Your Guide to a Quick, Romantic Getaway
published in Arizona Bride
Mini-moons are a quickly rising trend, offering all the luxury and romance of a honeymoon in just a weekend. They’re the perfect solution for couples who need a spontaneous break from wedding planning, as well as for newlyweds whose busy schedules make it hard to coordinate time off.
Sedona, with its reputation as a spiritual center, artist community and recreational paradise, makes an ideal mini-moon location.
“We heard a lot of great things about Sedona from friends and family,” says Heather Barton, who visited in 2007 as a newlywed with husband David Ziegler. “They told us Sedona is peaceful, beautiful and fun. As soon as we drove in we knew they were right and we would definitely want to come back again some day.”
For a memorable mini-moon including relaxation, great dining, an adventure, culture and a something special that’s both romantic and unique to Sedona, check out the following recommended activities.
Relax at The Rouge
Relaxation is the most important item on mini-mooners’ agenda. One of Sedona’s most indulgent treatments is The Spa at Sedona Rouge’s “Pas de Deux,” a synchronized massage to celebrate and strengthen couples’ connections. “At the beginning of our treatment, the masseuses told us it was about our energy working together, about being united, and it was really beautiful to hear, especially after just getting married,” says Barton.
After explaining the spiritual significance of the treatment, spa specialists customize couples’ full-body massages, which can incorporate elements of Swedish, cranial sacral, Reiki and other techniques, using popular natural oils made locally by Body Bliss. Additional seasonal elements such as hot Salt River stones, brown sugar, coconut milk and honey may also be incorporated for their exfoliating, moisturizing and detoxifying abilities. Hour-long treatments follow, given by two of the spa’s expert masseuses.
“We’re really proud of our staff and the service they provide to guests,” says Greg Retegan, spa manager at Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa. “Their goal is to provide guests with the experience they’re looking for by doing everything they can to make treatments as romantic as possible. We’re all working to establish a new paradigm for the best of Sedona.”
Next, couples are invited to soak in a Jacuzzi bubble bath for two. “It was really gorgeous,” Barton says. “We were surrounded by rose petals and candles. The whole treatment was so soothing.”
After spa treatments, couples can relax in the tranquil lounge and steam rooms or stroll past the herb garden and enjoy the views of the Rooftop Terrace.
Cucina Rústica, sister restaurant of the award-winning Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano offers tastes from the Mediterranean, including fresh pasta made daily from scratch and an extensive wine collection. The restaurant’s four unique, lavishly decorated rooms provide plenty of comfortable nooks, including cozy fireside booths, outdoor tables near the trickling fountain or seats under a “starry sky” of fiber-optics in a domed ceiling.
Tucked away in Sedona’s beautiful Enchantment Resort is Yavapai Restaurant, as well loved for its glorious views as for delicious Southwest Continental cuisine. Picture windows provide a stunning 180-degree view of Boynton Canyon, especially gorgeous at sunset when the last rays highlight red-striped rocks.
The Reserve at the Barking Frog Grille is one of Sedona’s newest Southwestern hot spots. Inspired by the architecture of Old Mexico, the building features the private Wine Cellar Room with a barrel ceiling and heavy wooden doors that spirit a couple away from the crowd. “Once those doors are closed they never need to be opened,” says Elliott DiBattista, director of hospitality and the Grille’s sommelier. “Servers arrive discreetly from a private entrance.”
Pink Jeep Adventure
Pink Jeep Tours have been a Sedona staple for more than 45 years and are a great way to add excitement, not to mention great photographs, to a mini-moon. “It was such an adrenaline rush!” Barton exclaims.
Of the several tours Pink Jeep offers, the Broken Arrow is the recommended mini-moon adventure, lasting two hours and leading up through the Coconino National Forest. While four-wheeling to the two stopping points, guides are quick with a joke and offer fascinating information, such as what gives Sedona’s rocks their red color or what plant is used for making tequila. They also point out rock formations along the way; with a little imagination the geology becomes a profile of a princess, a whale or Snoopy, to list a few. At Submarine Rock and Chicken Point, couples can walk around and take in the panoramic vistas of crimson cliffs and lush vegetation. Guides also know just where to find ancient seashells and other remnants of the past embedded in the rock. Perhaps the most riveting part of the ride is the steep (but safe) descent down the “Road of No Return” followed by the roller-coaster-like “Chute.”
“The ride was so thrilling, at times we were screaming with exhilaration,” says Barton, “but it was also really peaceful when we stopped to walk around and view the rocks from a place we wouldn’t usually have access to.”
Culture at Tlaquepaque
Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village has been a Sedona landmark and cultural center since 1971. Named after the Mexican suburb of Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque is a word from the Nahuatl language meaning “best of everything.” The village is home to more than 40 galleries, gift shops, and clothing and accessory boutiques, as well as four restaurants. Artworks come in countless media, from Southwest Images’ photography by the legendary Harvey Caplin, to Kuivato Glass Gallery’s delicate hand-blown sculpture and jewelry—all perfect for stunning mementos or personalizing a new home. Couples often enjoy strolling through the colorful Spanish Colonial architecture featuring cobblestones, hand-made lanterns, patterned tiles, wishing fountains and lush gardens dotted with sculptures. Musicians and artists are often found playing instruments or painting under the many ancient sycamores, happy to chat with passersby, and bells from “The Chapel” periodically announce new marriages.
A sojourn in Sedona just isn’t complete without stargazing. “We have some of the best viewing conditions in the country,” says Cliff Ochser, astronomer and founder of Evening Sky Tours. Weather permitting, Ochser and his expert team host hour-and-a-half tours of the universe every night at three convenient Sedona locations and are also available for private viewings.
Each tour begins an hour after sunset with some entertaining storytelling illustrated by brilliant constellations. Then, using a variety of custom high-powered telescopes and binoculars, astronomers offer up close-up peeks at seasonal celestial bodies. “Starting in May through the end of August, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus are all up,” Ochser says. “We can see open star clusters like the Pleiades and nebulas, which are active star-forming regions of the universe where stars are being born.” More often than not, an abundance of shooting stars, passing satellites and the International Space Station are also visible, as are two spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy. “We’ve been lucky enough to see fireballs, large meteors that light up the sky,” says Ochser. “We also point out double stars. When you look at them with the naked eye you’ll see what appears to be one star, but in actuality they are two stars orbiting each other. … And if it gets a little cool, we have real Mexican blankets to wrap around folks.”