The Charms of Sedona

By Kristine Hansen | Photograph courtesy of Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau

Sedona’s picturesque red rocks, wellness-oriented community and small-town coziness create an ideal vibe for hosting a meeting or event. It’s easy to weave in a yoga or meditation class to kick off the day, or, in lieu of breakout sessions, organize an afternoon hike to natural wonders like Bell Rock or Cathedral Rock.

For a town with its fair share of psychics and crystal shops, know that Sedona is not so mystical that it’s intimidating. Instead, there’s a shared passion and collective warmth among residents for healthy living, organic food and spiritual connections. These mantras are transparent at hotels and restaurants, too. Everybody loves to come to Sedona for the restored energy they can take back home.

Here’s a look at what’s new and trending in Sedona this year for meetings and events, from a treehouse that can be reserved for yoga and meditation to a new Element by Westin hotel.

WHERE TO STAY

L’Auberge de Sedona’s creekside cottages provide a relaxing “home away from home” experience—while still being a short walk from restaurants, shops and galleries on AZ-89A, referred to as the Uptown area. L’Auberge de Sedona has 62 cottages, 21 guest rooms and the five-bedroom Creekhouse. At this cozy property most accommodations are within a short walk of five function rooms totaling 3,500 square feet. On top of that are 13,000 square feet of outdoor reception area, including the SpiritSong Terrace that perfectly frames red rock views. The Monet Ballroom has a private outdoor reception lawn, too.

This year the property’s Vista Cottages will get a makeover from rustic to glam, adding more black-and-white tones and modern metals. Their Garden Cottages are pet-friendly. Before treatments at L’Apothecary Spa, guests are invited to create a custom-blended product to take home, the process of which can double as a fun team-building activity. New as of last fall is the Vortex Treehouse, a reflective space for private meditation sessions and yoga classes. While open to all guests, groups can book the treehouse for a breakout session focused on setting new intentions and goals. During a new moon, groups can build in a mindful moon meditation—such as sound healing through drums or singing, guided meditation or a “write and reflect” activity—to close out a day of meetings.

The 144-room The Arabella Sedona—an adobe-style property that’s also pet-friendly with its own dog park—also recently wrapped a multimillion-dollar renovation that included all guest rooms, a newly-appointed lobby and all exterior spaces. A new bicycle pavilion encourages guests to explore the area on two wheels. The pavilion has a work stand, wash station and outdoor bike pump. The hotel’s rooms are decorated in desert hues like red and tan that echo views of the red rocks, pool and gardens. A complimentary hot daily breakfast is served to hotel guests, too. Groups of 20 or less can use 420 square feet of meeting space, perfect for leadership-team retreats. The hotel is a short walk to the Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village, as well as many diverse dining options.

Red Agave Resort, near the Bell Rock trailhead, also recently unveiled property-wide improvements including a revamped courtyard, fire pit and zero-entry pool. In addition, the property’s 14 two-story chalets and studios were updated—and all boast views of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte (another red- rock formation). Guests don’t have to leave the resort to hike or bike as trails to the Coconino National Forest depart from the courtyard. Red Agave is also an ideal venue for hosting an outdoor reception for between 80 and 100 guests. (Although they do not have backup, indoor facilities). A two-day rental of the courtyard includes exclusive use of a stage, garden and fire pit, plus the ability to rent tents and hire DJs to provide music.

Expected to open by the middle of this year is an Element by Westin hotel, within the 90,000-square-foot Sedona Vista Village, featuring dining and entertainment. With 117 rooms, the focus for this property will be—like other hotels in the brand—wellness. It will also seek LEED certification for its eco-friendly measures. And while an opening date has not been set yet, the Ambiente, A Landscape Hotel, is expected to break ground by spring of this year. With just 40 rooms, it will be a boutique hotel.

WHERE TO EAT

Sedona is blessed with many creative, delicious restaurant concepts—and while they’re not all vegan or organic, plenty do support those diets. Hotels in Sedona are practically required to house high-quality restaurants—contributing to the city’s resort appeal—but it’s also beneficial to get out and explore the local dining scene.

Sometime this year, Dahl Restaurant Group’s Pisa Lisa— from owner Lisa Dahl—will debut a second Sedona location (3,500 square feet at Sedona Vista Village), specializing in fast-casual, Neapolitan-style pizza. Originating in Naples, Italy, these thin, pillowy, soft- crust pies bake in a wood-fired oven and are topped with either Roma or San Marzano tomatoes plus mozzarella cheese (or other toppings). At Pisa Lisa, locally grown, organic ingredients make the cut here. Salads and desserts—such as gelato—round out the menu. Another restaurant concept from Dahl—Butterfly Burger—which serves unique burgers that go beyond the expected, will open this year, too.

According to local news reports, a plant-based Hipster Burger and mushroom-smothered burger finished with truffle cheese will both be on the menu.

Like many cities in the Southwest, mixed-use developments are popular as they don’t restrict time in the sun. The Collective Sedona is one such example of a lifestyle center. A weekly farmers’ market, three art galleries, restaurants, shops and a day spa fill the place. Corner Table, one of the seven restaurants, opened in 2017 featuring modern American cuisine. Try the marsala mushroom bruschetta, a lobster Caesar salad or BLT with salmon and avocado.

Another mixed-use development in Sedona that continues to expand is Tlaquepaque North (open since 2017), the shopping village with an artsy bent that’s adjacent to Tlaquepaque, an outdoor shopping center with courtyards, water fountains and Mexican architecture. Included in this new development are three buildings and the renovation of a former cobblestone home. The Pump House Station Urban Eatery—open for breakfast, lunch and dinner—is a high-ceilinged space filled with found objects collected by owner Belynda Green. With a fireplace wall crafted from river rock and antique light fixtures salvaged from a former library in Jerome, the place feels cozy and could be the perfect spot for a casual meeting. Outdoor seating is underneath sycamore trees.

While based in Milwaukee, travel writer Kristine Hansen has fallen in love with Arizona—particularly during winter—since visiting for the first time in 2006, followed by numerous trips, including her latest to Sedona where she hiked Cathedral Rock.

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