Talk to anyone who has ever visited Sedona and one of the first things they will likely tell you about is the ‘energy’ and ‘spirituality’ of the unassuming town that has become one of the most celebrated destinations for relaxation in the United States. Being a natural skeptic, I had my doubts about the claims, as it all seemed a bit too touchy-feely for my tastes. But from the moment I arrived at the airport in Glendale, Ariz. (which was a bit of amiracle in and of itself), and began the two-hour journey to Sedona, I have to admit that I felt drawn to the much-buzzed-about magic of my final destination.
As the commerce of Phoenix disappeared into the distance and my extremely garrulous driver (let’s call her Angie for conversation’s sake) ticked off one notable characteristic of Sedona after another, I stared out the window at the increasingly barren landscape dotted with native Saguaro cacti reaching towards the heavens. If I’m honest, my first reaction was a mild wave of fear.
I mean, what would happen if the very car I was sitting in broke down in the middle of this no-man’s land? Call me a fatalist, but I always contemplate exit strategies when in unfamiliar surroundings—particularly scarcely populated ones.
However, after the dutiful Angie produced car chargers for both Android and iPhone devices upon request, I felt relatively certain that she could sort out any sticky situation that might arise along the desolate stretch of highway she seemed to know so very well. My fears quelled, I returned my attention to the sun setting over the mountains in the distance as the car climbed to higher altitudes and my mind drifted to thoughts of a simpler life in a simpler place.
By the time we descended into Sedona, any doubts about whether or not Sedona was as special a place as the hype had suggested had dissipated. It turns out that I had arrived just in time to experience that magic hour when nature lights to impressive perfection the famed red rock formations that form the skyline of Sedona. I dare anyone—even the most cynical of cynics—not to be awed when confronted by Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and even Snoopy Rock, which served as the backdrop for my introduction to L’Auberge de Sedona, the luxury resort I called home for the weekend. And what a home it was, I might add.
Set on 11 lush acres, L’Auberge de Sedona feels a bit like a luxurious camp for grown-ups. Like your favorite camp counselors, a flurry of friendly staff members greets guests in the circular drive at the entrance to the hotel before ushering them into the lobby where the front desk is actually a desk with a single person sitting behind it waiting to assist with check-in. No line … no fuss … guests just take a seat, get an introduction to the property and sign a few forms while their luggage is delivered to their respective rooms. It’s all terribly civilized (and, most importantly, relaxing and stress-free).
But back to the rooms for a second. Though L’Auberge has just 87 rooms, the hotel offers tremendous diversity in the style of accommodations that are available. Some—like the Vista Suites and Cottages—have magnificent views of Sedona’s famous red rocks, while others—like the Creekside and Garden Cottages—are homey, studio-style affairs that offer the ultimate in privacy and serenity.
A secluded and cozily appointed Creekside Cottage with a private deck, discreet outdoor shower (in addition to an indoor bath and shower), king-size bed and 42-inch television was my choice for the weekend, and it is one that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a romantic retreat or some quality alone time. For me, thepièce de resistance in my cottage was the real wood-burning fireplace. Given the rarity of such a find in hotels these days, the fireplace was for me a special bonus, particularly given that each night when I returned to my cottage, Benjamin (one of those friendly staff members who had greeted me upon my arrival) showed up at my door with wood in hand to make a fire. It was a very nice touch. But then again, it is actually those nice little touches that make L’Auberge so special—and for the record, there are many.
In the spirit of convenience, L’Auberge maintains pristine black Range Rovers that whisk guests up to destinations in town and then scoop them up when they’re ready to return to the resort. For adventurous types interested in exploring Sedona’s notable red rocks, the hotel offers Derek Bond, L’Auberge’s dedicated hiking concierge, with whom I took a spiritual hike to Crescent Moon Ranch, the popular path across from Cathedral Rock that is studded with hundreds of surreally hand-stacked prayer rocks. And yes, I did place a prayer rock, thank you very much. After all, I was in Sedona and in the spirit.
Then there’s sunrise yoga on the garden lawn and duck-feeding in the morning, as well as stargazing with experts at night. And of course there’s the hotel’s new climate-controlled pool and the spa, where I indulged in the signature Sacred Stone Massage, in which smooth warm stones are used to enhance the experience.
So plentiful were the amenities that I could have been perfectly satisfied if I had never ventured off the property all weekend long, but venture I did, and so should you. In addition to the hike to Cathedral Rock, I took an amazing open-door helicopter tour of all the most well-known rock formations with Arizona Helicopter Adventure. I spent an afternoon exploring and shopping for copper goods in nearby Jerome, Ariz., which is an old ghost town filled with lots of supernatural stories and a bevy of quaint shops. I even found time to have my aura read in town. ( I mean, how could I resist?)
And in between it all, I enjoyed beautifully prepared meals creekside at the resort prepared by Chef Rochelle Daniel, sampled local wines at Tasting Arizona Wine Bar and indulged in my fair share of Southwestern cuisine at local favorite hotspots, including Open Range.
As my weekend came to a close, I found myself raving about energy and vortexes and actually feeling like my spirit had made a shift—for the better. In just a few short days, I had become a believer. Funny what a healthy dose of pampering, superlative food and wine and a few 270 million-year-old rock formations can do for one’s perspective.
Find out more about L’Auberge de Sedona at lauberge.com.