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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
DAY ONE
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
DAY TWO
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
DAY THREE
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
http://thevillagegrind.com

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.