No need to ask if you’ve ever heard of this new lodging option; it seems everyone has. Like Uber, Airbnb is a direct product of technology. Whereas Uber, though, matches cars with riders, Airbnb matches out-of-town guests with rooms.
With on-line booking, who would have ever dreamed that someone could walk around with a small machine with reading options as expansive as a public library? Who thought one would ever be able to go shopping for literally anything while riding in a car or sitting in your home? No one. (Well, someone.) But there is one irreplaceable item not often a part of this new economy: the small and personable inn, such as our Inn on the Alameda.
Let me elaborate. According to Wikipedia, “hospitality” has its roots in the Latin noun hospitalis, which refers to guest lodging or an inn. Hospus, a condensed version of hospitalis, is the root for the English word “host.” Hence, the words hospitality and hotels are tied to guest lodging and inns by their very definition. And what makes our inn different from a short-term rental is its very genuine and personable hospitality.
In a minute, I want to share some real life stories from the Airbnb and VRBO experiences of my family’s iconic 2016 road trip up the West Coast. But to set the tone for the next phases of the blog, the dictionary defines hospitality as the friendly and generous reception of guests, visitors, or strangers, in a warm, friendly, and generous way.
So off we go—my wife, daughter, a poodle, a dachshund, and I, from Tijuana to Portland, driving in a rented SUV. While some short-term rentals were better than others, there were many things missing compared to a hotel stay. I wanted to experience from my family’s eyes how these VRBOs and Airbnbs stood up to our Inn on the Alameda.
First, any SENSE OF ARRIVAL is almost nonexistent. Even with GPS, I sometimes found myself walking to the rear of condo projects, looking for a hidden sub-unit and then trying to find an on street parking place—not easy in summer. Then, a gate code and door code we had to memorize and immediately locating the visitors’ handbook to master the four-control media TV system. (It’s a relief to arrive at our small landscaped and inviting Inn, day or night.)
During our road trip, if we ever had any sort of MAINTENANCE issue, we often had to leave a message on a phone number, and were told that someone would call us back within four to six hours. And that was usually just to have someone walk us through the media system, which we had somehow un-programmed, or to respond to air conditioning or hot water problems. On the weekends, the recorded response, “We’ll get back to you on Monday,” is not the response you want to hear when you call a number for maintenance issues . . . while on vacation.
I don’t know about you, but if I am vacationing, I want and practically need MAID SERVICE. Rarely, if ever, does an Airbnb offer this service. And if they do, it can entail unknown subcontractors—unlike the trained, dedicated, and known employees of our Inn.
Compare a short-term rental breakfast—where you’ll need to go to the store for ingredients, which means finding a store that has what you want—with what’s right there waiting for you at the Inn on the Alameda: fresh fruits, turkey sausages, chiles, eggs, and the Inn’s boulangerie selection of baked goods. Worth writing home about.
DEDICATED SECURITY is a must for me, especially when passing through a new town.
At the Inn on the Alameda, in our patio and our Agoyo Lounge—and I have yet to find a short-term rental that even has a LOUNGE—every day from 4-5, we have a COMPLIMENTARY RECEPTION. We have good wines and an assortment of olives, cheeses, breads, fresh grapes. It is a very good chance to rendezvous with friends you are traveling with or to make new friends by sharing experiences from each day’s touring.
In all I can sum up my short-term rental experiences this way: at the Inn on the Alameda, we have long-term employees and local family people who are always available and always more than happy to help you with whatever you need. And we know Santa Fe. We live here. We love it here. We want to share our city with you and give you the best experience possible.
If you haven’t driven out to Madrid, NM, consider adding it to your tourism bucket list. Located outside of Santa Fe, near the mineral-rich Ortiz Mountains, Madrid offers you a fascinating trip into the history of coal mining, baseball, and art colonies.
Madrid originated as a coal mining town known as Coal Gulch. In the 1850s the town began to grow in size and importance. This trend continued through the 1880s with the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. The railroad created a tremendous demand for coal, which fueled the expansion of the town to 2,500 people. During the 1920s, Madrid was even known for a Christmas light display with over 150,000 lights. The display was powered by coal generators that also supplied electricity to the entire town.
Like many company towns, the residents of Madrid relied on their employers to provide stores, amusement, schools, and hospitals. Employers even sponsored entertainment and social activities in order to prevent “idle hands from becoming workshops of the devil.” In 1919, the recently hired town superintendent, Oscar Huber, created a baseball team known as the Madrid Miners. Along with the team, he also oversaw the construction of the first lighted ballpark west of the Mississippi. At the time, the Miners consisted of Slavs, Poles, Native Americans, and other social groups who were drawn to the difficult world of coal mining.
Madrid quickly became a model for mining towns across the country, and just as the Miners brought a sense of community to her residents, another minor league team, Fuego helped to unite Santa Fe’s lovers of the “old ball game.” Baseball teams like the Madrid Miners popped up around country, and the sport grew into a popular pastime for laborers on their days off. At the time, it was often said that “all of Madrid could have been robbed during a Miners game because every town member was in attendance.” The Madrid Miners were instrumental to the development of baseball in our country, and the Joseph Huber Memorial Field can still be seen today.
After World War II, the demand for coal diminished, and by the late 1950s, Madrid became a “ghost town.” Still, the houses and cabins that were built during the boom still remain. In the 1960s, hippies and other members of the counterculture began to re-populate the town. Along with the new influx came new art studios, bars, galleries, and restaurants. Today, a 45-minute drive from the Inn on the Alameda brings you to the community of Madrid where you can shop, eat, drink and experience the architecture and community spirit that has revitalized this important historical gem.
Images via Madrid Miners’ Facebook page.
Joe Schepps and Mary Mooney
Mary Dorothy Mooney is one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Before joining the Inn on the Alameda, Mary worked at Hotel El Dorado where she worked with legendary hoteliers, Paul Margetson and Randy Randall. During her time here, Mary’s commitment and personal touch helped to take Inn on the Alameda above and beyond rote hospitality practices. Last week, she retired from the Inn on the Alameda after 21 years of exceptional work.
While working at the Inn, Mary brought style, grace, and personality to the housekeeping department. Her guidance shaped the understated and unobtrusive elegance that is expressed in the Inn’s staffing, cleanliness, and attention to the needs and wishes our guests. The Inn has always been a comfortable, unobtrusive place to stay and work, and under Mary’s guidance our guests have consistently commented the exceptional service of our staff, usually by name. Mary has taught our housekeepers to be engaged, friendly and committed to our high standards. She has also imbued the staff with pride of place and deed, a quality that defined her principles of hospitality.
Isabel Ramirez, Mary Mooney, and Noemi Martinez.
Despite her many years here, Mary always believed that the Inn could continue growing, continue improving upon its décor and furnishings, and continually reinvent itself without losing the distinct personality of the property. Mary’s dedication to customer service helped to foster a devoted clientele of hotel guests and opera patrons who knew that she was indispensable when preparing for evening performances. Her hospitality philosophy has helped guide all of us at the Inn on the Alameda, and her distinct touch remains in everything we do.
While Mary is Irish, lovely, and elegant, she is also modest. She insisted that this blog mention Isabel Ramirez, the incoming head of housekeeping. Just as Mary came to America from overseas, Isabel emigrated from Mexico. Before coming to the United States, Isabel managed aa bank at an exceptionally young age.
Mary has made an indelible memory in the minds of our staff and our guests, but all things must come to an end. Fortunately, we have a talented and committed individual stepping in to fill Mary’s shoes.
Ernest “Tap” Tapley’s death means the loss of a great many things. On a personal level, Tap was a family friend. I knew him when he was in his 60s, but you would never have guessed his age from his vibrant personality. Tap was a fascinating individual, and I never believed that more than the day I watched him shoot a homemade potato gun from the barnyard near his Santa Fe home.
On a larger lever, the absence of Tap’s influence on outdoor education will be felt by thousands of graduates of the numerous programs that he helped to found, including the Outward Bound School. While his legacy in outdoor education is vast, he and his wife, Anita, personally touched a great many lives, including mine. He was named a “living treasure of Santa Fe,” and I truly believe that he was the definition of that term. He will be missed.
In order to give justice to Tap’s full life and accomplishments. we’re including a copy of his obituary and linking to his obituary from the New Mexican.
As a former college student of the 1960´s, the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the words ‘Renaissance Fair’ are the lyrics and melody of Simon and Garfunkel´s ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.’ This was one of the most beautiful songs from the flower child era, with an enchanting first verse: “Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.”
My imagination races in every direction with wonderment about Scarborough Fair… Where is it? What is it? Does the Fair have the most beautiful perfume of fragrant herbs and spices?
The mystery evoked by the lyrics speaks to the power of the bazaar, the fair, the festival. The tradition of the annual Fair dates back to the pre-industrial age of farmsteads and crofters, where people would bring in their specialty products to trade and barter. These fairs became ritualized, often tied into church festivals, and provided the opportunity for small-scale farmers and craftsmen to socialize and trade. The participants of the fair became an important part of medieval life, and their descendants are seen today in the Renaissance Fairs that have become a part of American life.
If you have not attended one of these Fairs, you absolutely must as soon as possible. Fortunately the Santa Fe Renaissance Fair is on the very near horizon, and there are many year-round throughout the country – here is a calendar of nationwide events. Renaissance Fairs are celebrations and gatherings with a strong arts and crafts theme – with food, drink and music reminiscent of an imaginary Medieval Fair, incorporating elements of the historic and the fantastic. It is a thrilling sight: flags, bells and banners swirl around strolling entertainers who bring a light-hearted, mystical and lyrical spirit to the free-flowing energy. It is impossible not to be swept into the spontaneity and excitement these events create.
The appeal of these fairs are best described by writer Neil Steinberg, who said: “If theme parks, with their pasteboard main streets, reek of a bland, safe, homogenized white-bread America, a Renaissance Fair is at the other end of the social spectrum, a whiff of the occult, a flash of danger and a hint of the erotic. Here you can throw axes. Here, there are more beer and bosoms than you´ll find in all of Disney World.” … I myself can imagine a Gypsy camp in Eastern Europe centuries ago as another image to add to the moving tapestry of my impressions of these Fairs…
I hope this blog post may entice you to experience the Santa Fe Renaissance Fair at El Rancho de las Golondrinas this September 20th-21st, as the lyrics of ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’ once enticed me.
Canyon Road is many things to many people. For art collectors, it’s a world-renowned address, home of some of the finest galleries in the United States. For locals, it’s a place of celebration – where Christmas is welcomed with flickering farolitos (candles in brown paper bags filled with sand), where special gatherings take place at some of the finest eateries that the Southwest has to offer, and where creativity is celebrated through art of all mediums. Canyon Road is a place rich with Santa Fe history as well, having been in use for hundreds of years – and the structures that withstood the test of time reflect this strong legacy even today. The Road is a street defined as much by the stories of the people who live, work and play there as it is by the land itself.
If the Plaza is the heart of Santa Fe, then the Acequia Madre has to be a main artery. The Acequia Madre, or the “Mother Ditch” is the irrigation canal built by the Spanish in the early 17th century. The canal brought water to the arid soil and essentially encouraged its development into a haven for farmers, and eventually, a mecca for artists. The acequia ran above Canyon Road and gravity allowed the Mother Ditch to supply water for the better part of the year into orchards, farms and family gardens.
Image from http://canyonrd-sf.nm-unlimited.net
One of the early farmers and homesteaders was named Geronimo Lopez. In the middle of the 18th century he settled on Canyon Road and established a small sheep ranch. He then built a fine adobe building in 1756. The Old Santa Fe Association named this building the Borrego Building, which means “sheep” in Spanish, to honor Mr. Lopez. The Borrego Building today houses “Geronimo’s,” which serves some the City Different’s finest cuisine. It’s enchanting to dine in this historical landmark that dates back to a time when the United States was only a dream.
In the 20th century, an artistic movement began to shape the Road and help bring it to national prominence. Struck by the natural beauty and culture of the area, numerous artists and gallery owners began to emigrate to Santa Fe. Among the first were the famous Los Cinco Pintores (the five painters): Freemont Ellis, Jozef Bakos, Willard Nash, Walter Mruk and Will Schuster.
Word of the area’s artistic potential began to spread “back east” within the art community, and as the Depression began to wreak its havoc within the national economy, more artists took advantage of the relative affordability and began to move here.
The cultural benefits associated with the area continued to encourage emigration. “By 1969 it is estimated there were 500 professional artists living and working in Santa Fe, with about 30 studios and galleries located on Canyon Road” (http://canyonrd-sf.nm-unlimited.net).
To understand the development that occurred in the area, it’s helpful to read the words of noted gallery owner Nedra Matteuci: “Canyon Road has been at the heart of the Santa Fe art experience since the turn of the century. The founding artists of the Santa Fe art colony built their homes and studios along and adjacent to Canyon Road. A myriad of galleries and local shops continue in that same tradition, celebrating the art and creative energy found in Santa Fe today.”
Image from http://canyonrd-sf.nm-unlimited.net
A recent ad campaign done by the Canyon Road Gallery Association described the Road as the ‘heart and soul’ of Santa Fe.
It’s that vibrancy and energy, still present today, that truly makes the Road special. Every 50 feet you can enjoy a visit to another gallery, one with its own unique ambiance and charm; and along the Road you can savor world-class food and drink. Visit The Compound, whose interiors were designed in the 1960s by famed Alexander Girard, for an unforgettable meal in an inimitable setting, or enjoy tapas and fine wine at El Farol, while the excitement of a live Flamenco performance fills the room. And if it’s a simple evening with a nightcap stroll that you’re after, the Road is an idyllic locale.
Every season brings a fresh, pulsing energy to Canyon Road: summertime carries long, picturesque days in the still dry heat; cottonwoods and aspens turn gold in the fall; in the winter, snow accentuates the soft outlines of the adobe buildings; and in the spring, lilacs and fruit trees bloom. One of the most magical times on the Road is on Christmas Eve with pinon smoke rising from bonfires and chimneys, setting a fragrant backdrop for the thousands that take part in the Farolito Walk. Glowing farolitos adorn every rooftop as the Acequia Madre and Canyon Road Associations welcome tourists and locals alike to the unforgettable scene.
The Inn on the Alameda is proud to serve as an ambassador to the Road for visitors from all over the world. As the closest hotel to Canyon Road, we offer our guests a welcoming and warm base from which to explore this artistically, culturally and aesthetically significant area. We encourage you to explore Canyon Road, whether you are an art enthusiast, a foodie, or simply someone who loves beauty.