Best of Our Valley 2019: Escapes

Lake Powell
by Kyley Warren

Best Arizona Lake Escape: Lake Powell

Straddling the border between Arizona and Utah, there lies Lake Powell—a reservoir and adored desert oasis settled on the Colorado River that boasts a great amount of history and exhilarating activities that can be enjoyed both on the water, shore-side and even by air. The vacation hot spot boasts an annual total of a near two million visitors. Whether you’re taking in the views by air in a helicopter, wakeboarding the sapphire waters or relaxing for a picnic along the shores, Lake Powell offer limitless fun and unparalleled desert beauty.

Lake Powell

Best Northern Arizona Adventure: Pink Jeep Tours

For more than 58 years, Pink Adventure Tours has served as the premier adventure tour company in the Southwest. Sedona’s Pink Jeep Adventure Tours offer a variety of expeditions that encompass history, nature and geology, all complemented by some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of Earth’s natural wonders—like Sedona’s stunning red rock buttes, in particular.

Best Northern Arizona Winery: Alcantara Vineyards

Alcantara is a family-owned local business that began in 2004. While Arizona is no stranger to unique wine and spirit creations, Alcantara Vineyards manages to set itself apart from the competition through the quaint, family-oriented charm that is afforded to all guests by the staff, as well as through the jaw-dropping, lush views that the property is settled on. Owner Barbara Predmore says that “the rocky limestone soil and sunny climate in the Verde is very similar to the winemaking regions of France and Italy, and after two years of experimentation the results are everything we hoped for and then some.”

Best Orange County Resort or Hotel: Montage Laguna Beach

Known for luxurious accommodations, superb service, delicious dining, a relaxing spa and ,of course, the quintessential California views that surround this gorgeous SoCal property, the Montage Laguna Beach is a tropical treasure that manages to effortlessly pair guest comfort with the perfect balance of class and West Coast charm. The property recently revamped many of its services and offerings from renovated guestrooms to key staff changes to new spa partnerships, all for the purpose of continuing to provide a truly unique, coastal stay to the diverse range of travelers that wander through.

Montage Laguna Beach

Best San Diego Resort or Hotel: Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado is a staple of California culture in its purest form. A living legend for 131 years, the Del celebrates its rich heritage and diverse history as the proud host to celebrities, royalty, presidents and local beach lovers galore for generations. The iconic resort, complemented by faint maroon tiers atop the structure and nostalgic décor that sets the tone for the charming ambience throughout the property, was built in 1888 by Elisha Babcock Jr. and Hampton L. Story. This American treasure received the official designation as being a National Historic Landmark in 1977, which officially slated the Hotel Del Coronado’s place in history.

Hotel Del Coronado

Best Sedona Resort or Hotel: L’Auberge de Sedona

Situated on the banks of Oak Creek in the heart of Sedona’s famed Red Rock country, L’Auberge de Sedona is more than just simply a place to stay—it’s a luxurious environment that promotes the art of celebrating the little things, connecting to nature, healing through spiritual practices and letting go of external forces so that guests can truly relax. More than a hotel, a restaurant and a spa, L’Auberge is a place where extraordinary memories are created, romances are rekindled and where unplugging results in true connection.

L’Apothecary Spa was named Best Sedona Spa—as well as in 2018—offering customized yoga and meditation, sound healing and more.

L’Auberge de Sedona

AFM Fave! Best Sedona Resort or Hotel: Hilton Sedona Resort Bell Rock 

Nestled along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, Sedona’s adventure headquarters, offers an upscale retreat where guests can continue their essential journey toward wellness, fitness, renewal and outdoor adventures. The resort’s multi-million dollar enhancements include remastered guestrooms, refreshed common areas and the reimagined ShadowRock Tap + Table, a cool and casual restaurant designed to merge indoor and outdoor dining and gathering. Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock continues to evolve and perfect the guest experience through new partnerships, programming, offerings and interactive elements focused on exploration, adventure and experiencing the essence of Sedona.

Hilton Bell Rock Sedona

Best Southern Arizona Winery: Elgin Winery and Distillery

The Colonia of Elgin serves as the base backdrop for Arizona’s first winery, distillery and brewing facility. Elgin Winery and Distillery, which was founded in the early 80’s, has produced decadent wine concoctions from Arizona grapes since the post-prohibition resurgence in Sonoran Desert winemaking.

Top Mexico Resort: Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort 

The award-winning Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort is located on a 2.5-mile stretch of pristine white beach on the Pacific Ocean, just a 10-minute ride from the lively Cabo San Lucas. This tranquil and romantic retreat for adults offers full-service amenities and facilities, including four restaurants, a wellness-inspired spa, access to Quivira Golf Club, private beach and cabana privileges. 

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort

Fast Faves

Best Arizona Ski Resort: tie between Arizona Snowbowl, and Sunrise Park Resort,

Best Northern Arizona Annual Event: tie between Prescott Rodeo, and Sedona Arts Festival,

Best Northern Arizona Hike: tie between Bear Mountain and West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon,

Best Southern Arizona Adventure: Kartchner Caverns,

Best Southern Arizona Hike: tie between Mt. Lemmon Meadow Loop and Upper Javelina Trail,

West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon
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