At this magical time of year, Santa Fe gives you the world
Twice as much snow falls on Santa Fe in December than in any other month, making golf a bit of a crapshoot but the holidays a sure bet. The white stuff arrives “on cue” every Christmas Eve, says Englishman John Dixon, a onetime racecar driver, moviemaker and artist who has lived in Santa Fe for 16 years. “I can’t remember a time when it didn’t. It’s very special.”
A real-life Most Interesting Man in the World, Dixon fittingly now directs real estate sales for one of the world’s most compelling residences— El Corazón de Santa Fe, one of only eight properties in the worldwide Fairmont Heritage Place collection. Located just three blocks from the fabled Plaza, the gated compound affords easy walking access to a 400-year-old city that’s far from pedestrian. Avenues of adobe stores, restaurants, churches and galleries bathe in the festive evening glow of thousands of farolitos, luminarias and LEDs until early January—and for the rest of the year in the glorious, spellbinding natural light that inspired the great Georgia O’Keeffe and thousands of other artists.
You’ll find much of their art along Canyon Road, which closes to traffic on Christmas Eve. Stroll the myriad galleries (did you think Denver had the only Santa Fe Artwalk?), indulge in free cider and anise-flavored biscochitos and sing carols before heading to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis de Assisi for a uniquely New Mexican Midnight Mass. Arrive before the doors open at 10:30 p.m. if you want a seat, or go to the 7:00 service at San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the United States.
The considerably younger El Corazón is a work of art of its own. Owned by Dallas-based Unity Hunt and constructed in Santa Fe Spanish Pueblo Revival style, the property comprises 12 two-story and 10 one-story units (respectively, “Montañas” and “Terra”), each identical in floor plan and featuring impeccable appointments. Hundreds of handcut latillas form ceilings supported by broad, rough-hewn beams and bespoke bullnose corbels. Original paintings hang on hand-troweled walls. Plush leather sofas sit on travertine tiles and woven rugs, while wrought iron and thick woods define the doors, furnishings and railings. High-threadcount sheets swathe cosseting Stearns & Foster mattresses in plush bedrooms that open onto intimate outdoor areas perfect for sipping a Keoke coffee or a cabernet. Appliances are all state-of-the-art.
Renting such luxury runs approximately $500 per night. But why rent when you can own, especially a prime location in one of the country’s most desirable real-estate markets? Fully deeded one-eight shares of either kind of unit start at less than $200,000, with annual HOA dues of $5,330 (Terra) or $6,900 (Montañas). Fairmont places no limit on the number of days owners can use the property, and ownership comes with four weeks per year reciprocal use at Fairmont Heritage Place properties in San Francisco, Whistler, Telluride, Miramar Beach (Fla.), Acapulco, South Africa and Dubai.
Another ownership perk is entry into the ultra-elite Fairmont President’s Circle. This status upgrades you to exclusive services and experiences at such distinctive Fairmont properties as The Plaza Hotel in New York, Le Château Frontenac in Quebec and The Savoy in London, where one Corazón owner recently got upgraded to a $1,400-per night suite in exchange for her Christmas week in Santa Fe.
The value of an El Corazón ownership lies not only in its entry point to the world, but also in its access to exclusive deals in and around the #2 “Top City in the US” as voted this November by Condé Nast Traveler’s readers. The property, which has no restaurant, partners for discounts of up to 20 percent at dozens of the city’s most acclaimed eateries, including the intimate La Boca tapas bar and the superb La Casa Sena, where award-winning chef Patrick Gharrity’s fare includes a delectable green chile-dusted hanger steak and the wine list is encyclopedic. Also on the list are the restaurants at The Inn of the Anasazi and at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, where El Corazón guests can also indulge in discounted spa treatments. Other area partners include New Mexico’s highly rated Vivac Winery, the Santa Fe School of Cooking and Santa Fe Outdoor Adventures.
Golf may or may not be such an outdoor adventure during the winter, but El Corazón’s partner, the resurgent Towa Golf Club, presents three highly underrated, visually spectacular nines. Black Mesa and the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe are also nearby if you want to take advantage of one of the area’s 300 annual days of sunshine.
But if you go at Christmas, expect snow to cover the fairways as well as the surrounding mountains, home to Ski Santa Fe, just 15 miles from—and 3,000 feet higher than—El Corazón. There’s also something magical about seeing the city’s iconic ristras dusted in white, not to mention ordering the huevos rancheros at Tia Sophia’s and answering the server’s “red or green?” with a felicitous “Navidad.”
Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com. Jon Rizzi is the founding editor and co-owner of this regional golf-related media company producing magazines, web content, tournaments, events and the Golf Passport.