Experience the City Different
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Known as the City Different, New Mexico’s capital regularly rates among the top travel destinations in the United States. Its delightful stew of Hispanic, Anglo and Native American cultures expresses itself architecturally, gastronomically, artistically and commercially. A kind of adobe theme park for adults, Santa Fe is the inspired vision displayed in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (okeeffemuseum.org) and the welcoming galleries along Canyon Road. It’s also the authentic pueblo jewelry and pottery sold around the historic plaza. It’s Nambé. It’s posole at The Shed, Huevos Rancheros at Tia Sophia’s and Huevos Divorciados at The Famous Plaza Cafe. It’s La Casa Sena’s Red Chile Braised Pork Shoulder and Lotaburger’s green-chile cheeseburger. It’s Small Batch Saturday at Santa Fe Brewery.
It’s also a round at the municipal Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, or, if you’re well-connected, on the two Nicklaus layouts at the private Las Campanas. But by all means, head north 30 minutes on US 285 to take on Black Mesa Golf Club, a highly decorated, 10-year-old Baxter Spann masterpiece that climbs, dives and winds through the sandstone formations outside Española.
Midway between downtown Santa Fe and Black Mesa spread the 27 holes of Towa Golf Club. Two of Towa’s three nines—Piñon and Valley—claim Hale Irwin as the architect. William Phillips designed the Boulder nine. Framed by the majestic Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains, each of the three rollercoasters through surreal rock formations and deep red-dirt arroyos. Most holes sport wide fairways and generous greens often tucked into dramatic rock formations. Each of the nines opens with par-five birdie opportunities, with the Boulder finishing on a par-3 dropping 100 feet from tee to green.
Towa belongs to the magnificent Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, a six year-old 700,000-square foot Hilton property owned by the Pojoanque pueblo. The combination casino, museum, luxury spa and golf resort astounds with an intimacy and attention to detail that belies its enormity.
It even tempers the bling and glitz of the vast, 1.5- acre gaming area with décor featuring the swirling curvilinear forms prevalent in pueblo culture.
Expressions of that culture manifest themselves throughout the resort. A swirling stairway carries you to Buffalo Thunder’s Wo’ P’in Spa, where each treatment employs natural, indigenous healing elements and embodies the essences of the Pojoaque philosophy of serenity, health and balance. The detailed, handmade valences and headboards in the 398 rooms and suites all differ from each other, as does the artwork from room to room.
And speaking of artwork, the public spaces of the resort showcase hundreds of original works by internationally renowned native artists such as Dan Namingha, Roxanne Swentzell and George Rivera. The governor of the Pueblo of Pojoaque, Rivera also sculpted the 12-foot bronze Buffalo Dancer that greets visitors to the resort.
Buffalo Thunder houses a half-dozen casual places to eat, ranging from the Painted Parrot Buffet to the grill by the sprawling outdoor pool. Its fine-dining showpiece, Red Sage, has earned acclaim for chef Ka’ai Ravey’s inspired takes on Native, European and Latin cuisines. Start with his slow-roasted Pork Belly with Miso Caramel Sauce, then move onto the Green Chile Steak Frites or Buffalo Tenderloin sauced with Red Chile Foyot or Chimayo Béarnaise. Finish with an artisan Goat Cheese Cheesecake with a piñon crust.
Goat cheese cheesecake? In the City Different, you’d expect nothing less.
Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, 30 BuffaloThunder Trail , Santa Fe.