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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