow and Wrap at the spa.
Day 3: Destination Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa. This is a modern take on a Mediterranean design right in the middle of town. As a small boutique hotel, it has all the charm and sophistication without the pomp and circumstance. Avante-Garde fine art, cast pillars from Bali with lights, and dramatic details make this a special place. The Javelina sculptures are playful, filled with colorful whimsy. Lunch at the Reds Restaurant with a healthy portion of comfort foods in a gourmet fashion, like a mouth watering grilled vegetable wrap rand yummy sweet potato fries.
A MUST: This is a unique spa, with the kind of offerings you’d expect from one of the world’s most sacred places and a high degree of energy in the vortexes surrounding the canyon. Try the The Rising Star Healing System, which “can assist in healing all seven body systems, thus allowing trauma or illness to be released. Any unresolved issues, old or blocked energy and physical symptoms all fall away, leaving you feeling empowered and energized. It even activates DNA, helping to unlock your true potential. Each session is completely unique and brings healing to you for 21 days.” It really has an impact and can release stored up stress and traumas from the body.
Destination: Los Abrigados Resort and Spa: We were hosted for 2 nights at this center of town historic resort on the banks of Oak Creek, twenty-two acres filled with winding walkways, cascading fountains and shady nooks in the foothills of Arizona's Red Rock Country. It is part of a vacation ownership package with Diamond Resorts International® which gives you exclusive worldwide access to THE Club
A MUST: The Sedona Spa at Los Abrigados Resort. The spa manager here is a visionary and has designed a very progressive spa menu with top notch treatments and practitioners. Try any of the great selection of treatments, especially the healing modalities such as Cranio-sacral, Reflexology, Reiki
Dinner at The Sedona Hideaway Restaurant, right across the street from the hotel on the creek with Red Rock Views. Light fare, good service, fun and upbeat atmosphere.
Day 4-Destination: Verde Canyon Railroad. This was a fun-filled day of exploring an historic route via the old west. The thrill of riding first-class style aboard renovated passenger coaches and open-air viewing cars pulled by vintage locomotives brought back memories of being a kid again. The summer of my 14th birthday I did a cross-country rail tour of the US. Going the backroads of the soon-to-be-forgotten old west was a thrill, especially since we were a group of teens away from home, barely supervised for a whole summer. Those teen-tours of the late 60’s were a blast. On this scenic 3.5 hour trip we ventured through Verde Canyon, often called 'Arizona's other Grand Canyon' with spectacular canyon scenery on a train trip that offers visual feasts including seasonal spring flowers, fall foliage and hundreds of migratory birds, such as the majestic bald eagle. The best part was the intermittent monsoon rain showers where you were caught outside photographing something wonderful and had to escape the downpours. My traveling companions traveled in between the cars where the overhang sheltered us from the torrents of rain, and we sang our way across the canyon with echoing harmony, going over every train song ever written in history. (She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes......) Our local host was a wordsmith and knew all the chorus lines in harmony!
A MUST: Extend your trip with a short ride up a long mountain road to the old ghost town of Jerome. Located high on top of Cleopatra Hill (5,200 feet) between Prescott and Flagstaff is this historic copper mining town still vibrates with the ‘ghost-like wicked memories’ in local saloons. It’s history is a great story, from the heyday of the copper mining boom to the bust of the Depression and back on top again as a tourist attraction for ghost-town aficionados.
Day 5-Destination Fun! A free day of roamin’ the streets of Downtown and checking out the vast array of touristy attractions. Get lost in the ambiance from the local crystal shop to the western wear-from hats to boots.
Spend a leisurely lunch at the Redstone Grill and Patio with a great view of Bell Rock.
A MUST:Dinner at Sound Bites Grill where great music meets great food and fun.
Day6-Destination:Safari Jeep Tour:Vortex Tour for 2.5 hours. (We extended our tour to 4 hours!!!) Spanning the backroads (and off-roads) with a feisty yet savvy true cowboy who was a native of Sedona and probably the most well-informed guide to his hometown history.
We saw it all from the Diamond Back Gulch to Seven Canyons! www.safarijeeptours.com
And say hello to Lucy for us when you go!
A MUST: Bring a hat and some extra padding for that bumpy off-road ride-this is much better than Disneyland. (Where Walt got most of his inspiration from Thunder Mountain and Mickey Mouse)
Day 7-Destination: Out of Africa Wildlife Safari Park-This is a fabulous place to spend with the whole family and get up close and personal with the African Bush Safari. You will totally enjoy this unique refuge right here in the US. On the one hour Unimog Adventure tour we experienced an authentic African photo safari with expert park guides narrating throughout your tour. The park is dedicated to preserving the grandeur of the great species from around the world such as white tigers, leopards, hyenas, grizzly bears and other species on the road to extinction.
A MUST: Get up front and personal when feeding the sweet camel-eye to eye or the gentle giraffe-mouth to mouth. Check out his 18” tongue and watch out for the crazy ostrich! (Now we know why Johnny Carson used to refer to Ed McMahon as Camel Breath!) www.outofafrica.com
Day 7-Destination Amara Resort and Spa. This place is truly the best quality for the best value, as a Four Diamond creekside sanctuary, tucked away, right in the middle of town. www.amararesort.com
Our huge balcony overlooked the newly designed infinity pool and was just a stone’s throw from the creek. Best of all was the huge Jacuzzi bathtub in the giant luxurious bathroom, where a soak for two was just what the doctor ordered! The Amara Spa is a must, with a menu of spa rituals that will cast a heavenly glow for the rest of your trip.
A MUST: Colorado Plateau Hummer Tour. We see Arnold riding around West LA all the time in a Hummer, but thanks to his ingenuity, we can all have a chance at this modern marvel machine. It’s not just for the military anymore!
This eco-friendly tour with the most brilliant tour guide (he was a quantum physics professor) showed us a thing or two about the not-so-humble Hummer 4x4 performance. This Jeep Eater and Cliff Hanger Tour will have you hanging off the seat of your chair, well strapped in, of course. We had a few hairpin turns and show-off climbs/descents to keep your hair straight for a week. (Mine was a bit too frizzy from the monsoon rain bursts) www.sedonaoffroadadventures.com
Day 8-Destination:The Hilton Sedona Golf Resort and Spa for some R&R.
With a hectic schedule of exciting tours and an intense amount of sightseeing, we landed at another Red Rock site with magnificent views, including the dramatic Coconino National Forest. I must admit I was prejudging the Hilton brand until I saw what a fantastic resort they have created here, in the land of enchantment. www.hiltonsedonaresort.com
A MUST: A day long visit to Sedona’s highest rated day spa, eforea spa at Hilton Sedona. With all the superior spa choices in Sedona, the ‘healing center of the world’, this spa has the most progressive treatments.
There are numerous choices of Transformational Spa and Therapeutic Energy Services. The new spa manager, Ginni Selle, has transformed this place into a healing center, with the latest in energy healing modalities. We had a sensory enhancement treatment that was felt like we were in another dimension, after picking our colored lenses, we sat back in a vibrational lounge chair, a sumptuous environmental experience, replete with headphones, and had a multidimensional experience with a foot reflexology treatment that is beyond words.
Now is the time to plan a 'souljourn' to Sedona! I am yearning to go back again, soon.
* It was a musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. It later became a movie, with a second theatrical version in 1966 with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Marian Mercer reprised their Broadway revival roles for Sammy Stops the World, a 1978 television adaptation.