Blue corn lavender blueberry donuts and a sightseeing tour down Bishops Lodge Road are two things friends and family can count on when they visit us in Santa Fe. The purple glaze delights originate from Whoo’s Donuts (a perennial sell-out at the Saturday market) and the picturesque road is home to a renowned resort property with 150 years of fascinating history. Throughout the day, playful tail-swishing horses saunter along the fenced roadside perimeter of the Bishops Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection. For years, they’ve been calling to my equestrian soul.
At last, I answered these majestic animals and reveled in a staycation there with my husband. I always make a habit of riding when I’m on vacations away from home so why not in my hometown? When I finally mounted one of the horses, the wrangler, Kelley, informed me that I was sitting atop Roany, the sleek and shiny roan gelding that had a role in the film, News of the World. Rumor has it that Tom Hanks might have been my predecessor on this good-natured horse. Truth or urban legend, I was tickled if not a little cocky at the possibility.
OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS
Over a small bridge just beside the stables, Bishops Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection spans over 317 lush and secluded acres where a historic chapel sits along with the property’s many dwellings. Built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy in 1874, hence the Bishop’s Lodge moniker, the chapel is now a popular event venue, especially for wedding parties. The rustic charm of this little church dovetails with the newer high-end guest quarters, restaurants, spa, and legendary Bunk House, all with the wood-forward continuum of Southwestern design that reminds you that you’re in beautiful Santa Fe if not the Wild West.
We arrived early afternoon on a Sunday just in time to take in the local jazz trio ready to savor the sounds and flavors of the weekly jazz brunch. Nestled on the bar’s comfy couches, we got an up close and personal taste of the music that followed us to our table as a sweet soundtrack for our meal. The Sangre de Cristos Mountains in the distance appeared as if placed right beside us off the expansive deck and the view was spectacular. There was plenty of landmark red and green New Mexican chile being served beside the fresh and delicious cuisine, but the most memorable brunch highlight was my Bloody Mary. I’m a former bartender and know my way around this cocktail and now have it on top of my “best ever” list. Even more notable and amusing was that the masterpiece cocktail was created by Mary herself, the Lodge’s resident mixologist.
SUNSET AND CEVICHE
We were shown to our comfortably elegant Juniper Resort View King room by one of the many warm, friendly, and knowledgeable staff via a spiffy and comfortable golf cart, the preferred mode of transportation on the windy and hilly walkways. When headed down for dinner, we noticed an art gallery and café on the lower tier with a large and glistening swimming pool not far in the distance. Directly above the café is Skyfire, the scene of the wonderful brunch cocktail and live music. The view from its massive restaurant terrace was a marvel at brunch but almost magical around sunset. We did our share of swooning over the colorful evening sky and having ordered ceviche appetizers at both our dinners; I highly recommend the unique and remarkable ceviche made with hearts of palm. Skyfire’s more traditional seafood version also did not disappoint.
Had we gotten stranded in our room for a few more days, neither my husband nor I would have complained. Upon our arrival, the kiva fireplace was covered with welcome chocolates, cookies, and gourmet snacks. The view from our private deck, complete with our own fire pit, had us feeling like we were nearly off the grid. All the appointments and fine art in the room echoed the Southwestern design motif throughout the interiors of the property’s buildings. And, of course, before turning in to rest up for our adventures to come, we treated ourselves to the lovely and user-friendly, gas-fed fire pit experience.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?
As much as I could’ve lolled around the room, it was the Bishops Lodge Experiences that I was there for. I’ve already spoken of Roany, the movie-star horse upon whom I was taken up and down the gentle slopes of the land on a private ride with Wrangler Kelley. My horse was such a pussycat I didn’t feel the saddle soreness that typically follows the morning after on most of my trail rides. At the end of our time together, I was deposited near the horse barn and after hydrating and stretching a little, I met local artist, Daithi, who spent two hours with me showing me how to paint a horse. In a bucolic setting with acrylic paints and all the proper painter’s tools. Daithi’s teaching style was the perfect combination of expertise, encouragement, and fun. I can’t remember a time when I was so laser-focused and have vowed to paint again! My painted horse (with its bigger-than-life rear quarters) sits proudly on a windowsill in my dining room.
HERE COMES THE SPA
What else is there to do at a luxurious resort after one has explored the horse trails and painted their afternoon away? Head to the Stream Dance Spa, of course! I opted for the Seasonal Body Polish by bodyworker and part healer/magician, Diane. This bespoke exfoliation experience followed by a quick rinse and then a dreamy massage had me floating back to my hotel room with skin like a baby’s bottom, relaxed muscles and a quieted mind.
All told, every minute of my stay at the resort was a delight for my mind, body, and spirit. The grounds are a beautiful marriage of history and contemporary elegance perfectly situated in mountain foothills with nature beckoning all around, just ten minutes away from all that Santa Fe has to offer. As a Santa Fe resident, I will revisit Bishops Lodge Auberge Resorts Collection, sip another Bloody Mary, and make sure to give a cuddle to Roany. But would I travel hundreds of miles to experience this place? You bet I would.
On the off chance that you’ve not encountered Bishops Lodge, Auberge Resort, you’ll want to put this Shangri-la on your bucket list. And, then hit repeat.
Cover photo Murphy O’Brien
Kim Weiss has worked as a PR Professional for decades, most notably heading up the publicity department from 1994-2019 for the major book publisher, HCI Books, best known for launching the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Currently, she runs Kim Weiss Publishing Services and freelances as a publicist for numerous authors. Kim is also the author of her own book, Sunrise Sunset: 52 Weeks of Awe & Gratitude (HCI – 2012). She lives with her husband John, and cats Sachi and Anabelle in Santa Fe, NM.