It took approximately 15 minutes for me to see how Santa Fe got its nickname, the Land of Enchantment, because after a short drive into town I was simply, well, enchanted. The capital city of New Mexico soars at an elevation of 7,000 feet and it is the oldest capital city in the United States, founded in 1610. Meaning “Holy Faith” in Spanish, Santa Fe has a rich and colorful history deeply rooted in Spanish and Native American cultures and traditions, a history that is brought to life nearly everywhere you look. Even common chains such as Starbucks blend seamlessly into the surrounding architecture, giving the city a very old world, untouched feel. Whether you come to renew your spirit, to excite your tastebuds, or to admire the art and soul of Santa Fe – there is something for everyone in this enchanting city.
Where to Stay
Inn and Spa at Loretto, a Destination Hotel, is a true landmark in the city. Situated at the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail, the Inn, an adobe-style architectural nod to the Taos Pueblo, is one of the state’s most photographed buildings and it’s so surprise why. Pulling up to the inn, which was built on the site of the Academy of Our Lady of Light, a former girls’ school in the 1800’s, you’re instantly hit with an abundance of character and charm. The inn, which was first opened in 1975, was redesigned in 2008 in order to truly infuse the property with Native American influences, art, and design.
With views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Cross of the Martyrs, and the iconic Loretto Chapel directly next-door, the Inn is the perfect place to rest your head while in Santa Fe. There are 134 guest rooms which feature Navajo-inspired designs and colors of reds, golds, blacks, and whites, handwoven fabrics and rugs, and candlelit kiva fireplaces. There are also five specialty suites and one spectacular 2,800-square-foot, two-story penthouse suite complete with 360-degree views, a gourmet kitchen, dining and living room, and a sun room which has an easel and paint set should you be so inspired by the scenery. Enjoy your own stay in the penthouse by booking the resort’s YOLO package – a truly VIP experience for $15,000. Guests will enjoy a 5 night stay, champagne and truffles, transportation by limo, a private tour of all four of the city’s museums and art districts, private 5-course dinner, cooking class, spa day, and so much more. But, if a $15,000 stay isn’t in the cards, standard accommodations begin at $209 per night.
Where to Spa
The Spa at Loretto features a menu infused with holistic therapies and Native American-inspired treatments, all with the intention of healing and renewing the mind, body, and soul. Starting with a bit of scent with intent, you can select from one of six hand-blended aromatherapy oils created by Spa Director, Suzanne Andrews Chavez. Blends include Earth, Fire, Water, Air, Spirit, and a special blend for High Altitude, and you can choose to use them in your treatment or even purchase to take home a bit of that Loretto magic.
While the spa has no relaxation lounge or locker room, you are encouraged to put on your robe and slippers in your room and take the private elevator down at least five minutes prior to your treatment. If you’re more modest, you will have the opportunity to change in one of the five well-appointed treatment rooms which are complete with their own sitting area, ample bathrooms, antique furnishings, and candlelit kiva fireplaces, giving your spa experience a very intimate and private feel. There is also a beautiful couple’s suite for duos looking to relax and renew together.
While you can select from the menu of Intuitive Lifestyle Treatments which include Chakra Balancing, astrology readings, and Reiki work, I opted for the new Renew OxyGeneo™ Facial, exclusively available at the Spa at Loretto and my dry skin seriously thanked me for it. The 50-minute treatment ($195) includes a cleansing, exfoliation, oxygenation, extractions, and facial massage all performed with the innovative machine. The exfoliation starts off very gentle but progresses to a slightly abrasive feel, however it’s not uncomfortable in the slightest and despite my best efforts not to, I fell right asleep during the treatment. The oxygenation process produces CO2 bubbles which pop on the skin’s surface sending oxygen-rich blood to the area and resulting in better absorption of the active ingredients used in your facial. My skin was left looking immediately brighter and tighter and the results only improved in the days that followed.
Where to Snack
While in Santa Fe a meal at Luminaria is a must. Executive Chef Marc Quinones is incredible and each and every dish I tried was more delicious than the last. At breakfast the Blue Corn Pancakes are not to be missed (if you’re on the go a bagel with the house-made Green Chile cream cheese mousse is a must!). For dinner start with the Berkshire Pork Belly and the Foie Gras “French Toast” and follow with whatever special is on the menu.
Another great stop for breakfast is Tia Sophia’s, where the Huevos Rancheros served Christmas-style (that’s with both red and green chile) are to-die-for and the service is warm, welcoming, and so memorable (ask for Carl and thank me later). Other menu favorites? The enormous chile-covered breakfast burritos and the green chile stew. Between window shopping and museum tours, refuel at Vinaigrette – a salad lovers dream. The bulk of the produce found here, 70 percent in fact, is organically and sustainably sourced from the owner’s nearby 10-acre farm, Los Portales. Meat-lovers needn’t fear, there are savory protein additions to each salad from diver scallops to grilled flank steak, as well as a selection of sandwiches. When dinner time rolls around head out for some Spanish-style tapas at Chef James Campbell Caruso’s La Boca, but be sure to make a reservation as this intimate treasure is almost always packed to capacity! Each plate that comes out is overflowing with flavor and don’t be surprised if you see guests at separate tables sharing the love.
What to See
Art is paramount in this city, from the art that can be seen around the halls of the Inn and Spa at Loretto or in the lobby as part of its Artist in Residence program, to the art in the many galleries and museums around the city. In fact, Santa Fe is the only city to have a museum dedicated to a female artist, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. But what really stood out to me were the nearly 300 art galleries lining the streets of Santa Fe, most specifically on Canyon Road, where an art lover could easily spend days on end exploring and admiring works ranging from blown glass, to paintings, to sculptures in all sorts of styles. Favorites included the Matthews Gallery and the Nuart Gallery where Erin Cone’s work mesmerized me from the street. Stop for a pint at El Farol, the oldest bar and restaurant in Santa Fe or wake up with a special tea or coffee (they even serve Bulletproof!) from The Teahouse. If Native American art is your thing, head back to town and straight to Shiprock Santa Fe where handwoven rugs, turquoise and silver jewelry, and unique furniture, pottery, and more wait to be seen.
Where to Sweat
The four-season alpine climate makes Santa Fe perfect for outdoorsy types. Ski the slopes, hit the links, or hike on some of the city’s miles of trails surrounded by beautiful juniper and ponderosa trees. Rather keep your sweat-sesh indoors? Check out one of the number of yoga and fitness studios!
Packing Tip: Whether you’re hiking the trails or just walking around exploring the great art and shopping, be sure to pack layers for your trip to Santa Fe, the alpine climate ensures that the mornings and nights, especially in the fall and winter are chilly. So pack those layers and head over to Santa Fe for a little enchantment of your own!
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