Sun Cliff Casita at Red Rock Ranch | Sedona, AZ

@2016 Susan Edel

The Sun Cliff Casita at Red Rock Ranch is a hidden gem located in the rural outskirts of Sedona, Arizona, yet only five minutes to town. Sun Cliff is a private casita that offers all the amenities of any luxury hotel. This is a unique property with a rich history, and now due to an amazing renovation by the current owners {and descendants}, Kate and Tom Joy, it also has a very exciting future ahead for generations to come. To fully understand the depth of this property, let me share a bit of the background history.

In the 1930’s, a Dutch Count, Otto Von Platten Hallermund, emigrated to the United States from Denmark after World War I with the dream of becoming an American Cowboy. After meeting his wife, Sally Lindblom {Kate’s great-aunt}, his dream became a reality when the couple purchased the 40~acre Red Rock Ranch in Sedona and over the years established themselves as well-respected and successful cattle ranchers. Unfortunately, not all stories have a happy ending, the Count and his wife divorced in the 1950’s but to Sally’s credit she retained ownership of the Red Rock Ranch and continued on her own to operate the ranch through the mid-1970’s.

Upon Sally’s passing, the ranch was inherited by her niece, Sally Anne Wooster {Kate’s Aunt}. Sally Anne chose to live on the ranch and her love for the property grew deep and she became very connected to the land and the region’s Native American culture and spirit. In the early 1970’s, Sally Anne built the casita naming it “Sun Cliff”.  She lived in the casita for a number of years, then ultimately moved up to the main house yet continued to spend a great deal of time at the casita.

Prior to her death in 2011, Sally Anne voiced her concern about the future of the ranch and asked her niece, Kate {Joy}, if she would be willing to take on the responsibility of preserving it for future generations to enjoy. Kate made the promise that she would.

A poem written by Sally Anne expresses her deep love of the land.

Once there was a land and all were free, to live, to be, each in it’s own way, yet in harmony.

A nurturing river snaked below while might fists of stone stood guard, and silently kept it so.

I know, for I have walked this land and this land flowed back into me.

It was then that we became one, and it was then, when I too, became free.

~ Sally Anne Wooster ~

On my first meeting with Kate and Tom, I was mesmerized listening to the stories and anecdotal accounts of the property that had been passed down over the years. Stories such as of the neighbor across the canyon who hosted parties that included the likes of John Wayne, and how the Aunts once met a young and handsome Howard Hughes. I saw many pictures and memorabilia dating back to the days of the Count, it was all so fascinating and I could have listened to the stories all night long. 

Now you have a better understanding of why this property is so special to Kate and Tom. This is not a standard renovation, this is a labor of love and a passion to fulfill a promise that this property will be cared for, protected and preserved for generations to come. The entire Joy family have put their heart and soul into the renovation/preservation of this casita, as well as the entire ranch. And now, it is our good fortune that the Joy’s have opened up their property so that we may also experience this beautiful and very special place.

The Property

Today, Kate and Tom Joy live in the main house on property and the Sun Cliff casita is discretely located a good distance below their residence with its own privately gated entrance from the main road.

The casita sits hillside and has a panoramic view of the stunning canyon covered with mature trees in beautiful variations of green with the contrast of the incredible vermilion colored rock formations beyond {the casita boasts the prestigious view of Cathedral Rock, one of Sedona’s most famous and photographed landmarks}. To add to the ambiance, Sedona’s Oak Creek runs through the property and provides the soothing and tranquil sounds of rushing water as it flows by, creating an Eden of abundant natural beauty and a sanctuary for hummingbirds and other wildlife.

Panoramic Views

When Kate and Tom decided to renovate the casita, they anticipated taking on a simple remodel that would update the look and function of the casita. However, once the renovation began and their impeccable attention to detail took reign, the simple remodel turned into a complete state-of-the-art, energy efficient, leave-no-detail-undone renovation that now offers every luxury amenity that anyone could desire.

The Joys hired Sedona architect, Eric Brandt, and together they worked to preserve Sally Anne’s spirit and vision of her beloved land. In doing this, they came up with a design that exudes simplistic elegance and that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living by incorporating large picture windows and sliders that allow the stunning landscape to become the main attraction; they incorporated custom design elements such as the inspiration from Sally Anne’s original artwork and carved her personal design onto the front door and on plaques hanging on the outdoor patio wall, as well as also inspiring Eric’s design of the wrought iron entry gate. Sally Anne herself carved a door that has been repurposed as a sliding barn door in the bathroom for privacy. These are all personal touches that are unique to this property.


Prior to my arrival, I was contacted by Kate and asked if I would like the refrigerator to be stocked with some of my favorite beverages and foods, so I mentioned a few items that I thought would be nice to have stocked. I was also asked if I wanted to schedule a massage or to book any activities during my stay {these requests are an additional cost}. I found this personalized touch to be thoughtful and helpful.

I was then given the directions to the casita, as well as the gate code so I could arrive at any convenient time that fit into my schedule. I did text Kate just prior to my arrival and when I drove through the gate and arrived at the front door, Kate and Tom were there to greet me with their warm smiles and looking very professional in their pristine Sun Cliff shirts. After a quick walk-through of the casita with explanations of how everything works {the casita is very state-of-the-art}, Kate and Tom stealthily disappeared up the back road leading to the main house. It is at this point that the exhilaration of being here takes over, and your sense of exploration is on overload as you try to take it all in.

Guest Rooms

Living Room

The open concept living/dining room is designed to bring the outside in and take advantage of the gorgeous surrounding landscape with its over-sized picture windows. The large sliding doors open wide and bring unity between the living room and the outdoor patio creating a seamless transition. Wood beamed ceilings, high-end furnishings, leather accents and a Kiva fireplace create a warm and comfortable ambiance. Clever ideas such as a television that is disguised as a mirror hanging on the wall and a hidden surround sound system, help to incorporate today’s required conveniences with minimal visual impact on the design. It’s subtle touches like this that go above and beyond the ordinary. Many of the accessories displayed on the walls and shelves are from Sally Anne’s personal collection of Native American art and Kachina dolls giving the newly renovated space a sense of history and belonging.

Master Suite and Bathroom

The indoor/outdoor living concept continues on into the spacious master suite. Large picture windows and a door leading to an outside patio with a lounge bed {perfect for star-gazing in the evening}, hot tub and fireplace shouts sheer decadence. Details such as a large leather headboard, side tables with built-in electrical outlets for convenience and a bed, made so precisely that an army sergeant could bounce a quarter off of it, create an impeccable master retreat.

Once you dare to mess up the bed and crawl between the sheets, you slip into the most luxurious Matouk linens and a bed so comfortable that it will quickly drift you serenely off to sleep. For the ultimate in sleep comfort, chose a pillow that suits you perfectly from the Pillow Menu. One of my biggest pleasures staying here was waking up the first morning and lifting my head off the pillow to the stunning view outside {below}. The sun was just rising over the ridge and the skyline was a gorgeous shade of pink and blue. It was breathtaking {unfortunately, my cell phone camera did not fully capture what I witnessed.}

View from Bed

When you can finally peel yourself out of the bed and head towards the bathroom, you will enjoy all the benefits of having your own personal spa.

The bathroom is designed with a floor to ceiling travertine stone in a soothing neutral color palate with radiant-heated floors. A pleasant find is the thoughtful offering of a His and Hers luxury amenity tray with Gilchrist & Soames products that sits on the spacious counter top. The large steam shower is sheer decadence, offering a rain-head spout with a resting bench in place to fully enjoy an aromatic steam shower using the provided organic essential oils…or choose to use the pass-thru door and take an outdoor shower. And of course with every detail in mind, once you step out of the shower you grab your warm towel from the heated towel rack, wrap on the comfy cotton robe available for your use and slide your feet into the slippers that are your gift to take home.

A colorful painting from Sally Anne’s collection called Drum Beat adorns the wall and the door she hand-carved hangs as the repurposed privacy divider.


The casita has a full kitchen that any chef would envy. The luxurious and well-designed kitchen has gorgeous leathered-granite counters, top-notch appliances and plenty of shelving that is stocked with all the necessities for creating culinary magic….that is if you want to cook on your vacation, and if you don’t, Sun Cliff will offer you their Bed+Breakfast option. The Joy’s are also hoping to eventually offer the services of a hired chef to come to the casita and cook private dinners for any guests that might enjoy that option {additional cost}.

Sun Cliff provides fresh ground coffee from local Arizona roasters as well as organic teas and a snack basket. Two complimentary aluminum water bottles customized with the Sun Cliff logo are left as gifts on the kitchen counter…perfect for using when hiking around the property or the surrounding area.

When I arrived, it was a pleasure to see fresh flowers scattered throughout, a welcome gift of a local bottle of wine and the refrigerator stocked with the requested items of my favorite beverages, fresh fruit, and a real treat for me, was the specialty coffee cream that came in a glass jar instead of a carton…classy! Yes, I appreciate those tiny details. It was such a pleasure to enjoy these goodies each morning at breakfast on the outdoor patio while watching the hummingbirds play and the sun rise over Cathedral Rock.

And if the indoor kitchen is not enough for you, how about an outdoor one? The casita offers an outdoor grill and sink for the sheer pleasure of enjoying Sedona’s ideal weather, and who doesn’t want to be looking at that stunning view while they cook. That would almost entice me to start cooking.

The outdoor patio is the perfect place to sit back, enjoy a cocktail and catch one of those extraordinary Sedona sunsets. After the sun goes down, light up one of the three outdoor fire pits and sink yourself into the custom porcelain outdoor tub overlooking the canyon and Oak Creek or the outdoor spa located just outside the bedroom. Sheer indulgence!

During my summer visit, it was Monsoon season and I witnessed an extraordinary show by mother nature when in the mid to late afternoon the clouds rolled in and the sound of the deep thunder roared in reminiscence of the American Indians banging their drums, and then was capped off with flashes of lightening bolts. In between this extraordinary show, I loved the juxtaposition of listening to the peaceful pitter-patter of the rain and the flowing creek. Somehow it was so therapeutic and relaxing, and I always appreciate the reminder that I am but a grain of sand in this great big Universe.

Additional Amenities

For convenience, features such a washer and dryer and a business center with a computer have been installed for the guest’s personal use. There is complimentary wi-fi throughout the casita, but keep in mind the casita is located in a rural setting and service can be sporadic. Don’t count on having cell service here but there is a landline available for your use at no additional cost for calls within the United States.

Another surprise element is that Sun Cliff offers daily housekeeping and evening turn-down service if desired as any luxury resort would.  In keeping with a sustainable practice, all cleaning, laundry and kitchen supplies are eco-friendly, green products.

Sun Cliff is also looking into the future possibility of providing car service for their guests for airport transfers and downtown service.

Make no mistake about it, this casita is no regular vacation rental, this is a luxury one-room, full-service boutique hotel fit for any celebrity.



If you have not been to Sedona, this is a must for your bucket-list. Sedona offers the most jaw-dropping scenery unlike anything else in the United States. Realizing this, Kate and Tom have aligned themselves with local businesses offering extraordinary sight-seeing excursions {at cost} such as horseback riding, air flights, jeep tours, golf, biking, hiking, guided tours and so much more. Or choose to stay at the casita and have a masseuse pamper you with a massage on the outdoor patio with the calming vista before you, or choose to have a full-moon massage under the shooting stars. Kate and Tom will cater your visit to your exact preference. Their motto is “your stay, your way” and “plan to be pampered”. 

This adult-only property is perfect for romantic getaways, special celebrations and the perfect location for a wedding elopement or vow renewal…or just choose to relax and rejuvenate your soul.


What I find incredible about this property, besides its unsurpassed peaceful and serene location, is the fact that Kate and Tom Joy have managed to create an extraordinarily luxurious oasis, comparable to any five-star hotel I have ever been to when they had absolutely no prior hospitality experience. Their drive is motivated by their passion and no expense has been spared and no detail left undone ~ it’s obvious that the Joy’s have a natural instinct for this business…or Sally Anne’s spirit has guided them {wink}. I can honestly say that Sun Cliff offers their guests an exclusive experience that you won’t find anywhere else in Sedona.

Looking back on my stay at Sun Cliff, it reminds me of a Maya Angelou quote “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. This is how I feel about my experience at Sun Cliff…over time, I may forget some of the rich history of this property, I may forget exactly what I did during my visit, but I will never forget the feeling of how special it was to stay here and how I too {like Sally Anne} felt a connection to the spirit of this land and the gratitude that comes with that. My friends, when you can take away something like that from a visit, that is true luxury.

Hat’s off to a Dutch Count and his dream of becoming an American Cowboy and to the descendants who have honored his vision. This one gets filed under good people doing good things…well done, Kate and Tom.

Sun Cliff at Red Rock Ranch
Sedona, Arizona

2 thoughts on “Sun Cliff Casita at Red Rock Ranch | Sedona, AZ

  1. Hi

    Wow, you are SO, SO kind. What a wonderful review!

    Just a couple of things. Sally built the casita in the early 1970’s and Sally did live in the casita for a number of years but she ultimately spent most of her life at the main ranch house with great Aunt Sally – she did spend a great deal of time at the casita, it was her favorite place.

    Also, the concierge app is going to be delayed for awhile. The monthly fees are too much for us right now! I thought the gentleman gave us a yearly quote not a monthly quote!! Cough, cough!!



    Sent from my iPhone


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