Lush. Warm. Humid. Heat that brings a slight bead of sweat to your brow but that which makes the cool breeze coming off the ocean water feel gloriously soothing to sun kissed skin. I have always been drawn to green. (Dark green) heavy hanging leaves that lazily droop over sun-splashed walks. Paths leading to azure waves crashing over alabaster sands, glittering in the light. Life in the golden hour; island landscapes that would give an influencer FOMO. The saturated jewel tones of beachside life that make pictures look like a bohemian fever dream. I live in the concrete jungle where dreams are made; when I want to escape, I dream of anything except rocks and dirt (yes, don’t touch anything in NY…it’s dirty). And yet, as fate would have it, I somehow found myself in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is probably the last place I would have chosen to take a break, but I had the time of my life. (Cross my heart!)
Coming off the plane in the small Sante Fe Munciple Airport, it was like being in another world. The landscape is painted; it’s like a canvas that has been visited by the artist over time in many states of thought. In the distance, the prismatic nature of smoke from the controlled bush burns diffuse the light into a gradient of blues that touch a very contemplative part of you. I would find myself gazing into the distance and reaching a deep part of myself, into the past and into the future. In the foreground, neutral palette of the desert allows crisp hues to pop. It has this effect of feeling very present; if you can tear yourself away from capturing its beauty with your camera.
When I think of Native American culture and art, the imagery that comes to mind is the pink coyote of the 1980’s, dusty pueblo structures, and stands selling wares like made of beads and jewelry adored with turquoise. For a few days in May, I was invited to see how the modern culture has influenced a new iteration of art, food, culture.
History of Native America pueblo; move into the dated pink coyote imagery of the 80’s. As explained by our guides for the tour, over the years, the native American way of life was altered in certain ways in order to appease the outside world such as renaming celebrations for religious acceptance. The tradition was maintained but the people were able to merge into great society to maintain harmony. These shifts allowed for different ideas to seep into both cultures creating this Native Nouveau Renaissance embodied in New Mexico.
It was beautiful to hear how people who have lived in Santa Fe their whole lives speak of it with such reverence and love.
There are many places to stay in and around Santa Fe, everything from boutique hotels with a hundred years of history to large resorts and casinos for a great family experience. I had the opportunity to have two different experiences while in NM. For the first half of our trip, we stayed the Hilton Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, a sprawling hotel, casino, and convention center. The resort offers a range of options in their collection of eateries, shops, and restaurants, from casual bar eats to 4-star fine dining.
The spectacular rooms have a strong Native American influence in the décor and include gas fireplaces shaped like pueblo ovens. The view from the balcony is something I cannot describe as the sun sinks below the horizon. The indoor and outdoor (seasonal) pools and spa offer a great way to unwind after a long day or a great destination for family fun.
The lower level of the resort holds a massive casino for a chance to play against lady luck. Throughout the grounds and building, the resort boasts an impressive amount of native American art and artifacts.
After a fantastic and very comfortable stay at Hilton Buffalo Thunder Resort, to show the group a different point of view, we moved to the charming Hotel Santa Fe in downtown Santa Fe.
The Hotel Santa Fe, which has been open for nearly three decades, prides itself on its customers enjoying a relaxing evening or two in the heart of the city’s downtown area. An impressive art gallery, featuring millions of dollars of Native American art can be seen throughout its property on top of impressive amenities like a gorgeous spa and dining facility named Amaya.
While there are so many amazing activities to enjoy in and around Santa Fe, I would recommend planning a few excursions to complete your New Mexican experience. First, I would contact a local touring company to lead you and your group on a guided tour of Bandalier National monument. Bandelier National Monument is a 30,000 acre protected national monument and wilderness lands about 40 mins from Santa Fe, near Los Alamos, NM. The monument preserves the territory and structures of the Ancestral Puebloans and late Southwestern indigenous peoples. Most of the artifacts and structures are dated between 1150 and 1600 AD. The majority of the Monument is situated on top of the mesas and plateaus of the Pajarito Plateau region,
The park contains approx. three miles of road, and more than 70 miles of hiking trails. The Monument protects Ancestral Pueblo archaeological sites, a diverse and scenic landscape, and the country’s largest National Park Service Civilian Conservation Corps National Landmark District. It was one of the highlights of the trip. It’s beautiful vistas, historic structures and the natural beauty of the rock formations are so amazing to see and a great place to get those FOMO inducing Instagram shots that must be seen to be believed.
For more information on Santa Fe, click here.