Creekside Dining

Aside from the captivating scenery, several area resorts and restaurants aim to make the tourists’ experience even better with recent facelifts, expansions and other enhancements.

We take a look at three recently updated spots you should consider the next time you visit the area.

1. Orchards Inn

Orchards Inn Sedona
Photo by Orchards Inn Sedona

Orchards Inn, located in Uptown Sedona just steps from some of the area’s best shopping, dining and art galleries, recently completed a nearly year-long remodeling. The inn, which boasts of some of the most awe-inspiring views of the Red Rocks, added on a Sonoran-style Mexican restaurant called 89Agave Cantina and re-imagined its guest rooms and suites.

Each room now features new furniture and fixtures with details and colors that reflect the nearby mountains, creek beds and running water. Subtle hints of the Southwest infuse every detail, allowing guests to experience the unique visual and cultural surroundings of Sedona even when they’re in the comfort of their room.

In conjunction with the completion of the guest room update, which also includes several pet-friendly rooms, the property implemented a new series of programs and packages from local hiking trips and pet-friendly excursions to shopping trips and adventures to the Grand Canyon. Each experience draws inspiration from Sedona’s unique beauty and can be tailored for families, couples and groups.

2. L’Auberge de Sedona

LAuberge | Creekside Dining
Photo by LAuberge | Creekside Dining

Already one of the most luxurious and eye-poppingly beautiful resorts in the world, L’Auberge de Sedona underwent a recent $7-million renewal to improve guests’ check-in and dining experiences.

The result: each of the upscale accommodations — including Vista Suites, Creekside Cottages and Lodge rooms —now include modern furniture, Italian linens, down bedding, and décor featuring local artists.

Many of the cottages offer cozy fireplaces, outdoor cedar showers and private balconies. Guests are also able to see the picturesque Oak Creek upon arrival at the completely re-imagined lobby and welcome cottage.

There are two new restaurants — Cress on Oak Creek and Etch Kitchen & Bar. Both work to infuse the creekside location into each guest’s dining experience, and both succeed on all levels.

Executive chef Rochelle Daniel heads up both venues and is one of the few women to hold that position in the Southwest. Prior to L’Auberge, Daniel gained fame working at Zinc Bistro in Phoenix and then consulted for the opening of Lush Burger Restaurant while also providing food demonstrations through The Food Network. Her menus range from high-end bar bites to multicourse, sommelier-paired tasting menus.

Thanks to her work, Conde Nast Magazine named Cress on Oak Creek “one of the top ten restaurants in the Southwest.”

L’Auberge offers a daily variety of fitness and wellness activities — some traditional and some unique to Sedona – that are worth the trip alone. These include Creekside yoga, duck feeding, forest bathing, hiking, guided runs, expert-led stargazing and even a chance to mix one’s own “signature scent “ in the L’Apothecary Spa.

3. Mariposa

Mariposa Dining Room
Photo by Mariposa | Dining Room

Following a family tragedy two decades ago, executive chef and restaurateur Lisa Dahl sought solace in the healing red rocks of Sedona. She shed her life in the fashion industry of San Francisco for a fresh start as a self-taught chef, creating a restaurant empire that would ultimately redefine the culinary scene in the resort town.

Dahl opened her first restaurant, Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, in 1995. More than 20 years later, Dahl & Di Luca remains a dining tradition for generations of locals and travelers alike. It also gets the credit for allowing other chefs to create their own footprint in Sedona, a town with just 10,000 residents but 3 million annual visitors.

As demand continued, Dahl expanded her own presence in Sedona by opening Cucina Rustica, an Italian-Mediterranean fine dining concept, in 2003. Then, in 2013, she experimented with her first casual restaurant, Pisa Lisa, which served pizzas and salads. She hopes to eventually expand Pisa Lisa outside of Sedona.

Just last year, Dahl opened her most ambitious project yet. Called Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, this dramatic new destination restaurant focuses on South American-inspired cuisine that reflects Dahl’s style and love for fashion, design and art.

Dahl uses a wood-fired grill and wood-burning oven to create handmade empanadas, ceviches, grilled chorizos, fresh fish dishes, mole and house-made chimichurri sauces inspired by her travels to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.

If you decide to visit, make sure you should book a reservation in advance.

– Alison Bailin Batz, AFN Contributing Writer / Edited for Phoenix.org