Lumière Hotel | Telluride, CO

Okay, I’m going to let you all in on my little secret…I’m in love with Colorado! There I said it. And Telluride in particular. I have been seduced by Telluride’s beauty and charm ~ the historic western town with its adorable boutique shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants; I’ve been awestruck by the stunning mountain peaks, reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, that loom over the town boasting its flowing waterfalls and rainbow colored mountain-tops at sunset. A vision so striking that it can take your breath away.

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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.

VistaCottagesExterior-web
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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11 Tips For Reducing Travel Stress

Let’s face it, travel these days can be stressful. Over the years, I have developed some strategies that have actually made traveling fun for me again. I thought I’d share some tips that may help you find the fun in traveling as well.

global pass1. Apply For An Expedited Airport Security Program

We’ve all stood in those long airport security lines watching other people breeze through the Pre-Approved TSA line. Why not become one of them?

There are several programs out there (TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, CLEAR) that are easy to apply for and the application fees are nominal. I think there is a stigma with these programs that it will be a headache to apply for them. This is not the case.

The process is quite simple and the majority of it is done online with the exception of the final interview which is done in person, usually at an airport or local office. The programs all vary slightly so you will want to read the fine print and decide which program best suits you. I chose the Global Entry card because it not only provides TSA PreCheck but also helps expedite you through Customs on international trips (at the international airports, not U.S. airports). Not only do these expedited airport security programs get you through the lines quicker, you won’t have the inconvenience of having to remove clothing items and shoes ~ making for a much more pleasant experience.

2. Get A Travel Reward Credit Card

If you don’t already have one, I highly suggest getting a travel reward credit card. There are so many different types of credit cards, it may seem overwhelming to decide which one may be right for you so I do suggest you do a little research to see which one fits into your lifestyle and your objective for your travels. (See CardHub.com for credit card comparisons – click on “show details” for benefits offered)

My suggestion would be to get a card that accrues points that go towards any airline or hotel brand as opposed to one that only accrues points towards a specific brand. You will get much more flexibility if you can apply your points towards any type of travel or brand. Also, compare the number of points needed when cashing in for travel. Some only require a minimum of 25,000 points for a RT air ticket while others require a minimum of 60,000 points. That’s a significant difference.

priority pass
Priority Pass allows airport lounge access.

You will find that many of these cards have annual fees, however, don’t let this scare you off immediately. See what benefits are being offered as it may be worth the fee, and in turn, the fee may end up paying for itself. I personally carry an American Express Platinum card that has one of the higher fees associated with it but when I looked at the benefits of the card I decided that I travel enough that it would be worth it…and I have not regretted that decision.

Choosing this card has made traveling so much more enjoyable for me in the sense that the card allows me airport lounge access (this alone is worth it!), offers travel insurance, reimburses for the Global Entry card fee, reimburses $200 annually for airline fees such as baggage fees, airline food, seat upgrades and more (you must choose a carrier for this option but it can be changed annually), there are no foreign transaction fees, I earn points on all my purchases and even earn points when using points to book my travel..and so much more!

I make it a point to fully utilize all the benefits the card offers. Points accrue quickly when you pay for personal bills that accept credit card payment that you would otherwise be paying by cash. It’s a quick way to rack up those points and you’ll be traveling for free (and in style) in no time. Used correctly, the perks and benefits these cards offer can change the way you travel.

3. Avoid Peak Travel Times 

I realize there isn’t always an option to schedule your travels during off-peak hours, nor is it fun to wake up at the crack of dawn; however, I find that by departing early morning (prior to 7 am) most airports have a peaceful atmosphere with minimal traffic. I also find choosing red-eye flights a good option for the same reason. Avoiding travel on Friday’s and Sunday’s is also a good way to steer clear of the masses as those are heavy travel days. By slightly shifting your schedule, you may have a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience at the airport.

4. Book Direct or Non-Stop Flights

When booking your flight, choose Direct or Non-Stop* flights when possible. Choosing this option reduces the likelihood of running into delays, missed connections, and other inconveniences associated with layovers, not to mention the fact that it’s the shortest duration of travel time.

*The difference between a Direct and Non-Stop flight is that a Direct flight may make a stop during its route but the passenger stays on the plane. A Non-Stop flight is exactly that, a flight that has no stops during its route.

5. Pre-Select Your Seats 

Some prefer the window seat, some prefer the aisle but I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who prefers the middle seat. If you’re traveling with a partner and feel strongly about sitting next to them, then you don’t have a choice ~ someone will end up in the middle seat but you do have options.

I’m an aisle person myself, however, when traveling coach with someone else, my booking strategy is to either choose two aisle seats across from one another or to book one by the window and one by the aisle, leaving the middle seat open. Yes, there is the risk that someone will be seated in between but my comfort for the duration of the trip is more important to me. Small sacrifices can be the difference between being comfortable and being miserable for the duration of a flight.

windowAll planes have seats that have pros and cons to them. The site SeatGuru.com is a great resource for showing you the exact plane you will be traveling on (you enter the airline, flight number, and date) and where the best seats are located on that plane. This will help you choose the best seat possible no matter what class you are flying in. And PS – it never hurts to ask for an upgrade at the airline desk, it might be your lucky day.

6. Check-In Online and Print Your Boarding Pass

Checking in online prior to arrival at the airport offers many benefits such as the opportunity to possibly choose premium seats (some airlines open their premium or emergency exit seats during this 24 hour period at no cost), you significantly reduce your chance of being bumped off the flight should it be over-booked, you will be processed quicker at the airport and sometimes when lines are very long, passengers with printed boarding passes are allowed to go through an express line to check-in luggage only. And no fear, even if you have printed your boarding pass, changes can always be made at the airline desk. Early check-in is always a good idea.

7. Confirm All Reservations A Few Days Prior To Departure

Who knows why, but mysterious things happen. There have been a few circumstances where I thought I had everything in place, only to find out at the very last minute that I didn’t…or the receiving end didn’t. It is much more efficient to deal with a potential problem prior to your departure, then to be standing at a check-in desk and potentially have no reservations. My motto is “check, check and double check”. A little time spent confirming your plans may save you from a major disaster.

8. Arrive Early

Nothing causes stress more than being late. There’s nothing worse than that feeling of having to get through security and run through the airport with your belongings in tow, trying to get to a gate on time…and have you noticed, it’s always the furthest gate away.

We’ve all been there at one time or another. That is why I always err on the side of allowing too much time. I would much rather have a little extra time, grab a cup of coffee and read a magazine than the prior option. Making the simple decision to arrive early can be the difference between being relaxed and in a good mood or being irritated and at your wits end.

9. Carry A Travel Wallet or Folder For All Your Documents

Keeping all your documents in one convenient location eliminates the stress of scrambling for ticket confirmations, forms of ID, etc that may be thrown in a case.

I haven’t reached the point where I fully trust only keeping electronic copies of my confirmations ~ too afraid of my phone blowing up or something ~ so I always bring one folder that houses all my printed trip confirmations from airline tickets, car and hotel reservations to my form of travel ID’s. I even arrange the confirmations in the order of my trip so that the documents I need are located on top, i.e. airport transportation, airline tickets, car rental, hotel confirmation. A little obsessive…maybe ~ but it certainly makes it easy for me to access what I need at a moment’s notice and saves me from feeling flustered when I can’t locate a document with 20 people standing in line behind me. And just in case, I do keep electronic copies of my confirmations handy on my smartphone in the event something gets lost.

10. Wear Comfortable Clothes

This may seem like a no-brainer but somehow it’s easy to become a slave to fashion. And what you think is comfortable at home, may not be so comfortable when you’re running through the airport in four inch heels or wearing tight clothing, pinching your skin, while sitting in cramped seats on a long flight.

Loose clothing, slip-on flats and a travel-size purse with a shoulder strap to keep your hands free make for the ultimate in comfort on travel days.

suitcase11. Purchase A Unique Suitcase and Check-in Your Luggage  

Some of you may or may not agree with me here, but I am only speaking from my experience. I almost always check-in my bag. I find it much less stressful to check my bag in and to not have to worry about the size of my suitcase, whether or not I am carrying excessive liquid amounts, lugging it throughout the airport and then fighting for over-head compartment space. Whether it’s a carry-on or check-in bag, most of us have to exit through the baggage area anyway, and with how quickly luggage is processed off the planes these days, I find it much more convenient to check-in my luggage.

And if you do check-in your luggage keep in mind everyone, and I mean everyone has a black suitcase. How many times have you pushed someone aside to get to the conveyor belt only to discover it was not your suitcase. Oh, but you have a unique tag on yours…yeah, those can come off (I know from experience).

It may not be the most desirable in chic luxury, but I have a bright pink suitcase with a unique pattern on it that I bring on all my trips. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I see my bright, pink bag rounding the corner while others are scrambling to read name tags on all the black suitcases. Choose to color outside the lines, and get something different. It’s just another way to take a little stress off your plate.

These tried and true tips have truly helped streamline my experience while traveling, and dare I say, even make my experiences enjoyable again. I hope you find something useful in any one of these tips and that they help you to enjoy your future travels. If you have helpful tips to share, I’d love to hear them. Post a comment. Safe travels!