IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

Adobe Grand Villas Spa & Restaurant

The Adobe Grand Villa’s Boutique Spa

One of the most remembered and treasured aspects of any visit to a boutique hotel must include a spa appointment.  The Adobe Grand Villas offers an experienced tandem of therapists whose integrative services are superior, professional and exquisitely rejuvenating.

Robin Michaels, Adobe Spa Coordinator, has over sixteen years of experience in Bodywork and twenty-seven years within the Holistic Health realm.  Her passion is healing the body, mind, heart and spirit through nature.  Robin uses organic carrier and essential oils that are absolutely free of synthetic substances having questionable health effects.  A student and practitioner of therapeutic benefits derived from the plant kingdom, she is diligent in the design and use of medicinal grade essential oils using either certified organic, wild-crafted, or bio-dynamically grown substances.

Robin’s associate, Karen Sternberg, is a national and state-certified massage therapist.  She draws her practice from a wide range of traditional skills and modern techniques, including Swedish, Deep Tissue, polarity, Shiatsu, reflexology and Lomi-Lomi, an age-old Hawaiian style of body and breath work.  Karen is a 40-year resident of Sedona and, along with Robin, forms a highly-skilled, professional team that will please the most discriminating spa aficionado.

The Adobe Grand Villa’s resort spa offers a complete menu of spa services, catering to couples, singles and even youth.  You can enjoy your massage in the restful environment of the spa room or within your own private villa.  We opted to visit the Spa room, located next to the Silver Spur villa, near the front entrance to the hotel.  Passing through the beautiful, hand-crafted Sun Door, Robin and Karen met us and explained the procedures.  Before starting our session, our massage therapists wanted to know if there were any health conditions of concern they should be aware of, such as rashes, allergies, or recent incidents.

Our “his and hers” combo-deluxe spa set of services included a side-by-side, 90-minute session for each of us.  My session was called the Sedona Hikers Delight, one of the most requested spa treatments.  This was particularly timely because we had been hiking earlier in the day and hiked the day before.  If you’re going to fully experience all that Sedona has to offer, you must hike!  And, after experiencing the skillful hands of Karen’s expertise, I would add that you must include a 90-minute post-hiking session with a professional therapist.  My session featured a one-hour Hot Stone Massage followed by a 30-minute foot reflexology treatment.  The warm, basalt stones directed soothing relief to all the muscles on my hands, arms, legs, neck, shoulders and torso.  Essential oils helped rejuvenate and restore skin while strong hands massaged my hiker’s feet for the last 30 minutes, making me feel fully relaxed and satisfied.  In a way, you wish it would never end, but when the final moment arrives, you know you’ve been pampered in a healthful, restorative way.

My wife had the Sedona Desert Rose session.  This consisted of a 30-minute Cosmic Essential Aroma Massage on her back, neck and shoulders.  It was followed by a one-hour, skin-nourishing honey facial massage, complemented by a thorough hand and foot massage.  For every other massage experience prior to visiting the Adobe Grand Villas, she has had to choose either a facial or a full-body massage.  But now, thanks to Robin Michaels, a complete head-to-toe treatment was performed majestically!

Other spa treatments include Designer Spa Services requiring therapists trained in specialty modalities.  The Medicinal Aromatherapy Massage is a 90-minute session designed to address the CNS, Immune, Endocrine, Digestive, Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Lymphatic Systems.  The Crystals of Light Healing Session expands one’s multi-dimensional awareness.  Still other services include Swedish Massage, Pregnancy Massage, and Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”).  You can ask for an Aztec Mud Mask Face, Hand and Foot massage, A Deep Tissue Massage, or a Reflexology Session in which pressure placed on the feet and hands stimulates “reflex” points throughout the whole body.

Robin Michaels also offers her own Cosmic Essential Oils line of products, offered in the Adobe Grand Villa’s gift shop.  Happy Head is a medicinal aid for headaches, migraines and muscle tension, offering mental clarity.  Her Rejuvenation Bath Salts consist of Himalayan pink salts and Pacific solar dried sea salts, as well as a host of essential oils and natural plant products.  Lymphatic Blend is designed for a congested lymph system, sore throat, sinus drainage, cellulite, viruses and jet lag.  Cosmic Allure is a blend of pure essential oils that facilitates feelings of deep inner peace.  Be sure to check out Robin’s Cosmic Essential Oils, LLC at info@cosmicessentialoils.com and be sure to schedule a spa appointment whenever you visit the Adobe Grand Villas Boutique Bed & Breakfast Resort.

The Adobe Grand Villa’s Restaurant

The Restaurant

DSC_0715In a previous article we’ve tried to reveal what you get when you visit Adobe Grand Villas Boutique B&B Resort.  Now you need to know who you get, because that completes the picture—much like adding a rainbow of color to a pencil sketch. Michael Merilli is Executive Chef and General Manager of Adobe Grand Villas who makes this place come alive with his magnificent culinary creations.  Michael’s gift is cooking comfort food and his pleasure comes in regaling every guest with mouth-watering meals.  You come to Adobe Grand Villas for a sensory experience to delight body, soul and spirit.  You leave Adobe Grand Villas having made new friends who’ve made it their personal goal to ensure you are satiated to the max.  And it is Michael himself who oversees every delightful detail.

Chef Michael’s bona fides go back to New Orleans some thirty years ago where he started “at the bottom” of a restaurant but was literally hurled into chefdom one day when the executive chef suddenly departed.  Michael’s crash course in cuisine eventually became more polished as he rose through the ranks and made a name for himself in well-known New Orleans’ dining landmarks such as Mr. B’s, Bistro at Maison de Ville, Peristyle, and eventually owner of Gauthier Market Café.  He honed his skills hanging out with and working alongside such celebrity chefs as Emeril Lagasse.  Today Michael Merilli is recognized as one of Sedona’s top chefs, featured prominently in the 2009 publication, The Sedona Table.  Find this treasure trove of sensational recipes and you’ve found a corner of paradise.

Fittingly, after a successful career running two restaurants and working 16-hour days in Bayou Country, Michael was ready for a change.  He took some time off to explore the West and fell in love with Red Rock Country.  By answering an online ad, he had the good fortune of meeting Stuart and Ilene Berman, owners of a soon-to-be-opened resort, who immediately recognized Michael’s administrative and culinary skills.  The timing was perfect and in June 2004 Michael was there to welcome the first guests to Adobe Grand Villas.  Today, nine years later, Michael is only too happy to serve you his signature creations within the confines of the cozy restaurant or to deliver his delicacies directly to your suite.

Before setting out for the Adobe Grand Villas, we checked out their website at www.adobegrandvillas.com.  There we read a little about Michael and found a copy of his sample menu.  Five entrée items were listed, but one in particular caught my attention.  It so happened that this menu item included five of my favorite words in the English language: Garlic Cheese Stuffed Filet Mignon with Bordelaise.  How could anyone not order that?  However, it meant passing up Grilled Duck Breast with Armagnac and Figs, Pretzel Crusted Salmon with Creole Mustard Beurre Blanc, Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto, and Half Roasted Garlic Free Range Chicken.  I was tempted but uncertain about the duck before we arrived, but after talking to Chef Michael and reading about the recipe in The Sedona Table, I could understand how his unique preparation of this dish made it one of his diners’ top two favorite entrée items.  Well, next time!

Arizona law, strangely, prohibits on-site wine sales for B&Bs, but the crew members at Adobe Grand Villas are only too happy to uncork your own selection and provide you with elegant stemware.  Michael’s four course meal consists of an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert.  For appetizers, we ordered the Potato Cake with Leeks and Bacon along with Polenta with Sautee of Wild Mushrooms.  The potato cake was a crispy serving of finely shredded potato with a flavorful addition of leeks and bacon that provided a fairly substantial first course.  The polenta was an even greater hit, delicately pan fried, then baked and smothered in some of the best tasting wild mushrooms this side of heaven.  Next came our salad course.  We both opted for the Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon Lardons and Balsamic Vinaigrette, topped with shavings of parmesan cheese.  We were served a very generous portion of fresh spinach, piled high on a plate, draped with warm dressing, all atop slices of crispy fresh apple.  So many flavors and sensations in every bite!  Here was a perfectly executed salad, a perfect presentation with perfect balance of ingredients.   Then came the filet mignon, truly a dish to die for!  The cut was generous, the temperature was amazing, and the flavor extraordinary.  A cream cheese center added another layer of richness to an already sumptuous repast.  By this time we were on sensory overload, so when Michael suggested we might enjoy our dessert in our room, we gratefully took him up on his offer.  One crème brulée and one wedge of flourless chocolate cake “to go” were later eagerly devoured by two people who barely had room remaining in their tummies for dessert.

Michael is surely the favorite Personal Chef of anyone who is fortunate to have dined here.  His charming presence and his evident delight in presenting you with his stunningly delectable creations puts the Adobe Grand Villas in a league of its own.  You can catch him here Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5:00 to 7:30 pm. by reservation only.  For the most part, only hotel guests have the privilege to dine in Michael’s amazing restaurant, but for some who’ve inquired and those who’ve dined here before, Chef Michael may be available for an evening dinner when an opening becomes available.

Finally, don’t think for a moment that the offerings found on the sample menu consist of the sum total of Chef Michael’s expertise.  Far from it.  As executive chef and preparer of morning breakfasts, Michael is known for creating new daily dishes, eschewing the formulaic and timeworn.  As a guest of Adobe Grand Villas, be prepared for Michael to throw in a new wrinkle to something you may have thought was predictable.  His creative talents know no bounds, and he’s unafraid to find new and tantalizing ways to awake your senses.  For when you dine at the Adobe Grand Villas, you’re dining in presence of a true master.

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