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.

DSC_2008Spa/Fitness/Pool

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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The Inn at Entrada | St. George

The Inn at Entrada {The Inn} is a small luxury resort residing within an upscale gated golf community in St. George, Utah. Set among the striking red rocks and near the entrance to Snow Canyon State Park, The Inn boasts a prime location for both its beauty and proximity to local attractions and activities.

Property

Serenely situated on the Ninth Fairway of the Entrada Golf Course, many of the casitas at The Inn have views of the meticulously manicured golf course and stunning red rocks beyond. I was most impressed by the pristine condition in which the entire community is maintained.

@2015 Susan EdelIn this high-desert environment, it’s a pleasant surprise to see such healthy green grass, natural plantings, and river beds flowing throughout the community. The lush vegetation is an extraordinary balance to the striking red vermilion cliffs that surround the property in every direction.

Check-In

The property has an exclusive feeling being located within a privately gated golf community. Pleasantly, it’s not your typical hotel check-in experience, and yet it does offer the convenience of a 24-hour reception desk. The reception area is a comfortable, large space that feels more like a residential great room and is used as a common area for the guests to gather.

Guest Rooms

To call the accommodations at The Inn Guest Rooms is a severe understatement. The units here are casitas that reside within an affluent community. There are a select number of individually owned units that are seamlessly managed by The Inn and operate as a boutique hotel. The units are a combination of 26 Luxury Casitas and Executive Suites, ranging from studios to 3 bedroom units along with one four bedroom and one five bedroom unit.

DSC_0203The interior of the units are all designed in the same luxurious style with cozy furniture, stylish accessories, fireplaces and all the amenities of home. All the units offer a living and dining area, fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer and separate bedroom(s) aside from the Studio unit which offers a spacious open area with a bed, a small dining table and kitchenette.

For the convenience of larger families or groups, casitas can be connected to create extended accommodations. The four bedroom/four bath suite {#3201} is a nice option for a girl’s getaway with its stylish features and light finishes ~ the owner of this unit is an interior designer/property manager from London.

The five bedroom/five bath, Johnny Miller Suite {#900}, is a great option for a guy’s golfing trip with gorgeous views of the cliffs and a man-cave style den with rich leather furnishings, a bar and pool table.

All units have an outdoor patio to enjoy the peaceful landscape. And in keeping with hotel-style services, housekeeping comes once daily and does an amazing job. The units are spotless.

I stayed in a well-appointed two-bedroom unit {#1502} that had a great view of a pond complete with resident ducks, the golf course and the gorgeous red rocks. To see the sunrise and sunset on the stunning cliffs is quite a treat. It was a pleasant and comfortable experience to stay someplace that was so spacious and offers all the conveniences of home.

Dining

As a guest of The Inn, you are able to dine at the Kokopelli Restaurant located at the member-only Entrada Clubhouse. The restaurant serves delicious dishes for lunch and dinner and do note that there is a Country Club attire dress code for the dinner hour ~ collared shirts for the men and no jeans allowed for either men or women. A casual grill adjacent to the restaurant is also an option with expanded dinner hours. The outdoor patio with its stunning view of the red rocks is a perfect place for a happy hour beverage or to enjoy outdoor seating for lunch or dinner. The restaurants operate on a seasonal schedule so hours do change throughout the year.

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Freshly baked cinnamon rolls are served in the lobby every morning provided by a local bakery, Grandma Tobler’s. The snack bar at the golf course also serves breakfast and lunch. Snacks are available by the pool.

The resort does not offer room service, however, they do provide coffee in the rooms and with a full kitchen in each unit you can stock up on all your favorite items at a local grocery store.

Resort Amenities

As a guest of the resort, you have access to all of the amenities offered at the private community clubhouse.

Spa and Fitness Center
Spa and Fitness Center

There is a quaint spa on-site that surprisingly offers a full-service menu which includes facial treatments, massages, and manicures/pedicures. A spacious fitness center provides an array of exercise equipment including Pilates and the option of hiring personal trainers for numerous different activities.

The clubhouse also offers an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as tennis courts. And one of the main draws here, is the Golf at Entrada. As a guest of The Inn, you have access to play this member’s only, Johnny Miller Signature Design 18-hole championship private golf course.

Local Activities

DSC_0383St. George is a stunning region of the Southwest with its surrounding vermillion cliffs and has so many activities to offer. There are many hiking trails and bike paths within the town itself.

Zion National Park is within a 45 minute drive from Entrada and many other national parks and monuments are within driving distance.

I decided to view the beautiful red rocks from my first helicopter ride with Zion Helicopters. It was an amazing experience and there is no better way to take in the beauty of this area.

If you’re short on time and can’t make it to Zion, The Inn is located at the doorstep to Snow Canyon State Park, which may as well be called mini-Zion. Explore the many trails and dunes of this breathtaking canyon on foot, bike or horseback.

For a unique and unforgettable experience, take in a show at the Tuacahn Outdoor Theatre offering broadway style shows just a short distance from The Inn.

In Summary

Staying at The Inn at Entrada is unlike any regular hotel experience. It offers the unique position of residing within an affluent gated community and the spacious casitas offer all the conveniences of home-away-from-home. When you top that off with the striking views of the surrounding red rock landscape, I can’t imagine a better place to stay in the St. George area.

 

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Utah | Arches National Park

I have truly grown to love the southwestern region of the United States ~ Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The landscape is so completely different and unique to any other geography in the U.S. with its beautiful desert setting, yucca, saguaro and prickly pear cacti, looming large red rocks, rivers and so much more. This region of the country is also home to some of the most stunning national parks ~ Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and too many more to mention.

On a trip to Gateway, Colorado (Gateway Canyons Resort), I took the opportunity to take a day trip out to Arches National Park. The weather was perfect, so I opted to take the shorter 1+ hour route over the John Brown Canyon road which begins at the resort, instead of the 2-1/2 hour route via the highway. This is an easy drive, however, not a route you want to take if it is raining or wet, as a good portion of the drive is an unpaved dirt road and turns quite muddy when wet. I would also suggest only traveling this road during daylight hours.

It was amazing how much the terrain changed, starting off with the large red rock mesa’s, then coming to a very lush green area with some snow-capped ranges and then descending back into the red rocks but with completely different shapes and sizes.

@2014 Susan Edel
Descend into Moab.

I have been to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park and Arches National Park does not have as massively large red rocks as the other two, but instead it offers a very unique landscape. The mesa’s have worn away over time leaving peaks and pinnacles that in my mind resemble the remains of historic ruins. I could actually make out statues, animals, faces, but of course this was all in my mind’s eye….or was it? (click on image to enlarge)

The twisted dead wood bark fascinated me.

And of course, there is a reason it’s called “Arches” National Park.

@2104 Susan Edel

Perspective…

Stunning landscape everywhere you look.

@2104 Susan Edel

@2104 Susan Edel

Even the drive back to Gateway was beautiful.

Approaching Gateway Canyons Resort

And back to paradise….

@2104 Susan EdelA fun day’s journey!