We are pulling our rental car up to the Red Agave Resort when I realize that we’ve made a wrong turn.
Or have we?
Dad, check the map again, I say, gesturing toward the GPS on his smartphone. We have just pulled into an eclectic residential neighborhood in the outskirts of Sedona, Arizona, where all homes have a majestic view of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte on the horizon. Could the resort really be inside this neighborhood? My dad hands me the GPS instead, because, as the travel writer (whose sense of direction is embarrassingly terrible), I’m supposed to know where we’re going.
We keep driving while I fumble with the GPS. Nope—this is right, I tell him. Canyon Circle Drive. Keep going.
And then we hit the end of the road, and a wooden sign nestled into the cacti greets us with the bold, stylized curly letters of the Red Agave Resort’s logo. We are here indeed.
That’s the first thing you’ll notice about the Red Agave—it feels nothing like any resort I’ve ever visited, and in Sedona, that’s something beautiful. For one, the resort is a small semi-circle of studio apartments and bright red two-story A-frame chalets surrounding a grassy area where, weather permitting, visitors can roast s’mores over an open coal fire, play guitar, or just sit around the pool or one of two hot tubs. Secondly, the fact that the resort isn’t in uptown Sedona is a huge advantage for travelers who want a sense of community and peace—and not a sense of busy streets and crowded shops as you might have if you choose a place in uptown Sedona where all the shops and restaurants are located. And thirdly, the fact that Red Agave owns the entire property around the end of Canyon Circle ensures that its views of Sedona’s awe-inspiring deep iron-colored rocks are spoiled by nothing except an occasional tree limb. The lot next to the resort is nothing but grassy plains and a full view of the towering beauty of Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s most popular day hikes.
Each chalet has its own name (we stayed in the Chalet Boynton Canyon), and each has its own front porch area, fully-stocked kitchen with four-burner stove, lofted ceiling living room and dining area, private bedroom with king-sized bed, separate shower and bathroom, and wind-around staircase to the second loft bedroom. Though there are only four of us on this particular journey, the chalets easily sleep six—two in the downstairs’ bedroom, two on the hideaway bed in the living room, and two in the upstairs loft bedroom. Erica, the wonderful lady on staff when we arrived, helped us to our chalet, unlocked the door for us, gave us a quick tour and a detailed map, suggested some restaurants we should try for dinner, and then leaves us to our unpacking.
The chalet feels clean and comfortable, the kind of place that feels less like a resort or hotel and more like an old friend’s cabin in the woods. The lights are dimmed, the furniture well-worn, the blankets folded atop the neatly-made beds. There’s coffee and tea waiting for us to brew on the square kitchen table. My husband Ryan and I haul our bags up the spiral staircase while my mom and dad take a look at the brochures and tourist pamphlets on the kitchen table. Within five minutes, my dad has already decided which hikes he wants to try, has decided we’re going to take a day to drive to the Petrified Forest National Park, and has picked a restaurant—the local brewery, Oak Creek Brewery and Grill. My mom has kicked off her shoes and is eyeing the two hot tubs right outside our sliding-glass doors. I know we’re going to be spending a lot of time in there tonight (and we do!).
The next morning, I wake up a little earlier than I expected (that fresh Sedona air, perhaps?), and decide to make breakfast for everyone. I brew some fresh coffee, scramble a dozen eggs, toast some bagels, and cut up a bowl of fresh fruit. By the time everyone is up, I’m bringing coffee mugs and plates of breakfast outside to our patio table, and we spend the next two hours enjoying the sun, the jutting red rocks all around us, and the morning hummingbirds in the trees and many bird feeders around the property. With all of our clocks, phones, and tablets inside, we spend time catching up, sipping our coffee, greeting the other guests (all of whom are also outside enjoying their own homemade breakfasts), and talking excitedly about what we would like to do that day. We throw out ideas for hiking, shopping, vortex-hunting, visiting Oak Creek Canyon, catching sunset up on Airport Mesa and decide that ultimately, we’re going to try to do all of them.
And I happy to admit that we do.
We start the morning with a grueling hike up Cathedral Rock, have lunch at Oaxaca Restaurant in uptown Sedona, spend a few hours shopping, hike through Oak Creek Canyon, enjoy a happy hour and plate of nopalitos at the Olde Sedona Bar & Grill, and then drive up to Airport Mesa, watch the brilliantly-colored sunset. By the time we get back to our chalet, the twilight has nearly turned into darkness and we are ready, again, to enjoy those two hot tubs.
My mom and I open a bottle of wine, take two plastic glasses out to the tub, and stick our tired feet into the warm, bubbling water. My dad and husband Ryan stay inside and sit at the kitchen table, talking late into the night. I imagine this is not an uncommon sight in these chalets—if spending real quality time with your loved ones is high on your list, these chalets are pure magic.
When I starting writing this article and asked my dad, Ken Mock, what he would remember most about Red Agave, he barely hesitated before gushing about the spectacular views. That’s what I, too, remember the most. As I did my research this morning, I was not at all surprised to find that Red Agave was just ranked #2 in TripAdvisor’s “Top 10 best views from your hotel bed” competition.
After spending the weekend here with my family, the Red Agave might just be view #1 in my list.
Red Agave Resort
120 Canyon Circle Drive
Sedona, AZ 86351
The Red Agave Resort’s rates for the summer (high season) are $219 USD/night for a 6-person chalet. To book your stay, check out their website or email them at [email protected], and enjoy those beautiful Sedona sunsets! Check rates at hotels.com as well.
Article and photographs by Kristin Winet.
A special thanks to the Red Agave Resort for hosting one night of our stay in Sedona.