Nestled in the picturesque banks of Oak Creek Canyon and embraced by the majestic rock landscape of Sedona, whimsical charm and inviting luxury awaits at Amara Resort and Spa.
Through the years, the resort has been named one of the “Best Hotels” by Condé Nast Traveler and U.S. News & World Report. But the affinity for this boutique resort has only continued to grow since Amara Resort and Spa underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in October 2021.
In this blog post, I invite you to discover why you must escape to this vibrant creekside resort.
*Thank you to Amara Resort and Spa for sponsoring this blog post!
With its distinct and vibrant ambiance, Amara Resort and Spa effortlessly combines tranquility, playfulness, luxury, and warmth, creating an inviting haven like no other. And while I have stayed at luxury resorts and hotels across the globe, Amara Resort resonated with me on another level. It’s the perfect girls getaway or romantic escape. In fact, I’m already coordinating my next visit because I enjoyed it that much!
Finding Amara Resort and Spa
Access to the resort is a bit hidden, which I love.
From the bustling streets of Uptown Sedona, Amara Resort is just an inconspicuous driveway down to the banks of Oak Creek Canyon.
But before you turn from 89A to Amara Lane, you need to first get to Sedona. From my experience, I drove an hour and a half from Tucson to pick up my best friend, Kieran, then we went straight to the resort from Phoenix.
We left Phoenix around 1pm on a Friday, and arrived about two hours later. As someone who isn’t as familiar with northern Arizona traffic, Kieran shared that we experienced a bit of traffic on the way up. For a faster arrival, she would recommend leaving around 10am.
If you’re flying to Arizona, your options include major international airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, or small commercial airport, Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.
Approximate Travel Time
- Tucson: 3.5-4 hours
- Phoenix: 2-2.5 hours
- Flagstaff: 45-60 minutes
Arriving to Amara Resort and Spa
At Amara Resort, guests enjoy complimentary valet services, with the added convenience of a golf cart escort to the top of the driveway. The golf cart service enables you to easily explore Uptown Sedona’s restaurants, shops, and art galleries. This insider tip was shared by the friendly valet.
Upon entering the lobby, I was captivated by the vaulted ceilings adorned with star constellation-inspired chandeliers– a nod to Sedona as a designated Dark Sky Community. The rest of the decor was natural and modern, with a contrasting blend of textures and wooden accents.
When checking-in at the front desk, guests are welcomed with a celebratory glass of champagne. At this same location, you can also receive complimentary bottled waters throughout your stay. There’s even a water fountain in the lobby for you to refill your reusable water containers before heading out on a hike.
Guest Rooms and Suites
After the refresh, the 100 guest rooms were redefined with an elevated “tree lodge” aesthetic, inspired by the surrounding red rocks and the five elements of nature: earth, wood, metal, fire and water.
Every guest room blends neutral tones with that of organic textures. A deep blue accent wall creates a connection to the sights and sounds of the creek. One of the details that I found interesting is that the headboard’s rich wood is hand-crafted from local fallen trees.
The refreshed bathroom takes on a modern and functional approach. With the beauty of the porcelain tile that reflects sandstone layer, Inside, the walk in shower features a rain shower and porcelain tile that reflects sandstone layer. Bath amenities include products by C.O. Bigelow.
In the next section, I will review the the Creekside One Bedroom Suite, but you can view the details for all accommodations here.
Creekside One Bedroom Suite
The spacious 720-square-foot Creekside One Bedroom Suite is the largest suite at Amara Resort and Spa. The corner room features a lighter-wash wooden floor in the corridor that leads you from the entry, past the Illy coffee and Fellow tea kettle station, and into a living room with one balcony that offers an enchanting view of the creek.
The space is moderately decorated with unique art and decor that was created in collaboration with local artists. The jackalope motif is present throughout the room, and the hotel’s branding, to highlight the property’s bold and whimsical style.
Connected to the living room boasts a expansive bedroom that’s filled with natural light from the second balcony, as well as the wrap patio. The second balcony even offers a view of the Cleopatra Red Rock Formation! With the room, I felt that the space offered a serene environment that contrasted well with the vibrant living room.
Salt Rock Southwest Kitchen
After enjoying an Illy in-room espresso, Kieran and I found ourselves back in the open courtyard to experience dinner at Amara Resort’s signature restaurant, SaltRock Southwest Kitchen.
Inside, the Himalayan salt accent walls contrast with the velvet burnt orange banquettes. Outside, guests will continue to be wowed with the direct views of Cleopatra Red Rock Formation and Snoopy Rock!
Hotel and non-hotel guests can dine in for breakfast, lunch and dinner at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen. It is highly recommended to make a reservation on OpenTable.
And as far as what to wear, I observed a mix of resort wear, athleisure and sundresses.
Executive chef David Duncan prepares traditional southwest fare with a seasonal approach that incorporates Verde Valley ingredients.
Prior to our visit, we narrowed down our menu choices then inquired the portion size. With everything consisting of larger portions, Kieran and I opted to share everything family style: one appetizer, two sides, one entree and one dessert.
From what we ordered, I especially enjoyed the Blue Crab Empanadas ($18). The empanadas were perfectly fried and the crab was excellent with the poblano and salsa macha. The Tiger Shrimp Tamal ($36) with the charred corn polenta was another delightful menu item, and is one of the resort’s top-selling menu items!
And although I didn’t have the opportunity to try it during my visit, I was delighted to learn that Amara Resort serves locally-sourced trout, caught in the upstream waters of the resort’s creek.
The cocktails were fantastic, which is no surprise as SaltRock is recognized in northern Arizona for its award-winning cocktail program led by Billy Langenbacher. The agave-based libations include tequila, craft margaritas and mezcal. There’s also a generous offering of non-agave options, such as wine, craft beers and additional spirits.
We ordered one margarita from the cocktail menu, the West Fork Margarita ($15), and one of the Bartender’s Specials ($16). The West Fork Margarita was one of the best margaritas that I’ve had this year. The chile salt-rimmed rocks glass featured jalapeño-infused blanco tequila with mezcal and lime organic agave. I would go back for this alone.
The Bartender’s Special I found unique because it features creative, daily specials by the team. On the day of my visit, the special included a silver blanco tequila, lime, agave and chamomile hibiscus tea syrup. The cocktail was then finished with a mezcal- hibiscus foam.
Things to Do
Should it be desired, the versatility of Amara Resort makes it possible to stay on property for a complete staycation. My initial intention was to embark on a grand adventure, however, after a recent trip to Washington DC and being consumed by various work projects, I instead longed for a relaxing retreat.
But whether you seek peaceful relaxation or engaging adventures, there are plenty of activities to enjoy during your stay.
Zero-Edge Infinity Pool
The zero-edge infinity pool at Amara Resort and Spa is enchanting. A sense of tranquility is established as the infinity edge merges with the surrounding trees, providing a captivating view. The serene beauty is only enhanced with the soothing sound of trickling water from the nearby creek. Surrounding the pool, are first-come-first-serve day beds and lounge chairs to soak up Sedona’s warm weather.
If you’re looking for poolside services, there’s a condensed menu of bites and cocktails from SaltRock.
24-Hour Fitness Center
During my stay, I had the chance to check out the fitness center for a few workouts. The space featured benches, dumbbells, Matrix ellipticals and treadmills, and a Peloton. There’s no restroom in the fitness center, so if that’s needed, you can go to the next door spa.
Like the hotel, Amara Spa is a boutique size, meaning appointments fill up quickly! For services, you can expect energy and healing-focused massages and facials. And as a hotel guest, you have access to the spa’s steam room. The spa was fully booked so I didn’t get the chance to experience a service, but I also waited two days before my trip to book a spa treatment. So, learn from my lesson and book your service in advance.
Truthfully I typically do not hang around a hotel’s courtyard since the design is usually not created as a stopping point but rather a connecting point to your room or the lobby. Amara Resort and Spa is the exact opposite and wants you to unwind and have fun! In the courtyard, you will spot multiple fire pits with patio furniture, vibrant yellow adirondacks, jumbo-sized Jenga and cornhole. And with the views of Sedona’s red rocks framed with the greenery from the creek, it doesn’t get much better!
Stargazing with Local Astronomers
Included in the resort fee, guests can stargaze every Friday night during warmer seasons with a local astronomer. During my visit, the visiting astronomer utilized two telescopes of various focal lengths. We had the chance to see the moon and planets, but it was unreal to see the details of the moon’s craters.
On Saturday mornings, you can meet in the lobby for a complimentary yoga class. If you forgot your yoga mat, each guestroom and suite includes a complimentary yoga mat that you can borrow. I’m told that the classes are more gentle-like yoga, instead of the fast-paced vinyasa. No experience is needed to attended these classes that are included in with the resort fee.
Oak Creek Canyon
The creek was one of the highlights for me. I loved walking along the sandy banks and rocks while gazing out to the creek and trees. This is not a full-on hike, but it is a nice walk to surround yourself with nature.
Since I was curious to go into the creek, I asked the front desk if guests are allowed to go in and she said they are. As someone who is five feet tall, the water in front of the resort went to about my knee. Note that it could be deeper in other areas.
I had my hiking Tevas but I think water shoes would have been better because of the loose rocks. But aside from that, the water was a nice temperature and was so lovely to be immersed in. And since the resort is in a secluded location, the creek’s atmosphere was tranquil in every way.
Amara Resort and Spa offers a remarkable retreat to those seeking to unwind in a setting that effortlessly blends excitement with serenity. While I initially intended to explore Sedona’s hiking trails and community, I felt more than content unwinding and immersing myself into the nature surrounding the resort. And if you’re going to embrace a slower pace, what better place to do so than Amara Resort and Spa.