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Sir Richard Branson's recreational space travel company, Virgin Galactic, is real and it's really happening, with flights expected to happen next year. (They were supposed to take off in 2010 and then in 2013 but this is space travel so we expect some delays.)
Yet while we wait for the first guests to pay $200,000 to blast off into space, here is a piece of hotel news we can get excited about right now--Virgin Galactic has selected The Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces, a Heritage Hotel, to be the "official preferred Virgin Galactic hotel and resort. Previously, Virgin Galactic had hoped to partner with a luxury brand to build a new resort but this is much easier.
The Encanto hotel is located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 60 miles from Spaceport America, where the Virgin Galactic flights will take off. And already, the hotel has begun to undergo some renovations to accommodate the high-flying guests.
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Last week we started a new weekly series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Cooking classes
What’s In: Creative classes
Not so very long ago, we realized that more and more hotels the world over were bringing in art concierges to help guide you through their hotel’s art collection, or to steer you in the right direction if you wanted to take in the local art scene or perhaps buy a couple of noteworthy pieces from local artistes. Well some hotels have taken this further and are hooking their guests up with local artists to give them a hands-on experience with the added bonus of giving you a pretty nifty souvenir to bring home.
Here are some prime examples:
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While UFO hunting and hot spring-hopping in Taos, New Mexico last week, we got to spend the night in an Earthship.
For all you non-hippies out there, Earthships are 100% sustainable, off-the-grid mansions made (almost) entirely out of recycled junk. We're talkin' old tires, beer cans, plastic bottles and mud. Admittedly, it doesn't sound all that glamorous at first, but for luxury- and nature- loving free spirits like us, this place is a desert paradise.
A 15 minute drive outside Taos, across the Rio Grande Gorge, the Earthship World Headquarters is the largest "biotecture" community (a.k.a alternative eco-suburb) of its kind on the planet. Set on a sprawling 640 acres, a handful of fully-furnished "demonstration" ships are available year-round for nightly rentals -- but, in the brochure's words, "this is not just a hotel." Well, obviously...
Read on for more!
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New Mexico is often called the “Land of Enchantment.” What’s so enchanting? We think its Albuquerque’s best kept secret is Hotel Andaluz.
This is a historic, tastefully lavish, charming boutique hotel located in downtown Albuquerque. Originally built in 1939 as the Albuquerque Hotel (then the tallest building in the state and with AC), it was the fourth Conrad Hilton ever built. Now privately owned, it's the hidden gem of Albuquerque. We were tickled silly to experience the beauty of this spot with its subtle flare, eco-friendly features and fun-filled history.
Take a look a look-see at our photo gallery!
Planning a Southwestern getaway this winter? We've got you covered. Fresh from a recent trip out to the country's oldest capital city ourselves, we decided to put together a quick list of the 5 best hotels for first-time visitors to Santa Fe.
First up is La Posada, a charming upscale hotel that's spread over six acres. We've visited this place before, and though the only thing that wowed us was the soap, we think there's still plenty to love. Like: simple but cozy rooms, kiva fireplaces, super-friendly staff, and two seriously happenin' hotel restaurants, called Staab House and Fuego.
Fun fact: every evening, the hotel hosts fun, free events like tequila tastings, wine and cheese tastings, and live music. Don't worry, no one will blame you for showing up to dinner tipsy.
Rooms start at $140/night.
Read on to hear about the rest!
Daylight Savings Time is in effect in the US, which means it gets darker faster, playing mind with us. We’re ready for jimjams and bed at, like 5pm, man. No bueno.
So, we heard about the Fireplace Butler at the new Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, at just the right time—when we felt like getting all cozy and snuggly (btw, where is our Snuggie anyway? Time to get that badboy out).
Ack, focus! Here’s how it works, every casita room at the resort has an interor and exterior fireplace, so all you have to do is push a button, and the Fireplace Butler (a free service!) will arrive wearing his rugged gear (red flannel hat and all) hauling a burlap bag of tools. Ooh. Tools.
New Mexico'sHyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa near Albuquerque is giving a new meaning to the phrase, working vacation. A special resort package offers up chance to send guests to rehab. But this rehab isn't reality TV material or for humans, it aids neglected horses.
In addition to visiting the spa, playing golf, relishing the 350-room resort, or conducting business, meeting and planning groups can build stables, work with wranglers to train horses, or feed and care for rehab horses on the 500-acre property. Guests can name a horse and get updates via a live webcam when they return home. Plus, they have option to rehabilitate a horse for a year, which can cost about $4,000, says Troy Wood, Hyatt's Director of Sales and Marketing.
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If you’re going to northern New Mexico and you have any kind of artistic or cultural sensibilities, you need to stay at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house. As the name would suggest, it’s the former home of Mabel Dodge Luhan – who was not only a writer, but a facilitator and gatherer of art in Taos. This is where pretty much anyone literary or artistic who’s traveled to New Mexico has stayed. DH Lawrence spent loads of time here, and even painted the windows of one of the bathrooms with bright murals (today, some rooms still have access to that bathroom). Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, Dennis Hopper, Carl Jung – the list of illustrious guests is long and varied. For more details, see the website.
Because it’s more of a museum rather than a swish hotel, we were expecting the worst when it came to rooms. When we had to be towed out of a snowbank, having skidded on ice on the approach, we were even more timorous. But we soldiered on. Here’s what we found.
Spotted in New Mexico today: one of the raddest hotel rooms, view-wise, that you may ever have the pleasure of staying in.
This is the Solarium room at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. It's rad for a couple of reasons - firstly, because it's the only house with three stories in Taos, so you can see for miles, and second, because it's the old sun roof when it was an actual house, so it's glass-walled on all four sides. Which makes for some truly killer views of Taos and the mountains around it - particularly when it's snowing, as it is now.
Virgin has said the area around Spaceport America outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico--where they plan on putting their sky rockets in flight--is in need of a luxury hotel. The smaller ones already present just aren't up to snuff. After all, their passengers are folks who have forked over $200,000 for the ride to space and will need some luxury accommodations before and after their journey to the final frontier.
But instead of building their own Virgin Galactic-branded hotel, Virgin is looking to partner with third parties to build the luxury digs. Dear Richard Branson, et. al., Please don't build a Ritz-Carlton or a Four Seasons near the spaceport. Please.
Not much else has been confirmed about the hotel except that it will be located halfway between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences. But hotels in the area, who are frequented by hot springs lovers, needn't get too worried. Virgin Galactic won't be blasting off until sometime in 2013.
We love sidling up to the bar with a cocktail and munching on some nibbles—especially when they are free. But forget peanuts or some other trifling snack. We're digging the complimentary spicy housemade potato chips at the new Hotel Parq Central's Apothecary Lounge in Albuquerque.
We visited the fourth-floor rooftop lounge on its first day of food service and couldn't put down the thick-cut chips. Our favorite of the addictive snacks were the lime-pepper chips. The chips are very peppery with a punch and would pair well with a margarita.
If you don't have kids or consider "fun parks" the least fun thing on the planet, you'll want to file this news under "Another place to avoid when traveling." But if you have rugrats you need to occupy, or you're a big, waterslide-lovin' kid yourself, rejoice! The Radisson Hotel Albuquerque has a new waterpark, opening on March 12, just in time for spring break.
If you're not familiar with the waterpark concept, firstly: commiserations. Waterslide collisions are the stuff childhood is made of. The Radisson's set up includes all the waterpark staples: indoor and outdoor slides, an activity pool, wading pool, hot tub, lazy river, tipping bucket, and the most unfortunately named thing we've heard of since the iPad, the FlowRider.