When many of us think of Santa Fe we conjure images of historic plazas, Native markets, art galleries and museums, fabulous southwestern dining, and for some, the Margarita Trail. Yet, there’s another side to Santa Fe that is well worth discovering. Tucked away on nearly 60 miles of high desert foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains 10 miles outside the city of Santa Fe, yet conveniently located off of U.S. Highway 285, sits the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado (‘encantado’ is Spanish for delightful).
The confirmed delightful (and then some) resort is not only a nice place to go for a ski and spa getaway, but it is arguably the place. After all, the resort offers resort-to-slopes transportation and a personalized ski butler to ensure your ski experience at nearby Ski Santa Fe includes none of the hassle of standing in line for lift tickets, fumbling with skis and poles while trying to navigate snow-covered pathways walking (clomping) in ski boots. No hassle means more room for fun. Skiers and snowboarders can enjoy 88 trails that range from green to black (beginner to expert), including a ski school for beginners, long glade runs for those who prefer blue runs, and moguls for the black diamond crowd.
Whether a luxurious spa visit is your idea of après ski or it is the destination, the spa at the Four Seasons combines upscale eloquence with cozy approachability. The full-scale spa is open seven days a week with a comprehensive menu of body and nail treatments, massages, facials, and couples’ retreat experiences. There are relaxing rooms complete with fruit infused water, healthy snacks, and comfy chairs in front of the fireplace. Private areas within the spa can also be rented. The secluded southwest pergola-style spaces include a large private hot tub, steam room, loungers and plenty of fresh water (champagne, if you prefer), and towels.
This winter, through April 4, the resort is offering a Santa Fe Ski Package which includes two days of lift tickets for two adults, warm drinks, transportation to and from the slopes, along with the aforementioned ski butler who juggles the equipment for you. The resort also appeals to active non-skiers with complimentary morning guided hikes, snowshoeing, e-bike mountain tours, and yoga.
After enjoying complimentary fireside S’mores, the property has a ‘just-dark-enough’ bar with television screens, a fireplace and leather-bound drink menus that feel in some ways down-home comfy with a little bit of ‘posh’ sprinkled on top. It is worth a stop (or two) at the decidedly uncreatively, yet simply named bar, ‘The Bar’ for a libation (or two). Terra, with walls of windows and horse sculptures throughout, is a must for dinner. Each evening features specials and the menu has something for everyone including seafood, game, steaks, and vegetarian fare – most with a southwestern influence.
During my recent stay, the active resort was not at full occupancy yet it was one of the quietest stays I’ve ever experienced – anywhere, including silent retreats. At times it was hard to believe I was just a few miles from a major highway and a city of nearly 90,000 a short drive away. The sounds of nature were the primary soundtrack and the stars in the sky shone brightly, undisturbed by light pollution.
In addition to a distinctively quiet experience, the friendly and accommodating staff operate on an elevated level. Upscale resorts like the Four Seasons are known for quality service and obliging staff. This resort, however, has attracted employees who are not simply there to call it in and tick the ‘above and beyond’ box required of a property of this caliber. Whether it was the front desk, the restaurant, a yoga class or the spa, even the fire butler – there is a marked authenticity that runs through the core of the staff – many who moved to Santa Fe to work at this property. Increasingly, travelers and consumers are choosing to support resorts, properties, and vendors that take care of their employees. Vacations are more relaxed and enjoyable when the service staff around you are treated well – the result is a genuineness that cannot be manufactured.
For all of its quality services and attention to detail, which is no doubt strategically planned to precision and priced accordingly, the people at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado are indeed, encantado.
Cover photo courtesy Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado.
Haven Lindsey resides in Taos, NM. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. She was recognized by NPR for her solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Haven is working on her second book, a follow up to ‘The Blue Dog and The White Horse Adventures on A Texas Ranch’, a children’s book about the friendship between her dog and a horse.