The Heart and Soul of Santa Fe
Why is New Mexico lauded as “The Land of Enchantment”? Renowned artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who visited in the 1930’s, wrote friends back in New York: “I wish you could see what I see out my window. The earth pink, and yellow cliffs, the full pale moon about to go down in an early morning sky. Pink and purple hills, scrubby dull green cedars. It is a very beautiful world.”
Santa Fe celebrated her 400th Anniversary in 2010, and the city’s mesmerizing 7,000-foot landscape is little unchanged. Travelers gaze at her vast turquoise sky, undulating Sangre de Christo Mountains, and elegant aspens. Indigenous people have called this area home for thousands of years. “We have lived upon this land past any living memory, deep into the time of legend,” recounts one Native American Creation Story. In the 1600’s, Spanish colonists arrived, followed by Mexican Governors, American soldiers, Santa Fe Trail traders, pioneers, artists, and tourists.
Today, America’s oldest capital city offers travelers not just luxury, but relaxation and rejuvenation. Santa Fe’s bevy of high-end resorts means your vacation activities are endless. Stomp into cowboy boots and ride an Arabian horse up a mountain trail for sunset barbecue. Unwind at a peaceful spa with a “Hot Stones Massage.” Check into a downtown resort and walk to exciting art galleries, snazzy boutiques, and eclectic restaurants.
Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort and Spa is a member of Historic Hotels of America and America’s National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We’re a 93 year-old luxury ranch experience, with Four Diamond Service,” says Managing Director, Richard Verruni. “Guests enjoy the complete Santa Fe experience, with our unique Sha Nah Spa, tennis, fine dining al fresco, and horseback riding in the Santa Fe forest. We have hiking trails, mountain biking, skeet shooting, and a 156 year-old chapel.”
Crazy Heart was filmed at the Lodge, and celebrities like Robert Redford, Randy Travis, and Jeff Bridges love staying here. One reason is the Spa, where guests enjoy treatments like “Rainbow Rejuvenation Massage” in an outdoor teepee and relax in the serene garden. Guests may select from 111 beautifully decorated rooms within 15 lodges. For the ultimate in luxury and privacy, settle into one of the 1750-2350 square foot villas, high on mountain ridges. Santa Fe sunshine streams into your villa, spotlighting the Native American pots, colorful baskets, and Georgia O’Keeffe prints. Bedrooms feature hand-carved furniture, velvet comforters, silk pillows, and stunning mountain vistas. A kitchen gleaming with gold/black granite countertops, invites guests to cook—there’s an oven, refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, and enough china, crystal and silverware for a last minute dinner party.
The private outdoor pool and Jacuzzi next door to your villa invites languid days of swimming and cloud gazing. Breathe the sage and lavender and contemplate dinner at the Lodge’s cosmopolitan Las Fuentes Restaurant, sipping New Mexico Merlot on the terrace. Chef Carmen Rodriquez serves spicy chile infused tempura artichokes, honey-chile glazed rack of lamb, and Mexican chocolate mousse. “Chiles boost your energy,” promises this outgoing Chef, whose innovative menu combines cuisines from France, Spain, New Mexico and Mexico.
For a more urban vacation, choose the Inn on the Alameda, a luxury boutique property in the heart of downtown. The longtime devoted staff specializes in helping guests locate the perfect art for your home, or unique jewelry. “We are the closest hotel to Canyon Road, Santa Fe’s charming street of over 100+ upscale shops and galleries,” says Marketing Director Judith Moir. “We focus on everything that makes Santa Fe a timeless destination. Many of our guests have visited the Inn for decades.” The Inn’s 69 guestrooms and suites, nestled among aspens and evergreens, are Spanish-Pueblo style adobe casitas with private courtyards. Amenities include wood-burning fireplaces, plush robes and complimentary afternoon cocktails. Wake to cooing doves, clanging church bells, and a kingly breakfast: green chile burritos, fresh baked pastries, oatmeal, and fruit, all included in the room rate.
Art connoisseurs will discover why Santa Fe is a key global market for paintings, sculpture, photography and mixed media. Over 300 unique art galleries are located on historic Canyon Road and The Plaza, walking distance from downtown resorts. Longtime favorites include Blue Rain Gallery for contemporary Native American pottery, paintings, sculpture, and glass art. In an 8500 square foot Pueblo-style building, Gerald Peters Gallery showcases outstanding historic and contemporary art of the American West, Taos Society, and paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe.
After a day of shopping, relax on an outdoor terrace or inside a charming historic home and enjoy dining at one of Santa Fe’s legendary restaurants. Anne Hillerman, a local author of seven books including “Santa Fe Flavors: Best Restaurants and Recipes” shares three favorite upscale recommendations: “Dine at Geronimo, a romantic four-star Santa Fe restaurant in an adobe home, built in 1756 serves remarkable food. Coyote Café, a Santa Fe treasure, is award-winning for Southwestern cuisine, like the 24-ounce Cowboy Steak. And I always recommend La Plazuela at La Fonda, for their fresh guacamole and camarrones rellenos.”
Santa Fe’s eclectic museums display fascinating artifacts, videos, and photographic depictions of New Mexico’s history, art, architecture, and culture. Plan visits to The New Mexico History Museum, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, and New Mexico Museum of Art. My favorite is The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Gazing at her hypnotic red and gold landscapes, you’ll understand why she fell under New Mexico’s spell. You will too.
IF YOU GO
To plan your visit, contact Santa Fe or call 1-800-777-2489.
I recommend an inspiring new book of global adventures and unique cultural insights by Santa Fe author Judith Fein: Life Is A Trip-The Transformative Magic of Travel. Available at Spirituality & Health.
© 2010 Sharon Spence Lieb. Sharon is author of guidebooks on New Mexico, Chicago, Florida, Trinidad and Seoul. She contributes to publications worldwide. Email her: sharonspence @ cs.com