A trio of offbeat lodgings brings fresh energy to Arizona's red rock country

Andrew Collins,  – September 15, 2004

New hotels in Sedona are setting aside the usual Southwestern trappings of dream catchers, katsina dolls, and serapes in favor of a daring eclecticism. And that’s a good thing: While Arizona’s land of red rock should remain unchanged, the accommodations landscape has needed a fresh breeze. Three prominent additions give spring visitors new choices.

The largest of the newcomers, Amara Creekside Resort, is at the end of a long, serpentine driveway that is close to, but insulated from, uptown Sedona. At first glance, the russet and burnt red sandstone façade of this low-slung creekside compound, which opened last August, seems to mimic the traditional Sedona style. Inside, however, Amara looks almost self-consciously sleek and urbane; the minimalist guest rooms are outfitted with angular modern furniture and bathed in muted grays and tans, save for a few cherry red armchairs. It’s all terribly sexy, if a bit cool.

The dashing El Portal Sedona, a cushy but laid-back hacienda near Sedona’s art district, opened last June and is the brainchild of owner Steve Segner, a devotee of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s. Segner searched high and low for lustrous Utah river rocks, reclaimed juniper and oak beams, and authentic Tiffany and Roycroft furnishings to build and decorate this temple to turn-of-the-20th-century design. Not everything is period, however: In-room flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and high-speed Internet might not jibe with the earthy ideals of Craftsman purists, but they’re a hit with El Portal’s guests, who also enjoy spa, pool, and gym privileges next door at Los Abrigados Resort.

There’s nothing subtle about Adobe Grand Villas, which was scheduled to open March 15. “Grand,” in this case, refers both to over-the-top amenities and enormous proportions. The villas contain living room and bathroom fireplaces, cascading waterfall showers, giant jetted whirlpool tubs, and, curiously, electric bread makers ― guests check in to the aroma of freshly baked breakfast provisions. Whimsical decorative themes run the gamut, from rustic mountain to formal Tuscan (the latter with soaring columns and a travertine-marble bathroom). Guests can splash around in a small, lagoon-style swimming pool or work off those bread carbs in the gym and steam room.

Rooms with flair

Sedona is 30 miles south of Flagstaff and about 120 miles north of Phoenix. For more on what to see and do in this spectacular red rock-studded area, contact the Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Chamber of Commerce (www.sedonachamber.com or 800/288-7336).

Adobe Grand Villas. 15 villas from $395. 35 Hozoni Dr.; www.sedonasfinest.com or 800/228-1425.

Amara Creekside Resort. 100 rooms, including 6 suites, from $179. 310 N. State 89A; www.amararesort.com or 866/455-6610.

El Portal Sedona. 12 rooms, including 11 suites, from $225. 95 Portal Lane; www.elportalsedona.com or 800/313-0017.

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