A Santa Fe Christmas!

We’re thinking holidays, how about you? Planning to travel to New Mexico in December? We are happy to offer some suggestions to make your Santa Fe holiday travel bright!

Here at the Inn on the Alameda, we welcome the arrival of the winter holiday season by lighting the Chanukah candles on Saturday, December 8 after sunset.

Happy Chanukah!

On Sunday, December 9, beginning at 3:00pm, Chabad Santa Fe invites everyone to attend a free Chanukah event on the Santa Fe Plaza, with a Community Menorah Lighting followed by a concert, featuring Jono Manson. And the Inn is also delighted to welcome any of our guests to light the candles in our Lobby on any of the eight nights of Chanukah.

Also on December 9, the annual holiday tradition of Las Posadas, a re-eanctment of the Holy Family’s search for shelter, takes place beginning at 5:30pm on the Plaza. This procession begins at the Palace pf the Governors and processes around the Plaza, and all are welcome to join. The devil makes an appearance to taunt the crowd, and booing ensues until an angel appears with a light sending blessings on those assembled. The walk concludes back at the Palace of the Governors, where biscochitos and hot cider are on tap.

Warming Up after Las Posadas

Thanks to the many wonderful museum gift shops and unique boutiques, Santa Fe has great options for picking up a  holiday gift that cannot be duplicated. Each museum shop’s selection is curated around the individual museum’s mission, so you can find Native American treasures, Spanish heritage gifts, and folk art oddities. The Plaza area is a mecca for cowboy boots, souvenir potholders, velvet skirts, and of course, jewelry.  And don’t worry, guys, there’s a cigar shop if you need to escape !

Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum

Holiday music will be resounding through the City Different, known for its commitment to the musical performance. The Lensic has a roster of lyrical events to pick and choose from. Aaron Neville brings his sweet voice to Santa Fe with a Christmas concert on Monday, December 10 at 7:30pm. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus celebrates its birthday in music on Sunday, December 16 at 4:00pm. On Monday, December 17, the Santa Fe Concert Band, led by the inestimable Greg Heltman, offers its annual free concert at 7:00pm; this is your chance to carol! On December 24, at 5:00pm, the Santa Fe Concert Association welcomes an 11-year-old virtuoso pianist and composer, Emily Bear, to perform a Christmas Eve concert, also at the Lensic.  And the musical year ends on New Year’s Eve with a performance by the Harlem String Quartet at 5:00pm.

Of course, the Lensic is not our only venue! Santa Fe Pro Musica will be ensconced in the Loretto Chapel for two performances nightly at 6:00pm and 8:00pm from Thursday, December 20 through Monday, December 24, presenting their annual Baroque Christmas Concert. On Saturday, December 29 at 6:00pm and Sunday, December 30 at 3:00pm, Pro Musica offers a Mozart Holiday Concert at the St. Francis Auditorium.

Our Beautiful Cathedral is Perfect for Carols

On December 14, 18, 20, 21 & 22, at 8:00pm, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale presents a concert of Carols and Lullabies in the perfect location for such music, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. And on Sunday, December 15, the Chorale welcomes any and all to The Big Sing, a performance guaranteed to be the largest choir singing in New Mexico, taking place at 3:00pm at Cristo Rey Church. Not to be outdone, the 12-voice Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble performs A Winter Festival of Song on Saturday, December 14 at 7:00pm at the Loretto Chapel and Sunday, December 15 at 3:00pm at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel.

If you are staying in Santa Fe over the winter holidays, it’s a very good idea to have dinner reservations, and our concierge-trained staff is happy to recommend and reserve for you. We are here to answer all of your holiday questions, whether you are staying with us or not…just ask!



First Snow

Looking from Aspen Vista toward Santa Fe

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and over this past weekend the Southern Rockies made their annual abrupt bump down from autumn to winter. Temperatures plunged, and Santa Fe awoke to a dusting of snow on Sunday morning. And as if I had never seen snow before, I had to drive up the mountain to have a look. I made it up to Aspen Vista, the viewing area and trailhead for the popular walk – or snowshoe, or cross-country ski – up to Tesuque Ridge, where I parked and got out, only to discover it was FAR too cold to enjoy much of anything outside the car.

But it sure was beautiful in a wintery way. About 5 inches of snow had fallen and gusts of wind shook clouds of glittering ice crystals from the spruce trees. The overnight storm was still breaking up over the mountains so shadow alternated with sunlight as I watched. The change in conditions from only a few weeks ago was striking. This weekend:

And just a few weeks earlier:

This bodes well for skiing this winter. It’s time to start checking the Ski Santa Fe website for condition updates. And it looks like I need to dust off the snowshoes out in the garage!

An invitation for winter recreation

Inn on the Alameda FAQs

Although so many of our guests return to us again and again – yes, that’s over 40% of you – we know that those new to the Inn probably have a few questions. So we thought we’d offer the answers to some Inn on the Alameda FAQs!

Here We Are!

What does all-inclusive mean with respect to the Inn?

It means simply that there are no additional fees when you stay at the Inn.  We include the breakfast and the wine hour and the parking and the WiFi. We endeavor to provide all the amenities for a seamless stay, but regardless of where you decide to stay on your Santa Fe vacation, do yourself the favor of asking in advance what is included and what’s extra.

Where is the Inn located?

We think we have the best spot in Santa Fe (of course, we will admit to being a bit prejudiced!). The Inn is the closest hotel to the Canyon Road galleries, and it’s a 5 to 10 minute walk to the Plaza. The real advantage is that we are across the street from the Santa Fe River (predictably dry most of the year) on the edge of a residential neighborhood, so the setting is tree-lined and low-slung.

What’s in the Inn’s breakfast?

When we first opened in 1986, the Inn on the Alameda was envisioned as a European-style Inn, a model that usually included a continental breakfast. Despite being blessed with 3-acres of land in the heart of Santa Fe, we did not start with a kitchen or a restaurant, and as we grew, we did not feel the need to add one, especially since we sit in the midst of so many fine dining options. That being said, however, we have always recognized the fact that a good breakfast is the right start to a day in New Mexico. Over the years, our complimentary continental buffet – served daily from 7 to 11 a.m. –  has evolved to include organic items (our coffee, dairy items, non-dairy milks and yogurts and granola), gluten-free selections for those with gluten challenges and vegan items for those who have chosen the vegan lifestyle. And although  the breakfast has to be billed as continental, you can still get a slice of organic, locally-sourced gluten-free fritatta topped with NM red chile sauce! While we can’t be all things to all people, we continue to search for ways to satisfy the discerning palates of our guests.

Good Morning!

What’s the wine hour?

As we grew through the years, we realized that without a restaurant on property, guests who arrived tired and hungry had a real need for a bit of sustenance. That realization was the genesis of our afternoon wine hour. Timed as a check-in amenity, rather than a happy hour, the reception runs from 4 to 5 p.m. every day and offers an array of tasty tidbits; enjoyed with a glass of sangria, wine or beer, it will tide appetites over until  dinner. No need for a tired traveler to dine at 5, since our guests can just head on over to relax for an hour in our Agoyo Room Lounge!

The parking and the WiFi are free?

Yes! We travel, too, and nothing is more frustrating that having to pay for an amenity that is obviously right there.

Does the Inn have a concierge?

While we appreciate the creativity and commitment that a concierge brings to any hotel, we have found it more effective to train all of our Front Desk to speak knowledgeably about Santa Fe travel. And it helps that our staff is so tenured. Need dinner reservations? No problem. Want to compare the merits of a walking tour? Our staff has taken them. Wonder what’s at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum or SITE Santa Fe? We’ll tell you. All we ask is that you let us be your Santa Fe!

Let Us Shed a Light on Your Questions!

What will I find in my guestroom?

All of our rooms and suites have triple sheeting on the beds with 300-count Italian linens. All the rooms have coffee makers, irons, ironing board and hairdryers.  Our Deluxe Rooms and Suites also have in-room refrigerators and in-room safes, but the space in our Traditional Rooms does not allow for these. Our all-natural bath amenities are made by Gilchrist and Soames, and you don’t need to bring a bathrobe, because we have those in all our rooms, too!

Do all the rooms have a patio or balcony?

The answer here is “No.” We have a few rooms at lower rates, precisely because they do not have patios or balconies, so if cost is the most important factor in making a travel decision, skip the patio and sit in our courtyard instead!

Do all the rooms have fireplaces?

Again, “No.” While fireplaces are so representative of the the Santa Fe experience, we chose to offer smaller rooms without fireplaces so that we are better able to suit all budgets. If a kiva fireplace is what you dream of when you think Santa Fe, however, then be sure to reserve one of our Deluxe Rooms, which have either a wood-burning or a gas fireplace. And in season, our beautiful Lobby and the cozy Agoyo Room always offer a fireplace to cuddle by with a good book and a cup of coffee.

Wish You Were Here?

Will I get a better price if I book online?

Emphatically, “No.” It has always been our position to maintain rate integrity across all the many channels available for making a reservation. We are more than happy to spend time on the phone discussing your options, but if you are in a hurry, be assured that our best rate will always be available on our own website as well.

Santa Fe is Beautiful All Year Round

When is the best time to visit the Inn?

Santa Fe offers different charms all throughout the year. And like any desirable destination, rates will vary from season to season. Opera lovers come in July and August to hear the renowned Santa Fe Opera company perform in its outdoor theater. Hikers like the autumn when the aspen leaves turn golden up in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. But here’s a little hint: come between October 28, 2012 and February 28, 2013, and you’ll really save, since we are again offering our annual anniversary rate of only $27 for the third consecutive night of any stay, all rooms, all suites (yes, black-out include holidays and special event).

Anything else you want to know? Just call us and ask…we’re always happy to share Santa Fe, our home town!

The Quietly Changing Seasons

Warm autumnal light among the aspen

‘Then there was the good weather. It would come in one day when the summer was over.’

Apologies to Ernest Hemingway and the opening lines of A Moveable Feast, but I couldn’t help thinking of that quiet commencement as I had a walk up to Puerto Nambe, high above Santa Fe, after last week’s subtle ending of summer, in a day and night of cold, steady rain. The best weather for hiking in the Southern Rockies is here, and the mountains are glowing with warm light and changing leaves. The first flush of the yellow aspen is spreading over the peaks:

Looking south from the trail ascending to Puerto Nambe

Frost has reached the forest floor with colorful results:

Thimbleberry dotting the forest floor

The Winsor Trail leaves the Ski Santa Fe parking lot at a high elevation, well within the spruce-aspen forest, and while you will gain even more altitude if you follow the trail all the way to Puerto Nambe, you will never leave the forest. You’ll be accompanied by chickadees flitting from branch to branch, so close you can almost touch them, juncos rustling along the forest floor, and pine squirrels scolding you from their fragrant perches as they stuff their faces with seeds from their spruce larder:

Englemann Spruce cones sharing their abundance

The trails are littered with the brown scales of these cones, discarded by winter-wary chickarees.

As you climb higher into the Nambe Creek watershed, views open up in all directions:

Looking west down Nambe Creek

Soon you’ll feel like you’re truly in the Rockies, with forested peaks surrounding you

Lake Peak in the south

and a sky that almost hurts your eyes:

Alpine sky

Even the stones seem to throw back an inner light.

Milky quartz and alpine plants

For the next month or so these high country trails will be at their best, so if you’re coming out for a visit, please make time for a walk in the mountains. The color change will peak in about two weeks, among the aspen, but the hiking will be wonderful well into October. Come indulge in a truly moveable feast.

Tesuque Creek

An illuminated pool on Tesuque Creek

We’re finally getting our summer rains here in Santa Fe, after a brutally dry and hot June, and now the challenge for you hikers and trail bikers out there is, just how early in the morning do you want to start your adventure? That’s because, by about noon, the clouds are boiling up all along the mountain ranges in New Mexico and you’re very likely to get doused by cold rain or even sleet if you’re up on any of the high country trails after that.

Even if you need to shorten your walk, if you can get up to the trailheads by 8 or 9 in the morning, you can get in a refreshing bit of recreation and mountain air. The formerly parched forest floor has plumped up nicely, and the meadows are full of mid-summer wildflowers and lots of butterflies.

Moss and lichen clinging to a boulder along our walk

This past Sunday a friend and I made a short “off the beaten path” visit to a string of meadows along Tesuque Creek, in the mountains above Santa Fe. Creek-walking has the big advantage of minimizing your chances of getting lost, once you’ve left the trails behind, and anyway, what could be nicer than having the music of a mountain stream accompany your ramble?

Steep outcroppings of granitic rock across Tesuque Creek

You don’t need to go far to find peaceful places to just sit and drink in the beauty around you.

An aspen meadow with lots of Douglas fir nearby

Kinnikinnick growing over a stone

A Rocky Mountain maple with those very characteristic crimson spots

Cumberland Rock-shield spreading over a boulder of tonalite

Monument plant – an aberrant gentian – thrusting itself up 5 feet out of the meadow

So make plans to be out early, and back in town in time for lunch, if you’re thinking of making a high country outing. Toss a cheap poncho in your daypack and keep an eye on the clouds. And above all, follow this advice:

Springtime in the Rockies

Newly-leafed aspen among the conifers

It seems like I was just writing about icy trails and late winter snowshoeing, but suddenly there’s been a change of scene and the mountains are stirring with new life and issuing invitations to have a walk. The snow has vanished from the middle elevations of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and many of our most popular trails are free of ice and spangled with the first wildflowers of the season.

One of the most popular walks among visitors to Santa Fe is the Borrego-Bear Wallow loop, whose trailhead sits at an elevation of 8880 feet, squarely in the middle of the lovely mixed-conifer forest, immediately north of Hyde Memorial State Park. There’s free parking just off the the Ski Basin Road – NM 475 – and it’s only an eight mile drive from downtown Santa Fe. The loop itself is about a 3.2 mile ramble through a shady woods, with a 640 elevation loss/gain, and a sunny meadow at the bottom alongside Tesuque Creek perfect for a snack break or a picnic.

The sign at the intersection of Borrego and Bear Wallow Trails

The Borrego Trail drops down through a forest of Ponderosa, White Fir, Douglas Fir, and Aspen on its way to the Winsor Trail along Tesuque Creek, which you will take downstream until its intersection with the Bear Wallow Trail, which will take you back up to the trailhead.

The aspen are leafing out now, in a fresh yellow-green that contrasts vividly with the much darker evergreens:

Aspen along the Borrego Trail

Is there any tree more delightful than the aspen? It’s handsome in summer and winter, and it is exceptionally beautiful in the spring and fall. Would that we all passed through the seasons of our lives so gracefully.

White fir with grizzled grey bark grow along each of the trails, calling for your attention:

The mixed-conifer forest

These trees frame views of the higher ridges to the northwest:

The Sangre de Cristo

Meanwhile the forest floor is dotted with color and new life:

Red columbine are blooming all along the trails. Hummingbirds rejoice!

The exceptionally tough Creeping Mahonia

And the delicately-flowered Rocky Mountain clematis

One of my favorites peeks out this time of year:

The cheerful Canada violet

Meanwhile a variety of small deciduous trees send forth their first leaves and flowers:

Tiny flowers on the twigs of the lovely Rocky Mountain Maple

Tesuque Creek is singing with snowmelt:

Tesuque Creek at the midpoint of your walk.

It wasn’t too challenging this time, but you have to cross this stream twice to make the loop, and sometimes you have to be inventive. Here’s a picture of the Borrego crossing:

Kids LOVE this spot

On your ascent back up along the Bear Wallow Trail, you’ll pass one of my favorite trees, a Limber pine perched on a rugged outcropping of gneiss above Tesuque Creek:

Limber pine and Tesuque Canyon beyond

In that most delightful of nature books, “A Natural History of Western Trees“, Donald Culross Peattie writes “. . . and Limber Pines have a way of growing in dramatic places, taking picturesque attitudes, and getting themselves photographed, written about, and cared for. . . ” This specimen is no exception. It grows in a dramatic place, and I’ve enjoyed my tea in its shade many times.

So plan for a springtime walk in the mountains when you make your visit with us in Santa Fe. We can help you with lots of suggestions, and our neighbor, the Travel Bug, can supply you with maps and guidebooks of every kind.

New life