Man has always chosen grand settings to commune
with his creator. Today, for ceremony, ritual,
and worship, we gather in great cathedrals, temples,
or mosques. The ancients built pyramids and stone
temples, and some, like Native American Indians,
sought out places whose natural beauty was so
regal that it seemingly brought them closer to
Sedona, Arizona, with its majestic red rock cliffs
and evergreen forests, was such a place. "Believers"
describe the area as having a unique "energy,"
a power eminating from "Mother Earth,"
or a "vortex" of electomagnetic energy
that enhances and clarifies one's inner spirit.
These "New Agers" believe that there
are certain sites on earth filled with special
"energy." These sites include Stonehenge
in England, Ayers Rock in Australia, Nazca in
Peru, the Great Pyramid at Giza, and Sedona in
Arizona. To them, Sedona is a spiritual mecca,
a place for inspiration, soul-searching, and soul-nourishing.
To others, it's simply a getaway, a vacation,
a place to relax and rejuvenate. For a hedonist
like myself - well, the place just felt good.
After flying to Phoenix, renting a car there and
driving the two hours (110 miles) to Sedona, we
arrived late at our destination and awoke to discover
ourselves indeed in an appropriately named magical
place - the Enchantment Resort.
The Enchantment (800-826-4180), with rates from
$295-2,005/night, is just ten minutes from the
center of Sedona and is nestled in the midst of
the majestic red-rock cliffs of Boynton Canyon.
With its world-class Mii amo Spa, Yavapai fine
dining restaurant, tennis courts, pools, hiking
trails, and 220 guest rooms in 71 comfortable,
well appointed adobe style casitas, each with
dramatic views of the surrounding scenery, it
is clearly deserving of its ranking as one of
the great "Luxury Hotels of the World"
and a "Destination Resort." The resort
also has its Camp Coyote, a section just for children
with an emphasis on Indian culture and Southwest
Each day at the Enchantment features an assortment
of mind-and-body organized activities - Flow Yoga,
Zen Tennis, Crystal Grotto Meditation; and entertainments
- Native American dance, Stargazing, Apache Guitar.
Our first morning there began with a hike called
the Vortex Walk, accompanied by a spiritual guide.
Boynton Canyon, she explained, was one of Sedona's
four main vortices, and one of the unique "power
spots" on the planet. A vortex is a giant
conductor of energy, like a huge magnet. Iron,
crystal, and silica in the rocks make them very
magnetic. During storms they are often subject
to serial lightning strikes, making them even
more mystical. The Indians knew this area had
unusual energy and referred to that energy as
a "sacred spiral," similar to what scientists
call a vortex because the energy within it moves
like a tornado.
The canyon is also a sacred place for many Native
American tribes and has been referred to as the
Apache Garden of Eden. According to legend, when
Yavapai-Apache prophets foretold of a great flood,
a wise father set his daughter adrift in a hollowed
log boat. She was the only one of her tribe to
survive when the boat came to rest on the sacred
grounds of Boynton Canyon. Not unlike biblical
stories, the Apache legend describes how the tribe
was renewed when this last Indian woman immaculately
conceived with the help of the sun god. Although
the U.S. Army exiled Indians from their homes
here in 1875, descendants of the Yavapai-Apache
still return each year to perform ceremonies to
honor their First Mother and their creation.
"Raise your palms to the sky," our guide
requested. "Open up your senses." I
gazed up at the mist shrouded red rock cliffs.
It was easy to anthropromorphize the mountain,
to imagine faces in the rocks - a screaming face,
a pensive face, an Egyptian sphinx, reptiles,
dogs, lovers, whole families. Walt Disney, we
were told, lived in Sedona from 1958-69 and brought
the artists of "Fantasia" here to be
inspired. I was inspired to catch the rays of
Arizona's loyal sun.
"Vortex energy," our guide said, "is
neither good nor bad. It just amplifies the space
you are in." She explained further that if
you come to Sedona feeling in love, then you'll
feel more deeply in love. If it's anger you're
feeling, then you'll become angrier. If it's a
creative seed you carry, it will sprout.
While I am not convinced that a manicure and pedicure
or an assortment of exotic spa treatments qualifies
as enlightenment, I can praise the pleasures offered
by the Enchantment's Mii amo Spa. The spa's natural
color and simple adobe design let it melt into
its setting at the base of one of Boynton Canyons
spectacular cliffs. Inside brick, tile, woodbeam
ceilings, and Native American art create a harmonious
setting for pampering. As you enter Mii amo, you'll
view a decorative Medicine Wheel representing
"the journey we each must take to find our
own path." Across from the spa's sign-in
desk is the serene Crystal Grotto, a circular
domed meditation room with an earthen floor and
a skylight that focuses the suns rays on a central
quartz crystal. You can seek tranquility in the
Grotto. You can muse on the images in the surrounding
cliffs from the spa's outdoor pools or from its
restaurant windows. Or you can allow Enchantment's
specialists to work their magic on your body.
I suppose that's what they mean when they say
you have to "find your own path."
Downtown Sedona is littered with quaint restaurants
and galleries. You can take in the town's best
offerings by exploring Tlaquapaque Village or
the Uptown Area. And while you can camp, park,
fish, four-wheel drive, horseback ride, bike and
hike all on your own, I found the local jeep tours
the best way to experience the surrounding national
forest. The journey was a cross between an educational
nature walk and an adventure ride. There are several
companies that offer the popular tours. Pink Jeep
Tours (800-873-3662) is the largest. Specially
adapted open-air four-wheel drive jeeps carry
you through the most rugged terrain to show off
the splendor of Sedona's glorious natural surroundings.
Our driver guide had the cool of a Disneyland
ride showman and aplomb of a park ranger. He showed
off the most dramatic look-alike natural settings
- Submarine Rock, Chicken Point, Chimney Rock,
Cathedral Rock. He talked history, geology, flora
and fauna. He described the Verde Valley that
we were driving over and through as the most diverse
ecosystem in North America. And, he made valiant
efforts at Southwestern humor.
"We get about 15 inches of snow a year,"
he said, "little half inch dustings that
melt off by nine in the morning. We call it 'Indian
snow,' - an 'apache here, an apache there.'"
He went on to explain that while much of Arizona
can become blistering hot in summer months, Sedona's
weather is moderated by its 4600 foot altitude,
giving it a relatively pleasant climate year-round.
I didn't see a UFO in Sedona. I didn't have an
epiphany at the Enchantment. But I did leave far
more relaxed and knowledgeable than when I arrived.
If you're a New Ager looking for alternative healing,
life coaching, human design, the vortex, sacred
grids, ley lines, the power - well, Sedona is
the place. Or, if you simply want to relax, be
indulged and enchanted - the Enchantment is the