Earlier this year, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel community (more than 10 million registered members at www.tripadvisor.com) featuring online reviews of hotels and attractions, released its annual Travelers’ Choice Awards, which include the top 10 inns and B&Bs in the United States. Sedona properties took the top three spots: Canyon Villa Inn of Sedona, Boots & Saddles and The Canyon Wren Cabins for Two, respectively, won the honor. No other properties in Arizona, or even the Southwest, made the cut. This tremendous accolade made us curious: What is it about Sedona bed and breakfasts and B&B owners that make this town stand out above all the rest?
We chose the top five highest rated Sedona B&Bs according to TripAdvisor on April 1, 2009 to find out what makes them tick. Take a look at who and what is behind the door at Canyon Villa Inn of Sedona, Boots & Saddles Bed & Breakfast, The Canyon Wren Cabins for Two, Sedona Cathedral Hideaway and Sedona Views Bed & Breakfast. Each innkeeper has a different story and a different reason for welcoming a steady stream of houseguests, while each B&B has a distinctly different atmosphere and location. Gone are the days of Newhart, busy-body innkeepers and shared bathrooms at the end of the hall. Instead, don’t be surprised if you sit down to a gourmet three-course breakfast with a group of strangers and leave with lifelong friends.
Canyon Villa Inn of Sedona
Les Belch admits most guests are surprised to find Canyon Villa Inn of Sedona, TripAdvisor’s highest rated bed and breakfast as of spring 2009, located in a residential neighborhood comprised mostly of apartment buildings. When they open the front door at the Village of Oak Creek property and find an entryway decorated with awards the bed and breakfast began receiving back in 1993 – and then spy the view of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock from the great room windows – they know they’ve reached the right place. Les and his wife, Peg, purchased Canyon Villa Inn from its original owners in 2000. The Belches owned an independent insurance agency in Ohio, but when they began vacationing in Sedona, they knew they needed to head west. Their big question was the same all would-be Sedona residents ask themselves: How are we going to make a living? When the original owners decided to sell the Belches’ favorite B&B, they decided it was the perfect way to live in Sedona and have a home with great views. Les likes to joke, “I couldn’t afford these views if I wasn’t running an inn out of my house!”
A local architect built the 11-room Canyon Villa Inn in 1992 to be a bed and breakfast. Only a year later, the property was the first bed and breakfast in Arizona to receive a AAA Four Diamond rating; Canyon Villa Inn has received that rating every year since. Les and Peg live on-site, something Les feels is very important to customer service and is the driving factor behind the property’s many accolades. “It’s a stressful life,” he says. “We’ve had guests in our home for 10 years and you always have to sleep with one eye open in case anyone needs anything. But it’s all about the guests and we need to be here for them.”
That’s not to say Peg, Les or their three part-time innkeepers are doting. At Canyon Villas, it’s more about the subtle details, like the carafes of ice water placed outside the rooms in the afternoon; the home-baked cookies; the fully stocked library and great room, both available 24 hours a day; the boxed breakfasts for guests who have early tours (a three-course breakfast is served every day from 8-9 a.m. in the communal dining room); the guests’ refrigerators in the dining room; and Peg’s famous cinnamon rolls. Original owner Marion Yadon began wowing guests with her cinnamon rolls when the inn first opened, but Les wisely says his wife’s are even better – she gets up early and makes a fresh batch every morning.