New Hotel Achieves City Goals



August 23, 2019


final_ambiente-a-landscape-hotel-in-sedona-arizFast and furious is more than an exciting movie franchise. It also describes the pace of sustainable action in Sedona since City Council approval of the Sustainable Tourism Plan (STP) earlier this year.

Following this summer’s news that the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund is expanding outreach for trail preservation and just before the July announcement that Sedona and the STP received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Arizona Cultural and Historic Preservation, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved plans for Ambiente, a unique ‘landscape hotel’ that speaks directly to Sedona’s environmental, traffic alleviation and quality of life goals.

Ambiente is composed of 40 small, individually sited cube-shaped rooms that blend with the environment. It is “uniquely suited to Sedona’s natural beauty,” said P&Z Chair Kathy Levin.

Located on a 3.1-acre parcel on the north side of SR 89A between Mariposa Grill and Airport Road, each 576 square foot unit will sit above ground on steel piers – no need for grading, blading or disturbing the natural contours of the land.

The units will be carefully placed “to minimize site disturbance and maximize preservation of vegetation,” Levin said. Each one will go around and over existing plant life and natural features, she added, “maximizing enjoyment and respect for Sedona’s landscape.” That enjoyment goes for every day Sedonans, too. The units are designed to ensure view corridors remain undisturbed.

Rather than building artificial drainage flumes, Ambiente “incorporates existing washes to tie in with the natural drainage system,” Levin said. Thanks to permeable surfaces used throughout the site, rain and melting snow can percolate naturally into the ground rather than being forced run off.

Ambiente’s outside lighting will be less than six percent of the maximum allowed, helping preserve our deeply loved dark skies.

To minimize traffic impact, Ambiente guests can choose among a shuttle service, bikes, and e-vehicles and chargers, Levin said.

Ambiente’s ‘landscape hotel’ concept speaks to all Four Pillars of Sedona’s Sustainable Tourism Plan. Preservation of view corridors, minimal lighting and plans for traffic mitigation show respect for Residents’ Quality of Life. The overall excellence of the design address Visitor Experience and Quality of the Economy. The built-in green features complement the Plan’s Environmental Pillar. The Commission was wise to work with the property owners to achieve a wonderful balance and to approve it unanimously.

Ambiente will be an important early demonstration of how Sedona’s lodging industry can model our sustainable ethos and educate guests on being responsible visitors. From the very beginning, hoteliers have been active in the sustainability process. Ambiente General Manager and Chamber Board Chairman Lonnie Lillie served on the original STP Planning Committee. He continues to represent the lodging sector on the committee helping implement the Plan.

Ambiente is also a salute to our community processes. The all-volunteer, Council-appointed Planning and Zoning Commissioners were diligent in applying theSedona Community Plan and the Land Development Code in granting Ambiente’s approval. These critical documents “define the use of land and areas where lodging is allowed,” Levin said. The hard work of City staff in shepherding the creation of these policies and preparing the project staff report for the Commision should not be overlooked.

With so much to do, it is heartening to see Sedona working well together in these first days of building sustainability. Early wins are confidence builders for our City Council, volunteer citizen commissions, lodging industry, nonprofits, future visitors, and all of us who love Sedona, assuring many more great things to come.

Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO