Make only memories, leaving nothing but footprints. ~ Chief Seattle, Suquamish (1786-1866)
It’s difficult to describe the emotion I felt at my first glimpse of the Red Rocks of Sedona. Having never been to this part of the country, I was astounded at the beauty and the natural wonder of these prehistoric formations; words and photographs can’t come close to the reality of seeing them in person. Created by the waters that once covered this part of Arizona, I was reminded of the insignificance of man and the power of the elements.
Entering into what was once home to the cliff dwelling tribes of the Sinagua Indians many centuries ago, it is evident that there is still a great presence and influence of Native Americans in this area, such as the Yavapai, Apache, and Hopi tribes. Having been married almost 12 years ago by the spiritual leader of the Creek Indians in Oconee, Georgia, coming to a place that has so much Native American history meant more to me than just a casual visit to a resort area. In fact, I was enchanted.
The aptly named Enchantment Resort, a Preferred Hotel Property, is a short drive from downtown Sedona and is situated on 70-acres in Boynton Canyon surrounded by the towering and impressive Red Rocks. This award-winning luxury property features a Southwestern theme while paying homage to the Native American tribes that once thrived in this region. By honoring their land and customs with spiritual traditions and the design of the property, guests are able to enjoy this history along with the incredible natural beauty of the mountain wilderness, making this a truly unique destination resort.
Sedona’s elevation at 4,500 feet offers a very different experience from other resort properties we visited in Southern Arizona. Located in the Arizona high desert, Sedona celebrates four seasons and there is a surprising amount of lush green space. Cool morning walks through the property’s meandering trails were followed by the warm afternoon sun. However, the afternoons never reached the high temperatures we experienced in Tucson or Scottsdale. Pleasant evenings, sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine at Tii Gavo, one of the resort’s restaurants, afforded stunning views of the sunset over the Red Rocks.
The most unique aspect of this property is that it offers two completely different experiences depending on your personal desires: a relaxing traditional resort or an energizing experience of health and wellness. When checking into Enchantment Resort, guests are escorted by golf cart to one of their luxury accommodations in the pueblo-style casita buildings. There is a beautiful pool with stunning views; championship golf just minutes away at Seven Canyons (available to resort guests and club members); a long list of daily activities offered through the resort as well as Mii Amo, the world-class destination spa on property; and first class dining at four unique venues. Repeatedly ranked as the top destination spa in the world by Travel & Leisure and the #1 Destination Spa in North America by Condé Nast Traveler (2013), guests of Enchantment can use Mii amo’s spa facilities, book treatments, join in cooking demos at the spa, or dine on elegant spa cuisine at the café. The resort was just included on both the Gold and Platinum Lists for Best Hotels and Resorts (2014) with Condé Nast Traveler as well as Traveler & Leisure’s World’s Best Hotels for 2014.
The other option is to check in at one of the 16 luxury guest rooms or suites at Mii amo. In this case, guests can book a minimum of three days for an all-inclusive spa and wellness experience tailored to their specific needs. The name Mii amo is derived from the Native American word for Journey and many people come here to experience the spiritual and physical healing that a stay at the spa can offer. The full-time guests at Mii amo have access to all of the amenities at the spa, including indoor and outdoor pools with views of the canyon, a fitness center, and tranquil library; all of which are housed in the calming and rejuvenating spa environment.
The ideal experience, we found, was to enjoy the best that both Enchantment and Mii amo had to offer. As with our other stays in Arizona, we exercised on our own and did a lot of walking around the property. We also attended a cooking demo and lunch at Mii amo, learned about organic gardening at the property’s garden, and had local wildlife sightings with a mother Mule Deer and her three does. The next day, I explored the property beginning with the Morning Ritual at the Crystal Grotto (more on that later), followed by breakfast from the smoothie bar at Mii amo, finishing with some relaxation and work time poolside at Enchantment. Meanwhile, Mr. B went golfing where he shared the following story.
“Mark Twain has been credited with saying that, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Situated in Horseshoe Canyon and recently acquired and made private by the management of Enchantment Resort, Seven Canyons Golf Course is a beautiful 18-hole championship links style course that has garnered significant acclaim. This course has been named one of the 50 Greatest Golf Retreats and one of the Top 100 Modern Courses by Golf Digest and Golfweek magazine, respectively. It can be difficult to focus on your game when you are surrounded by the majestic Red Rocks and lush fairways and greens that are perfectly manicured. The vistas overlooking the course and the spectacular views from elevated tees could certainly make the most avid golfer think that Mark Twain just might be right.”
In addition to impressive and attentive service, world-class amenities and golf, and gorgeous scenery, one of the outstanding highlights at this resort is the food; in particular, the dining experience offered by Executive Chef David Schmidt at their signature restaurant, Che-Ah-Chi.
We had the pleasure to sit down with this talented chef before our evening at Che-Ah-Chi. Inspired by his family’s move from Wisconsin to Arizona and his wife’s Mexican heritage, Chef Schmidt has artfully combined his culinary expertise with Southwestern flavors. As executive chef Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa, Schmidt has the responsibility for creating unique menus with a different focus for the three restaurants at the resort.
Catering to a well-traveled and sophisticated palate, particularly in the resort’s high season, this chef is aware that his guests know and expect extraordinary food and he is committed to delivering on those expectations. He uses local ingredients whenever possible and sources the best products available for the resort’s restaurants.
Chef Schmidt prepared a tasting menu for us the evening we dined at Che-Ah-Chi, which was paired with wines selected by their Sommelier. While we had incredible and impressive meals during our journey through Arizona, the single best bite of the trip had to be Schmidt’s Diver Sea Scallop with Garlic Gnocchi, Braised Leeks, Celery Fluid Gel, Vanilla, and Truffle. It truly was extraordinary with an artful presentation and combination of surprising, yet complimentary flavors.
In addition to learning about organic gardening with the property’s head gardener and watching a cooking demo at Mii amo, I also attended the Morning Ritual at the Crystal Grotto (as I mentioned earlier). During this ritual at the spa, guests set their intentions for the day. Intentions are very personal and individual wishes, desires, and goals. Quiet time and meditation is followed by the Native American blessing of smudging, and the healing, yet haunting sounds of a Tibetan Singing Bowl. This brief ritual left a lasting impression.
Leaving Sedona after a total of six days, combined with a visit to the Grand Canyon during that time, was as emotional an experience as it was when we arrived. There is something mystical and spiritual about this part of Arizona; something enchanting that originates with the Native American tribes who have inhabited these lands for thousands of years. I know that I experienced the essence of this mysticism and spirituality during my stay at Enchantment.
Our journey to Arizona was met with unexpected surprises and unforgettable memories. Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect it. From the unparalleled scenery, world-class resort properties and spas, ties to the Native American heritage, and the incredible Southwestern cuisine, we say go West, particularly Southwest, when considering your next vacation.
Chef Schmidt has shared his recipe for Gingered Yams. He pairs it with Braised Veal Cheeks (as shown in the photo from Che-Ah-Che below), but this recipe would be delicious with any meats, like duck breast or roasted chicken. It would also be a delightful side dish to accompany your turkey or ham this holiday season.
Gingered Yam Puree
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 each shallots, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 1/2 pounds Yams, ends trimmed, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4-6 ounces Fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced thin
½ cup Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning to taste
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup water
1. In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and cook for approximately 1 minute until aromatic.
3. Add the yams, ginger and 1 teaspoon. Cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened.
4. Add stock, water and maple syrup and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat and simmer until the yams and ginger are tender, about 25 minutes.
6. Using a ladle, remove 2 cups of the liquid and reserve.
7. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture, adding the reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, if needed.
8. Season to taste with maple syrup and salt
Chef’s Note: For richer flavor, emulsify 1/4 pound of unsalted butter to the puree
* Reprinted with express permission by Executive Chef David Schmidt
Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa
* These photographs are courtesy of Enchantment Resort, Mii amo Spa, and Executive Chef David Schmidt.
Disclosure – Enchantment Resort provided a media package for our visit. I was not asked to write any articles about my stay and have in no way been compensated. The opinions expressed regarding our experience are my own.
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