Fall Travel Guide: Custom Weekends: Try the Mud Wraps and Mysticism­


After my early-morning flight and drive through the Arizona desert, I’m looking forward to drifting off during the Sedona Clay Wrap I’ve booked at the Enchantment Resort’s Mii Amo spa, a soothing, Zen-like facility tucked away in a juniper grove underneath the towering red rocks of Boynton Canyon. Unfortunately, the guy charged with smoothing mud on my inner thighs is my age and cute, which turns me into a kind of female George Costanza: I’m insanely and awkwardly compelled to pepper him with questions about the area — you know, so he doesn’t think I’m attracted to him or anything — for the entire 60 minutes. “There used to be a lot more, like, toothless people out here,” he says. “Now it’s mostly yuppies.”

[sidebar]That sounds about right. Sedona was first settled by the Indians, who were displaced by cowboys and the settlers, who were displaced by movie people, artists, and then hippies, who declared that Sedona, and Boynton Canyon in particular, was home to powerful ­“vortexes” — areas with particularly strong, like, vibes, man. Then came the jewelers, the bakers, and the artisanal candlestick makers, and now here we are, in a luxury Asian-inspired spa with a Native American name in a part of the desert that looks more like Mars than Earth. I sleepily murmur something dumb about what a shame it is that this endless cycle of gentrification strips every place of its authenticity. The cute masseur sauces me with more mud and wraps me up like a burrito, and leaves the room. I close my eyes and dream briefly and weirdly of John Wayne and the Wild West and squawking vultures. When I wake up, my skin is softened and moisturized, and I trundle downstairs in my fluffy robe, where I am served a beautifully appointed plate of grilled shrimp atop a stack of crunchy vegetables and cellophane noodles. Screw authenticity, I think. This is vacation.

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