The Inn on the Alameda stands poised to begin its 30th year of business in Santa Fe. During that time I have gone from my latter 30’s to my latter 60’s, and my son Michael has grown from 2 to 31. What fortunate blessings have been bestowed upon us and our property. What began as a 36 room limited service property has now doubled in size, abandoned its little portable lobby bar, enclosed the outdoor patio and risen in national stature and recognition. The Agoyo Lounge is now where that patio was, and a new and improved bar will be installed this coming early spring.
Agoyo is a Tewa Pueblo word for star or under the stars which was used by an early Pueblo employee for the patio’s nickname before it was enclosed. Then the night skies were darker since Santa Fe was much smaller and the stars more brilliant than even today, which is hard to imagine. We enclosed the patio because we had completely underestimated the seating capacity at breakfast on inclement rainy or snowing days, when few guests wished to enjoy the town until the early chill had gone. Cramming 72 guests in the small lobby was an impossibility and we always relied on the outdoor patio. Our front Sun Room was leased to the Galisteo News, a very cool espresso/coffee/ croissant precursor to Starbucks, so unlike now, it was unavailable for guests’ breakfast.
Those were very exciting days for many reasons, but the best being was being named by USA today in 1986, our first year, as one of the top 10 romantic destinations in the country. With the brilliant guidance of Alice Marshall, our New York City based publicist, we began garnishing top 100, 200 and 500 hotels awards and acclaim from Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure. Along side our staff and location Alice stands as the 3rd leg of the stool for our amazing climb to even international recognition. Our breakfast room proudly displays the most astounding and notable covers of these two magazines.
As our 3rd decade ends, it is hard not to feel nostalgic looking back at all the wonderful people that have shaped the Inn. Kathy Lynch, our night auditor, has been here since we opened, and many of our people have stayed for more than 20 years. This has allowed a familiarity, warmth and even friendships to grow during this time. As we regularly see in write-ups of guests’ experiences that it is “like coming home”. So at this holiday season, a time of family gatherings, we welcome all of our guests to enjoy a hot drink in the Agoyo Lounge, bundle up, and stand under the brilliant night skies and thank the powers that be for all there is that is still good in the world.
One of New Mexico’s signature scents is the roaring open fire, burning bright with Pinon and juniper. At the Inn on the Alameda we’d like to also include the tempting scents of hot cider cocktails and Toddies.
Toddy Stick & Jerry Thomas
Hot drinks are an American tradition. Early Colonial era gatherings were enlivened with the tradition of “Flipping” drinks, adding a hot iron to the cocktail to make it froth and “flip” about. The earliest recipes consisted of a blend of beer, rum and sugar. Over time, eggs were added and the beer was reduced. Eventually this drink evolved into the now familiar nogs.The father of modern Bartending, the famed Jerry Thomas, included many variations of flips in his influential books on cocktails.
No discussion of hot drinks would be complete without mentioning the traditional Irish balm: the Hot Toddy. Mixing whiskey with boiling water, sugar or honey, lemon and spices provides a revivifying effect. The vitamin C and honey help explain the soothing efficacy of the drink in treating the cold effects of winter. The toddy can be fine tuned in many different ways to individualize the drink. In the Midwestern United States it can be made with the addition of ginger ale, a decidedly non-traditional preparation.
It is good naturedness that provides the final element of hot drink perfection, the quality of welcome, which you will find at the Inn on the Alameda. Cultures around the world have terms to refer to this ineffable quality. For Germans it’s called Gemütlichkeit, the quality of a situation or location that induces a sense of welcoming coziness and unhurried warmth. That’s a standard we’re proud to offer – come see us soon for a soul-warming beverage of your choice.
The history of the ski industry in America has a special interest for Santa Fe, surprisingly combining our city’s beautiful ski basin with the defense industry that’s been such a major factor in New Mexican history. If the US had not dedicated an army division to mountain and ski warfare during the Second World War, the emergence of the ski industry of the United States might have lagged behind by a generation. The proactive training of soldiers in mountaineering skills and skiing, however, ensured its early post-war establishment. War veterans trained in skiing made their mark in New Mexico, using their skills and knowledge to establish ski basins and kindle the region’s love of winter recreation. The establishment of the ski basins of the Rocky Mountains is tied inexorably to the 10th Mountain Division.
At the start of the Second World War, the United States lacked specialized mountain troops like the German’s infamous “Jaeger” battalions. The value of these specialized units was proven during the Russo-Finnish Winter War, when Finns on skis with extensive knowledge of the terrain and of technique proved immeasurably superior to Russian forces. This culminated in the Finnish victory at the Battle of Suomussalmi in 1939, where two Soviet mechanized divisions (45,000 men) were defeated by 11,000 Finnish soldiers utilizing skis and sleds to maneuver material and men. Recognizing the value of these soldiers, the civilian founder of the National Ski Patrol, Charles Minot Dole, lobbied the War Department to develop specialized mountain training and regiments. This lobbying would lead, eventually, to the creation of the 10th Mountain Division.
At this time American skiing was unfocused and disparate, an activity practiced mostly by ‘upper-crust’ Eastern college students. The war effort recruited these young skiers, along with others, to form the 10th Mountain Division. When formed in early 1943, the division included men trained in a wide variety of outdoor work: lumberjacks, climbers, muleteers and horsemen, hunters, trappers, park rangers and ranchers. Brought together in service to their country and exposed to a wide range of training and education, these varied yet complimentary individualists would later help forge America’s awakening love for outdoor recreation.
As a direct result of the enthusiasm of 10th Mountain veterans who had explored the Rockies during their training outside Leadville, Colorado, and a strong economy, the ski industry finally had the key ingredients for growth by the early 1950’s. One such veteran was Bob Nordhaus, who founded Sandia Peak outside of Albuquerque. Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, a group of civic boosters calling themselves the Sierras de Santa Fe followed suit and established Santa Fe Ski Basin, raising the money for the first lift in 1949.
Joe Juhan bought the basin in 1950 and brought legendary Ernie Blake to run the basin. Born Ernst Hermann Bloch, his family fled Nazi Germany on the eve of war due to their Jewishness. Changing his name to Ernie Blake, the champion skier (a shoo-in for the 1936 Olympics save for his religion) established himself in the American skiing community. Following the outbreak of war, Blake enlisted as an interrogator due to his valuable language skills. He would later interrogate many high ranking Nazis including Herman Goerring. After the war, Blake began developing ski basins, helping establish Santa Fe before going next to Taos to do the same.
In this time, legendary skiers like Buzz Baingdrige, Kingsbury Pitcher, Harvey Chalker, Johnny Kinsolving, as well as Olympic hopeful John Dendahl, operated, instructed, trained at or owned the Santa Fe Ski Basin in the following decades, creating the unique and distinctive character of today’s Santa Fe ski mountain. The legacy of these individuals is still apparent to anyone visiting the basin.
This was an exciting time for Santa Fe’s growth. The new ski industry, the Santa Fe Opera, and the increase in tourism were instrumental in establishing our “City Different” as a truly unique and exciting destination. The Santa Fe ski basin remains an integral part of the city’s identity, retaining its unique charm while still continuing to innovate and adapt to changes in winter recreation.
So, enough history for now….how about making some of our own history on the mountain? The Inn on the Alameda is a very special and romantic home away from home to spend the times off the slopes enjoying and exploring 400 years of the history, art, architecture and culture of the original capital city of the Southwest. Located next to Canyon Road and near the Plaza, there is no finer location to kick back around the fire and enjoy dining and imbibing at Santa Fe’s finest hotel.
–Joe Schepps (co-authored by Mike Schepps who lives and works in Portland, OR.)
Sources: “In a Remote New Mexico Valley, a Jewish Skiing Legacy at Taos”
Wikimedia Commons Photo