A herringbone brick entry adorned with native southwestern bushes, pine trees, vines, and wildflowers. Thick carved pine lodgepoles and smooth, sand-colored adobe walls.

Just about all structures in Santa Fe, New Mexico, have an adobe look and feel, so from the outside, the Hotel Santa Fe was right in style. But it was what's inside that gave us the delightful gift of surprise.

Poolside At Hotel Santa Fe.

In addition to a swimming pool and hot tub, there is a charming sculpture garden, a cozy bar with couches facing a kiva fireplace, and the exquisite Amaya restaurant. Most of the luxurious rooms and suites at the Hotel Santa Fe have balconies or patios with views of mountains and high desert plains.

Though we arrived the day of the burning of Zozobra, marking the beginning of Fiesta, inside the Hotel Santa Fe all was a quiet sense of privacy. We grabbed two of the five chairs facing the flagstone bartop and ordered cocktails from David, the bartender. Other guests passed their time in the comfortable couches. Amber lights gave a warm glow to the saltillo-style floor and hand-hewn pine vigas above the bar.

Near the hotel's sculpture garden is
an authentic native indian teepee,
reserved for private dining.

In keeping with the Native American theme, the hotel logo is a sleeping deer, recalling a legend of a hungry hunter who tended a wounded deer and learned from him secrets of the forest that allowed the hunter to hunt well and sleep deeply throughout his remaining days.

Through pine French doors I could see a large teepee next to the outdoor dining patio. "You can have dinner in there," David tells us. "You just need to make a reservation in advance."

The phrase Mah-waan, Mah-waan is painted over the front door of the Hotel Santa Fe; it means welcome in Tiwa, the language of the Picuris People. David explains that the Picuris Indians are partners in the hotel. Indeed, the hotel is billed as Santa Fe's only Native American-owned hotel.

"The Picuris didn't want to be a gaming tribe, that's why the hotel was built," says general manager Paul A.C. Margetson. He implies that part of that decision was probably for religious reasons.

To arrange a visit to
the Picurus Pueblo:
P.O. Box 127
Penasco, NM 87553

The sculpture garden features
life-size art like this indian maid.

The Picuris Pueblo, a small Native American community, is sixty miles north of Santa Fe. You can visit the Pueblo along the banks of the Rio Pueblo River, where cottonwoods, pines, and aspens fill the valley and surrounding mountains. There's a Visitor's Center, fishing pond, museum with a replica of a kiva excavated in the 1960s, and the Picuris Church, rebuilt by hand just as it appeared in 1776.

Three hundred years ago the Picurus population numbered in the tens of thousands; today the population is only a few hundred people. A believer in preserving Native American traditions, Margetson says, "If you saw their pueblo, youd see that this hotel is a miracle."

Margetson was a partner in the company that opened the hotel in 1991, and joined the staff full-time in 1996. "We opened this as a little limited service hotel, a place where you could get breakfast if you were lucky. The restaurant was added in 1996 and meeting rooms in '97."

A cozy bar & couches faces a kiva fireplace.

The restaurant he refers to is Amaya, featuring traditional Native American foods. Natural ingredients such as salmon, bison, and oysters are combined in a contemporary style of cuisine that reminds us of the abundance and great variety of foods across America. You can dine inside by the kiva fireplace, or on the outdoor patio under the stars, or in the authentic Indian teepee.

In the late 90s, the Hacienda at Hotel Santa Fe was added, a separate building on the other side of the parking lot with exclusive suites and 24-hour security. Margetson, who with his wife collected many of the artworks featured in the Hacienda, clearly enjoys developing new things on the properties. "You don't want to do the same old thing all the time," he says.

Dine al fresco on the
Hotel Santa Fe patio.

Lobby, hallways, lounge, and rooms in the Hacienda are tastefully decorated to showcase Native America art from prehistoric to contemporary times. There is an Acoma clay pot painted with yucca leaves, a Navajo Ganado rug (c. 1930), a San Juan corn & pumpkin seed necklace, and a Navajo wedding basket (c. 1950s). Some of the modern pieces are quite elaborate, such as "Dragonfly Kiva", by Picuris artist Connie Tsosie Gaussoin. She's combined 14k gold and tufa cast sterling silver, a macaw feather, stamped texture, Italian coral, and her kiva ladder is a pendant. The painting "Pueblo Sand Painter & Corn Grinder" is by Picuris artist Gerald Nailor. This self-taught Native American Indian artist—aka New Deer—is a retired governor of the Picuris Pueblo and was involved in the design of the hotel. The Hacienda collection represents New Mexico's 19 pueblos as well as other tribes of North America.

The Corn Mountain Suite is one of the
luxiurious accommodations in the
Hacienda at Hotel Santa Fe.

"We had great fun decorating this," Margetson says.

In the Hacienda there are 35 rooms and 12 suites with names, and each has a little doorbell.

"We humbly think (these) are the finest rooms in town," Margetson tells us. There is even butler service. "We escort you to your room, make your registration and will offer to unpack, of course. American's don't particularly want you touching their things, but Europeans love it." There is also 24-hour concierge service. The Hacienda has hosted many famous personages, and we learn that Queen Noor was the first guest in the suites.

Lobby of the Hacienda
at the Hotel Santa Fe.

On Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. we discover there's live entertainment in the living-room-like lobby bar. Native American Ronald Roybal is a Santa Fe recording artist whose spiritually soulful compositions on guitar and native flute transport you on a visionary journey from romantic Spain to enchanting Northern New Mexico, and through the pueblos along the way. He's been well recognized as a New Mexico Music Industry Award Winner and five-time Native American Music Award Nominee.

The Hacienda art collection on
display represents New Mexico’s
19 pueblos as well as other
tribes of North America.

"Our intention is to keep adding to the Native American experience," says Margetson.

In January 2004, Travel & Leisure magazine called the Hotel Santa Fe one of the "500 Greatest Hotels in the World", and it's easy to see why. Located on three acres with Native American sculpture, totems, wildflowers, and privacy in Santa Fe's historic Guadalupe district, the hotel is within easy walking distance to the Plaza, the central historic heart of Santa Fe.

In addition to the Native American experience, you can treat yourself to a more personal experience with Santa Fe Massage, a "gateway to the healing arts" at the hotel. For a therapeutic and sensual encounter after a day of visiting galleries on Canyon Road or indulging yourself in one of the many excellent restaurants around the Plaza, you can choose from massage therapies, body treatments, skin care treatments, and spa packages.

Dining in the Teepee.

And dinner in the teepee? We couldn't pass it up. We arrived for our 6:30 p.m. reservation to find the teepee had been decorated with candles, Kachina dolls, decorated skulls, feathers. We sat on woven woolen pillows and ordered from the Amaya menu. As the sunset outside and the candlelight warmed the inside of the teepee, we dined on a wonderful combination plate of buffalo sausage, duck breast, a lamb chop and mixed vegetables. All was artfully prepared by the Hotel Santa Fe's gourmet chef, and served by our favorite bartender and waiter, David.

How to get to The Hotel Santa Fe
and Hacienda.

Albuquerque Airport to Hotel Santa Fe is a 60-minute trip via the Santa Fe Shuttle, a luxury service. The current fare is $23.00 per person, each way. Ten coach departures per day are scheduled in the summer, eight in the winter. The Santa Fe Shuttle picks up and drops off passengers directly at Hotel Santa Fe. Discounted group and charter rates are available. For information or reservations, call 888-833-2300 or 505-243-2300.

By Carolyn Proctor, Las Vegas Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent.

Jetsettersblog for Travel Adbice