Luxury in a surprising place

JENNY Piper discovers that luxury doesn’t just mean suites, butlers and private jets (although it definitely is those things as well). Turns out, luxury can be found in the middle of the desert.

Poor me — I had a dilemma earlier this year: where should I go for a luxury flop and drop break after a week of skiing in the USA? I didn’t want to head to Florida or Mexico with their high rise accommodation. I wanted to be able to relax in an uncrowded environment, somewhere I could do nothing if I wanted, or have a few activities to keep me entertained. After a bit of research I came up with the a desert destination as an option. Advice from our Virtuoso travel agent saw us heading to Sedona, Arizona and a fabulous hotel called Enchantment Resort.

I knew nothing about Sedona so it was a delight to discover what an amazing place it was. It’s a two-hours drive from Phoenix, and as you leave the freeway and start getting close to Sedona you’re overwhelmed by the spectacular scenery buttes, canyons and forests that make this place so unique and known as Red Rock country.

Enchantment Resort is located about 10 minutes out of town nestled in Boynton Canyon. Spread over 28 hectares, it’s the full resort deal with tennis courts, pools, activities, restaurants and of course a spa. The resort has over 200 one-storey guest accommodations from suites to two-bedroom ‘casitas’ or houses. Buildings are all Mexican-styled and russet coloured to blend in with the towering canyon walls surrounding it. As part of our Virtuoso booking we were upgraded to a two-bedroom casita which was incredibly well appointed. It had a full kitchen, comfortable sitting room with fireplace, outdoor patio with BBQ, all in a casually sophisticated dcor. It was lovely just spending time in our casita relaxing.

The resort spa, Mii amo, has been awarded Travel & Leisure magazine’s number 1 destination resort spa in the USA for several years, and there is a reason why. Mii amo is located away from the main resort and it offers traditional spa treatments — massages, facials and so on, but what makes the centre so unique is its range of other experiences focusing on spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Guests can partake in Native American inspired therapies, meditation and mindfulness sessions as well as health and wellness consultations. The spa also has a fitness centre, men’s and women’s locker rooms with saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools. There is also an outdoor pool, and an indoor pool surrounded by comfy nooks and lounge areas designated as quiet zones for guest to relax and read or just chill. Mii amo caf is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with eclectic cuisine emphasising healthy options and fresh produce. The juice bar has a selection of lighter options and coffee, smoothies and wine. In fact you could spend all day just hanging around the spa.

We decided to be a little bit active and walked some of the hiking trails adjoining the property. Sedona is known for its hiking and mountain biking trails with over 300 miles of trails for those who really want to explore the natural beauty. Sedona also draws a lot of visitors for its spiritual and cultural side, with lots of art and craft galleries and suggested art walks for visitors. The town is regarded as both sacred and powerful, and many visit to experience this spiritual side. Vortexes around Sedona are claimed to be centres of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. Some people claim to feel the earth alive with energy, and come away from a visit to a vortex site feeling recharged and uplifted. We did walk up to one of the smaller vortex sites and were thrilled to hear a guy playing his flute atop a rock formation. Many around were sitting in a meditative state or doing yoga. It was worth a visit, and although I didn’t physically feel the energy, I must admit I found the experience did give me a sense of peace as I stopped to appreciate the amazing beauty around me.

Enchantment also has a massive array of activities available for guests. Different programs run every day and include options like yoga, hiking, painting classes, tennis lessons, wine tasting and daily chanting just to name a few.

There are plenty of dining options available. Three main restaurants all offering different fare from fine dining to Southwestern style, plus a couple of bars. Each night of our stay we would have a drink at View 180 — the indoor/outdoor bar which offers a small plate menu as well as a vast selection of wines. I was introduced to my new favourite wine, a red Zinfandel, after one of the other guests told the waiter — “I’ll have a Zin”. There was nothing better than sipping my wine and sitting and watching the sun set over the spectacular red rock formations in front of me.

For travellers wanting to experience luxury amongst amazing natural scenery, and who are looking for both interesting activities as well as world-class resort facilities, Enchantment Resort is definitely highly recommended.

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