Heritage Hotels & Resorts Immerse Guests in the History and Culture of New Mexico.
by Kim D. McHugh
Engaged in a Corn Dance, more than 200 festively adorned tribal members enter the main square of the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo near Santa Fe. The dance amplifies why New Mexico has “Land of Enchantment” on its license plates.
It is one of many annual celebrations that occur at New Mexico’s 19 pueblos and it’s an event guests staying at a Heritage Hotels & Resorts property should add to their itinerary. Founded in 2005 by CEO James M. Long, and headquartered in Albuquerque, the hotel group counts nine properties in its portfolio. A 12th generation New Mexican, Long has an affinity for preserving and advancing the unique cultural heritage of the state.
“Mr. Long feels that when people come to New Mexico as guests that they have an authentic experience,” says Molly Ryckman, VP of Sales and Marketing for the company. “He believes it is important to highlight the history and culture of a particular destination and also showcase the truly distinctive personality of a property.”
True to its website, “to enter any of our properties is to enter a world of timeless design, innovative craftsmanship, and world-class accommodations“, all evidenced from the moment guests arrive. Whether staying at 204-room Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces near the southern border of the state, one of three hotels in Albuquerque, one of four properties in Santa Fe or the one in Taos, guests can see Long’s passion for the Southwest at every turn. The CEO, who has a degree in architecture from the University of New Mexico, brings a blend of Native American, Mexican, Spanish and American Western influences into the exteriors, lobbies and guest rooms.
“About a half hour north of Santa Fe is Chimayo and we wanted to tell the story of what makes that village so special,” Ryckman explained. “So we employed weavers from Chimayo to do weavings in the lobby and in the guest rooms. That community is also known for its car culture, so we purchased a low rider that helps tell the story of that culture as well.”
Half a block from Santa Fe’s acclaimed plaza, Hotel Chimayo features 56 rooms, the Low ‘n Slow bar and Estevan Restaurante. Riding in a restored ’64 Chevy Impala with Orlando Martinez, a native of nearby Española, guests not only learn about the pop-culture vehicles and the artisans behind the restorations, but also about Santa Fe’s history, including its status as the oldest capital city in North America. Opened in 1924, Hotel St. Francis is one of the city’s oldest hotels and the 80-room property gives a nod to the Franciscan missionary influence long before New Mexico earned statehood in 1912. It wows guests with its Gruet Winery tasting room, Secreto Lounge and Market Steer Steakhouse.
The iconic Inn and Spa at Loretto, though built in 1975, feels as if it could date to Santa Fe’s settlement in 1610. The hotel’s 136 rooms, the Salon and Spa at Loretto, Luminaria Restaurant, Outdoor Sculpture Garden and outdoor heated pool make for a relaxing stay.
With 219 guest rooms, the Nidah Spa, the CAVA Santa Fe Lounge, a rooftop pool and hot tub, the La Capilla de Oro wedding chapel and the AGAVE Restaurant, the Eldorado Hotel & Spa is another exceptional option for those vacationing in “the city different.” Featuring 125 rooms, the Lodge at Santa Fe is a bit further from the city’s famed plaza, but a shuttle gets guests there quickly. Guests can lounge poolside and when night falls go to the Benitez Cabaret, which hosts flamenco shows and performing arts events.
Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque pays homage to Chaco Canyon, which is within Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Throughout the 118-room property guests see an array of works from 30 acclaimed local and regional Native American artists. Panoramic views from the hotel’s Level 5 rooftop restaurant are as satisfying as the cuisine. In addition to its 188 rooms, Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town impresses guests with delicious meals from Garduños and the artistry displayed at the Flamenco Tablao theater.
Named in honor of Clyde Tingley, New Mexico’s two-term governor in the 1930s, The Clyde has 382 guest rooms, views of the city and the Sandia Mountains, rooftop pool. Its 1922 Bar & Lounge is a fun gathering place and Carrie’s, a restaurant named in tribute to Tingley’s wife, will soon welcome guests in style.
El Monte Sagrado in Taos has 84 rooms and invites guests to unwind in its indoor saltwater pool and luxuriate in the Living Spa. Of its ten treatment rooms, two suites are designed for couples. Its De la Tierra Restaurant and Private Wine Room offer intimate dining experiences.
If you enjoy traveling with your pooch, you’ll appreciate that all properties are dog friendly. As comfortable as the rooms and common places are in the hotels, it is definitely worth venturing off property.
“We started Heritage Inspirations with Angelisa (Murray) and she does amazing tours,” commented Ryckman. “She takes guests to Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiú, she does glamping tours in Taos and Chaco Canyon, culinary, museum and gallery tours in Santa Fe, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to see a Native American dance at a pueblo it is really beautiful.”
A stay at any one of the resort group’s hotels most assuredly immerses you in the culture, cuisine and artistry of New Mexico.
Details: To learn more about Heritage Hotels & Resorts, go to hhandr.com.
Kim D. McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award winner, has been writing about people, food and wine, travel and architecture since 1986. He and his wife have toured the Puye Cliffs, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rock, Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiú, and watched a Corn Dance and Eagle Dance, all of which come highly recommended.