It’s early, just past 5 am, when the visitor hears it -- a long, low moan rising to a howl. The call of a coyote. The call of the wild, really, just a few miles from the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The visitor steps to the patio just outside his bedroom and listens. Soon a chorus arises, howls from every hillside.

Dawn has yet to fight its way over the horizon, and the stars burn bright, shining through the dark crust of the sky. The big dipper seems close enough to grab, and the milky way covers the heavens like a celestial snowstorm that has just blown in from another universe.

It is a good time and place to be alone, thinks the visitor, as he settles into a chair and feels the soft morning breeze as it sweeps from the mountains and ruffles the curtains on the bedroom window. There aren’t many places left in Santa Fe, he thinks, that offer such an escape -- from people, traffic, neon, and noise. But here, nestled in a snug 336 acres of complete privacy, there is refuge and peace and an overpowering sense of serenity. The place is called Hacienda del Cerezo, and it is -- for this visitor, at least -- perfect.

Perfection, alas, comes at a price. A night for two costs $600. A high price, to be sure, but when you include sumptious accommodations (all 10 guestrooms are different), all meals (extraordinary even by Santa Fe standards) and wines, horseback riding (on some of the finest saddle horses you’ll find anywhere), tennis, and the run of this magnificent property, you can quite easily justify the expenditure -- especially for a very special occasion.

The adobe inn sits on a rise in the midst of pinon pine and junipers. The views sweep from the back terrace across the tawny soil of the high dessert to the tumbled peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance.

A magnificent great room spills across much of the house and is where most of the meals are enjoyed. It looks over the terrace, gardens, pool, and the land beyond.
A small library provides an intimate space for reading or playing chess. Each
guestroom is individually decorated and themed (the Oso Room, for example, features an etched glass bear on the shower door, books about bears by the bedside, and bear profiles chiseled into the beams; oso is Spanish for bear). All rooms are stuffed with amenities, from fine toiletries to soft robes.

Such details make Hacienda del Cerezo one of the most unusual and gratifying experiences in Santa Fe.

And the coyotes? Well, they’re just a bonus.

“. . . . head over to your lodging, Hacienda del Cerezo ($600, including three gourmet meals, tennis courts, and horseback riding). Conde Nast Traveler put this luxurious, ten-suite inn on its list of the twelve Xanado places in the United States. The luxury guest ranch, built in the style of Old Mexico, sits on 300 secluded acres of land northwest of Santa Fe. The inn features massive wood doors, hand-carved beams, and a kiva fireplace burning with the aroma of native pinon. The main room is built around a central courtyard planted with fruits trees -- apricot, cherry, plum, and apple -- and aspens, pinons, and flowering shrubs and annuals. Each guest suite includes a private, enclosed patio, fireplace, saltillo tile floors, ceiling beams, two person Jacuzzi, and its own motif. Choose the Corazon room, which offers views of the Sangre de Cristo or Jemez mountains and oversize baths. The inn also offers a tennis court, a stable for horseback riding, a swimming pool, and an outdoor spa.”

“Enjoy a candlelit dinner in the Great Room at the Hacienda del Cerezo, with views of the sun setting over the Jemez mountains and soft strains of classical guitar in the air. Dine on licensed replicas of the china designed and used by the Santa Fe Railway in the 1930’s, with flatware that matches the period of the china called the 1937 First Love silver service. The menu includes appetizers such as ancho-chilecorn- crusted oysters with black-eyed pea salsa and jalapeno hollandaise, and seviche of sea scallop with herbed avocado aioli and golden caviar. For the main course, savor Thai coconut chicken wrapped in bok choy with black sesame noodles, sorrel puree, and summer squash. Or dine on lamb loin with goat cheese, sweet potato puree, scalloped potatoes, and a zinfandel reduction. For the grand finale, share the flambe fried plaintain atop a chocolate torte or the mango creme brulee with toasted coconut.”