“And you’ll be in room number seven, just down the way,” the hotel clerk says, smiling and handing me an old brass key.

I hear an exasperated sigh behind me. 

“Is she the one that reserved room number seven last week?” Exasperated lady asks. She and the cat she’s clinging to both eye me suspiciously.

“Um, I did reserve last week,” I say apologetically. “But I really don’t care about the room number.”

“Great.” Cat lady says. “You don’t mind if we switch then? It’s just that seven is my lucky number, and there’s a full moon tonight, and rooms on the end are my favorite.”

I turn, roll my eyes at the hotel clerk who just checked me in and tell her to go ahead and switch us. Cat lady immediately becomes my new best friend, informing me that room number nine is a great room too, that I’ll love it here, and the jacuzzi tubs are great. She then suggests that I light candles and soak in the tub for three hours as she did last night.

I will SO not be doing that.

I wheel my trusty cooler into room number nine. It’s cute. A little romantic for my single self (and Lord knows I won’t meet a man to my liking in Sedona), but whatever.

I made my way through the Oak Creek Terrace compound, where the other guests all seem to be normal. The porch overlooking the mountains is perfect for writing. The grassy courtyard is adorable, complete with kids playing hide and go seek. Down several sets of stairs is Oak Creek. The Creek here is nice for a quick splash, but two miles north on 89A is Slide Rock State Park where the real river run is at.

 

Fishing poles are available in the lobby for free – and no fishing license required if you stay on Oak Creek property. However, the last time I went fishing I ended up in the lake and the fish ended up in the boat, so I leave the poles alone. I do take them up on the trail pass. The Oak Creek Terrace people have a few year-long on hand, complimentary for guests. This saves me $9 on my hike the next morning.   

I stayed at Oak Creek Terrance for just under $100 on a summer weekday. The cabins (as opposed to the single room I stayed in) are naturally more expensive. Oak Creek Terrace is located at 4548 N. Highway 89A, Sedona AZ, 86336. Call them at 800-224-2229. It’s about 6 miles north of Sedona’s touristy city-center on highway 89A, right across the street from the Dairy Queen.

I thought Oak Creek Terrace was great until I visited some friends staying up the road at Garlands.

Oh. My. God. Heaven in Sedona.

Garlands is one of those vacation spots that families go to year after year for generations. The small group of cabins embodies the close-knit family resort feel that instantly reminded me of my family’s favorite vacation spot. The tucked away log cabins, with their fireplaces, huge beds, and picture windows scream romance are what every “authentic-looking-rustic-lodge” strives to be. Your stay at Garlands includes access to Oak Creek (and the trout that inhabit it), and meals (breakfast, high tea, dinner) at their lodge.

After dinner, residents enjoy a campfire on the immaculately kept grounds. Many vacationers know each other well, as they’ve all return the same week, year after year. The talk around the fireside is relaxed and welcoming.

 

But back to the meals. Garlands features an on-site apple orchard, herb garden and hen house, so you can taste how fresh the food is. For dinner I enjoyed coconut/corn/lobster soup, salad with pickeled onions, halibut (not from Oak Creek, I presume) with mango dressing, saffron rice and a light banana chocolate tart for dessert. Everything tasted even better than it looks.

 

If you are not staying at the resort you can still enjoy their prix fixe dinners (starting at $40), but be sure to call ahead (928-282-3343) for reservations. I got the last spot three days ahead of time, and this was on a Tuesday. If you want to stay at Garlands, call a several months in advance as regulars get first dibs. Garlands is at 8067 N Highway 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336. It’s 8 miles north of Sedona, 20 miles south of Flagstaff. Look for the small brown sign on the left side of the road if you’re coming from Sedona. The road immediately forks, and you want to take a left (the bigger road heads right – don’t be tempted). This one lane driveway crosses unsettlingly over Oak Creek and then it’s a steep drive up to the lodge. Garlands is only open April through November because the creek floods over the road for the rest of the year. They are also closed most Sundays.