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Flying Standby

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Beauty calls from Sedona

By Mark Vanek
Flying Standby

Sedona, Ariz., is a place of sweeping beauty with red-rock formations that apparently overflow with magical areas, infused with positive energy. Visitors from all walks of life descend onto this acclaimed place, seeking out mystical visions and healings, or simply just to partake in the area’s natural splendor.

Last minute? No problem: You will need a reliable source of transportation to traverse the rugged desert terrain from Phoenix to small, bustling Sedona, two hours north of Phoenix, via I-17. The price of auto rentals at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport is outrageous – we’re talking more than $500 for a week. Your most practical option: Two days before departure, go to hotwire.com and voilà, prices have dropped dramatically at major car-rental companies.

Opulent ease: Nestled comfortably off Sedona’s main drag is Adobe Grand Villas ( www.adobegrandvillas.com), a luxurious pueblo-style boutique B&B. This traditional Southwest-looking resort is home to just 16 uniquely designed and individualized themed villas. Each is opulently decked out with every amenity imaginable, including hydrotherapy tubs, cascading waterfall showers and two fireplaces. You will sleep like royalty underneath 12-foot ceilings and on extra-pillow, top queen-size mattresses smack dab in the center of the room.

Get out and about: Explore hidden back roads and discover Sedona’s rugged beauty on an off-road adventure. The gearheads at Pink Jeep ( www.pinkjeeptours.com) offer no-nonsense insights into the Native American culture and the geology of the Southwest as you take in some of the most rugged beauty in all of Arizona.

The sights from hiking trails of Sedona’s all-encompassing panorama are spectacular, but pale in comparison to enjoying these same vistas from more than 1,500 feet. Do not miss the one-of-a-kind experience of soaring over Sedona’s plethora of red-rock formations in a vintage-style biplane. The flights are offered by Sedona Air Tours ( www.sedonaairtours.com), which also offers a helicopter tour, where your pilot can fly forward, backward, laterally, climb in and out of Sedona’s seldom seen canyons and offer exclusive views.

Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village: This adored and relaxing Sedona shopping landmark ( www.tlaq.com) sports an outstanding array of more than 40 art galleries and eclectic shops encircled by four fabulous restaurants. Keep an eye out for the authentic Hopi kachina doll you’ve always wanted, or a one-of-a-kind piece of Native American art.

For the area’s best dining, RENÉ at Tlaquepaque ( www.rene-sedona.com) is the place to be, whether you’re inside the main room or out on the patio. The fare is luscious, distinctive and has a French flare. Save some appetite for flambé dessert … bananas Foster, cherries jubilee or crepe Suzette.

Massage and a meal: Go all-in and get a reiki treatment from the spa at L’Auberge de Sedona. ( www.lauberge.com/sedona-spa)

Don’t forget to book dinner reservations at L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek (928-282-1661): It’s just steps from the spa, and provides a romantic environment inside the private dining room or on the lush garden patio. L’Auberge has long been considered one of Sedona’s top restaurants. A delightful appetizer not found on the menu – but available upon request – is Maine day-boat scallops served with crispy maitake mushrooms, spruce custard and blackberries.

Mark Vanek, who lives in the Lake Norman area, has unlimited standby flight privileges. Vanek’s blog: http://flying-standby.blogspot.com.
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