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.

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L’Auberge de Sedona | Sedona, AZ

Discretely nestled along the banks of Oak Creek in the breathtaking Red Rock region of Sedona, ArizonaL’Auberge de Sedona has created a secluded, luxurious and tranquil setting located steps from Uptown Sedona.

@2016 Susan Edel

Property

The configuration of this property is situated such that it starts creekside then dramatically elevates up the hillside, offering guests the option of staying either by the tranquility of the creekside or on the hillside that offers panoramic Red Rock vistas. The property is intimate with a serene ambiance that almost feels like a well-kept secret from the rest of town. However, when you’re ready to explore all the unique shops, galleries and restaurants, you are just steps away.

One of the most appealing aspects of this property is how much it has to offer. There are several distinctly different accommodations available, an on-site spa/fitness and pool, award-winning dining options, wine bar, and an Artist’s Cottage. It’s no surprise why this resort has been named one of the top hotels by Travel and Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Zagat Survey and has received the Award of Excellence from DiRoNa and Wine Spectator.

Check-In

The resort is tucked stealthily a level below the town’s main street, so keep your eyes open for the modest entrance sign which leads you down a narrow driveway. The driveway opens to a small round-about at the Lobby entrance. Vallet and Bellman are ready to assist you upon arrival.

The cozy lobby is warm and inviting with its reclaimed wood walls, leather chairs and artwork by local artisans. The casual elegance of the lobby is only enhanced by the staff in their professional ensemble along with their friendly and helpful demeanor.

Guest Rooms

A really unique feature of this property is the fact that it offers a number of distinctively different types of accommodations, offering something for everyone.

The property consists of 88 units which include Creekside Cottages, Vista Suites and Cottages, Spa and Garden Cottages, the Creekhouse, and a Lodge with 21 rooms.

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Photo Credit: L’Auberge de Sedona

Creekside Cottages/Suites: The Creekside Cottages are situated on the banks of Oak Creek offering a direct view of the flowing creek and are surrounded by lush trees and vegetation providing a comfortable shaded setting. These cottages have lovely creek views but do not offer direct views of the Red Rocks.  These individual cottages are luxuriously designed in a clean, contemporary style and feature wood-burning fireplaces, king-sized beds, cedar outdoor showers and large outdoor decks. I would say these cottages are perfect for the person who enjoys being outdoors and taking in nature ~ with these units you can sit on your outdoor deck and listen to the babbling creek as it flows by. These cottages are closely located to the creekside restaurant and lobby. The difference between the cottages vs. suites is that the cottages are a studio and suites offer a separate bedroom and living room. Recommendation for best cottages are #6 and #7 along with Creekside Cottage Suite #5.

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Photo Credit: L’Auberge de Sedona

Vista Cottages and Suites: In contrast to the Creekside Cottages, the Vista Cottages and Suites offer a completely different view, these individual cottages are located hillside with panoramic views of the beautiful Red Rocks but do not see the creek. The rooms offer the same clean, contemporary design as the Creekside Cottages with over-sized picture windows, gas fireplaces, soaking tubs, outdoor cedar showers and a large deck to enjoy the views.

As with the Creekside Cottages, the difference between the Vista Cottages and Suites are that the cottages are a studio and the suites are a one-bedroom unit. Another difference between these two categories is that the Vista Suites sit one row higher in elevation above the regular cottages. The advantage to the suites sitting higher is that you’re at a slightly higher elevation for the views {although both categories offer great views} but also that the suites have a little more privacy from their decks because the row of regular cottages below mask the view of the main entrance to the hotel where everyone comes in and out. The regular cottages overlook the main entrance. I would say that these room categories are perfect for the person who enjoys expansive views and enjoys witnessing stunning sunrises and sunsets.

@2016 Susan EdelI stayed in Vista Suite #94 and found it to be a great location. I woke up each morning and drank my coffee on the deck and watched the sunrise, and in the evenings watched the incredible sunsets. The Vista Suite I was in is one of the best rooms for that category and the best Vista Cottages are #87 and #88 – these are located towards the end of the row, not directly overlooking the resort entrance.

Spa Cottages: The Spa Cottages are located in the middle of the property between the Creekside Cottages and the Vista Suites. The rooms are located close to the on-site spa and offer an outdoor terrace to enjoy the garden landscape. These cottages don’t have views of either the creek or the Red Rocks. The Spa Cottages offer many of the same amenities as the other rooms with maybe a bit more of a residential flair to them.

Garden@2016 Susan Edel Cottages: The Garden Cottages are similar to the Creekside Cottages in design and amenities, offering wood-burning fireplaces but do not offer the outdoor showers and are located one row back from the Creekside Cottages. The Garden cottages offer a serene setting overlooking the beautiful landscape. Some Garden Cottages are pet-friendly.

Creekhouse: The Creekhouse is ideal for large gatherings with 2,500 square feet of communal space and five bedrooms – each with its own private bath. This house is ideal for wedding parties, business retreats and group reunions. To book this house you must go through the Sales Department.

The Lodge:@2016 Susan Edel Lastly, there is the Lodge. You could almost call this a resort within a resort. The two-story lodge offers a warm and inviting communal space {lobby} evoking old European charm with a large stone fireplace, wood-beamed ceiling and an antler chandelier along with 21 rooms consisting of standard lodge rooms and {2} suites each with their own patio or private balcony. At the time of my visit {March 2016}, the lodge was closed for renovation so I did not get to see it in its final state ~ the lodge has since re-opened. These rooms do not offer the same amenities as the cottages such as in-room fireplaces and outdoor showers but this accommodation would be perfect for the individual who enjoys being in a cozy lodge setting, or possibly if you are traveling with a group and would like to be in close vicinity to each other. The Lodge does not have a separate check-in, you check-in at the main lobby on property.

All accommodations on property offer:

  • Complimentary high-speed Internet
  • Daily newspaper delivery (upon request)
  • Gilchrist & Soames hair and skin products
  • Italian linens
  • Down bedding and pillows
  • Nightly turndown service
  • Complimentary coffee/tea selection
  • Voicemail
Dining

One of the most magical aspects of L’Auberge is the unique dining experience it offers. There are a variety of options that offer a little something for everyone. The creekside restaurant and bar is a local favorite because of the fine dining and unique setting offered.

Cress on Oak Creek: offers fine dining and provides an almost fairytale setting with its outdoor, creekside setting.

Creekside Reserve: is the most romantic outdoor private gazebo, canopied in dripping ivy and a crystal chandelier. The perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or to pop that special question!

Etch Kitchen & Bar: Etch offers a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere with tapas style dishes and a variety of great libations.

Chef’s Table: For the true “foodie”, reserve the Chef’s Table for the ultimate culinary experience.

Wine Cellar: Not to be missed is the award-wining Wine Cellar, a recipient of Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” 22 consecutive times.

L’Auberge’s dining experience has been named “One of the Top Ten Restaurants in the Southwest” by Condé Nast Traveler, and one of the “Top 100 Al Fresco Dining” spots in the U.S. by OpenTable.

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Upon entering the L’Apothecary Spa your senses are immediately awakened by the fragrant offerings presented at the apothecary bar. An interactive station allows you to select ingredients, herbs, oils and local botanicals to create personalized bath soaks and body scrubs to be used in your treatment or to take home with you.

This full-service spa offers a variety of treatments* and wellness classes to rejuvenate your body and spirit. Experience the spa’s more unique offerings such as a moonlit meditation, daily yoga and hiking the stunning Red Rocks around the property. Be sure to visit SpiritSong, the highest point on property, for a little spiritual rejuvenation.

*With only 4 treatment rooms, reservations are highly recommended.

Located next to the spa is a nice fitness room consisting of treadmills, stationary bicycles and weights available to all guests. The room has a cottage style feel with french doors overlooking the pool.

Unique to the Property

A few special events that are unique to this property are:

The Artist in Residence Program: This program brings local Sedona artists on property to interact with guests to share their techniques and artistry and offers some art classes that you can participate in. You will find the local artisan’s artwork throughout the resort.

Summer Music Series: The resort offers an exclusive summer music series featuring talented singers and musicians every Friday and Saturday evening in May and June. The live music is complimentary and open to the public. Quite a treat to experience an intimate musical performance in a beautiful setting.

Guided Star Gazing: Sedona offers the perfect environment to explore the night sky and L’Auberge takes it a step further by providing an astronomer to guide you through the brilliant star formations.

The resort also offers a car service within a two-mile radius of town.

In Summary

I found L’Auberge de Sedona to be a lovely, serene property offering a true luxury experience along with a plethora of unique activities that reflect the flavor of this incredibly beautiful region. The staff is friendly, professional and always willing to help. The Bellman are happy to tote you around the resort in the golf carts to get you from one location to another. I found all staff members to engaging and interested in my well-being at all times. You won’t find better service than this in Sedona!

L’Auberge de Sedona offers the idyllic location from which to explore Sedona, visit the ever-growing Verde Valley Wine Trail, or to just relax and pamper yourself on property.

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Opening Soon: Sun Cliff ~ A Private Luxury Casita in Sedona AZ

I adore serendipity ~ luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.

This is exactly what I experienced while on a trip to Sedona, Arizona. Upon the recommendation of a friend, I went to visit a couple for what I thought would be a leisurely encounter…however, as I approached the property gate and read the sign ~Opening Soon Sun Cliff, A Private Luxury Casita ~ I knew serendipity had intervened and I was in for far more than I expected.

After parking the car and exchanging some pleasantries, I was invited inside for a tour of the casita by the proprietors {and now new friends}, Kate and Tom Joy.

The property has been owned by Kate’s family for decades and has a rich and fascinating history. After inheriting the property, Kate and Tom took on the challenge of renovating the Sun Cliff 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 got the best of them, the simple remodel turned into a complete renovation that now offers all the amenities that you would expect to find at the finest luxury resort.

Kate and Tom have committed themselves to preserving the property for generations to follow, as well as offering all of us the opportunity to rent and experience this beautiful casita set among Sedona’s stunning red rock landscape.

The panoramic view alone is reason enough to visit this property but the amenities of this luxury casita will make it an over-the-top experience fit for any celebrity.

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View from casita.

It was important to Kate and Tom to preserve the history of the home and many original items have been incorporated into the design of the casita. Decorative pieces of carved art and collections of Native American pottery and Kachina’s belonging to Kate’s Aunt {Sally Anne Wooster – the previous owner} are displayed throughout the casita.

The casita offers a comfortable living/dining room with a cozy Kiva fireplace, extraordinary views and a large slider allowing for an indoor/outdoor living experience.

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The casita was designed to optimize the view from all locations througout the house.

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A full kitchen, washer/dryer and business center provide all the conveniences of home.

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Wake up to stunning red rock views from the spacious master bedroom…

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…then treat yourself to an aromatic steam shower, or step outside for an outdoor shower or maybe a dip in the hot tub while enjoying a roaring fire.

What defines this house, in my opinion, is the outdoor living concept and the views! With three outdoor fireplaces, built-in BBQ area, two outdoor tubs and plenty of patio space to lounge, you will find yourself getting some serious rest and relaxation for self rejuvination. Whether it be coffee in the morning for sunrise or cocktails in the evening for sunset, the landscape will take your breath away.

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At the time of this print {March 2016}, the property is not yet open to the public as final details are being implemented but it won’t be long! Once the property opens, I intend on staying there to experience all it has to offer and I will then permanenetly add the property to my site.

The adult-only, one bedroom casita will be rented nightly. Stayed tuned, I will share the opening date and how to contact the property to book your stay!

 

Once there was a land and all were free, to live, to be, each in its 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 ~

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Four Seasons Scottsdale | Scottsdale, AZ

When visiting Scottsdale, Arizona, I generally stay near Camelback Mountain so I was excited to visit the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North {FSS}, located approximately 30 miles from the Phoenix airport on the outskirts of town.

I knew the FSS was located farther out from town and I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I would like the location as much. However as I approached the property, I knew I had made the right decision. The FSS is located in an exclusive area nestled into the foothills of Pinnacle Peak surrounded by indigenous Saguaro Cacti and the beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape. The inherent setting is a peaceful and tranquil environment.

@2015 Susan Edel

Property

The FSS sits on a 40-acre property with an elevation that provides gorgeous views. This was a pleasant surprise as none of the other properties that I have visited in Scottsdale has ever offered a panoramic view of this type. Due to the resort’s location, it offers the advantage of looking towards the city of Scottsdale showcasing its beautiful city view in the evening.

The property offers a unique setting with its location adjacent to Pinnacle Peak and it sits at the base of the Crescent Butte mountain range with its striking golden boulders. The natural landscape of beautiful boulders, cacti, and brush surrounding the resort make the property feel very private. This is exactly what I look for when choosing a property. I want to feel as though I am experiencing the local culture and environment and staying someplace special that reflects the surrounding region. This property offers that feeling.

@2015 Susan EdelAs I strolled the grounds, I enjoyed the unexpected touches throughout the property such as decorative pottery arranged within the plantings, antique wooden doors tucked against walls, and pops of color in the natural landscape. It’s quite beautiful and makes it a joy to walk around the property. The evenings take on an enchanting ambiance with strategically placed wood-burning chimineas and glowing candle lanterns scattered throughout the property.

Check-in

For the first time, I used the FSS resort app to check into the property prior to my arrival, and I have to say I liked it!

At the time I was filling it out, I wasn’t sure if it would have any real benefit but as soon as I drove up and presented my name, I was told that the Bellman had the keys to my casita and we were ready to go. I was actually caught off-guard and if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to speak with the front desk personnel, I would have been whisked away immediately. I was very impressed and I highly recommend using the resort app to check-in prior to your arrival.

Guest Rooms

@2015 Susan EdelThe resort offers 210 casitas/suites which are tastefully designed with a southwestern flair {some single level rooms but most located in two-story buildings}. The casitas range from the basic rooms called the Desert Garden and Sonoran Casitas to the Premier Casita Rooms. These rooms are all similar in style and size with the difference being the view and the Premier Casitas are slightly larger.

The suites range from one-bedroom {900 sq. ft.} to three-bedroom {3,000 sq. ft.} units and offer a separate living and powder room along with the additional bedrooms. See {here} for a comparison of all room categories. Some casitas also offer the option of private patios with outdoor spas.

As with all things in life, you sometimes have to make choices. While booking my stay, I was torn between reserving a casita with a panoramic view or booking one with an outdoor spa. The spa casitas are located on the ground floor and have a privacy wall surrounding them so the majority of these rooms do not offer expansive views.

In the end, I chose to book a room with the view instead of the spa because my fear was that I would feel closed-in with the privacy wall. However, when I toured the property and saw a spa casita in person, it did not feel closed-in at all. The particular casita I saw {#2004}, I thought was very nice although this unit happened to sit below the pool so it might not be the most private option. There were some spa rooms located at the base of the Crescent Butte that I felt would offer some privacy and nice boulder views {Bldg 3}. After all is said and done, I was very pleased with my gorgeous view but I would also consider booking a spa casita next time.

As always, I try to give some insight into what I believe are some of the more desirable rooms. I stayed in Building 4, room 415 {2nd floor} and I truly believe I had one of the best views at the resort overlooking the pool and city view beyond. Building 2 located next to Building 4 also offers very nice views. Building 8 backs up to the Crescent Butte and offers a nice setting. I was told that Building 10 is highly requested as well. Having said that, all of the property is beautiful and surrounded by gorgeous landscape.

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The rooms offer comfortable bedding, lush, thick towels with L’Occitane bath amenities. Each room has a stocked mini-bar with snacks that are available at cost…and as always, my favorite amenity ~ a Keurig coffee maker with real cream so I can wake up and have my early morning coffee on the deck with the birds. That quiet time in the morning is always such a peaceful way to welcome the day.

Dining

The resort offers several great dining options. During my stay, it appeared that many locals seem to frequent the restaurants providing for a lively atmosphere.

Talavera: Talavera is the finer dining option on property serving a seafood and steak style menu. The restaurant has a nice ambiance and offers both inside and outside seating. I did not eat here so I can’t speak about the food but from what I saw it looked wonderful and it was a full house. Resort attire. Dinner only.

DSC_9437Proof: {I could move to Scottsdale just to eat here…often!} Proof is the resort’s main restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with both indoor and outdoor seating. They call it an American Canteen serving comfort food with a twist and it’s full of character. The decor is a unique design, filled with rustic charm. Some of the table bases are made from actual train components and there are railroad tracks embedded in the hardwood flooring which allows the tables to move around. Fun Edison style bulbs hang from the ceiling, and the bar is designed as an old-fashioned soda fountain. The food is terrific and the menu offers fun options such as Fried Green Tomatoes, Duck Fries and other creative dishes. Try their micro-brew beers as well and I highly suggest trying their breakfast buffet. Casual attire.

Saguaro Blossom: Saguaro Blossom is the poolside dining option. A perfect lunch/late afternoon option for a casual bite offering salads, sandwiches and great fish and chips. Limited hours. Very casual attire.

Onyx Bar & Lounge: The Onyx Bar & Lounge is a perfect place to have a cocktail before or after dinner or you can order a lite meal. This is a perfect spot to watch the sun set or enjoy the gleaming city lights in the evening. The lounge also offers live music. The evening I was there, I chose to eat a lite meal overlooking the city lights and listened to a lovely singer with a very creative spin on some cover songs.

24 hour In-Casita dining is always an option.

Spa

Indulge at the full-service spa. The spa offers several signature treatments such as the Pinnacle Facial and Jojoba and Pickly Pear Polish. Guests are welcome to relax and use the spa facility even when a treatment has not been booked. Enjoy a steam shower, sauna or de-stress in the relaxation room. The spa also offers salon services and treatments for Kids and Teens and a 24-hour fitness facility. The spa is open to the public so reservations are recommended.

Pool

Ah yes, the pool! One of my favorite spots on property.

The FSS has three pools to enjoy ~ the main pool, an adult pool and the kids pool with the Crescent Butte boulders commanding your attention in the background. The pools are nicely configured and I must admit, at a family friendly resort, I always do appreciate the option of an adult-only pool.

DSC_9516Music is piped in throughout the day and poolside service is provided which includes food and beverage orders along with complimentary water, snacks, and suntan lotion. There are numerous cabanas located around the pools that are first come, first serve, with the exception of two luxury cabanas that have a TV and come with a fruit platter which merit a fee. If you want to guarantee that you will get a regular cabana {they do go quickly}, you can reserve one of them for a nominal fee which can be a reassuring option during those peak periods. The cabanas have misters that help alleviate some of that Arizona heat during the summer months. In the evenings, the pool is illuminated with colorful lighting and is available for use 24/7.

Unique to Property

What is most unique to this resort is the Sonoran Desert landscape which gives the property such a distinctive feel. No matter where you are on property, there is a gorgeous view. There are walking trails throughout the resort and up to Pinnacle Peak that everyone can enjoy.

The resort also offers numerous on-site activities and the concierge desk can help with any plans ~ how about being a cowboy for a day, enjoying some family adventures or romantic retreats, maybe you prefer a few rounds of golf or a game of tennis. It’s all available for you.

And take time to do a little star-gazing. In the evenings, this is a perfect location to star-gaze. Being in a remote location away from the city lights means the sky is dark and the stars are bright. Nothing like having a drink on your patio searching for shooting stars.

A nice little perk is the use of a guest washer and dryer on property. I really felt that this was a useful guest feature, especially if you are staying the better part of a week or have children with you.

The hotel also offers some nice boutique shops, wedding consulting services, meeting venues and more.

But none of the above mean a thing without a staff that provides you with excellent service, and this is what the Four Seasons brand excels at! In my opinion, what makes a resort stand out above the others is how special they make you feel, how they go out of their way to accommodate {or even anticipate} your needs to ensure your comfort and satisfaction. I found the staff here extremely friendly and accommodating and I feel that my experience here was enhanced by the gracious staff. I find this to be true and consistent at all Four Seasons resorts.

In Summary

In summary, don’t hesitate to visit this property! I would come back here in a heartbeat. I found everything about it to be beautiful and enjoyable. It may be a little farther away from downtown Scottsdale but in my book, that’s a plus. I truly enjoyed the indigenous landscape surrounding the property and the relaxing atmosphere it offered. This resort is a Sonoran Desert gem!

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