Monday, December 19, 2016

Relax and recharge in scenic Sedona during the hectic holidays with special package

The holidays are hectic - so why not plan a weekday getaway to relax and recharge in scenic Sedona, Arizona, plus get a great deal while doing it?

Kimpton Amara Resort and Spa, nestled amongst the picturesque red rocks of Sedona, is offering the limited-time “Amara on the Rocks” winter package on weekdays starting from $187 a night (compared to weekend rates ranging from $259 - $429). The Arizona resort package includes:
  • Rates starting from $187 (or 15% off best available rate). 
  • Stays Sunday through Thursday only.
  • 2 specialty cocktails upon arrival at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen.
  • Hosted morning coffee and tea service in the Living Room.
  • Complimentary Social Hour from 5:00pm to 6:00pm in the Living Room.
  • Rate code: PROCKS
  • Book now through the end of the year

In addition to the discounted stay, Executive Chef Robert Hoffman of Amara’s signature restaurant, SaltRock Southwest Kitchen, has recently launched a new winter menu featuring
 delicious dishes that marry the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Some standouts include Braised Osso Buco ($26), Duck Confit Tacos ($10), Whole Fried Quail ($31) and Sedona Chopped Salad ($13). Full menu attached.

The resort’s award-winning spa, Amara Spa, is also offering the limited-time 90-minute, “5 Element Balancing Facial” for $190. The journey will begin by floating on a cushion of warm water & connecting to the Earth by breathing in Sedona air that is purified by a warm glowing salt lamp to deepen relaxation. The facial is continued in a state of reflection with vibrational sounds of a vortex metal heart chakra singing bowl to promote healing from daily stress. During the facial, experience a warm stone hand and arm massage complete with a luxurious hand treatment and a face massage incorporating the use of petrified wood carved stones to encourage renewal and regeneration for personal growth. Regroup back to the world with a light dusting of mineral make-up and a cup of refreshing energetically charged five element water. What a way to take a breather from the hectic holidays.

To book a reservation for this holiday getaway, visit amararesort.com or call 928.282.4828.

As Kimpton’s newest addition to its Arizona properties, Amara Resort & Spa is an intimate, boutique resort that offers 100 spacious guest rooms and suites, combining modern design with Arizona’s comfortable, laid-back lifestyle and views of the surrounding red rocks, Oak Creek and lush foliage. While Amara is just steps from the hustle and bustle of Sedona’s uptown shopping, dining and cultural hub, the resort is situated below the main area, nestled on the banks of the creek, which makes it feel worlds away. Amara’s signature restaurant, SaltRock showcases a menu of Southwestern-inspired cuisine marrying the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Lead by Executive Chef Robert Hoffman, SaltRock serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and its outdoor patio offers guests a breathtaking setting under the stars with a majestic red rock backdrop, live music Thursday through Saturday and views of the heated, sea salt infinity-edge pool and nearby fire pits. The award-winning Amara Spa provides guests with a serene and tranquil spa experience with massages, facials, body treatments, complimentary daily yoga as well as all-natural products that nourish and rejuvenate mind, body and soul. Amara Resort and Spa is located at 100 Amara Lane, Sedona, Ariz. 86336. To learn more, visit amararesort.com or call 928.282.4828.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New Direct Flights from Phoenix To Santa Fe Celebrated with Getaway Special by Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder

Have you heard the news? Starting December 15, 2016, residents of the Phoenix area will have daily direct flights to Santa Fe, NM on American Airlines, opening a new gateway to northern New Mexico's authentic adventures. (This is just in time for my birthday, I might add.) A nice frosting on the cake for my Flagstaff and Northern Arizona friends is that an early connecting flight from Flagstaff to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport makes Santa Fe just "a hop, skip and a jump" for us, too.

Flight 3080 will give Arizona residents easy access to Northern New Mexico's:
  • skiing and snowboarding (some of the best in the southwest, BTW),
  • scenic hiking and river rafting, 
  • Santa Fe's Native American art and cultural experiences, 
  • world-class shopping and galleries, 
  • acclaimed dining and much more. (Northern New Mexican cuisine could be my fave style of cooking.)

The new flight is scheduled to depart Phoenix daily at 9:39 am and arrive in Santa Fe at 11:19 am. The outbound flight departs Santa Fe daily at 12:05 pm, arriving in Phoenix at 1:35 pm. The new CR-700 70-seat aircraft with two-class configuration ensures passengers will travel in comfort and have access to WiFi.

In celebration of flight 3080, Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder is offering a weekend getaway package featuring great savings and ultimate comforts for first-time visitors exploring the destination. The package includes continental breakfast, late checkout, complimentary Internet access and more. (Visit http://www.hiltonbuffalothunder.com/specials-en.html for additional information about this travel deal.)

“We are looking forward to sharing the wealth of cultural and recreational activities unique to our region with Phoenix residents”, said Matthew La Vine, general manager. Continuing the celebration, Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder will be hosting complimentary tours of the resort’s $2 million Native American art collection, home to hundreds of pieces of unique art, sculptures and architecture.

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder offers one of Santa Fe’s most unique resort experiences located on the sovereign Native American land of the Pojoaque. Featuring traditional Pueblo architecture, the AAA Four Diamond resort is home to:
  • a world-renowned Native American art collection valued at over $2 million, 
  • 27 holes of golf at Towa Golf Club, 
  • Pojoaque-influenced spa services at the Wo’ P’in spa, 
  • world-class fine dining at Red Sage and 
  • Las Vegas-style gaming at the adjacent upscale casino. 

To get the scoop on reservations and additional information, please visit www.hiltonbuffalothunder.com

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Road Trip Jordanian-Style

http://ift.tt/eA8V8J http://ift.tt/2grtmr2 love a good road trip. If you’ve followed my blogs for awhile you know I enjoy muddin’ in Louisiana bayous, road tripping through New Mexico and off-roading around Arizona backwoods. So when my new friend Mohammad Qamhiya suggested that we take the Namaleh Road – or King’s Highway – on a sort of pilgrimage to Petra […]

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Celebrate National Take A Hike Day in Sedona Red Rock Country

National Take a Hike Day is coming right up on November 17th, and you can celebrate the occasion with hiking opportunities in Sedona's spectacular Red Rock Country. Sedona, the Day Hike Capital of America is often referred to as "The Most Beautiful Place on Earth, in so many Ways." The hiker's' mecca is home to more than 100 hiking trails through geologic wonderlands, where there is no shortage of adventures for all skill levels.

All this month, Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock is offering weekly lectures hosted by The Hike House, the Hiking Center of Sedona, in the resort lobby. The comfortable resort lobby is a perfect place to plan your adventure as its decor reflects the Sedona outdoors -- even the design of the carpet looks similar to a topographic map. I was blessed to be be a guest of Hilton Sedona Resort last month, and I can tell you that it makes a perfect staging area for your Sedona hiking trip.

Get the real dirt on Sedona hiking from the The Hike House experts who will discuss key elements of preparation, safety, and proper hiking gear. The knowledgeable hikers will share a variety of fun and practical hiking tips, a safety checklist, favorite photo spots, Sedona trails and more. 

In celebration of National Take a Hike Day, November 17th, Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell rock is offering a special Sedona Adventurer Package created to educate travelers and provide the ultimate package to comfortably explore the Red Rock outdoors. The Sedona Adventurer Package includes:

  • Accommodations in expansive, newly redesigned suites where guests can relax and recharge before embarking on their hiking journeys.
  • A copy of the Hike House, “The Sedona Hiking Guide Book” for inspiration and additional information.
  • Red Rock day pass, daypack, collapsible water bottle and energy bars to ensure safe and enjoyable hiking adventures.
  • Full American breakfast for two guests per day.
  • Complimentary resort charge which includes internet and Athletic Club access.
  • A voucher for 10% off hiking apparel and equipment at The Hike House.

For more information on Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, or to book this package please
See you in Sedona, Vagabonding Lulu

About Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock 
Located along the Red Rock Scenic Byway near the iconic Bell Rock, the newly renovated Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock offers a locally-inspired guest experience focused on relaxation and rejuvenation. Plush with amenities, the resort features three outdoor pools, an adjacent 18-hole golf course and 25,000 square-feet of fitness, wellness and spa amenities including eforea: spa. With 219 guest rooms, the resort’s 171 suites feature cozy fireplaces and private balconies with separate living rooms and bedrooms. Offering more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space, Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock is also Northern Arizona’s largest resort conference center. For more information, visit www.hiltonsedonaresort.com#HSRBellRock

Monday, October 17, 2016

Three Perfect Days in Sedona

Now that the temperatures have dipped in northern Arizona, it’s time to turn attention to warmer Sedona. October and November are perfect months for Sedona hiking, touring or just hanging out on an outdoor deck overlooking the spectacular Red Rock Country. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to spend three adventure-filled days in Sedona tasting exceptional food, experiencing new adventures and relaxing at the fabulous Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. #HSRBellRock
Bell Rock in Village of Oak Creek, Sedona, Arizona, USA
I stop into the Coconino Red Rock Visitor Center and Ranger Station after my 30-minute drive to the Village of Oak Creek. The friendly National Forest Rangers give me free trail and road maps and offer advice on some of the newer trails. The Red Rock Country geology display and “Honor the Past: Human timeline of the Verde Valley Area” pull the curtain back on the mysteries of Sedona, even for those of us who have visited many times. Outside the modern facility, I take a selfie with Smokey, the Bear and chat with Japanese tourists. I’m reminded that Sedona truly is a world-class destination and people from all over journey to see what we have here in our own backyard.
My favorite bear (don't tell Yogi) and me at Red Rock Visitor Center
Just 1.2 miles down the Red Rock Scenic Byway from the national forest visitor center, the approachable front desk staff helps me check into the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. I note that the lobby has been updated since my last visit. The clean lines and subtle colors reflect the calm of the surrounding high desert. A sculpture of long, frosted glass shards dances from the ceiling over a bed of beach glass that mimics the tranquility of nearby Oak Creek. The multi-million dollar renovation took place last year and included makeovers to the resort’s 219 guest rooms, which include 171 one-bedroom suites. The restyling reached all the way to a rebranding of the hotel (adding Bell Rock, the iconic Sedona rock monument and vortex, to the resort’s name) and includes new guest experiences focused on adventure and exploring the region.
Lobby of  Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
I enjoy the guilty pleasure of room-service breakfast on the balcony of my spacious one-bedroom suite and then meet the others at 8:00 a.m. for a Sedona Air Tours helicopter adventure. Angel 1 Limousines picks us up at the hotel and delivers us to the Sedona Airport where we meet our crew for the Ancient’s Way Tour. I’m happy when they don’t announce the results of my “weigh-in” to the other three passengers. Our pilot flies us into Secret Canyon, Long Canyon and Boynton Canyon, areas of Sedona that are not accessible by vehicle. I’ve hiked most of these canyons and gaped at the red stone spires from the trails, but this is the first time that I’ve flown high among the rock landscape. It’s a thrilling expedition, but I have to admit that it’s a real adrenalin rush to pass so close. When the former Blackhawk pilot takes one hand off the cyclic stick to point out an eyelevel 800-year old Sinagua cliff dwelling below the canyon wall, I stifle the impulse to yell out “Keep your hands on the wheel!”
Sedona Air Tours over Red Rock Country
We debrief about our thrilling air adventure at lunch at the Sedona Golf Resort, home of the “Most Photographed Par 3 in the Southwest.” After lunch, I head back to my suite to change into something more comfortable for a relaxing afternoon in the eforea spa at the Hilton Sedona Resort. The 25,000-square-feet of fitness, wellness and spa amenities delivers a full-service spa experience for resort guests and club members alike. I’m scheduled for a “Cupping Massage” demonstration and then a 90-minute Signature Full Circle Treatment that focuses on indigenous ingredients and techniques that reflect the region of Sedona and the greater Southwest. 
Sedona Golf Resort, home of the “Most Photographed Par 3 in the Southwest.”
Certified therapist Joanne teaches us about the ancient healing practice of cupping. Awareness of "Cupping Massage" has been heightened by the recent Olympics in Brazil where high-profile athletes like swimmer Michael Phelps used the therapy to increase physical performance. But not many know that cupping is an age-old treatment found in nearly almost all the world's ancient cultures. Joanne asks “What could I help you with today?” I explain that I have pain in my left hip. She analyzes the problem and discerns that silicone cups would be the best method to relieve my pain. The silicone cups were developed to work around joints. 
Cupping Therapy at eforea spa
After my cupping therapy, I am escorted to a consulting table complete with feather and Native American symbols. The Full Circle Treatment is inspired by the Native teachings of the Four Directions, and the unique experience touched the four aspects of my being: Mind, Body, Heart and Spirit. After the consultation that helped clear my mind, I was asked to choose an aroma therapy from one of four scents, each representing one of four directions. The aroma (to heal my spirit) was used in the cleansing and exfoliation and traditional massage portions of the treatment. The powerful and balancing therapy also included grounding stones, a cocoon wrap and energy work for body and heart.
The Full Circle Treatment is inspired by Native teachings 
If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know that I have eaten in fine restaurants across the globe. Well, I am here to tell you that Cucina Rustica in the Village of Oak Creek is easily one of my favorite restaurants in all the world. I share this with the other travel writers as we walk to the restaurant. Yes, this world-class restaurant is located in The Collective Sedona within walking distance of the Hilton Sedona. Chef Lisa Dahl has created a space and a menu that reflect the rustic Old World setting of Tuscany, Italy. We make our entry through tall, authentic doors, iron gates and windows that Chef Lisa gathered from across the globe to bring here to our neighborhood. The décor was inspired by the mantra, “The doorway to the imagination awaits you.” The food and service are impeccable (as I have come to expect) and all the other travel writers are duly impressed. I learn that Hilton Sedona guests can charge their Cuchina Rustica meals to their rooms. Now THAT makes life easy!
Stacey Wittig and Chef Lisa Dahl, Cuchina Rustica
Pink Jeep Tours picks us up from the lobby of the Hilton at o’dark thirty. Actually it is only 7:30 a.m. but it was oh, so, convenient to stumble down from my room – coffee in hand – to the awaiting chauffeur. The concierge at Hilton Sedona made arrangements the day before, so I didn’t have to worry about how to get to the tour company in Uptown Sedona, find parking once there or stand in the dreaded line for tickets. Just like on a cruise, tours can be charged to your hotel room.

We bounce and laugh through spectacular red rock country on the off-road Broken Arrow Tour. Our guide, David Hartlerode is a trained 4×4 and driving specialist (unlike my husband Dan) and Certified Interpretive Guide. So we hear unusual stories about the landscape and hoot at his sense of humor. We’re still high on the Adrenalin rush when the Pink Jeep chauffeur drops us back at the Hilton.

Travel writers yuck it up with Pink Jeep guide David Hartlerode
For lunch, we walk back to The Collective Sedona for a quick bite at The Village Grind. The hip neighborhood coffee shop/sandwich joint/wine tasting bar alone is worth a trip to the Village of Oak Creek. I enjoy the tasty salmon salad while others ooh and aah over their sandwiches on the sunny patio.

Salmon salad at neighborhood hangout Village Grind
Angel 1 Limousines greets us at the Hilton Sedona lobby and escorts us to Oak Creek Brewery for a beer tour and Happy Hour. This back alley hideaway in West Sedona is where the famous brewery got its start. When I was single, I hung out here in the open air patio for live music and their smooth Nut Brown Ale. After 21 years, the brew house has grown to include a bottling facility to package their award winning beers including Amber, Hefeweizen and IPA in addition to my ol' fave, the Nut Brown.
Brewmeister Jim Strelau at Oak Creek Brewery
For a sunset dinner, I snag an outdoor table at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, Chef Lisa Dahl’s latest venture. The architecture and décor bring the outdoors in and the food and wine selection is simply marvelous. My attentive server helps with my selections, and the meal could not be a more perfect capstone to my three perfect days in Sedona.
Outdoor table at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill
When You Go:
Cucina Rustica, Rustic Tuscan Kitchen

Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
90 Ridge Trail Drive, Sedona

Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill

Oak Creek Brewing Company
2050 Yavapai Dr, Sedona, AZ 86336

Pink Jeep Tours

Red Rock Visitor Center and Ranger Station
8375 Arizona 179, Sedona, AZ 86351

Sedona Air Tours

Village Grind, The

Stacey "Vagabonding Lulu" is a travel writer based near Sedona, Arizona. Disclaimer: this trip was hosted by Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock and others. All opinions expressed are her own.