Santa Fe: A Girl’s Trip to America’s Oldest Capitol

Santa Fe is a bustling melting pot of Spanish and Native American culture that attracts artists, foodies, culture-seekers, nature-lovers, wellness enthusiasts, and anyone wanting to soak up an incredibly special part of America. My fabulous group of travel companions on this trip were a bunch of besties who have remained impossibly close since working together in the mid-90s for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Although we don’t see each other frequently, when we have the opportunity to gather for a girls’ trip, it’s as if not a day has passed, the laughter is truly non-stop! Santa Fe was the perfect spot for a top-notch reunion!

Santa Fe has an eclectic collection of wonderful places to rest your head and I can help you select the best option for you or why not do a town-and-country split stay between the city and the mountains?

Our first hotel stay was at the iconic, historic, and truly magical Inn of Five Graces.

Nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, often called “The City Different,” sits The Inn of The Five Graces. Set in the historic Barrio de Analco, the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in the U.S., the Inn’s earthy, traditional adobe and stone exterior belies the extraordinary sensual experience that awaits. A step through its doors invites a feast of color and texture that awakens the imagination. Each unique room showcases handcrafted artisan pieces and one-of-a-kind treasures from the historic Silk Road that once linked Europe and Asia. Echoes of rustic Spain, lingering in New Mexico’s Hispanic heritage, are reflected in the Seret style’s trademark synthesis of East and West.

No better way to greet weary travelers than a most welcoming staff quick to shake up some first-class margaritas for us. The inviting bar is set up right inside the lobby, but we made fast friends with the bartender who was more than delighted to whisk the drinks across the street to our two-bedroom suite while we settled in.

The Inn of Five Graces takes up a full city block of this historic neighborhood, and one ducks across the street to their accommodation, or the lobby, spa, or restaurant. Summer is stunning, but winter here is surreal and we loved the light dust of snow about us as we sat by the fireplace in our suite!

The guest rooms are cozy cocoons that evoke a time when every object was made by hand, expressing the spirit of its maker. All have wood-burning kiva fireplaces and some have private balconies.

The exquisite bathrooms, richly adorned with hand-laid tile mosaics are anything but ordinary.

Morning Coffee fire-side and girl talk are priceless!

Huevos Motulenos makes for a killer breakfast at the Inn of Five Graces! (nothing like Mexican breakfast in my opinion!)

There is no shortage of other fabulous hotel options in town.

Rosewood at the Anasazi is in the middle of the hustle and bustle and a great option for those that want to be in downtown Santa Fe on the Plaza.

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado has long been a big favorite of clients of Resort to Laura Madrid and unequivocally offers some of the very best service in town and a superbly pro adventure center with top guides to show off the best of Santa Fe and the surrounding areas!

The historic Bishop’s Lodge was our next stay, and this spectacular property chock full of history was reopened last year after being taken over by Auberge Hotel and Resorts and undergoing a massive renovation and restoration.

The altar at the lovingly restored original chapel founded by Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy crowns the grounds at the historic Bishops Lodge.

What a beautiful welcome to Bishops Lodge and our stunning three-bedroom casita. This is going to be epic!

Room categories vary from rooms and suites to multi-bedroom casitas to the famed bunkhouse but one thing that each category ensures is a reverence for the rich textures and subtle colors of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. They are beautifully decorated with high quality furnishings and creature comforts.

The Bunkhouse at Bishop’s Lodge is THE place for a big birthday, groups of families, weddings, or even a private business retreat. Imagine taking over the bunk house – 12 rooms including one suite and the rest with Kings plus a bunk bed option, and shared public space for lively breakfasts or a boozy late night party!

Our absolute favorite night was the exquisite tequila tasting and food pairing – a perfect way to kick off our ladies’ stay at Bishops Lodge. Like all Auberge properties throughout the brand, painstaking attention to local and authentic reigns. Each ingredient is a window into the region’s history with recipes of Santa Fe passed down through generations on offer to lucky guests.

Santa Fe is a hiking and cycling paradise and ranked as having some of the best mountain cycling trails in the world. Our morning hike in mid February proved to have a bit of snow and we likely would have been better off joining all of the snow shoers and cross country skiers passing us by! No matter, we had a blast.

Our post-hike stop at the famous 10,000 Waves may have been my favorite meal of the entire trip with a focus on Asian ingredients and organic vegetables, it was a fusion of healthful flavor and colors. An absolute MUST for anyone that values exceptional food! The spa and hot springs here have been attracting visitors since the 1970s!

No better way to end a day of hiking, and lunching with the ladies than heading to the spa or hot tub at Bishops Lodge!

This trip has no shortage of mesmerizing food and beverage, but what an incredible night with James Beard Nominee, Chef Fernando Olea at Sazon!!

“Originally from Mexico City, Chef Fernando Olea has been enthralling diners in Santa Fe since 1991 with his unique interpretation of contemporary and traditional Mexican dishes. Chef Olea creates sophisticated flavors using Old Mexico’s indigenous and culinary traditions alongside ingredients from around the world. His menu is deliberately small, featuring fresh and locally sourced produce and meats when possible. Nothing evokes the mystery of Mexican cuisine more than a mole, a regional dish from the heart of the country. The origin of the Mexican mole is mysterious. Some say it was an Aztec delicacy served to the Spanish conquistadors. Others say 16th century Hispanic nuns created it. We’re not sure of the origin, nor can the original recipe be defined! In Old Mexico, each cook has their unique mole recipe often handed down generation by generation. Mole is a sauce of complex flavors that usually includes toasted and ground spices, seeds, nuts, chocolate and chile. Many mole recipes contain more than thirty ingredients and some recipes have five varieties of chile alone. Moles can be defined by their color such as rojo, verde, and negro; the town they are from such as Puebla, Oaxaca, Michoacan; and social class, such as pobres and ricos. Chef Olea is delighted to share his moles that include his “New Mexican Mole” that he created to commemorate Santa Fe’s 400 year anniversary in 2009. The large mural in the main dining room, painted and presented to Chef Olea by Federico Leon De La Vega, a well known artist from Mexico City, illustrates all of the ingredients found in this mole.”

Shoppers will revel in the hundreds of shops and galleries throughout Santa Fe as well as its many annual markets and festivals. The cultural, historic retail centers of Santa Fe are mind-blowing including the historic Railyard area and the lively thoroughfare of galleries, shops, and restaurants on Canyon Road!

The best part of a girl’s trip is waking up for morning coffee. Although we had a glorious three-bedroom Casita at Bishops Lodge, we all seemed to find our way into one room for coffee and catch up each morning!

Let’s hear it for the girls – the ones that pick you up, make you laugh, soothe your soul, fill you with joy, love you unconditionally, feel your pain, celebrate your wins, understand your plight, always show up, and never let you down. There is nothing like a girl’s trip, and Santa Fe certainly delivered!

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