If trees are poems the Earth writes upon the sky, as the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran wrote, then Sky Ranch Lodge is the planet’s ode to Sedona. Perched high above the town, on Airport Mesa, the resort offers everything you might expect: stunning red rock views; a heated saltwater pool and Jacuzzi; and spacious, comfortable rooms stocked with luxury bath products and fine linens. But it’s the grounds that set Sky Ranch Lodge apart.
The eco-conscious, wildlife-friendly property is an accredited arboretum and botanical garden — the first hotel in the world to receive that distinction, according to its owners. Its gardens include more than 300 varieties of plants and trees, including such enchantingly named specimens as candytuft, silverberry and weeping birch.
Some of the more unusual trees include ginkgo biloba, native to China; the redwood-like California incense-cedar; and the threatened giant dioon, native to parts of Mexico. A one-seed juniper there recently earned recognition as the largest of its kind in the country.
The lodge opened in 1982 with just
20 rooms. It was the dream of Isabel Joynt — the late amateur artist whose work can still be seen around the property — along with her husband, John, and their daughter and son-in-law, Sheri and Gary Graham. John designed the buildings, while Isabel and Sheri designed and decorated the rooms. The grounds became Gary’s passion, and he planted a variety of themed gardens with seating areas, lily ponds and water features.
In the Riparian Woodland, a human-made stream flows through a deciduous forest of river birch, Japanese maple and liquid amber; the trees lower the temperature by 10 degrees in summer and explode in a riot of color in fall. Giant agaves dominate a succulent garden. Grapevines strung with tiny white lights hedge the patio wine bar, which features comfortable seating, potted flowers and bird feeders.
Over the years, the resort has grown along with the gardens. It now offers
94 rooms, some with fireplaces and kitchenettes. To the original rooms, which open onto the gardens, the lodge has added “rim view” rooms with private balconies that look out over Coffee Pot Rock, Thunder Mountain and other Sedona landmarks, along with “sky view” rooms with 360-degree views and balconies for stargazing.
The gardens are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, with maps available at the registration desk for self-guided tours. And if this little piece of heaven on Earth earns a special place in your heart, it just might have been written in the stars.
Sky Ranch Lodge
1105 Airport Road