By Anne Taylor Hartzell, on June 18, 2014

Falling in love again, in Sedona

I will never forget that day in June almost exactly 10 years ago when I became a mom. I was in labor for nearly 56 hours, exhausted and weary from relentless contractions and lack of sleep. My husband, Troy, never left my side. We laughed and cried together as we experienced the joy of meeting our oldest daughter for the first time, those tiny little fingers wrapping around ours, her sweet face looking up at us as if to say, “Are you ready for this?” We knew in that moment that we would be changed forever. We knew we were beginning a new chapter in our love story together.

That love story began more than 22 years ago. Today, with two kids (and all of their commitments), a dog, a grown-up house, and two busy careers, our world has changed a lot. Like many busy parents, we get caught up the day-to-day intensity of raising children, managing responsibilities, and dealing with life’s challenges. Somehow along the way, it gets easy to believe the lie that in order to be great parents, we must endure great personal sacrifice at all costs.

At first, these little sacrifices seemed harmless enough—maybe we skip that yoga class, maybe we cancel the babysitter for the weekly date night. Recently, however, after a very long year of balancing the cancer and death of my stepfather while maintaining our intense schedules at home,

Troy and I started to feel like it was time to get away and take a break from the routine. I was tired crawling into bed at night, weary and exhausted like we were in those early months with a newborn baby. Eventually, I started to feel like I was on auto-pilot and not making time for the things in life that brought us joy, both personally and as a couple.

Travel always recharges us. Travel always has been a source of joy and connection for Troy and me. Before the kids arrived, we traveled around the world together and always came back more connected and recharged. Today, I am so grateful to have a job where I get to travel the world and share our family’s travel stories. While family travel is a big priority for us, due to the logistics of childcare and work, grownups-only trips for Troy and me happen less frequently. So when Expedia gave us a budget and chance to create a storybook trip of our own, I jumped at the chance to create a romantic wellness retreat that would enable us to take time out and celebrate our love story.

Planning a storybook trip to L’Auberge de Sedona

With the grandparents watching the kids for the weekend, Troy and I had just 48 hours to get away. We wanted to find a trip that would allow us to get out in the sunshine (hey, we live in Seattle), pamper ourselves with spa treatments, enjoy great wine and food, practice yoga, and hike out in nature. Our goals: To recharge and reconnect.

Sedona, Arizona, gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year and is known for being a spiritual place, renowned for helping visitors relax and rejuvenate. After checking the cost of flights into airports in Flagstaff and Phoenix, we settled on the storybook location of L’Auberge de Sedona, a luxury spa retreat nestled in the breathtaking Red Rock Country of Sedona.


L’Auberge exudes romance. A popular destination wedding retreat, the resort has an intimate feel, with 87 guest rooms and cottages. Accommodations sit on meandering paths graced with the sweet smell of jasmine; some cabins are on the serene banks of Oak Creek, while others have views of the red-rock mountains.

Our cottage sat on the creek, nestled in trees that filtered the desert sunlight and kept us cool in the Arizona heat. Sitting there on our deck, I felt like someone had transported us to the place where meditation soundtracks are made, sipping our wine, listening to the sound of the birds serenading us in the trees and the creek burbling brook below.

For us, as you will see in this video we created to share the transformation that happens when busy parents take some time away without kids, this trip to Sedona at L’Auberge was full of little moments that brought us closer together.

Viewfinder Tip: Stop by the Hike House in Sedona for free advice to help plan a hike in the nearby mountains.

We rented a convertible and drove from Phoenix to Sedona with the top down, basking in the freedom of the open road. We woke in the morning after a good night’s rest and lingered on our deck with coffee. We hiked the side of a mountain, stopping along the way to reflect and take in the breathtaking views. We spent the day at the spa, swimming in the pool and reading our books in the warm Arizona sun. We talked and enjoyed a gourmet dinner as the sun set. We peered into a telescope and we saw the rings of Saturn in the starry sky. In these little moments, when we slowed down to enjoy each other’s company, we found each other again, reconnecting to gain a different perspective on the demands of the everyday.

Now it’s your turn: a storybook giveaway

The biggest gift of this storybook trip? Now that we’ve done it, we get to help another fabulous set of hardworking parents recreate this trip for themselves! In the next few weeks, over on my personal blog, Hip Travel Mama, I’ll be announcing a giveaway for a $1,000 Expedia Voucher and two nights’ accommodation at L’Auberge de Sedona to help you recreate our storybook Sedona weekend for yourself. All told, the on-site activities represent a $2,000 value. Of course as we learned for ourselves, the real benefit of reconnecting with your partner and recharging for a while is priceless.

 If you had 48 hours to recharge your love story, where would you go?