Medicine Wheel at Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Ariz., is
one of many ways a guest can meditate surrounded by
can relate to wanting more balance in life. The popularity
of juicing, of yoga, of meditation and the spin-lightning
chain SoulCycle? Just the latest evidence that many of us
continue to seek a certain equilibrium.
this year, I was one of those people in need of a serious
reboot, but getting on a plane seemed counterintuitive. So
I opted for Mii amo spa in Sedona, Ariz., a 7Ĺ-hour drive
from Los Angeles that felt far enough away to qualify as
amo is on the grounds of Enchantment, a 70-acre resort
five miles northwest of Sedona and surrounded by
wilderness and the majestic red rocks of Boynton Canyon.
The area was originally inhabited by the Yavapai, who
consider it their place of origin. ("Mii amo" is
a Native American term signifying passage or journey.)
treatments, activities and cuisine, available to guests of
the 218-room Enchantment resort as well as those who
choose to stay in one of the 16 Mii amo all-inclusive spa
rooms, were designed to promote healing of mind, body and
spirit. But virtue isnít the only item on the menu;
there are cocktails on offer as well.
left L.A. before sunrise so I could beat the traffic and
settle into the idea of relaxing. I passed Palm Springs
and Blythe, then eased across the California state line
into Arizona by midmorning. Bypassing Phoenix on State
Route 303 and heading north on Interstate 17, I began to
ascend the Mogollon Plateau, where saguaro cactus gave way
to pine trees. Once I took the exit for Cottonwood,
turning onto Route 179 North, I caught a glimpse of
crimson, a hint of the scenery to come.
in Sedona at about 2:30 p.m., the towering buttes and
cliffs looked like a scrim painted with every possible
shade of rouge and ocher. No wonder so many Hollywood
directors came here to film Westerns. You donít need the
road sign to know you have entered red-rock country.
red-ribboned canyon enveloping Enchantment, a former
tennis academy that opened as a resort in 1987, is guarded
by two spires known as Kachina Woman and Warrior Man,
which sit on one of Sedonaís so-called energy vortexes
and are accessible from the areaís many hiking trails.
Scattered throughout the property, the resortís rooms
and casitas are nestled into the landscape, with
Western-style furnishings, spectacular views and
thoughtful amenities delivered to your door, such as fresh
orange juice every morning and a card printed with a
Native American blessing at turn-down.
24,000-square-foot spa complex, opened in 2001, was
designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects, the same firm
responsible for the Dia Center for the Arts in New York
City and the Georgia OíKeeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M.
Set into the slope of the canyon, the building is low,
modern and environmentally appropriate, with peaceful
spaces that flow into one another, and lots of red adobe
brick, natural light and water elements.
found myself in a tranquil cairn garden in the complexís
central atrium, which set the mood for ahhhh. A cairn is a
mound of stacked stones built as a landmark or memorial,
and guests can choose from the piles of stones to create
their own. Nearby, a kiva-like space called the Crystal
Grotto invites quiet contemplation and is the site of the
morning "ritual," a brief, mind-clearing moment
of calm guided by a staff member.
you are a doer, thereís a lot to do. In fact, Mii amo
and Enchantment almost feel like a summer camp for adults,
with more than 100 activities offered weekly, including
cooking demonstrations, yoga classes, juicing 101,
chanting, vortex lectures, stargazing, tennis, golf and
mountain bike excursions.
you can zone out at the spaís outdoor pool and hot tub
while staring at the red rocks, float in the indoor pool
and listen to the quiet gurgling of the water wall, or nap
in one of the sunny window seats in the quiet sitting area
around the fireplace. A juice bar serves feel-good
concoctions such as the Mii amo Passage smoothie, with
strawberry, mango, banana, apple and orange juice.
started my journey to spiritual enlightenment by joining a
meditation walk on a labyrinth marked with stones and
embedded with energy-emitting crystals. An instructor
advised each of us to choose an "intention,"
which is meditation/visualization speak for a plan or
feeling to manifest while walking the labyrinth. I chose
"joy" and began to follow the curves and twists
of the maze, as sounds were muted and distractions fell
away. By the time I arrived at the end, I was beginning to
find some calm.
dinner, the Mii amo Cafe serves fresh, seasonal fare that
strikes a balance between delicious and calorie-conscious.
(The menu lists nutritional content for each dish.) I fed
my pasta craving with a hearty tagliatelle with spirulina,
butternut squash and Brussels sprouts for just 460
calories and 12 fat grams ó proof I could eat better and
still eat well.
slept soundly in my Casita room, with a king-size bed,
earthy Southwestern decor and a view of Kachina Woman from
the next morning, the 10-minute walk from my room to the
spa prepared me for my immersion into relaxation. I saw a
deer on the path, munching on greenery. It didnít even
look up, thatís how at peace it was.
the first thing on my agenda was a meal ó and breakfast
at the Cafe was even more incredible than dinner. After
devouring a Hopi blue-corn waffle with wild-cherry compote
that had just 120 calories and 3 grams of fat, I made up
my mind to leave with a copy of "A Journey of
Taste," the Mii amo cookbook.
8:15 a.m., guests gathered in the Crystal Grotto for the
morning ritual. Our guide led us in a round of deep
breathing, then lighted a smudge stick to ward off
negativity. "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a
mystery, today is a gift, which is why they call it the
present," she said.
that incantation, I was ready to take my gift of
relaxation to another level, lingering in the spaís
locker room, with a skylighted whirlpool bath, sauna and
steam room so luxe that I had to watch the clock so I didnít
miss my treatment time.
spa offers more than 65 specialized treatments, many of
them inspired by Native American traditions and using
ingredients indigenous to the area, including blue corn,
red clay, wild sage, prickly pear, chaparral and juniper
berries. In addition to massages, facials and body wraps,
guests can dip into astrology, aura reading, past-life
regression, hypnosis and reiki healing. Treatment rooms
are on the second level of the facility, many of them
offering outdoor views. Itís advisable to book services
before you arrive.
the pursuit of more life-work balance, I tried a 90-minute
treatment called "harmony," during which my
instructor, a man named Bhadra, used a variety of
questions and talk therapies to help me figure out how to
slow down and de-stress. My path to harmony, Bhadra said,
involves paying more attention to the feminine side of my
psyche and less to the masculine side, which is,
apparently, enslaving me. "Thatís a part of you,
but itís not all of you," he kept repeating. The
treatment ended with me on a massage table, listening to
his silken voice guide me in meditation. It was one of the
most soothing experiences Iíve ever had, so much so that
just saying his name, Bhadra, still gives me a sense of
amo casts an easy, seductive spell, but if you do want to
experience Sedona, itís just a gorgeous (as in
stop-the-car-so-I-can-take-a-picture) five-mile drive.
Sedona has a population of roughly 10,000 and is primarily
a tourist town. In addition to its natural wonders,
including the 1.8-million-acre Coconino National Forest
surrounding the city and the nearby Grand Canyon, there
are dozens of shops and eateries.
lunch on the second day, I headed into town to the Barking
Frog Grille, where the kitschy Southwestern decor is
straight out of the 1980s, howling coyotes, kokopellis and
all. I sampled a local delicacy known as cactus fries
(tangy strips of the local flora with sweet dipping sauce)
and fish tacos. I also polished off one of the Grilleís
fishbowl-sized prickly pear margaritas, which may explain
how I ended up at a place called Crystal Magic, spending
$70 on a handful of magic rocks that are supposed to help
(what else?) bring out the feminine side of my psyche. Who
knows if they will work ó Iíve suggested to my friends
that they check on me in three months ó but it was fun
assembling my secret stash of stones and picking out a
colorful leather pouch in which to carry them.
the Center for the New Age, billed as a metaphysical
superstore, I browsed among the Tibetan prayer bowls,
magic wands and books such as "Wicca and Witchcraft
for Dummies" and "Animal Communication: Our
Sacred Connection." Clearly, I was getting into the
Sedona vibe. Across the street, the touristy galleries in
the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village didnít have as
much to recommend them, nor did the hokey Western-themed
stores along 89A in uptown Sedona.
late afternoon, I drove to the Chapel of the Holy Cross in
the Coconino National Forest, about four miles south of
the city. The dramatic building is built into a butte, its
most distinguishing feature a cross that seems to be
wedged between red rocks. Built as a Roman Catholic
chapel, it was commissioned by local rancher and sculptor
Marguerite Brunswig Staude and completed in 1956 but still
feels incredibly modern. Inside, the walls are bare except
for two contemporary-looking tapestries and an enormous
picture window onto the natural world. The chapel now is
nondenominational, and every Monday at 5 p.m., thereís a
contemplative, non-biblical Taize service (based on the
practices of the monastic community of the same name in
France) that packs in people from all over. Itís also a
terrific vantage point from which to watch the sunset, a
satisfying balance between outdoorsy and spiritual.
next morning, I tried one of the hikes offered by the
resort. After a short van ride, our guide led us on Teacup
Trail in West Sedona, pointing out that many of the areaís
famous rock formations are easy to recognize from their
shapes (Cathedral Rock and Coffee Pot Rock among them).
Teacup Rock is more difficult to discern, but the dramatic
photo ops were worth the 2.5-mile trek.
at Enchantment, I decided to hike to Kachina Woman via the
Vista Trail, which starts just behind the Mii amo spa and
is just about a mile round trip up into Boynton Canyon.
There are four main vortexes, or energy centers, in
Sedona, and one of the strongest is in this spot, where
native tribes still hold private ceremonies. Some people
say they can feel the balancing properties of the swirling
electromagnetic energy in the Earth.
I reached Kachina Woman, there were several Lululemon-clad
ladies perched on the rocks, chattering. I covered my
ears, hoping for some quiet and trying to be in the moment
despite the distractions.
a few minutes, I gave up, feeling disappointed, and
started down the trail. A moment later, I came upon
another hiker, a regular who is known for playing his
flute on the rocks. He handed me a heart-shaped stone and
said, "Itís a beautiful day, isnít it? A
beautiful day to be in the most beautiful place in the
world. Or in any place, really."
has its advantages, but so does company. I was happy to
have run into him. Balance.
last Mii amo treatment was an "intentional"
aromatherapy massage. My therapist, Anna, had me choose
from several aromatherapy oil recipes, each with a
corresponding intention. Thinking of my desire to feel
more balance and gratitude, I selected a concoction called
I Feel Blessed. Anna custom-blended the massage oil for
me, combining rose and geranium (both of which are
supposed to have feminine energy) and frankincense, which
she said is more masculine and, thus, balancing. Whatever
it was, it smelled divine, as though I was surrounded by a
field of my favorite flowers.
I spent the rest of the afternoon blissed out by the pool,
soaking in the Arizona sun. I had to pry myself away from
the lounge chair to walk back up to Enchantment for the
sunset. At the outdoor View 180 bar, I shared a table and
the painted-rock view with a couple celebrating their
wedding anniversary. They were as blissed out as I was.
dinner my last night, I drove back into town to try Elote
Cafe, the contemporary Mexican restaurant by chef Jeff
Smedstad thatís hailed by critics as the best dining
spot in the area. Thereís a no-reservations policy, but
no one seems to mind sipping margaritas on the porch and
doing the beanbag toss to pass the time. It was worth the
hour-plus wait for lamb adobo that fell off the bone, and
corn-crusted scallops with spicy-sweet tomato jam and
next day, it was time to head home, but not before
building my own cairn for the garden and fortifying myself
for the return to the real world with one more morning
enlightened and motivated, I sat down to fuel up with
coffee and noticed a couple that were very friendly with
the staff. There are a lot of repeat visitors at Mii amo,
and here were two of them. I struck up a conversation, and
they told me they have been coming here twice a year for
the last six years. They hike in the mornings and have
treatments in the afternoons and find the experience to be
both relaxing and spiritual. "Itís part of the
ritual of our lives," the man said.
TO REST, EAT AND SHOP AROUND SEDONA
and Mii amo are about a two-hour drive from the Phoenix
airport and about an hour from the Flagstaff airport.
Sedona has an airport for small, private aircraft. The
218-room Enchantment has no age restrictions. The 16-room
Mii amo is the all-inclusive spa resort, and guests must
be at least 16.
Resort, 525 Boynton Canyon Road, Sedona; (888) 250-1699,