2012 USA Roadtrip: Our first Three Days in Santa Fe

We rolled into the north of Santa Fe at around 5:30 p.m. We stopped at the Tesuque Village Market (138 Tesuque Village Rd.,Santa Fe, NM, tel. 505-988-8848, web: tesuquevillagemarket.com). There we bought milk and banana (for $7) and saw a $228 bottle of champagne (we knew we were in a high-class joint). We also bought a slice of rhubarb pie (also $7) for Dimitri to have for dessert one evening. The small road from the highway was lined with big adobe homes behind walls or behind the iconic latilla fences.
A classic adobe house look (although gigantic)
No question, we were in Santa Fe! All round there were chile ristras--strings of the piquante red peppers strung together. 

Because we knew we were going to arrive in Santa Fe in the evening, Dimitri made a reservation for us. He chose a resort! We stayed in the North Lodge of The Bishop's Lodge (1297 Bishop's Lodge Rd., PO Box 2367, Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-629-4822, web:  www.bishopslodge.com). The North Lodge was originally built in the 1912-15 period when the Pulitzer family owned The Bishop’s Lodge. It has not been renovated but was well maintained. Our room, 109, was large with a king bed and two large, comfortable, arm chairs in front of the fire place. It had the original wood-beamed ceiling (vigas) that was charming. There was (very, very slow) wi-fi Internet in the room which had one desk (and no table or mini fridge). The air conditioning system was old and noisy (and not so effective either). The bathroom was large and had two sinks.

After a busy day looking for our longer-term accommodations in Santa Fe, we came back to the resort and took a 1 ½ hour hike, all on the resort’s trails. The resort has 450 acres in the Tesuque Valley and we were walking through a juniper and piñon forest, along Little Tesuque Creek. The trees were big enough to give us shade (and it was hot, much hotter than in Vail even though Santa Fe is at approximately 7000 feet in elevation). We saw some familiar wildflowers like Indian paintbrush and some cactus, like (soapweed) yucca (or Spanish bayonet). It was lovely.

After our hike, we used the resort's Jacuzzi. We found our longer-term accommodation on our first day of looking so we decided to use the resort the following day (and try to get our money's worth from the $14.50 per day, per person Resort Fee that The Bishop's Lodge charges). We took a 3 hour hike which started on the resort’s trails and connected to a trail in the Santa Fe National Forest. We were on (we think) Winsor Trail and could have hiked at least 9 miles to (what the sign called) “the ski area”. At first we were walking through a juniper and piñon forest, along (we think) Big Tesuque Creek. As we climbed, the trees got bigger and we were in a pine forest. There were some (but not many) people on the trail. We brought our lunch and sat by the creek to eat it. Wonderful!

After our hike, we again used the resort's Jacuzzi. On Friday, the pool area was packed with people who "belong" to the City Club and get to use the resort in the summer (do they pay $14.50 per person, per day?)

We had a very nice dinner on our first night there at Las Fuentes Restaurant. Our server Juan was professional, chatty and good. The room was infused with evening sun and it was lovely, with interesting original western art on the walls by W. E. Rollins. We were brought bread rolls and corn muffins that had a tasty bit of spiciness. Along with the bread was goat butter and regular cow’s butter (we couldn’t tell the difference in tastes frankly). We shared everything as usual and had 2 entrées. One was a “Vegetarian green Chile Pot Pie, prairie thyme shell, organic vegetables, ricotta and garlic mushroom foccacia” ($17) that was a really good creamy (and not spicy) rendition. We also had the “Chimayo Chile Glazed Duck Breast, sweet potato and bacon hash, wilted greens, red chile confit, Spanish lavender honey jus, honey powder” ($28). The red chile confit had quite a kick to it and it was very tasty. The meal was a success! It cost $47 plus tip.  

At night the restaurant area of the hotel was festooned with farolitos--brown bags containing tea light candles and weighted down with sand. It looked great!

On our first morning we had our own breakfast in our room. (We carry our cereal bowls, cereal, fruit and French Press coffee maker, as well as our hot water boiler. We had bought milk and bananas at the Tesuque Village Market the evening before. Because there was no mini-fridge, we put the carton of milk into ice bucket that we filled with ice.)
Breakfast in front of the fireplace in our room at The Bishop's Lodge
On the second morning we had a very good omelet (not dry--juicy) in the restaurant. It was called the “Southwest Mexican Chorizo Omelet, New Mexico cheddar and Monterey jack, spicy chorizo sausage, fresh green chile, bishop’s potatoes, and fresh fruit (choice of tortilla, toast or English muffin)”  ($12). We also ordered a  fruit plate ($4), and 2 coffees ($3 x2). Our breakfast cost $27 plus tip.

On our second night, we had dinner at the nearby resort of Encantado. Their restaurant is called Terra (198 State Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87506, tel. 505-946-5800, web: www.encantadoresort.com). Terra's room is decorated nicely and casually elegant, but the tables didn’t have tablecloths (although the photographs on their website show tables dressed with tablecloths). We think a restaurant looks better with them. Our server, Craig, was good and knowledgeable. He was incredulous when we said we just wanted to drink plain, non-iced, water. He went through a litany of no wine, no iced tea, no sodas? Then he accepted our answer. We shared everything as usual. First we were brought a basket of breads: a lavache, a corn bread and a baguette with a flavored butter. We started with “Tuna Tartare, blue corn blinis, wasabi flying fish caviar, grilled scallions” ($18). It was a great dish and our only complaint was that there wasn’t enough sour cream for the 4 blinis. For our main we chose the “Pan-seared Alaskan Halibut, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes, wild arugula salad” ($32). This dish was also very good. We ordered a side of “Crispy Kale” ($8) too and it wasn’t needed. There was plenty of food for the two of us. Our only complaint with the kale was that it wasn’t uniformly crispy. For dessert we shared the hazelnut cheesecake ($10). It was very lovely meal and evening. We spent $72.51 plus tip.

On our third morning we again had our own breakfast in our room, before checking out. There were 4 things that we didn’t like about the resort: 1) the toilet paper was scratchy, 2) the housekeeping on our first day was dysfunctional, (3) it was necessary to telephone Housekeeping to request clean sheets during our stay (what’s the point of staying at a hotel if you can’t have clean, silky and crisp sheets?) which was annoying, and 4) we hated the “Resort Charge”. This is a $14.50 per day, per person charge for things that should be part of the basic hotel rate (like using the pool or Jacuzzi). It is ridiculous. It is outrageous. We asked at Encantado Resort whether they charged a fee like that and they said “no”. 

Additionally, when we checked out, our per day charges looked like this:
Room charge: $127
Room sales tax: $8.41
Lodger’s tax: $5.08
Resort fee: $29
And just when we thought the list of extras was finished, there was a final line called “Misc Sales Tax” $1.92. It was annoying beyond belief. The resort says it charges$14.50 per person per day as a resort fee. The resort fee is waived for all children under the age of 13. Services which
are provided include scheduled activities such as yoga, pilates, tai chi, as well as unlimited access to the fitness center, swimming pool, jacuzzi, hiking and walking trails and tennis courts. Other complimentary amenities include parking, unlimited local calls, long distance access, (tollfree, credit card, collect), in-room high speed internet access, in room coffee service, bottled water on your day of arrival, daily newspaper and scheduled shuttle service to the Santa Fe Plaza.

As we said, on our first night we arrived at around 6 p.m. and only went to dinner at the resort (paying for it of course—it wasn’t included in the Resort Fee) and then using the bathroom (no extra charge) and going to bed. Still we were charged $29 for the Resort Fee we didn't use. Did Audre make it clear how annoying that was to us?

BTW, the hotel’s website had room rates that changed each day and ranged from $127 (what we got) to $225 for the same (un-renovated) room. Dimitri decided to talk to reservations on the telephone when he was making the reservation and basically said he wanted the $127 rate and it was given to him (shrug--whatever). With all the extras, the daily room rate came to $178 (without breakfast, as we said).

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