As our rented Mustang bounces along a dirt road past cattle pens, arroyos and scrub brush, I'm praying we reach the Hacienda del Cerezo before dark. As the sun begins to set in the West, we spot the adobe house on the crest of a hill.
What are a couple of city slickers doing out here in Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico? On a recent trip to Santa Fe, my husband and I decided to try both town and and country: two nights at this secluded luxury inn 12 miles into the desert, and and another two . . . smack in the middle of Santa Fe’s touristy art galleries and American Indian bazaars.
FAR FROM THE CROWDS
Frankly though, after our recent experience, we think it may be best to enjoy Santa Fe from afar. While there are plenty of places to stay in the city center the area can be crowded and noisy. By contrast, the Hacienda ranks as one of the prettiest and most relaxing small hotels we've ever visited. Part of its charm is its seclusion. There's also a great chef who prepares three gourmet meals daily. When we arrived, Jose ushered us through the heavy wooden doors into the main house, in the old Spanish style with terra-cotta tile floors, massive handcarved wooden beams and a big fireplace. A trickling fountain in a passageway led to an airy courtyard, surrounded by aspens, pinons and fruit trees. Down a few steps through some colorful gardens, mud-colored adobe arches framed a stunning view -- a disappearing-edge pool In the foreground, the Jemez mountains beyond. Our suite ($600 a night, with three meals) was spacious and L-shaped with the same dark wood beams, a large bath with Jacuzzi and bidet, and American Indian rugs and colorful tapestries,
Jose presented a printed menu with the day's choices of several appetizers and main courses; I had a delicious halibut with fresh vegetables, and my husband, chose Colorado lamb. We sipped our wine and watched the last rays of sunset and the lights coming on in distant Los Alamos before turning in.
We spent the next couple of days relaxing by the pool, hiking a bit in the surrounding foothills and enjoying the attentive service of Jose and the chef, who made us great breakfasts of blueberry pancakes and Belgian waffles.
We ambled around town to check out the Canyon Road gallery scene, ate at some great local restaurants, and did a little shopping. We even bought some cowboy boots. Next time we'll wear them out to the Hacienda.
LOVING SANTA FE -- FROM A DISTANCE
HISTORIC TOWN HOTEL A FLOP, REMOTE DESERT INN
A TREAT; FLY SWARM AT HIGH NOON