Red Rock Rejuvenation

A 48-hour sister caper in spectacular Sedona.

Vacations are like going out on dates; experiences range from disappointing to “ho-hum” to when you feel like you’ve met “the one.”  I recently set out to plan a vacation that needed to feel like the latter. My older sister Laura was turning 50, and my younger sister and I wanted to take her somewhere exceptional that would satiate our desire to bond and kick back. After much debate, we zeroed in on Sedona, intrigued by its “natural endowments”—the famous red rock monoliths.

We were also attracted to Sedona’s reputation as a spiritual mecca. The Boynton Canyon area is known as a location for a New Age “vortex”—a sort of energy field emanating from inner earth. And we harried moms were sorely in need of some “om.”

First Glance

After an easy flight, we pulled up to Enchantment Resort, a 70-acre resort dotted with desert native gardens and adobe structures.

Guests can choose between two lodging options: You can stay down at the Mii amo Spa or up on the hill at the resort. Spa guests who book three- to seven-day packages stay right next to the facility in one of 16 modern rooms. All treatments and Mii amo Café meals are included.

Resort guests can enjoy all the facilities and classes at Mii amo, but treatments and meals are a la carte. Rooms at Enchantment Resort can be as much as a 15-minute walk from the spa—so don’t forget your flashlight at night! One night we did, but we scaredy cats hollered a bit. It wasn’t long before a resort employee rolled up on a golf cart.

After dropping our bags at our pretty, spacious resort casita, we ponied up to the outdoor lounge cocktail area to finish off the sunset. Fully relaxed, we decided on dinner “in.”

At the Mii amo Spa bar, we slurped down some delicious pomegranate mojitos made with spiced rum, fresh pomegranate juice and agave. No one is particularly good at boozing in our family, but we couldn’t resist having two. Unfortunately, the cocktails were the high point of our dining experience that night. Mii amo Café’s bland veggie stir-fry and overcooked, miniscule $36, “grass-fed” lamb chops were just so-so.

Day One

You could spend a satisfying weekend in Sedona and never leave Enchantment Resort. There is a ton to keep you busy, and the staff goes out of their way to help you “fill your dance card.” For the sports enthusiast, there’s hiking, tennis, swimming, mountain biking, croquet. Meantime, the spa offers a full menagerie of inventive treatments and classes—from buffing your bod to applying makeup. There are also several offsite excursions.

On the morning of our first day, we enjoyed a watercolor painting class followed by yoga and the “Hike the Red Rocks” offsite excursion. Our cheerful group of five loaded into an SUV for the short ride to the Coconino National Forest.

The friendly guide offered a choice of eight treks. We had a knee injury and a smoker in the group, so we settled on the moderate two-hour “Teacup” hike. The trek was fabulous. We particularly enjoyed our guide’s narrative along the way, as he pointed out various animal markings, native plants and points of interest and offered tips on his favorite local eateries.

Afterwards, my sisters and I decided to give Mii amo Spa Café another try, and this time, we were delighted. We converged at the tranquil pool for a sumptuous, alfresco lunch. Poolside at the Mii amo turned out to be our favorite dining spot at the resort; we enjoyed several delicious meals there.

We intended to try the more upscale Yavapai, but we could never get motivated to actually go due to the dressier attire requirement. Once you let your hair down amidst such an entrancing, low-key vibe, quite frankly, it’s hard to get it back up.

Spa-ing It

Spa treatments here are aimed at body and soul. My sister Lisa signed up for the 120-minute, $350 “Circle of Power”—described as a chance to “connect with your true essence and make your journey authentic.” Lisa described it like therapy: “A chance to talk about yourself on a really basic level and get feedback.”

The birthday girl and I, meantime, opted for pure hedonistic pleasure: the Intentional Aromatherapy Massage (60 minutes, $150). I typically avoid spa massages due to their price. I know I can pay $50 at the local Massage Place for a top-notch treatment, and I tend to think about it while I’m on the table paying sometimes more than triple that price.

But with the therapist’s spot-on touch, intoxicatingly fragrant oils and super-soothing setting, this was indeed well worth it. Sister Laura concurred.

Shopping

The town of Sedona is teeming with artisans, boutiques, galleries and New Age metaphysical shops. We particularly liked the charming Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. We found cool, handcrafted jewelry, beautiful blown glass and a wide array of paintings while strolling among the vine-covered stucco walls and cobblestoned walkways.

 

Off-Campus Dining

We were warned that the weekend wait at the popular Elote Cafe (elotecafe.com)could be long but went anyway. We had a few killer margaritas and an hour and a half later, our table was ready. We liked our carne asada and enchiladas—and the birthday girl even bought the chef’s cookbook—but overall we rated this dining experience a “B.” Quite frankly, it’s hard to be thrilled with anything after such a long wait.

Day Two

First on our agenda: an Aura Energy lecture at the spa—to hear about various types of energy and how one can get a better understanding of potential and challenges. The concept felt a bit wacky, but the instructor, who lectured while pointing to various spots on a touch-sensitive monitor, was engaging and interesting. We enjoyed the session.

Road Trip

The Grand Canyon is only two hours away, but we opted for the 35-minute ride to the historic copper mining town Jerome. Located high on a 5,200-foot hill, Jerome was once known as the “wickedest town in the west.” Today locals promote it as a ghost town. We discovered a bohemian arts community and some blocks that seemed frozen in the ‘60s.

Dining Alfresco

For our final night, we dined on the patio at The Heartline Cafe (heartlinecafe.com) and devoured a top-notch meal of inventively prepared fresh fish, washed down by an excellent selection of wines. It was a great way to cap off our “Sister Caper,” which, by all accounts, was a success.

Sedona, with its spectacular scenery and fun southwestern vibe, is a delightful playground. And Enchantment Resort, with its exceptional menu of treatments, activities and aim-to-please staff, is an idyllic sanctuary. Whether or not you subscribe to mysticism, a stay here will undoubtedly convince you that there’s magic amongst the crimson cliffs.

 

A scenic monolith in Sedona.