Where: Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge
If you’re looking for scenery, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the 30-mile stretch of Hwy 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona, following the dramatically beautiful Oak Creek Canyon and named part of “America’s Most Scenic Route” and “Arizona’s Top 5 Scenic Drives. Right smack in the middle of this gorgeous picture-postcard is Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge. But this isn’t a resort built hastily to accommodate tourists: the Lodge’s first structure, which now serves as the kitchen, was built in 1908 from pine trees felled above the property. The Lodge was purchased in the late 1920s by Frank and Catherine Todd and their son, Bill. Old-timers in the area reminisce about the wonderful chicken dinners served after the arduous drive from Flagstaff. Cabins were eventually built to accommodate these guests and the miners from Jerome who came to fish in Oak Creek. The current dining room was added in 1943. Bill and Georgiana Garland bought the Lodge in 1972 and added their name to the property, lovingly maintaining, enhancing, and expanding the property for 42 years, until they transferred ownership to Ken McElroy and his partners in 2014.
My husband and I spent a night at one of the Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge cabins (16 cabins share ten acres of organic gardens and apple orchards) in mid-March, not long before the busy summer season would begin. It was a step back in time, to when people planned repeat visits to the same resorts, year after year, to take time away from busy lives and just relax. Indeed, reservations at Garland’s can be so hard to come by that they have even been left in wills and divorce settlements! When you’re at Garland’s there is no need to worry about what the hottest restaurants are or how to get there, because a multi-course gourmet dinner is right where you are — just a short walk from your cabin. In fact, at a place like this, there’s nothing to worry about at all: cocktails/tea are served in the main lodge by the fireplace in the afternoon, followed by dinner with all the lodge guests. After dessert, we ended the night sharing after-dinner drinks and talking with several of the new friends we had made.
The next morning? Get ready for a scrumptious breakfast (also included in your package price, along with tea and dinner), after which you can melt into a massage or join a yoga class by the river or explore the orchards on the property or go for a hike in the red rocks nearby. (See a few photos below.)
Whereas the experience at Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge is a step back in time, my hope is that it represents a traveller’s step forward into the future — to a time when we put away our cellphones, tablets, and laptops for at least a day or two and look around to see the scenery and the people around us. Because isn’t that what travelling is all about?
Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge combines the beauty of Sedona’s red rocks with the ever-changing seasons of Oak Creek Canyon. Sixteen cozy cabins nestle on ten acres of organic gardens and apple orchards. The original homestead building dates back to the early 1900s and still functions as the Lodge kitchen. Afternoon tea and sumptuous dinners and breakfasts are served in the historic main lodge and are included in your stay, with seasonal menus from our award-winning cookbook, Sharing the Table at Garland’s Lodge.
Loyal guests have forded Oak Creek since the 1930s to reach this haven of peace and quiet. The Lodge is treasured for its preservation of simple pleasures and its insistence on exceptional quality in both cuisine and accommodations. Noticeably missing are televisions and telephones. In their place is serenity. Guests come to relax and recharge (yoga classes, massages, and facials are available on the property). Most lodgers depart with their “Garland’s dates” secured on their calendars for the following season.
Take a Look
Over the next week, I’ll be telling you much more about the lodge’s cookbook (here’s a hint/secret: you know how we like to give away cookbooks??) and its chef, and I’ll be sharing recipes from both — because that’s what we do here at Cooks&Books&Recipes!
In the meantime, here’s a photo journey of our stay.