Tag Archives: sedona


Highest residential sale recorded in N. Arizona

Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty closed what is now the highest residential sale ever recorded in Northern Arizona, including the Sedona MLS and the Flagstaff MLS. The sale of 51 Moonlight Drive, Sedona, closed for $4.5 million.

It was selected by Sotheby’s International Realty as one of the 12 most beautiful homes in the world and earned a spot in the SIR global calendar in 2012. 9,000 feet on 8 acres with the most incredible view in all of Sedona.

Agent Ed Pennington, who was the top producing agent in all of Sedona for 2013, represented both the buyer and seller in this transaction.

“In this particular transaction, this is without a doubt the happiest buyer and seller combination, I’ve ever represented,” said Pennington. “I was representing the seller and then it struck me that I had a client in Tucson who this home might be a good fit for. Within an hour of looking at the home, we had a signed contract.”

Pennington put up some serious numbers in 2013 and it’s no accident that the affable agent was able to secure the No. 1 spot in terms of sales volume, as anyone who knows him can attest.

Pennington tallied a whopping $22, 233,250 in sales volume, outdistancing the entire Sedona Verde Valley Realtor field for 2013.

“The Real Estate market in Sedona was very strong last year. We saw gains in all segments of the market both in number of units sold as well as price increases. We sold almost twice the number of luxury homes in 2013 over 2012 and we expect gains again this year across the market segments. I owe much of my success in 2013 to the outstanding efforts of Gioia Cohen and Joanne Holiday, who without their support I could not have had such a great year.”

The Military High School and University of Arizona graduate has a collection of lifetime experiences that helps inform his approach to his work and has shaped him into the effective and hard-working agent that he is today. Those experiences include time as a touring musician, manager of a retail clothing store, entrepreneur, real estate developer, car dealership owner, and head of a home for abused and neglected children. He joined Russ Lyon Sotheby’s in 2010 and has gone on to represent sellers and buyers of Sedona’s most spectacular residential properties.

“It’s agents like Edward Pennington that are the engine of our company,” said Jim Lyon, Chairman, Owner and third generation Lyon involved in Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. “Russ Lyon is built on Realtors who love what they do and take pride in their work. We attract and retain the best and brightest agents in the business and that has kept Russ Lyon Sotheby’s international viable and relevant for several generations.”


Kimpton Unveils $1M Redesign at Amara

Today Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants unveiled a $1 million redesign at Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, Ariz., that includes a refresh of the boutique resort’s 100 guest rooms, common areas and a coming-soon restaurant, SaltRock, that will open in early September.

In celebration of the redesign, the resort is offering a “Refresh Your Perspective” discounted rate starting from $195 per night, a 15 percent savings, beginning Sept. 1 through Dec. 30, 2014 (Rate code: Refresh Your Perspective. Valid for Sunday through Thursday stays.)

Amara’s new “modern native” esthetic infuses elements of Native American and Southwestern pattern and designs, but reinvented in a contemporary way. Craftsmanship and traditions of the Hopi and Navajo tribes that are indigenous to Northern Arizona, such as basket-making, rope-weaving, rain sticks and turquoise, can be found throughout. Pulling from the color palette of the surrounding lush foliage and the brilliant desert flowers that dot the property, green, aubergine, bright marigold and injections of hot fuchsia define the new interiors, which perfectly complement the red rock views that envelop the resort.

“The new look of Amara is contemporary, yet comfortable. It’s chic and sophisticated while also being a warm and welcoming place that encourages our guests to socialize and enjoy the beauty and local culture of Sedona,” said Patrick Gaskin, general manager of Amara Resort & Spa. “From the rich leather accents, Native American-inspired patterned rugs, natural live-edge wood tables, bright magenta statement chairs and a stunning, 10-foot-wide brass cowbell chandelier, the mix of simple and clean with pops of color and surprise really make our living room come alive.”

Common areas that underwent redesign include the living room where guests enjoy complimentary wine hour nightly, the full-service spa, the outdoor lounge and lawn areas and the 26,000-gallon infinity edge saltwater pool that overlooks the serene Oak Creek and red rocks.

“We designed our outdoor spaces as social environments that invite guests to relax in cheery Adirondack chairs on the lawn, cozy up on starry nights with plush blankets in front of the fire pits or lounge poolside in the new furniture while enjoying the view,” said Gaskin. “Resort and restaurant guests can also now enjoy a variety of games from 3pm-6pm nightly on the lawn including bocce ball and corn hole.”

Amara’s guest rooms feature live-edge wooden headboards that were individually crafted from fallen trees and vary from room-to-room, crystal drawer accents and geode artwork that pull inspiration from Sedona’s spiritual center, turquoise table lamps, oversized sitting chairs with woven rope accents, colorful rain sticks positioned above the bed to promote sweet dreams and artwork showcasing a jackalope, the mythological creature, adding a bit of whimsy.

Along with a new look, Amara’s full-service, award-winning spa has introduced a variety of treatments that embrace the natural and spiritual Sedona influences such as the Rain Dance Massage, using lavender, rosemary and sage oils that are dripped down the spine; Winds of Change Massage, where the chakras are realigned using the beat of Native rattles, smudging of sage and the healing powers of crystals in addition to massage techniques; and the Soleful Traveler Pedicure using hot stones and local Sedona mud to detox and relax weary feet.

Slated to open in early September, the resort’s dining destination, SaltRock, will offer Southwest-inspired cuisine marrying the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Drawing on inspiration from the Sonoran Desert and the vibrant city of Scottsdale, Executive Chef Massimo De Francesca is perfectly at home in this distinct environment. The cocktail program at SaltRock will highlight craft margaritas and was created by Kimpton Lead Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout, who oversees the cocktails and spirits program for Kimpton’s nearly 70 restaurants, bars and lounges across the country. The bar will offer a thoughtful selection of tequila and mezcal, along with a curated selection of other spirits, local wines and craft, domestic and international beer favorites.

Guests of Amara enjoy complimentary morning coffee and tea service in the living room; hosted evening wine hour from 5pm – 6pm daily; a 24-hour fitness center; complimentary daily yoga; a heated, sea salt infinity pool and hot tub overlooking the red rocks and Oak Creek; free Wi-Fi for Kimpton Karma Rewards members; custom PUBLIC Bikes for complimentary use; pet-friendly amenities and accommodations and 5,000 square feet of multi-use space accommodating up to 160 people, which can be customized for social and business events.

To learn more about Kimpton’s Amara Resort & Spa, visit www.amararesort.com or call 928-282-4828.


Kimpton plans New Sedona Restaurant

Chef Massimo_emailA new restaurant, SaltRock, is opening this September when Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants unveils its signature dining destination at Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, Ariz., now undergoing a property-wide redesign, where Chef Massimo De Francesca has just been appointed executive chef.

Chef Massimo is currently the executive chef at Taggia, located at Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, where he showcases coastal Italian cuisine, sourcing local Arizona organic produce, herbs from the on-site garden and top-quality meats and seafood flown in fresh daily. Classic in his training, yet innovative in his approach, Chef Massimo is known for connecting tradition with contemporary musings.

SaltRock will offer Southwest-inspired cuisine marrying the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Drawing on inspiration from the Sonoran Desert and the vibrant city of Scottsdale, Chef Massimo is perfectly at home in this distinct environment.

For Chef Massimo, standouts have already emerged from the menu including Deviled Eggs, chipotle-egg yolk mousse with pasilla maple syrup; King Oyster Mushrooms, confit, charred and marinated in local pine needles and served with warm Mexican chocolate and pinenut gremolata; Mini Bell Peppers, smoked with pecan wood and garnished with spicy aioli; Trout Pâté, local Sedona trout slow roasted over apple wood, made into a pâté and layered in a smoking jar served with toasted baguette; Lamb Tostadas, braised lamb belly, smoked goat cheese and apple-mint chutney and fresh epazote served over freshly made crispy tostadas; Wild So-Cal Swordfish, citrus grilled, layered with tomatillos, pineapple-puree and topped with mango and black bean salsa and Achiote Chicken, marinated organic chicken breast served over jalapeño and cilantro risotto, asparagus, garnished with piñon sauce and pomegranate seeds.

“It has been exciting to dive into the creation of the menu for SaltRock and blend Southwest-inspired flavor with the seasonal approach to California cooking, all while discovering ways to incorporate local, organic ingredients from Sedona and the Verde Valley into each dish,” said Chef Massimo. “I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the Sedona culinary scene and trust that our new restaurant will further enhance the city’s dining experiences.”

The cocktail program at SaltRock will highlight craft margaritas and was created by Kimpton Lead Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout, who oversees the cocktails and spirits program for Kimpton’s nearly 70 restaurants, bars and lounges across the country. The bar will offer a thoughtful selection of tequila and mezcal, along with a curated selection of other spirits, local wines and craft, domestic and international beer favorites.

SaltRock’s design complements the resort’s new “modern native” design esthetic, which infuses elements of Native American patterns, but reinvented in a contemporary way. With charcoal-colored oak flooring, mix-and-match dining chairs, a live-edge wood communal dining table and banquets upholstered in vintage rugs, the restaurant embodies a timeless and comfortable American vibe and spirit. An art-installation of more than 300 antique spoons, found at flea markets across the country and artfully dipped in a variety of colors, adorn the wall. Lush, green air-plants in ceramic pots hang from ropes and leather straps to create a living wall that separates the restaurant from the resort’s living room to connect the spaces, while still allowing for privacy.

Born in Toronto, Chef Massimo’s international culinary passions have led him to positions in such places as Toronto, Canada; Torino and Cesenatico, Italy; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Washington DC; Manhattan, New York and Dallas, Texas. In addition to his diverse experiences, he has worked under world renowned chefs such as Gianpiero Tondina, Vincenzo Cammeruci, Oscar Tuchi and JP Challet.

Chef Massimo joined Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in 2008 where he has served as executive chef at a variety of restaurants across the country over the years. He moved to Scottsdale to lead the culinary vision at Taggia in 2012, where he has earned numerous accolades including “Top 10 Best Italian Restaurants” by Phoenix Magazine. Kimpton is known for its award-winning collection of seasonally-inspired restaurants and bars lead by creative, local chefs that turn farm-fresh flavors into memorable dishes.

In August, Amara Resort & Spa is preparing to unveil a $1 million redesign of the boutique resort’s 100 spacious guest rooms and suites, common spaces including the living room where guests enjoy complimentary wine hour nightly, the outdoor lounge and the 26,000-gallon infinity edge saltwater pool that overlooks the serene Oak Creek and red rocks. As Kimpton’s newest addition to its Arizona properties, Amara is located in the heart of uptown Sedona. Nestled along Oak Creek, the resort overlooks the Cleopatra Red Rock Formation where Camel Rock and the much-loved Snoopy Rock are in perfect view.

While Amara is just steps from the hustle and bustle of Sedona’s uptown shopping, dining and cultural hub, the resort is situated below the main area, nestled on the banks of the creek, which makes it feel worlds away.

To learn more about Kimpton’s Amara Resort & Spa, visit www.amararesort.com or call 928-282-4828.


Sedona makes 10 Most Sacred Spots List

Budget Travel recently named Sedona, Arizona as one of the most cherished and revered destinations in the world on their “10 Most Sacred Spots on Earth” list.

“Sedona, Arizona has long drawn people interested in healing, spirituality, mysticism, and metaphysics, who come for more than just the dramatic, red-rock beauty. The area is famous for its vortexes, powerful centers of kinetic energy that can have a deep effect on those who visit them,” acoording to Budget Travel.

Sedona’s world-wide reputation as a spiritual mecca and global power spot has drawn some of our planet’s most amazing healers, intuitives, artists and spiritual guides. Mother Nature’s red-rock temples treat locals and visitors alike to life-transforming and soul-nourishing experiences. Sedona is a perfect place for spiritual and personal enrichment of the body and the soul.

“It’s truly amazing that the most beautiful place on earth is also known for what you can’t see,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.

“The energy of Sedona fills most visitors with a feeling of great serenity, peace and love. There is something special in Sedona, and you feel it the moment you arrive.”

“These places have been inspiring more than just vacation ideas for centuries. Long revered for their gorgeous scenery and spiritual power, below are the 10 Most Sacred Spots on Earth:

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Cenote Sagrado, Mexico
Mahabodhi Tree, Bodh Gaya, India
Mount Kailas, Tibet
Mount Sinai, Egypt
Glastonbury Tor, England
Crater Lake, Oregon
Mount Parnassus, Greece
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Vortexes; Sedona, Arizona


Slide Rock named one of America’s 10 best state parks

Fodor’s Travel recently named Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona as one of the most loved and cherished state parks in America on the “America’s 10 Best State Parks” list.

According to Fordor’s Travel, “There’s pretty much one reason and one reason only to visit Slide Rock State Park, seven miles north of Sedona: to slip down the smooth, red-sandstone water slide and be carried over the surface by a cooling creek into the swimming hole below.”

Although Slide Rock State Park is best known today as a water-recreation destination, the site had its beginning as a 43-acre apple farm. In 1907, Frank Pendley discovered the site, and three years later homesteaded the property. He created an irrigation system and planted an orchard that continues to bear fruit.

Slide Rock State Park is seven miles north of Sedona on State Route 89A. On a warm day you can plunge down a natural rock slide into a swimming hole (bring an extra pair of jeans or a sturdy bathing suit and river shoes to wear on the slide). The natural beauty attracted a number of Hollywood stars including John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. A few easy hikes run along the rim of the gorge of Oak Creek’s brightly colored scenic canyon walls.

“Out of 8,000 State Parks around the country, we are very pleased that our historical local gem has been placed on this prestigious list of top 10 Best State Parks in America. Slide Rock State Park is truly an Arizona treasure,” said Jennifer Wesselhoff, President and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.

“The park is a perfect place to cool off and enjoy picnics, swimming, natural water slides, and some of the best scenery and hiking in the southwest. Sedona’s proximity to seven area state parks, five national monuments and many heritage sites, make it a paradise for nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts,” Wesselhoff said.

The top best State Parks include:

  1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
  2. T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Florida
  3. Adirondack Park, New York
  4. Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee
  5. Itasca State Park, Minnesota
  6. Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
  7. Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
  8. Slide Rock State Park, Arizona
  9. Lime Kiln Point State Park, Washington
  10. Custer State Park, South Dakota

Sedona hosts mind-body-spirit film festival

The expanding world of conscious cinema where innovative films linked with interactive programs, workshops and experiences activate the senses and create action are the underpinnings of the first U.S. mind-body-spirit film festival, May 29 to June 1, in one of the world’s most-talked about spiritual centerpoints.

The Illuminate Film Festival is emerging as the first industry‚ festival for conscious cinema, where buyers, filmmakers, platforms, press, and mind-body-spirit thought-leaders will congregate to usher this scope of cinema forward.

Now is the time, the tipping point, for the emergence of conscious media. Obstacles which previously held this genre back – poor quality, questioned legitimacy of the subject matter, and a limited audience demographic – have given way to an exploding worldwide conscious living movement, a remarkable improvement in production value, and attention from distributors such as Kino Lorber, Participant Media, Beyond Words, Monterey Media, Gaiam and First Run Features, said Illuminate Founder and Executive Director Danette Wolpert.

The Illuminate Film Festival will showcase paradigm-busting, consciousness-expanding narratives, documentaries and shorts, including inspirational human journey stories and themes related to wellness, self-discovery, consciousness, body-mind science, yoga, meditation, spirituality, organic and plant-based food movements and sustainable living.

Filmmaker David Christopher Loya-Bojorquez defines conscious films as “life-affirming works that hold human beings as sacred rather than expendable and encourage the audience to ponder existence more deeply than their day-to-day routines,” Wolpert said. “This is the crux of our mission, and the impetus for our innovative View and Do principle.”

Illuminate’s View and Do concept, the “Reel Healing Series,” will give filmgoers options for specially selected “soul-inspiring movies coupled with an immersive workshop by a skilled practitioner for a deeper integration of the movie’s message,” Wolpert said.

“The combination of consciousness-expanding films with powerful messages and experiential opportunities to enrich the movie-going experience allow audiences to process and act on what they see on screen.”

In addition to offering four world premieres, and seven U.S. and Southwest premieres among the 22-film field, the Festival also includes the world’s first Conscious Filmmaker Convergence, a half-day series of panels and workshops for mind-body-spirit filmmakers to learn, share and build new models for production, marketing and distributing conscious cinema.

Workshop panelists include:

  • Betsey Chasse, co-director of What the Bleep Do We Know?
  • Nicole Guillemet, former co-director of the Sundance Film Festival
  • Anna Darrah, Director of Acquisitions, Spiritual Cinema Circle, Gaiam, Inc.
  • Kate Neligan, Founder/CEO of Synergy TV and former VP at Lionsgate
  • Lisa Leeman, Former President of the International Documentary Association and co-director, Awake: The Life of Yogananda
  • Paola di Florio, Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Speaking in Strings and co-director, Awake: The Life of Yogananda
  • Ward Serrill, director, Song of the New Earth and The Heart of the Game
  • Ronna Prince, producer of Sacred Journey of the Heart

Workshop topics include: How to Make a Breakthrough Conscious Film: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Production; Marketing/Promoting Your Conscious Film; and Get Your Conscious Film Seen: Three Options for Distribution.

The Conscious Filmmaker Convergence also includes case studies on films such as What the Bleep Do We Know?, The Secret, Food Matters, Thrive, Forks Over Knives, The Way, and Heaven is Real.

Among films being premiered:

  • World: Death Makes Life Possible, presented by executive producer Dr. Deepak Chopra; Dance of Liberation, 24 Peaces (Work-In-Progress), and On Meditation, featuring director David Lynch, actor Giancarlo Esposito and National Book Award winning author Peter Matthiessen.
  • US or Southwest: E-Motion, Song of the New Earth and Awake: The Life of Yogananda.

The Festival’s Healing Village will offer samples and services from the region’s best health and wellness practitioners including massage therapists, Reiki specialists, meditation guides, energy workers, astrologers and more.

The film lineup is published online, and all-access passes are now available. The full schedule of films, guests, events and workshop speakers will be announced April 28, and individual tickets will be available May 8. Illuminate Film Festival films will be screened at Sedona’s state-of-the-art Mary D. Fisher Theater, Creative Life Center and the Sedona Performing Arts Center. Illuminate’s Official Industry Lodging Partner is Grace Grove Retreat Center.

For more information and to sign up for newsletters and updates, visit www.illuminatefilmfestival.com.

Get ready for the Sedona Bluegrass Festival

Now in its eight season, the June 4-8 Sedona Bluegrass Festival is making serious inroads in the Arizona Bluegrass world. Led by Festival Artistic Director Darol Anger, the Festival will include many friends invited personally by Anger including the legendary Peter Rowan, one of the bluegrass worlds multiple award winners and leading ladies Laurie Lewis with husband Tom Rozum, and one of America’s most exciting artists of this generation, cellist Ben Sollee.

Ben Sollee

Ben Sollee

“Darol’s connections and insights add a tremendous amount to our efforts,” said Festival director Bert Harclerode. “One is often judged by the company we keep, and Darol’s shared vision promises to make this festival our best yet! Ben Sollee is one of the college scene’s hottest tickets and we’re delighted to bring him to Sedona.”

Sollee, according to his web page, first gained major notice with his 2008 debut album, Learning to Bend, which led NPR’s Morning Edition to call him one of the “Top Ten Great Unknown Artists” of the year. Later, All Things Considered called his debut “an inspired collection of acoustic, folk and jazz-flavored songs, filled with hope and the earnest belief that the world is good.” Around the same time, Sollee was touring the world with Abigail Washburn’s Sparrow Quartet alongside Grammy nominee Casey Driessen and multi-Grammy winner Bela Fleck. Sollee’s music drew the attention of My Morning Jacket frontman Yim Yames, who produced his second full-length album, a collaboration with Daniel Martin Moore. In 2010 they released Dear Companion, a stunning collection of songs meant to inspire environmental stewardship. The next year Sollee contributed his cello stylings to My Morning Jacket’s hit album Circuital and released Inclusions, a sonically awe-inspiring album about relationships that was called “structurally brilliant” by Slant and “stunning” by No Depression.
Through it all, Sollee has garnered a rabid following of listeners devoted to his music. They will be greatly pleased with this, his most personal and adventurous album yet. His voice is grittier here, and the instruments—fiddles, lovely in their sawing, and electric guitars grinding out love and disappointment and every emotion in between—mimic the urgency and passion so evident in his vocals. “The vocals are more off the cuff and freer,” he says, stressing that the production strives more for rawness than perfection. “We steered our ears toward getting the right energy for each song. The takes took on their own life and led us along. The machines and mics had a weighty sound that we could use to drive the story through the lyrics and arrangements.”
The songs give us the many facets of a human being who is acutely aware of the world around him and his own faults. The album is novelistic in its scope and theme as we travel with the narrator who reveals everything about himself as a father, a spouse, a musician, and more. We are along for the ride as the narrator sings of selfishness, joy, impatience, romance…being human. With Half-Made Man, a record of raw power, grace, and wisdom, Sollee is sure to be measured alongside the best artists of his generation.

Sollee’s fourth album, Half-Made Man, a revealing, deeply moving album that explores a man trying to figure himself out, just as we all are. Known for his thrilling cello-playing that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B, Sollee possesses rough-smooth-smoky vocal stylings and a knack for intricate arrangements that has brought about comparisons to Sufjan Stevens. Sollee shares himself completely with his audience, whether it be by personal lyrics, or his commitment to the environment. Sollee can often be found riding a bicycle to his concerts (cello strapped to the back), which have become legendary for their intimacy.

The album, produced by Sollee himself, boasts a sublime cast of musicians, including Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) on electric/acoustic guitar and pedal steel, Alana Rocklin on bass, Jordon Ellis on percussion, Jeremy Kittel (formerly of the Turtle Island String Quartet) on violin, and guest vocals by Abigail Washburn. Sollee contributes octave mandolin, guitar, and of course, his signature cello.

“I wanted it to have a raw, real-time performance quality,” Sollee says. “This is kinetic expression. I dug deep into myself and asked the musicians to go there with me. To my ear, it sounds like musical search party; we often find what we’re looking for in between defined styles and genres. It won’t be easy to place this in one category, but I, and my generation, are measured by a little bit of everything these days.”

Sollee will perform Saturday and Sunday at the Festival taking place at Los Abrigados Resort in the heart of Sedona. Complete Festival information can be found at www.SedonaBluegrassFestival.org or by calling 928.204.2415.


Sedona No. 13 among Top 25 U.S. Destinations

Sedona has been ranked as one of the Travelers’ Choice® 2014 “Top 25 Destinations in the United States.” Coming in at No. 13, Sedona is pleased with the abundance of positive feedback and awe-inspiring reaction of both long time visitors and newcomers to the area.

“Sedona is a true oasis, a vacationer’s paradise in the middle of the Arizona desert. Here, you’ll find resorts and spas, canyons and red rock formations. Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon are great hiking spots, and the dramatic architecture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a religious experience itself. When the sun dips down below the horizon it introduces the best show in Sedona: the night sky.” –TripAdvisor

“On behalf of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, it is great honor to be placed on the Travelers’ Choice® 2014 Top 25 Destinations in the United States. As the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor assists visitors in gathering travel information, posting travel reviews and engaging in interactive travel forums. This powerful web-based company boasts 200 million unique monthly visitors and over 100 million reviews and opinions. We are honored that world travelers voted Sedona as one of the best destinations to visit in the US,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.

The top 25 destinations include: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Washington DC; Boston, Los Angles, Honolulu, New Orleans, Seattle, Miami, Sedona, Savannah, Charleston, Napa, San Antonio, Lahaina, Portland, Philadelphia, Myrtle Beach, Kailua Kona, Palm Springs, Naples, and Houston.

In addition to Sedona’s superb positioning, beautiful Adobe Grand Villas has been ranked No. 3 out of 25 on the Travelers’ Choice® 2014 “Top 25 Small Hotels” list; as well as #5 on the “25 Most Romantic Hotels in the United States”. “We have such great guests, who become friends rather than just customers. We have a very high return rate due to our staff treating each guest as they are the only ones, even if it’s a full house. The villas are designed to create an intimate experience. Fires places are located in each room as well as by the Jacuzzi tub. Couples can also memorialize their special stay or occasion on our unique Love Lock fence. Call to create a special romantic stay, from flowers, couples massages, to a private dinner prepared special by Michael Merilli.”


Magical Relaxation, 4-Diamond Fare at L’Auberge Sedona

From my 10th floor office window in Downtown Phoenix, I can literally see the summer heat. It’s there in the yellowing grass wrapping the building below; it’s eye level as it snakes over and swallows the Estrella Mountains in the western distance. I may be wrapped up below a vent of ridiculously icy air-conditioning, but out that window, I imagine the beach breeze scarved around my neck, streaming through my hair. I smell Flagstaff’s Ponderosa Pines and crisp mountain atmosphere. I think about rain. Obviously: I want to get out.

And it was in one of those moments when what you desire the most just happens that L’Auberge de Sedona came to mind. I love when whirlwind decisions emerge more beautiful than anything planned could have – like an impulse lipstick that leads to a lifetime of love – and here I was, on a random summer day, heading up to a place at least ten degrees cooler (it does make a difference!) and a million degrees more vacation-y than, well, my office.

I am welcomed by a smiling staff that ushers me into a homey lobby with fresh lemon/mint/blackberry ice water and a cool, intimate bar. Unlike many resort destinations, L’Auberge is about luxury AND intimacy – but though it’s mostly about luxury, the intimacy of every facet, from the pathways between each cabin that are lined with ivy arbors and white jasmine to the steamy outdoor vista suite showers, is never sacrificed. On my tour, where I spot apple trees reminiscent of the days the location was an apple orchard, I see cozy creek side cottages with wood-burning fireplaces, spa cottages with dual-jet showers and stately four-poster beds; deluxe vista suites and quaint residences with gas fireplaces, modern sitting rooms with LCD TVs and private cedar showers under the sky. I couldn’t see them, but pet-friendly garden cottages hide amongst the trees. The hotel’s original lodge (the lobby of which holds courtly wooden chandeliers over grand fireplaces) offers more family-friendly rooms and a front lawn with a southern view of those heavenly red rocks that plays scene to what I’m sure are the most devastatingly romantic weddings. After my jaunt, I’m almost late for a very important date: I am led to a small cabin with a single door that is labeled “Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona.”

L’Auberge Stretch massage time. Having been out of yoga for a couple of months, I chose this service specifically, but the spa offers an array of award-winning services, including but not limited to the following:

• Advanced Skin Renewal Facial
• Gentlemen’s Facial
• Desert Sage Sugar Scrub
• L’Auberge Stretch
• Deep Tissue Massage
• Reiki

There isn’t much to say about a massage at L’Auberge that I’m sure you haven’t already imagined (some words circle like relaxing, mind-blowing, etc.) After the delightful experience, I discovered my room, a generous Vista Suite at the top of the hill above the lobby.

A shower outdoors and a robe-enveloped porch nap later, it’s meal time by the bustling creek. Chef Rochelle Daniel greeted us warmly – she’s little, kind and packs a celebrated culinary prowess that precedes our introduction. Known among the hotel for unexpectedly changing the menu, the woman works ingeniously, serving us one course after another (7!) with fresh delicacies like watermelon with tuna and jalapenos, halibut with local vegetables and an Earl Grey chocolate torte. The resort’s resident blue heron lands on a rock in the creek for a photo opportunity, fluttering his slate-blue back feathers. He hops from one perch to another down the waterway until he’s satisfactorily impressed every creek side diner.

After the stars emerge, we trudge up the hill to see the night sky through a telescope; the resort organizes star-gazing a few times a week with a local astronomer. Saturn is visible tonight, and the Milky Way casts her cloudy light upon us. It is late, and I’m impatient for that fluffy bed. Up the stairs to my private suite, I’m almost tempted to sleep on the porch under Saturn, but that bed is too tempting. After a magical day and an equally otherworldly meal to keep in the books, I’m pleasantly tired. Slipping into a bed softer than I could have expected, I’m asleep immediately, spoiled rotten and excited for the homemade scones that await us in the morning. A place to keep in mind? That goes without saying.

I cannot wait to alight at L’Auberge again.

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Brookfield Communities Adds Sales Talent, New Brokerage

Phoenix-based Brookfield Communities has hired real estate veteran Craig Libby as its new sales team leader at its Verde Santa Fe master-planned community. In addition, Brookfield Communities has added Jack Hanson as a sales counselor at the community located near Sedona.
Libby will lead the sales team at Verde Santa Fe, while Brookfield Communities is pleased to welcome Hanson back to the team. Previously, Hanson sold homes at Verde Santa Fe from 2003 to 2009. Joining Libby and Hanson is experienced real estate agent, Tom Yardley.

Libby brings more than 40 years of residential sales expertise to Verde Santa Fe. He spent 15 years working for a major national homebuilder in Dallas eventually attaining the title of vice president of sales and managing a team of 40 sales people. Libby has also owned his own sales training consulting firm where he trained new home agents.

“Brookfield Communities has a successful track-record and have proven their homebuilding expertise over the years building quality homes at reasonable prices,” said Libby, a Sedona resident. “I am very excited to join the team and be a part of the efforts at Verde Santa Fe.”

Brookfield Communities has also signed an agreement with Prudential Real Estate, one of North America’s largest real estate brokerage franchise networks, to serve as its brokerage partner at Verde Santa Fe. Prudential adds significant depth to the sales team and will bring as many as 10 agents to the sales efforts at the growing master-planned community.

Earlier this year, Brookfield Communities and Republic Companies announced that they are in the advanced stages of planning on adding an additional 700 acres for mixed uses adjacent to its Verde Santa Fe master-plan. The site will eventually include about 1,400 new homes. The area will include cafes and will be surrounded by vineyards. The project will also include a commercial center, a large resort, medical office buildings, office condos and restaurants.

Brookfield Communities Founder and President Phil Petersen said plans for the expansion at Verde Santa Fe were conceived in 2005 and 2006, but were shelved during the real estate recession. Today, plans continue to move to expand Verde Santa Fe, he said, adding so far in 2013, the community has seen record amounts of sales visitation.

For additional information, visit www.brookfieldcommunities.com or call (888) 730-7676.


Kimpton expands into Northern Arizona

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants today announced that it has purchased Amara Resort and Spa, one of the leading resorts in Sedona, Ariz. The property was acquired through the company’s proprietary KHP-III fund, which closed in first quarter this year. The 100-room boutique resort overlooking Sedona’s beautiful Oak Creek, will be the third Kimpton hotel in Arizona and will join Kimpton’s portfolio of 59 hotels and 68 restaurants, bars and lounges in 25 cities nationwide.

ARS_LBY1_0992Amara Resort and Spa is located in the heart of Uptown Sedona and is just a two-minute walk from Sedona’s popular shops, galleries, wine tasting and restaurants. As a luxurious boutique hotel immersed in Sedona’s iconic red rocks, Amara Resort and Spa combines the tranquility of Sedona with Kimpton’s hallmark customer care and stylish ambience, providing a top-rated Northern Arizona destination for both business and leisure travelers.

Kimpton has experienced strong growth in urban metropolitan areas across the nation for the last decade, and lately has come to focus on more opportunities in high leisure resort destinations.

“We’re proud to add the Amara Resort and Spa to our collection,” said Mike Depatie, chief executive officer, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “We saw an opportunity to expand to Sedona, an area that’s a very desirable resort destination for travelers for its ideal weather, stunning views and serene environment. It’s a perfect addition to our growing roster of hotels because it further expands our presence in popular leisure markets  adding to hotels we already have open or in development in Scottsdale, Vero Beach, South Beach, Miami, Aspen and Palm Springs.”

As one of the leading resorts in Sedona, Amara Resort and Spa completed a $2 million renovation in September 2012. The renovations included the addition of a 26,000-gallon infinity edge saltwater pool that directly overlooks the serene Oak Creek and Sedona’s red rocks, along with upgrades to the resort’s restaurant, outdoor event space, fitness center and lobby. Many of the resort’s 100 guest rooms also overlook Oak Creek and offer stunning red rock views.

Kimpton plans further renovations to align the property with its high standards in the area of design and comfort. The details and the timing of the renovations have not yet been announced. Amara Resort and Spa has already begun to incorporate and offer Kimpton’s popular complimentary perks and amenities, such as the Kimpton InTouch loyalty program, hosted evening wine hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., coffee and tea service in the living room lobby daily, in-room yoga mats, loaner bikes, the company’s pet friendly policies and more.

Amara Resort and Spa guests can also experience the beauty of Sedona at its popular restaurant Hundred Rox, with indoor/outdoor seating. Hundred Rox’s al fresco dining was recently updated with soothing water features and romantic fire pits – all overlooking the infinity pool and natural landscape. The outdoor area capitalizes on the stunning view and can also function as an outdoor event space for intimate weddings or corporate events.

Royal Palms exterior

Royal Palms Announces New Executive Chef

Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Phoenix’s historic luxury boutique resort, announces the upcoming revitalization of longtime renowned restaurant  T. Cook’s.  The evolution entails an interior redesign of the restaurant and bar, in addition to the highly anticipated hire of Paul McCabe as Executive Chef.  Chef McCabe joined the team on Monday, May 13, 2013 prior to the restaurant’s upcoming three-month revitalization debuting early September 2013.

Royal Palms has teamed up with Phoenix-based creative design team Bar Napkin Productions directed by Founding Principal Haley Balzano to develop the interior design which will boast vibrant shades of authentic colors of the desert and an overall softer palette.  Boldly colored chairs will surround rustic wooden tables adding depth and diversity to the dining room, while iron chandeliers create a sense of intimacy and stimulate enchanting experiences and romance.  The project will also feature a newly crafted wine and tequila room and an expanded bar.

“Together with Haley Balzano as architect and Howard S. Wright as general contractor, we are confident the enhancements at T. Cook’s will elevate the experience for our guests while still preserving the wonderful sense of place,” says Steve Benson, General Manager of Royal Palms Resort and Spa. “The dining room will feature a brightened color scheme accented by contemporary design elements, creating a space which will only be further elevated by the culinary creations of Chef Paul McCabe.”

As the revitalization expands into the bar, it continues to couple the open and inviting style of Mediterranean design with the warmth of the desert Southwest.  The expansion will also create additional nooks and engaging conversation spaces bolstering a handsome setting for food, drink and live entertainment. Since food and beverage has always been at the cornerstone and lure of Royal Palms, the new bar venue reinforces the resort’s dedication to the culinary arts.  The bar will serve as a canvas for the Chef’s brilliant creativity with smaller plates and signature beverage programs.

Throughout the summer season, Chef McCabe will helm the kitchen for the new Cervantes Bistro located amidst a collection of original artwork meticulously exhibited by Celebration of Fine Art.  The bistro will showcase a light summer fare menu as well as Chef McCabe’s weekly creations from the “Test Kitchen”.  As Executive Chef, McCabe will also oversee all culinary operations at the resort including social events and private dining.

Chef Paul McCabe joins Royal Palms from San Diego where he is known as a veteran food and beverage executive, most notably for his eight-year contribution as Executive Chef of L’Auberge Del Mar Resort and Spa and the launch of the resort’s award-winning fine dining restaurant Kitchen 1540.  A Sedona native and avid mountain biker, Arizona is home to Chef McCabe where he began his culinary career.  Among his culinary ventures are serving as Executive Chef at such prestigious establishments as Enchantment Resort in Sedona before moving to Southern California to become Executive Chef of L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills.  Other career highlights include participating as guest chef at the James Beard House in New York four times over the years, in addition to receiving such awards as “rising star of American Cuisine” by the James Beard Foundation and the Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence, among other accolades.

Chef McCabe is excited to play a significant role in the next chapter of T. Cook’s evolution.  His culinary style can be summed up in three words – simple, pure and accurate – which are all precisely in line with the Mediterranean principles of simple preparations and uncomplicated dishes.  Furthermore, he is excited to delve deeper and mix his passion with the wants and needs of T. Cook’s current clientele.

“This summer will serve as a time to engage the palettes of our patrons,” says Chef McCabe. “We will utilize a ‘Test Kitchen’ approach showcasing specials offered on Wednesday nights that may ultimately appear on the fall menu.  I’m looking forward to interacting with long-term guests and Valley residents to embrace the future together.  I’m also eager to establish relationships with local purveyors to ensure we are sourcing the freshest and most seasonal ingredients.”

To learn more, visit www.royalpalmshotel.com/restaurant and follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RoyalPalms and www.facebook.com/TCooksPhoenix, Twitter at @RoyalPalmsHotel and Instagram at @royalpalmshotel.


$1 Million Prize Awarded in Health & Wealth Raffle

The Health & Wealth Raffle, benefiting Barrow & St. Joseph’s, awarded a total of $1,360,000 in Grand Prizes to three lucky Arizonans. Sedona resident Dawn Lay won $1 million on Monday, April 30, at a grand prize unveiling at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.

“My boss told me that astrologically, something life-changing was coming for me—and obviously she knew—here it is, winning $1 million,” said Dawn Lay, Sedona resident. “The first thing I’m going to do is travel around the world, I’ve already scheduled a six-week trip to Europe for the summer and I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, it was all being charged to a credit card. Now I can stay at a bed and breakfast, instead of youth hostels, and enjoy the amazing food Europe offers, not the granola bars I was planning on bringing with me to save on costs.”

In addition to the Grand Prize winners, more than 2,000 prizes were awarded in this spring’s Raffle. Funds raised help support research, education and patient care at Barrow Neurological Institute and St. Joseph’s Hospital. Over the past 10 years, the Raffle has contributed more than $50 million to the amazing work done at Barrow and St. Joseph’s.
One of Arizona’s largest fundraisers, the Raffle is a unique gaming fundraiser that provides a fun way for Arizona residents to support Barrow & St. Joseph’s while getting a chance to win spectacular prizes. Since the Raffle began in 2003, more than 124,000 prizes have been awarded to Raffle participants including 27 homes, 433 trips, 467 vehicles and more than $15 million cash. For a complete list of prize winners, visit www.healthwealthraffle.org.


$1 Million Prize Awarded in Health & Wealth Raffle

The Health & Wealth Raffle, benefiting Barrow & St. Joseph’s, awarded a total of $1,360,000 in Grand Prizes to three lucky Arizonans. Sedona resident Dawn Lay won $1 million on Monday, April 30, at a grand prize unveiling at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.

“My boss told me that astrologically, something life-changing was coming for me—and obviously she knew—here it is, winning $1 million,” said Dawn Lay, Sedona resident. “The first thing I’m going to do is travel around the world, I’ve already scheduled a six-week trip to Europe for the summer and I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, it was all being charged to a credit card. Now I can stay at a bed and breakfast, instead of youth hostels, and enjoy the amazing food Europe offers, not the granola bars I was planning on bringing with me to save on costs.”

In addition to the Grand Prize winners, more than 2,000 prizes were awarded in this spring’s Raffle. Funds raised help support research, education and patient care at Barrow Neurological Institute and St. Joseph’s Hospital. Over the past 10 years, the Raffle has contributed more than $50 million to the amazing work done at Barrow and St. Joseph’s.
One of Arizona’s largest fundraisers, the Raffle is a unique gaming fundraiser that provides a fun way for Arizona residents to support Barrow & St. Joseph’s while getting a chance to win spectacular prizes. Since the Raffle began in 2003, more than 124,000 prizes have been awarded to Raffle participants including 27 homes, 433 trips, 467 vehicles and more than $15 million cash. For a complete list of prize winners, visit www.healthwealthraffle.org.


Passes available for Sedona International Film Festival

Advance-sale passes and packages go on sale November 15 for the 19th annual Sedona International Film Festival, a nine-day event featuring more than 145 films, workshops, parties and Academy-Award winning actors, directors, producers and screenwriters.

Advance-sale passes for the weeklong festival and workshops from Feb. 23 to March 3 are now available online (www.sedonafilmfestival.com) with 20 percent discounts on most packages ordered before Dec. 31, 2012.

In addition to a range of full-length features, documentaries, shorts, animated, student films and foreign films, the festival also features Family and Classics series, the latter with TCM Host Robert Osborne choosing and introducing the films.  The lineup of films will be announced in January.

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award will be British actress Joan Collins, perhaps best known as Alexis Carrington in the popular 1980s television show Dynasty, Collins’ career spans more than 60 years in film, television and stage.  Born in Paddington, London, Collins trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.  She made her Hollywood debut in Howard Hawks’ Land of the Pharaohs in 1955 and appeared in Island in the Sun in 1957.  Among her many credits are the lead role in the 1990 stage revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives,  She made many television appearances in shows that included Roseanne, The Nanny and Will and Grace.

Priority Platinum and Gold Passes and 10 and 20-ticket packages are on sale now.  Priority Pass holders are the first to be able to select tickets to the individual films as well as other benefits including being first to be admitted into the theater for screenings.

Platinum All-Access Passes are $720 before Dec. 31 and $900 after that date.  Sedona Film Festival members pay $684 for advanced purchase.  Platinum Passes include priority tickets and seating, access to the Filmmaker/VIP Lounge and all receptions, parties and the Awards Brunch on Sunday, March 3.

Gold Priority Passes are $380 before Dec. 31 and $475 after.  Members pay $361 in advance. Gold Passes include priority tickets and seating to all films.

Ticket packages are $190 in advance for the 20-ticket package, $200 after Dec. 31 and members pay $180.  The 10-ticket package is $95 in advance, $100 after Dec. 31 and members pay $90 in advance.  Full-time students can get the 10-ticket package for $80.

Priority Pass holders will be able to select the films they want to see beginning at 9 a.m. on Feb. 4.  10 and 20-ticket pass holders can select films beginning at 9 a.m. on Feb. 11.  Individual film tickets go on sale to the general public on Feb. 18.

Sedona International Film Festival memberships also are available beginning at $65 for a basic membership.  Family memberships for up to four family members living in the same household are $130. Additional membership packages include Cinematographer ($275), Screenwriter ($550), Producer ($1,200), Auteur Society ($5,000) and Legacy ($10,000).  Benefits are commensurate with membership-fee levels.  Full information is available on the website.

Film Festival workshops are open to the public every morning from Tuesday through Saturday during Festival week.

Packages, other than for full-time students, can be purchased online at www.sedonafilm.org or through the Festival Box office at (928) 282-1177.  Student packages must be purchased through the Box Office and student ID’s are required.

For more information, visit www.sedonafilmfestival.com.

Northern AZ Weekend Trips - EAZ Fall-Winter 2012

Top 5: Northern AZ Weekend Trips (Fall-Winter 2012)

The Top 5 Northern AZ Weekend Trips — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:


200 W. Railroad Ave.,
Williams, AZ 86046
(800) 863-0546
Dubbed the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” the picturesque town of Williams sits at the base of Bill Williams Mountain in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine Forests in the world, and it’s just a mere 60 miles south of the Grand Canyon. Here, you can hop aboard the Grand Canyon Railway; stroll its main street, Route 66; or, visit Bearizona, where you can watch bears up-close.


P.O. Box 1507,
Page, AZ 86040
(888) 261-PAGE (7243)
Page is your destination for hiking, biking, boating and off-road adventure. Have you heard of Horseshoe Bend, the horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River? That’s in Page. How about the the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest, Antelope Canyon? That’s here, too. Page is your “Frontier of Adventure.”


One E. Route 66,
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(800) 842-7293
Welcome to high mountain country, where you can take part in skiing in the winter, watch the flowers bloom in the spring, play rounds of golf in the summer and witness the fall foliage. Breathe in the clean, mountain air as you hike the San Francisco Peaks; or, just a drive away, visit the Grand Canyon National Park, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Wupatki National Monument or Meteor Crater.


Navajo Indian Reservation,
Kayenta, AZ 86033
Just 20 miles south of the Utah border on US 163 is Kayenta, located on the Navajo Reservation. Kayenta is considered the gateway to one of the world’s most photographed landscapes, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, just 30 miles north of the town.


331 Forest Rd.,
Sedona, AZ 86336
(800) 288-7336
The spectacular Oak Creek Canyon. The magnificent red rocks. Vortexes. There is virtually no end to Sedona’s attraction. Hike or bike the red rock trails, including the popular Cathedral Rock; spend a night or two in one of its award-winning resorts and spas, including Enchantment Resort; or come for the weekend for one of the town’s many festivals and events, such as its Yoga Festival. The possibilities are endless.

Experience AZ Fall-Winter 2012



Amara Resort & Spa Completes $2M Renovation


Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona recently completed a $2M renovation that upgraded the resort’s 100 guest rooms, pool, restaurant, outdoor event space, fitness center, lobby and other areas.

One of the largest elements of the resort’s facelift included the addition of a 26,000-gallon infinity pool. The negative edge overlooks Oak Creek with Sedona’s signature red rocks providing a serene backdrop. The year-round pool also features a 12-person spa and three contemporary cabanas.

The renovation, which kicked off in 2Q and was completed in September, was done in phases to ensure that the resort could stay open during the construction and that guests were not disturbed during the process.

The architect overseeing the renovation was Dana Foley; the pool and courtyard were completed by Creative Environment.

“Amara is widely known and recognized for its chic and modern style and amenities, and it was important to us to keep the resort’s style as fresh as possible,” said Laurie Johnson, director of sales and marketing at Amara.

“The resort was originally built in 2003, so the renovations add that perfect contemporary touch that will continually help us stand out to guests who are looking for modern luxury in Sedona.”

Each of the 100 guest rooms and suites received a crown molding installation, upgraded bathroom furniture and fixtures, fresh carpeting and new signature bedding décor elements. Many of the resort’s rooms overlook the red rocks and have views or patios over Oak Creek.

Hundred Rox, the resort’s American-fusion restaurant, also received a full makeover including new carpet, tables and chairs, bar cabinets and countertops, and updated art installations. The outdoor area of the restaurant was also updated with soothing water features and romantic fire pits – all overlooking the infinity pool and red rocks.

The outdoor event space, most often used for weddings, was relocated to better capitalize on the stunning view. The lobby was also updated with new tile, furniture, modern check-in kiosks, a convenient business center and a gift shop.

Amara is a popular destination for leisure and business travelers, with its prime location that is just a 2-minute walk from Uptown Sedona. Amara also features one of the top spas in America, and is the only nationally recognized spa in Sedona that is also open to the public along with resort guests. Amara is managed by Prism Hotels & Resorts.

For more information, please visit amararesort.com or call 1-(928) 282-4828.




Poco Diablo Resort

Poco Diablo Resort: Golf, Massages and Filet Mignon

Like almost every Phoenician here in the Valley, I try to head up north as much as possible to get relief from the intense heat. However, when compared to the humidity of the East Coast and Midwest, I will take the dry heat any day — but that is a whole different blog in itself.

Sedona is a quick, hour-and-a-half jaunt from Phoenix with no traffic; and, at a little over 4,300 feet, you can almost be assured that you can comfortably have your dinners on the patio.

My wife and I stayed for three days and two nights at the Poco Diablo Resort, just off the State Route 179, on the south end of Sedona. I was intrigued by the fact that in the center of the resort surrounded by rooms and suites there was a nine-hole, par three golf course.

After dropping off our eight-month-old daughter with her grandma, my wife and I hopped on the I-17 on a hot, 110-degree Sunday afternoon to head up north. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the resort’s friendly concierge, pointing us to the front desk. Just past the concierge, you are given the visual pleasure of a very well-kept golf course with those famous Red Rocks in the background. After checking in, we were off to our King Poco room.

When I made my reservation, I had mentioned that my wife and I were celebrating her recent accomplishment of completing her Masters in social work at the University of Denver. They took this information and made sure we were welcomed with sparkling cider and fresh, chocolate-dipped strawberries in our room. It was a nice added touch to kick off our little getaway.

After finishing our dessert, we headed to the resort’s restaurant T.Carls. Because it was closing in on dusk at a cool 72 degrees, we opted for the patio. Whenever I visit a new restaurant, I always order its filet mignon as a judge to the quality of its product. Having worked at a five star, five diamond restaurant for three years, I notice the little things when out at dinner — almost to a fault.

As our entrées were presented to us, my eyes lit up when I discovered that my filet mignon cut was similar to those found at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Donovan’s (thick, seared and juicy).  There is nothing sweeter than a medium-rare filet just melting in your mouth. Thank you, T.Carls; thank you.

One of my favorite memories of this trip was the breakfast that my wife and I shared on the patio. With views of the Red Rocks in the background; and with a well-kept golf course at your feet, I cannot think of a better setting to enjoy coffee and a hearty meal in 70-degree weather. It was a relaxing experience to get you ready for the day.

After shopping and exploring Sedona for the day, there is only one way to relax. For my wife, it was a massage in our hotel room with Sedona as the backdrop. And as for me? A quick nine holes of golf.

Poco Diablo allows you to relax and encourages you to recharge your batteries; and at the price it offers, it can’t be beat.

I highly recommend splurging a little bit for the King Poco room, which sits on the golf course; plus, its patio offers no barrier between you and the course. As an added bonus, every room at the Poco Diablo Resort offers flat screen televisions; high-speed, wireless Internet; and its newly installed Simmons EverNu Beauty Rest beds.

For more information about Poco Diablo Resort in Sedona, visit pocodiablo.com.

Poco Diablo Resort
1752 Arizona 179
Sedona, AZ 86336
(928) 282-7333

Red Rocks, Sedona

Rejuvenating In The Red Rocks

Arizona is filled with astonishing scenery known for dropping jaws and stopping hearts, but I experienced an overwhelming amount of breathtaking beauty when I made the Red Rocks my playground.

Stunning monoliths and buttes surrounded by lavish green forestry create the perfect atmosphere to relax and rejuvenate in Sedona.

What makes Sedona so special? That’s up to you to decide. The beauty of it is that each person walks a way with an experience that is different. For me, it was a break from the seriousness of life.

It’s hard to find quiet time when you’re surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city (the Valley). Demands from life, and stress in general, make it almost impossible to find time for self-care.

Sedona makes it easy. You can escape the life of demands for as long as you wish and lose yourself in a place that will keep you sane and carefree.

Everyone needs a getaway once in awhile. Sedona is the ideal home away from home.

From hiking up to Chapel of the Holy Cross to exploring various shops and restaurants, I was able to forget about my worries for a while and immerse myself in nature.

During my trip, I reflected on life and remembered the treasures that come with it. The beautiful rocks reminded me of God’s impeccable creations. The majestic trees reminded me of life and how precious it is.

There are simple things that I often take for granted each day, and it’s refreshing to recall those things and why they are special.

Not only is Sedona an escape from the business of life, it reinforces the idea of life as a gift. Surrounded by perfection, you can’t help but appreciate the life you’ve been given.

For more information about Sedona and/or the Red Rocks, visit visitsedona.com or azstateparks.com, respectively.


Enchantment Resort

Enchantment Resort Completes Final Phase Of $25M Renovation

Enchantment Resort in Sedona has completed the third and final phase of a $25M property-wide renovation with enhancements to heighten the resort’s sense of place amid the red rocks of Boynton Canyon.

Enchantment Resort PoolClosely following the completion of an $11M refurbishment of all 218 guestrooms and a $4M expansion of the resort’s onsite Meeting Village, Enchantment Resort now boasts a completely transformed Clubhouse with new and redesigned restaurants; a larger pool area with 360-degree views of the canyon; new retail boutique and outdoor spaces.

General contractor for the project was Enchantment Resort (meeting space and rooms) and Schaller Construction (Clubhouse) of Sedona. Architect was Doug Fredrickson Architects. Subcontractors include Shasta Commercial Pools, Phoenix Meyer and Lundahl Manufacturing Company, Phoenix; Loewen Design Group, Scottsdale; Prescott Valley Nursery, Prescott; Antonio Miguel LLC, Phoenix; Jarmer Electric Arizona, Inc.; and DC Sales.

“We’re pleased to debut the final phase of this resort-wide renovation, which showcases our deep commitment to our guests, the natural environment and Native American traditions,” said Mark Grenoble, president of Enchantment Group. “The concept behind the design is to bring the outdoors in and create open-air spaces while reshaping the resort guest experience to better meet the needs of today’s sophisticated guests.”

Within the redesigned Clubhouse facilities, guests will encounter a new arrival experience, three distinct dining experiences, and a larger main pool area. Integrated into the design of the new Clubhouse are historic elements from the original private residence that once sat onsite and still serves as the building’s foundation which include: 14-inch thick adobe brick from San Luis, Mexico, which mirror the shade of red found in the sandstone cliffs of the canyon; ceiling beams made of Douglas Fir featured throughout the space; and sliding glass walls which offer unobstructed views of the surrounding area.

Highlights of the new Clubhouse:

Virtual Check-In and Arrival Experience: Enchantment Resort’s newly launched virtual check-in process will use new technology to provide guests with a seamless arrival experience. Guests will be welcomed curbside by resort attendants who instantly check them in on electronic tablets. An informative concierge corner will be located inside the entrance as well as an expanded retail space leading to a scenic patio. As the central gathering place for guests, the Clubhouse includes a fireplace, relaxing lounge spaces where guests can unwind or socialize, and the resort’s collection of original works of southwestern art displayed throughout.

Signature Restaurant: A new signature restaurant will complement its environment with finely appointed wood finishes, tile, neutral tones and custom lighting to create a space that is contemporary and quietly seductive. The split level dining layout and glass doors open on to a verandah that showcases the scenic views from this elevated setting. A stylish new wine bar and lounge displays a wine cellar with over 2,000 bottles. The versatility of the restaurant allows for outdoor as well as indoor seating, ideal for tapas and cocktails, or dessert and an after-dinner drink while taking in Sedona’s unsurpassed surroundings.

Enchantment Resort DiningTastes of the Southwest at Tii Gavo: While Enchantment Resort’s casual dining restaurant still serves inspired Southwestern fare, it features a cozy indoor fireplace as well as a blend of seating styles of a traditional restaurant and lounge. Beyond the fireplace a small bar serves a variety of margaritas, a signature collection of tequilas, cocktails, regional beers and wine. The casual atmosphere marries a traditional western tavern with the comfort of a residential southwest desert theme. Most notable is Tii Gavo’s exterior circular patio and fire pit, where guests can dine by the warmth of an outdoor fireplace with striking views of the resort and the stunning red rock surroundings.

Renovated Pool Area and New Activities Center: Enchantment Resort’s pool area has been elevated to a whole new level – literally – with the existing pool and seating more than doubling in size and raised by 10 feet for 360-degree views of Boynton Canyon. The new main pool features an expanded deck and terrace area with chaise lounges, umbrellas, and private cabanas for individuals and small groups. A whirlpool spa, a well-stocked pool bar with small bites and an adjacent game room will keep things lively for both couples and families. Meanwhile, a new Activities Center will provide guests with a multitude of offerings to complement any vacation including tennis, croquet, biking, guided hikes, Native American programs and many more.

For more information on Enchantment Resort or to make reservations visit enchantmentresort.com or call (800) 826.4180.

A still from the movie "Sedona"

Sedona Movie Coming March 16, 2012

It’s always exciting to see our state on the big screen. Starting March 16, 2012 the city of Sedona will be the star.

The story begins when Tammy (Frances Fisher), a successful advertising executive, is driving from Portland to Phoenix to meet a client. She gets into a car accident and finds that the closest city is Sedona.

Frustrated and upset, she has several arguments with the locals, who are — according to her — very eccentric. Examples of these interesting characters are cosmic spiritualist Deb (Beth Grant) and friendly coffee shop owner Pierce (Christopher Atkins). While her car is being repaired, she realizes that where she ended up is no coincidence. Being stuck in Sedona forces Tammy to face her difficult past for the first time.

Meanwhile, workaholic lawyer Scott (Seth Peterson), his partner Eddie and their two sons embark on a hiking trip. During the hike, his seven-year-old son Denny gets lost amidst Sedona’s red rocks. The search for his son causes Scott to rethink his priorities and begin to understand that family should always come first.

Both these stories tell of two personal transformations that can occur in the mystical setting of Sedona, Ariz. This movie is described as a “feel-good” self-discovery movie that locals and non-locals alike can enjoy. “Sedona” focuses on featuring the beautiful hiking trails and picturesque scenery of the city.

Filming for this movie took only 21 days to complete and was written and directed by Tommy Stovall. “Sedona” received rave reviews at the 2011 Sedona International Film Festival and will be on DVD after its release in theaters.

“Sedona” will be shown in three theaters in Arizona:

Harkins Sedona 6
2081 W. State Route 89A, Sedona
(928) 282-2221
Showtimes: 10:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 10:00 p.m.

Harkins Shea 14
7354 E. Shea Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ
(480) 948-6555
Showtimes: 10:10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:50 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9:45 p.m.

Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18
5455 S. Calle Santa Cruz
Tucson, Arizona
(520) 889-5588
Showtimes: 10:00 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 9:15 p.m.

For more information about the movie “Sedona” or to purchase tickets, visit

Sedona, Ariz.

Exploring Around Sedona

With summer quickly coming to an end for those on summer break, my good friend Reanna and I decided to take a day trip somewhere up north to escape the Valley heat, if only for a little while. We both agreed that Sedona would be the perfect place.

Leaving in the late morning, we began driving on the highway. We blasted our music and talked about everything, making the drive go by quickly. About an hour and a half into the drive, we saw a sign promoting Montezuma Castle. I have visited the castle many times with my parents when we would go on day trips when I was younger. Reanna, on the other hand, had never visited, let alone heard of the place. We decided to check it out.

Montezuma Castle is a cliff dwelling made by the Sinagua people over 1,000 years ago. It’s one of the most well-preserved dwellingsMontezuma Castle, Ariz. in North America, and thousands of people come to marvel at how it was constructed and see how intact the apartment-like home still is.

After we walked into the state park, we headed down the path to look at the historic ruin. Even though I have seen it many times, the huge structure still amazes me. The dwelling is so high up on the limestone cliff, it’s unbelievable to imagine that people had to climb it every day.

While walking around the park, a park ranger informed us that another ranger was about to start talking to a group of visitors. Awesome, we would get to learn more about the Sinagua people and how they managed to build a house so far up from the ground. We walked and sat down, ready to be educated.

Well, the ranger didn’t talk about the cliff dwelling at all. Instead, he spoke to us about the dangers of rattlesnakes, strangely. I suppose Reanna and I are now well informed on that subject.

After taking one last look at Montezuma Castle, we got back in the car and headed down the highway. We made another stop at Montezuma Well, which is 11 miles north of the cliff dwelling.

Montezuma Well, Ariz. , Photo: psyberartist, FlickrThe well contains over one million gallons of water that flows in daily and was a water source to people and animals for thousands of years. There are smaller cliff dwellings surrounding the walls of the well, and it must have been a serene, beautiful place to reside.

After climbing down to the water and exploring around the ruins, our stomachs were growling. We agreed to drive to beautiful Sedona and get some lunch.

Reanna and I ate at Wildflower Bread Company, and the food was delicious, especially the potato cream cheese soup. With our hunger completely gone, it was time to explore the area.

After visiting a few stores, we drove to Highway 89 and went north. This winding, scenic road is absolutely stunning. It twists and curves around red rock cliffs and is so green, with towering trees and water on the side of the road.

After gazing at the gorgeous scenery, we parked our car on the side of the road and went down to Oak Creek. We climbed doOak Creek, Sedona, Ariz. wn some rocks and put our feet in the freezing water. The area surrounding the creek is so peaceful and relaxing; the water flows over river rocks and creates a soothing sound.

After spending time at the creek, we climbed back up the rocks and decided it was time to head home after spending almost the entire day exploring.

We hopped back on the highway and began heading home, but first we stopped at a stand on the side of the road and bought organic apple cider. It was delicious, and we drank it on the way home, reminiscing about our fun and enjoyable day we spent sightseeing.


Road Trip to Sedona

In 2009, my eight brothers and sisters wanted to do something fun for my father who was turning 63 years old that year. We chose to spend the weekend in Sedona because we always did things that were active, like going to Magic Mountain.

The day we were to leave, we loaded up six Tahoe’s of luggage and people, jumped on the highway and headed to our destination. The wind blew through my hair as the sound of a whistle crept in from the window.

As we drove, the beautiful, deep canyons and high mountains surrounded us. Once we reached our final location we pulled into the parking area only to see a huge, two-story log cabin with greenery surrounding it. No one wanted to unpack until they saw the inside.

As we opened the door and walked in it felt like we were transformed to another world. The furniture was rustic, western and outdated, but there was a homey feeling to it. The rooms were large; the patio had leaves on it from the large trees that were wrapped around the house, and the smell of whicker filled the air.

Everyone loved it. As the men got the bags out of the trucks, the ladies got down to business making dinner, lighting the fireplace, getting games out for the kids to play and talking about how excited we were to finally take a peaceful family trip.

My sisters Terri and Dina wanted to explore, so we went outside and walked around the wooded area. It was about 8 p.m., and we have all seen the movies where someone was taken from the woods, but we were excited and ready for whatever lurked in the darkness. We walked down a dirt pathway and found a small area with hammocks in a grassy area. We ran and jumped on them, laying out looking at the glowing pearl in the sky. It seemed like only a minute went by when we heard our oldest sister Sakina yelling, “Come eat you guys.” We raced each other back to the cabin.

Everyone stayed up talking, drinking hot chocolate or drinking strawberry daiquiris and enjoying the family moment that we never had a chance to do before.

The next morning all the girls got up, made breakfast and took the kids to Slide Rock. The water was cold, the sun was shining, and we spent the whole morning enjoying time as a family. The guys stayed behind playing cards, listening to music and talking about sports.

Once we all got back together, we wanted to do something fun for our last night there so we stayed up until 3 a.m. playing games that the younger generation didn’t know about like charades — a game in which somebody provides a visual or acted clue for a word or phrase, often the title of a book, play or movie, for others to guess. We also played hangman, a game in which one player has to guess the letters of a word before the other player has drawn a person being hanged, with one line being added to the figure for every wrong guess.

The next morning we ate our last breakfast together in the cabin, packed our things, loaded the trucks and headed back to the busy, hustle-and-bustle lives we all had in Phoenix.

Northern Arizona wineries grapes on the vine

Arizona Wineries: Northern Arizona

Do you have a penchant for wine and travel? Then visiting the wineries of Northern Arizona is the perfect activity for you. Below is a list of the wineries in Northern Arizona.

  1. Granite Creek Vineyards

    2515 Road 1 East – Chino Valley
    (928) 636-2003
    Fri–Sun: 1-5

  2. Jerome Winery

    403 Clark Street – Jerome
    (928) 639-9067
    Mon-Thurs: 12-5 Fri-Sun: 11–5

  3. Caduceus Cellars

    158 Main Street – Jerome
    (928) 639-WINE
    Sun-Thurs: 11–6 Fri-Sat: 11–8

  4. Bitter Creek Winery

    240 Hull Street – Jerome
    (928) 634-7033
    Daily: 11-6

  5. Pillsbury Wine Company

    North 1012 N Main Street – Cottonwood
    (928) 639-0646
    Mon-Thurs: 11-6 Fri-Sat: 11-9 Sun: 12-6

  6. Arizona Stronghold

    1023 Main Street – Cottonwood
    (928) 639-2789
    Mon/Thurs/Sun: 12-7 Tues/Wed: 12-5 Fri/Sat: 12-9

  7. Alcantara Vineyard & Winery

    7500 Alcantara Way – Verde Valley
    (928) 649-8463
    Daily: 11-5

  8. Page Springs Cellars

    1500 Page Springs Road – Cornville
    (928) 639-3004
    Sun-Thurs: 11-6 Fri-Sat: 11-9

  9. Oak Creek Vineyards

    1555 Page Springs Road – Cornville
    (928) 649-0290
    Daily: 11-5

  10. Javelina Leap Vineyard

    1565 Page Springs Road – Cornville
    (928) 649-2681
    Daily: 11-5

  11. Art of Wine

    101 N. Hwy 89A #B-9 – Sedona
    (877) 903-WINE
    Mon-Thurs: 10-6 Sat-Sun: 10-8

  12. San Dominique Winery

    I-17 & Cherry Road (Hwy 169) – Camp Verde
    (602) 549-9787
    Daily: 10-5

  13. Juniper Well Ranch

    10080 W Tough Country Trail – Skull Valley
    (928) 442-3415
    By Appt Only

Source: Arizona Vines and Wines