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Bell Rock Inn

Sedona, AZ 86351 PHONE: 1-928-282-4161 Map it / View Street Address

Featured Review: Bell Rock Inn

by Winifred B. Bell 
First printed in May/June 2011

Several weeks before we flew to Phoenix to pick up our rental car and drive the 100 miles or so to Sedona, I sent three wishes to the management at the Bell Rock Inn. Lo and behold, my genie complied.

I was very polite in my letter as I knew some of my wishes might not be possible. I asked for: 1) An early check in as the only non-stop flight from Tampa to Phoenix would arrive before 9:00 A.M. 2) A non-smoking accommodation because no amount of deodorant can wipe out the smell of stale cigarettes 3) A change of linens in bedroom and bath #2 on Thursday as we expected a change of company. I fully expected to pay extra for this service. No one else was waiting at the desk when we arrived at noon local time and we were greeted like old friends. The housekeeper informed me that it is customary for them to change linens on Wednesday, but they could do it on Thursday for no charge.

We checked in very fast and walked into one of the lovliest, most deluxe units we have ever encountered. We calculated that there must have been around 1300 square feet of high ceilinged space. Two master bedrooms with private baths occupied the first floor and a huge living room, kitchen and full bath were on the second floor. Top-of-the-line appliances, granite counter tops and a washer and dryer rounded out the kitchen. Flat screen televisions were installed in each bedroom and in the living room.

There was a gas burning fireplace in the living room that turned on and off at the flick of a switch. We had a terrace off each bedroom and a balcony off the upstairs living room. The furnishings were much more tasteful than average and an abundance of high quality white towels for the bathrooms and blue towels for the pool were supplied. So why did this time share not earn one of Interval's higher ratings?

For starters it is located about six miles south of Sedona on a commercial strip in the Village of Oak Creek. The views are magnificent, but situated between the glorious rocks and all of our windows were parking lots. The lobby was minimal and the scheduled activities: bingo, movies, pasta night, etc were very limited (not that we were interested in any). The work out gym looked adequate (although I never saw anyone in it) and there were two nice swimming pools and one hot tub. There is no restaurant on the premises, but a good variety near-by. This is not a place for a family to spend their vacation at the resort. It is a wonderful accommodation for seeing Sedona. We loved it!

Ahh Sedona! This was our third trip and each time as we approach the amazing landscape I am awed by its astonish-ing natural beauty. The ancient Indians believed it was magical and so it is even today.

Our first set of company was a granddaughter and fiance who drove from Las Vegas. They were overwhelmed as they approached the area via the Oak Creek Canyon Road from Flagstaff. We took them to Enchantment for an up-scale lunch with an intimate view of the red rocks, to Telaquepaque (replica Mexican village) to shop, drove up Airport Road for a grand panoramic view of all of Sedona and to the architectural wonder: The Chapel of the Holy Cross Our second set of guests drove from Colorado Springs and they are seniors like ourselves. My husband and I are both 81 years old, Doris is in her mid seventies and her husband Steve was the "baby" at 69. On Friday morning, the four of us set out for the near-by town of Jerome. It is an artsy little community perched precariously on the side of a mountain and is occupied by numerous little galleries and restaurants. Close at hand is a "ghost town" and an old gold mine and we were having a pleasant time with good friends. The weather at that altitude was a little cooler than we expected and it was very windy.

As we began to drive back to Sedona around 1:00 P.M. in the full size Dodge car we had rented in Phoenix, we missed a turn. I wanted my husband to turn around and make a correction, but he thought it would be more interesting to turn on the GPS (I had brought it along) and let it take us back to Sedona by a different route. Following the GPS instructions we made a left turn onto "NF 413" and immediately realized that we were on a rather rough dirt road. There was no place to turn that large car around and the read-out told us it was about three miles to the next turn, so we continued. Big mistake! (Later on, I found out that "NF" stands for National Forest.)

We began climbing and the road kept getting worse. There were large outcroppings of rocks in the middle of the road, a high ledge on the left and a drop off of hundreds of feet on the right with no guard rails. We hoped the road would improve at the upcoming turn - no such luck. Assuming we must be past the point of no return and that a better road would be near we kept going very slowly. We kept scrapping the bottom of the car and thought we might puncture the gas or oil tank - so three of us got out the car to lighten the load and began to walk. Even the walking was very difficult and my husband continued driving at a snail's pace. At some points, he was scrapping the brush on the left to avoid the boulders in the middle and at other places he was so close to the drop off on the right that I was afraid that the road might collapse and the car roll off.

It was getting late in the afternoon, the wind increased and it began to cloud up and get very cold. At this point, both women started to try making contact with the outside world via our cell phones. We had not seen a single person in the past two hours. After about twenty minutes I was able to reach 911. They told me if the vehicle was still moving we did not have an emergency, but they gave me the phone number of the Park Service.

I reached a woman named Christie at the Park Service who sounded concerned. I told her the GPS said we were on NF 413 with three miles to NF 493. She said she'd call me back after she located us on her maps, but in the meantime I should call the County Sheriff in Cottonwood. She gave me the phone number.

The sheriff's office did not have the faintest idea where we were. It was getting near dusk. We had a little water, no warm clothing, no food, one tiny flashlight and I had sandals on my feet. We were all getting quite concerned and then the car hung up on a rock and in spite of the fact that my husband is experienced at off-road driving, he could not get it to move. The two men struggled to get out the jack and prop up the car with dirt and rocks. Christie called back and said she had located us and that the road ahead would be worse - much worse. She said she would call the sheriff herself. Meantime, the men extricated the car and we were inching along again: three on foot and one driving. Now the sheriff called back and he still did not understand exactly where we were, but he was paying attention. I told him we were four seniors (some in dubious health). He walked me through using the GPS to find our global coordinates. I gave him the numbers and he said he'd get back to me soon. He said he would try to organize a party to rescue us, but we'd probably have to abandon the car.

Just as it was getting dark, an all terrain vehicle approached us from the front. We heaved a sigh of relief thinking it was the sheriff. However it was a man and his fourteen year old son on a hunting trip. He told us the road ahead was not passable in a passenger car and he would help us find a place to turn around and go back. We were dismayed! The idea of trying to go back up hill in the dark over the road we had just encountered did not seem feasible. To add insult to injury it started to snow! At this point in time, the sheriff called back to see how we were doing. I gave the cell phone to our new acquaintance who explained where we were and told the sheriff that he would take care of us. He backed up his vehicle, found a spot to turn around and backed up again to our location. He told us to try to follow him. Two minutes later the car was stuck again, but now we had four men and we were going again very soon. We thought we might be "out of the woods," but at the next hang up no one could release the car and it was pitch dark and very cold.

So Terry loaded my husband (the oldest and in the poorest health) into the front seat of his ATV and the two women sat on the floor in the back (no seats or mats) and dropped us at Denny's in Cottonwood (the only place that was open 24/7). Since the road was incredibly bumpy and he was conscious of the two senior women sitting on the floor, he drove very slowly. He had left his son and our friend with the car in the cold and dark, went home for his pickup truck, rope and chains and stopped for fast food for his son and Steve.

It was around 9:00 P.M. when we got to Denny's and to our vast relief, around 11:15 the car drove up with Steve at the wheel followed by Terry and his son in the pick-up truck. He had literally towed him off the mountain! Talk about "Good Samaritans!" We made every attempt to compensate him monetarily, but he absolutely refused.

There are two morals to this story. One: never trust a GPS. It will take you the shortest distance in miles to your destination, but that might not be the way to go! Two: in spite of all the bad news you read in the media, the world is populated by many fine people, and Terry Wing of Cottonwood Arizona is one of the very best. What a wonderful example he set for his son!

Finally, by all means visit Sedona it is a magical place, but stay on the highway unless you are in an ATV.

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  • Bell Rock Hotel
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  • Bell Rock Inn & Suites Sedona
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