Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The 4hr. Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.
This month, we’re sending you “to find your inner biking Buddha all while keeping your freak-out boxed-in.” So sayeth George Miraval, the mountain biking guru at The Enchantment, a five-star resort tucked into the iron-dusted canyons of Sedona, Arizona. Come for the trails. Stay for the Native American massage rituals.
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STAY: The Enchantment Resort
The developers behind The Enchantment Resort were wise to let the environment speak for itself. Their burnt sienna, adobe-style buildings sit discreetly within the groves of pinion and juniper which fill the Boyton Canyon. This low profile beckons you to soak up the natural wonder of the canyon walls all within the comfort of a pillowy bed, in-room fireplace and sky-lit bathroom with a soaking tub big enough for two red-blooded Americans.
BIKE: Ride the Red Rocks
There are nearly 340 miles of trails latticing the canyons around Sedona, each with loose sand washes, throw-pillow-sized boulders, busted roots, steep climbs and sharp switchbacks that can be as heart-racingly awesome as they can be treacherous. It behooves one to have a guide. We endorse the George Miraval. He’s equal parts Apache rider and Buddhist wiseman. Not only does he know the terrain like a hipster knows suspenders, he also has the cheerful, calm cadence that makes him a standout teacher. He’s one of The Enchantment’s biking guides, so ask for him; he led us through part of the resort’s inaugural Ride the Red Rocks event. Though the event is annual, the guides, trails and equipment are all available year-round.
About that gear: you’re riding a Pivot Mach 6 or a Trail 429. If you’re new to mountain biking, Pivot is a boutique company that welds frames that come with a serious price tag — around $6,700. You’re just renting this puppy, though, and you’ll notice the difference. The longer frame, wider handlebars, gel tires and smooth gears make riding up over boulders incredibly easy, especially once you have some momentum. These bikes practically stick to the trail, and you’ll be surprised how well they ride. They also utilize a dropper seat, which will help you keep a low center of gravity on those sidewinding declines.
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SPA DAY: Mii Amo
Bicycling is thrilling. It will take you to remote areas with astounding views. It will also tie your glutes into a byzantine knot. Don’t skimp on the spa time. Mii Ami is The Enchantment’s day spa, a Native American themed heaven on earth. So lots of wind pipes, crystals and healing hands to help loosen the inevitable soreness you will be feeling after logging all those miles. Loosen up in a hot tub, sweat out toxins in a sauna, and then go to your massage in a relaxed state — you’ll go deeper. After all of that, sit by the heated pool, order a spinach salad with succulent chicken, an avocado smoothie, some vino, and take ‘er easy.
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DINING: At Enchantment
At least one night, book a dinner at Che Ah Chi, The Enchantment’s fine-dining restaurant where the venison is lean and less gamey than what you’d kill yourself. The scallops are rich and seared just right. Tii Gavo serves more Southwestern fare, like elote and nachos, and its patio is just right for post-ride oat sodas. The cafe at Mii Amo is the most repeatable, with garden fresh salads and bowls that will keep you light and sated.
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DINING: In Town
If you’re here more than a weekend, you may want to venture out, in which case you’ll want to lunch at Indian Gardens Cafe, a general-store haunt with a top-notch coffee program and KC-style pulled pork sandwich. Follow that up with some crystal shopping at the New Age Center, an easy way to spend an afternoon. For a scene-y dinner head to Elote, which serves elevated Tex-Mex like blunt lamb shank and spicy mezcal cocktails.
All other images: The Enchatment