Guest Blog Submission from El Portal Sedona Hotel

More and more people are now traveling with their pets; including them on vacations, getaways, and weekend trips.  Every pet owner has concerns when considering traveling with their pets.  Where to stay? How to travel? What should you expect from a hotel that claims to be pet friendly? The list of questions to answer can become quite lengthy, but with a little bit of common sense and these tips, you can plan a trip that will be fun for all!  With research and planning, working your pet’s needs into every step of the itinerary is easy and conducive to a good trip for everyone.  If your pet feels stressed out or poorly cared for, no one will be able to enjoy the trip.Pet 1

First, consider where to stay.  Look for pet friendly hotels on the internet and travel sites, ask friends who have traveled where they have stayed.  Hotels that claim to be pet friendly are often only pet-tolerating – charging more money and sticking you in a smoker’s only room.  Phone hotels and find out what their policies are regarding pets – will they provide a bed and other useful items such as maps to local dog parks? These are the hotels to look for – the ones with few restrictions, who view the pets as guests in their own right and will provide things to meet their needs as well as their human guests, but without focusing solely on the profit.  Look for not only pet friendly hotels, but pet friendly restaurants too! Do your research!

Pet 2

Consider how you are going to be traveling.  Are you driving? Flying? Hopping on board a train? Odds are you will use one of the first two methods to get to your vacation destination.  Each of these methods of travel comes with its own concerns for transporting your pet.  If you need to fly, time of the flight and size of the pet will likely impact your plans.  Most airlines will let you know when they transport pets for maximum comfort, but if you have a pet small enough to fit under the seat, you can fly any time.  Car rides are a little different.  The most important thing to keep in mind in this case is that your pet will need to stretch their legs and move around about once every three hours – much like you do! In either case, remember to hydrate your pet and avoid feeding them a full meal before in order to avoid upset stomachs during the journey. If your pet is kennel or crate-trained, bring it with you, your pet will feel more safe and secure. 1526636_10201316634901334_1721030371_n

When traveling with a pet – keep it on your schedule, meaning even with time changes your pet will have to adjust just like you, but do it gradually for them.  Bring their food and bowls, bedding, toys and leash to ensure that they are comfortable and have familiar items to ease their travel anxiety.  Never leave them alone in a hotel room, cabin, or other space. Remember, pets are like children – not everyone likes them, keep them on a leash at all times, and never let them be bothersome. Pets are part of our families and they need to be taken care of with love, attention, and 3

El Portal Sedona Hotel is a pet friendly hotel that welcomes both people and their pets with open arms and rooms.  To the owners, Steve and Connie Segner, there was no question that an upscale, luxury inn could provide style, the best amenities and personalized concierge services for guests and their pets.Each room at El Portal Sedona is open to pets of various sizes, although some fit better with larger or smaller ones. It was voted as the Best Pet Friendly Hotel in the USA by USA Today Traveler and, is a AAA Four Diamond Hotel, is one of the top hotels in the Southwest (by Coñde Nast Travelers readers) and has received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Award.

El Portal Sedona Hotel - Dogs and Truck

Sedona provides numerous opportunities to take your pet on excursions.  The Arizona town is located in an area with hundreds of miles of hiking trails of all different difficulty levels, and the town itself is incredibly dog friendly.  This is important because taking your pet with you when you leave your hotel is highly recommended. Leaving them alone in a strange place can make them anxious and noisier than they may usually be.  Besides, you do not want to spend all that time bringing them with you, only to leave them alone in a hotel room for the entire trip! El Portal Sedona can help you discover and plan activities for both you and your pet – pets need attention and care, just like a child, so include them in as many things as you can!

Contact Information:

Steve Segner | El Portal Sedona Hotel

95 Portal Lane, Sedona, AZ 86336

928-203-9405 |800-313-0017 | Fax: 928-203-9401 |

Guest submission by Chamber member: Sedona Visual Artists Coalition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe arts are thriving in Sedona and the Verde Valley and the Sedona Visual Artists’ Coalition (SVAC) invites you to thrive along with them as they present the Open Studio Tour 2014 which will be held on April 25, 26 and 27. This annual celebration of the arts and artists includes Sedona, Cornville and Cottonwood and has been deemed a Signature Event in the Verde Valley by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.  The weekend event is a free, self-guided tour allowing visitors the opportunity to meet and talk with artists in their daily workspaces. This non-profit, artist-run event provides thousands of visitors a unique opportunity to meet the artists and gain a firsthand view of their creative processes.



The diversity of style and medium among the participating artists is a testament to the vitality of the artistic community in theSVAC 2 Sedona area. Visitors will gain insight into artistic practices and techniques by seeing artists’ work at various stages of completion. A wide array of technical and artistic tools will be on display including; the various types of canvas, papers, surfaces and paints, as well as kilns for firing ceramics and glass. The event is designed to be an interactive and educational experience. To this end, the artists will conduct demonstrations during the tour and the public is encouraged to ask questions.



SVAC will distribute brochures with a complete list of the participating artists, and a map to all of the artists’ studios. These will be available at many locations throughout the valley. For more information visit

 Guest Blog submission by Hillside Sedona

Children celebrate Mother's Day

Children Celebrate Mother’s Day at Hillside Sedona

“The buzz is definitely beginning as the bees gathering pollen” states Peppermint Zebra’s owner, Karen Dilks, in reference to upcoming CHALK ART EXPO in tribute to Moms for Mother’s Day., Saturday, May 3 at Hillside Sedona, in Sedona, AZ.

Continues Dilks, “I’m delighted with the community’s involvement.  I am so proud of our teachers, family joining in.  This is what living in Sedona is all about…. gathering together with fun.”

The event begins Saturday, May 3 with artist demonstration by Pamela Becker at 10:00 a.m.  Children will then be turned loose to create a Mother’s Day Card, each given an endless canvas within Hillside’s tranquil courtyard.  Chalk will be provided and children should dress casually to get dirty, bring a small bucket to hold water and sponge for eraser.  With chaperones provided, moms will enjoy tea sponsored by Tea Light Café and Global Wellness Center, and Bliss Extraordinary Floral, combined with informal fashion show hosted by Indulge Gallery, Diva Hillside and Allie Ollie in THE BRIDGE AT HILLSIDE’S ballroom.

Chalk ExpoLive music will be presented by Sophia Angeles, a 16 year old singer songwriter from Sedona , AZ who has a fresh original sound and a unique and powerful vocal style. Her songwriting is sophisticated beyond her years and her style ranges from indie/folk to pop. She’s been singing, performing on stage and writing songs since she was nine years old. At the age of thirteen she won first place in the Sedona Sunrise Rising Star singing competition.

The participating artist that wins overall choice will be given a prize to MOM, including a massage, candy basket and floral arrangement.

Finishing Dilks states, “As a veteran party planner, advance registration is helpful.  Call Peppermint Zebra at 928-282-0220. Or stop by for further detail.”  Laughing she concludes,  “Detail one thing…. pampering another…aim to do the latter.”

Peppermint Zebra is located at 671 SR 179, D-CT 2, Hillside Sedona, 86336

(March 2014) The Smithsonian Magazine has just named Sedona, Arizona as one of the most remarkable towns in America on its “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014″ list.

Airport Mesa looking down on Sedona Arizona

The view atop Airport Mesa

Here is what the Smithsonian Magazine has to say about the splendor of Sedona: “Approaching Sedona, you will feel your jaw drop as pinnacles, hoodoos and buttes rise—crimson, carmine, burnt sienna, depending on the slant of the sun. The effect makes you want to paint a Sistine Chapel even if you can’t draw a straight line.”

View of Three Sisters behind cacti in bloom

View Cacti blooming and the Three Sisters in the background

Sedona is a four season red rock playground where families can escape, where romantic adventures materialize and where photographer’s dreams come true. Sedona offers healing and restorative therapies, the adrenaline rush of off-road tours, and it’s also a shopper’s paradise. Enjoy the cool mountain waters of Oak Creek while you’re mesmerized by the glowing red rock formations. Surrounded by stunning red rock formations and an abundance of activities for people of all ages and interests, it’s no wonder Sedona has been ranked as the most beautiful place on Earth by Good Morning America.

Chairs face Oak Creek and Red Rocks

Relax by the creek at L’Auberge

“On behalf of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, it is great honor to be placed on the Smithsonian Magazine list of “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014″. We are very proud to be recognized for our outdoor adventure, arts & culture, and rejuvenating activities that Sedona offers visitors and locals alike,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. “It’s recognition like this that helps position Sedona as a premier destination in the United States. Kudos to the businesses recognized for top-notch service and world-class products and services.”

The other towns listed on Smithsonian Magazine on the “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014” list include:

1. Chautauqua, NY
2. Healdsburg, CA
3. Williamsburg, VA
4. Steamboat Springs, CO
5. Woods Hole, MA
6. Marietta, OH
7. Beaufort, SC
8. Sedona, AZ
9. Nebraska City, NE
10. Lanesboro, MN
11. Spring Green, WI
12. Havre de Grace, MD
13. Columbia, PA
14. Mount Dora, FL
15. Ketchum, ID
16. Montpelier, VT
17. Harrodsburg, KY
18. Silver City, NM
19. Decorah, IA
20. The Dalles, OR


Guest Blog Submission from Arizona Travel Writer Roger Naylor

Hear that sound? It’s the soft knuckles of spring rapping on the window. It’s the signal that the coast is clear. Winter’s gone and you are wanted outside.

The fin

Don’t try to resist. Sedona never has much winter to recover from, just a sweater-worthy chill, but it’s enough to make the balmy days of March utterly seductive. Wildflowers splash across meadows and the woods echo with birdsong. Buttery sunshine swabs the landscape and even the red rocks seem to blush redder. If spring has an address, it is Sedona, Arizona. Wish you were here.

Green Wisteria grow free on this pathway to Page Springs Vineyards & Cellars

If you do nothing else on your springtime visit to Sedona, take time for a picnic—an old-fashioned sit-outside-and-eat picnic. Remember those? They used to exist when life moved at a slower pace. While there’s no way to be certain it’s a pretty safe bet that Sedona has more prime picnic real estate than just about anywhere.

Bear mountain

Spread your blanket among the historic orchards of Slide Rock State Park with the fruit trees wrapped in spring blossoms. Or at Red Rock Crossing along the banks of Oak Creek as majestic Cathedral Rock rises overhead. Or sit atop Airport Mesa while waiting for the bruised-peach sunset to settle on the horizon.


Or perhaps you prefer to pick a quiet spot, a private spot, known only to you and your loved ones. Somewhere amid the cluster of rising stone formations where you can relax for an afternoon amid scenic splendor and eat, drink and breathe. Take deep breaths. Smell that perfume? That’s the fragrance of a perfect spring day.

Guest blog submission by The McLean Meditation Institute

McLean Meditation InstituteThe McLean Meditation Institute announces a new series:  Living with Compassion, a 6-week series which focuses on the history and modern applications of the science of compassion and empathy, and practices to increase compassion taught by Lisa Doskocil, the founder of PEACE of Northern Arizona (Project for Empathy and Compassion Education).

“On college campuses around the country, we have the ability to take classes in a wide range of topics, yet receiving an education in compassion has been relegated to parents and religious clergy, if taught at all. That’s why I am so excited to bring this type of education to anyone who desires it!” says Doskocil, who lives and teaches in in Flagstaff.

This program was originally designed for psychology college students to provide education in a history and the science of compassion and empathy today, while sharing with them proven techniques to increase the students’ rate of compassion. The program is now recommended for anyone experiencing compassion fatigue or just hoping to increase their empathic connection with the world.

MeditationBeginning February 15, the series is offered every Saturday from 10:00 am-12:30 pm at the McLean Meditation Institute’s center. The cost is $15 a class, or $75 for the entire series. To register call (928) 204-0067. Space is limited.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion,” says the Dalai Lama. “He could be right!” insists the director of the McLean Meditation Institute, Sarah McLean. “This is why we are thrilled to be hosting this program.” McLean says the center’s weekly meditation gatherings and discussions have become a destination for residents of the Sedona area as well as visitors from around the world. Most are offered for a nominal fee or by donation. Here are some details of additional weekly programs offered.

Tuesdays 3:00–4:30 pm: Personal Spirituality – Exploring the Wonder & Sharing the Search is led by Barbara Mayer, an InterFaith/InterSpiritual minister, former Catholic nun, and author of Beyond Religion. Her program offers meaningful discussion on a variety of spiritual topics as well as a meditative experience.

Lisa Doskocil Tuesdays 6:00—7:30 pm: Self-Inquiry & Meditation to Connect to the Field of Love is led by Martin Birrittella, the author of the Field of Love and founder of the Free Process. Marty conducts a meditation and Q & A session.

Thursdays 9:00—10:30 am: Self-Inquiry & Meditation to Connect to the Field of Love is led by Martin Birrittella, the author of the Field of Love and founder of the Free Process. Marty conducts a meditation and Q & A session.

Sundays 2:00—2:45 pm: Community Guided Meditation with a Meditation Mentor is a chance to experience meditation for any level. The gathering offers simple meditation guidance and various meditation practices such as a Loving Kindness Meditation, Mindfulness, Visualization, Breath Awareness, or Gratitude Meditation.

Sundays at 4pm: Silent Meditation for Experienced Meditators. Hosted by the center, experienced meditators can join a silent self-directed 30-minute meditation gathering and must arrive on time to join in.

“There’s a terrific event coming up in February—a multimedia presentation with Philip Goldberg, acclaimed presenter and author of American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. His book is one of my favorites!” says McLean.

On Friday February 28 at 7:00 pm at the Sedona Creative Life Center the public is invited for The Beatles & the Vedas It’s an evening of spiritual insight and inspiration with music and videos of the Beatles’ spiritual journey, a journey which legitimized meditation and instrumental in spreading yogic teachings throughout the West. The program is $10. Philip also offers an afternoon workshop on March 1 at the McLean Meditation center, American Veda and the Great Yogic Transmissions that Changed the World. Anyone interested in program details is invited to call (928) 204-0067.

McLean Meditation Institute’s center is located at 411 State Route 179, in the Garland Building at the junction of Schnebly Hill Road and Hwy 179. It’s open 1-5 Tuesday through Sunday.

Visiting the center can make any one feel more peaceful as they find displays of greeting cards, hand-crafted jewelry, and vibrant, inspirational hand-crafted art by nationally acclaimed Arizona artists. The bird’s eye view from the second-story windows reveals the red rock landscape and towering cottonwoods that line the Oak Creek. It’s a magical place that 13-year Sedona resident and best-selling Hay House author, Sarah McLean welcomes anyone to experience.

The McLean Meditation Institute offers monthly meditation classes, weekend meditation retreats and is also a professional training institute which certifies meditation teachers internationally.


For images, interviews or more information, please contact:

McLean Meditation Institute

411 Hwy 179, Sedona, Arizona 86336

(928) 204-0067

Guest Blog submission by Karen Reynolds Dilks at Hillside Sedona

In concept, Karen Dilks, Hillside property manager and co owner of Peppermint Zebra, asks, ”What is love? It’s a question that has been asked for ages…and the concept behind this Hillside event.”

Poets, artists and composers have tried to define it creating monuments through history in homage to the most complex human emotion of all.  Great epics have been written about it. Civilizations have risen and fallen in its name. Love is what inspires the spirit, great religions and the very soul of humanity. Why does love make us feel the way we do, from that first queasy feeling we get in our youth when we fall in love for the first time to the universal love felt by those that have transcended?  Even a special day has been named its name. It’s called Valentine’s Day. It’s a day we share our heart with those we love; a day we show them with flowers, action and gifts the depth of our love.

Love abounds at Hillside Sedona, a popular dining, arts and shopping center in Sedona Arizona.  This year Hillside Sedona merchants are sponsoring two contests, one for children and the other for adults, asking participants to define love.

For the children it’s the KIDZ ART CONTEST inspired by the

Peppermint Zebra Toy and candy store in Hillside Sedona. 

under 21 are asked to create a Work that best defines what the word

love means to them.  Any media accepted for Public exhibition

February 12 through 14.   Family fun and prizes awarded.

For grownups (21) or over,  it’s writing a 300 to 500-word essay on what makes the love they share with another special. Essays need to be dropped off to Hillside merchants before February 12th. Each store will pick their winner and then one overall winner will be selected. Prizes include dinner with private serenade from world renowned guitarist, Esteban, another dinner with private tea ceremony, an original oil painting, private couple massage. Photography, wine flutes, heart mugs perfume bottles, fashion, jewelry, gift certificates etc.

Finishes Dilks,  “It’s definitely  a pamper package…winner takes all.   If I were to enter, I would make 20 copies and drop to all stores. It’s pretty special what people have to say…it should be shared.”

For more information visit or stop by and visit with Hillside merchants.  Hillside Sedona located at 671 SR 179, Sedona, AZ 86336.


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