A modern resort meets ancient Native American culture in New Mexico.
By Niki Jones, Photos by Carrin Welch
There is a certain enchantment that comes with lodging on a Native American pueblo. The air feels charged with an energy of culture and tradition. The feeling is unexpected and somewhat hard to articulate, but the sensation is almost palpable, similar to static in the air.
The magic begins the moment the car turns off the highway and into the entrance of the Santa Ana Pueblo, just north of Albuquerque, N.M. The city disappears—literally—in the rearview mirror, and the surroundings seem, for a moment, akin to a giant film set, with wide, unspoiled vistas of mountains and rugged terrain stretching as far as the eye can see, no sign of civilization anywhere. Down the long, winding road, the Hyatt Tamaya Resort and Spa is slowly revealed, as if a mirage. The sprawling resort, built in native adobe style, fits in to the landscape seamlessly, featuring a juxtaposition of exquisitely manicured lawns mixed with rough, native greenery. Even the stunning 18-hole Twin Warriors Golf Club course does not look out of place.
One of 19 pueblos in New Mexico, the Santa Ana Pueblo, also known as Tamaya, is comprised of 79,000 acres of beautiful land, 550 of which are used for the Hyatt resort. The area is rich in history: The Tamayans have occupied the pueblo since the 1500s and a good number still reside in the communal village, most speaking both English and their original Keres language, one of the many ways in which the modern world is blended with customary practices in the Santa Ana Pueblo.
Tradition reigns here, and the majority of activities at the resort are educational. Each day during a visit offers a number of workshops that teach traditional Tamayan techniques, including how to make jewelry, ceremonial art and even bread. Residents of the pueblo teach the classes, eager to share the beloved traditions of the generations before them. Those who want to delve deeper will definitely want to visit the on-site Tamaya Cultural Learning Center, which offers guided tours. It’s near impossible to not be enamored with the history and way of life of these native people.
For those preferring to get out and enjoy the sweeping views, the resort can coordinate a breathtaking hot-air-balloon ride, which is essentially a necessity in the Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World. Additionally, there are numerous hiking and biking trails throughout the resort, many of which are lit for night exploring. The on-site Stables at Tamaya offer guests an adventurous trail ride along the Rio Grande or high up in the said-to-be-sacred mountains. An added bonus: Most of the well-loved horses here are rescue animals. An early evening ride allows guests to experience the golden hour, when the sun is low, the panoramic views are endless and the greens, tans and reds of the mountains appear Technicolor. It isn’t difficult to imagine the native people taking in the very same vista some 600 years ago.
The magic of this time of day isn’t limited to the mountains; back at the resort, a certain stillness seems to envelope the grounds, only to be made more spellbinding once the sun descends, darkness falls and the resort is bathed in dazzling light, which highlights the impeccable grounds. Guests can journey from fire pit to fire pit and sit for a spell in oversized rocking chairs as the mountains before them change color into the night.
As typical in a Hyatt property, the rooms are spacious and well-appointed, each with a balcony or a patio. The beds are extremely comfortable, and a mix of pillows offered in different sizes and weights is a thoughtful and welcome detail. The love of the land is an important theme at the resort, and green initiatives are incorporated, including the use of eco-friendly plastics. Attention has been paid to the aesthetic aspects of almost every feature at the resort: The waterslide is built into an adobe tower; the adults-only pool is arranged in the style of a kiva (a meeting room for puebloans). The service at the resort is top-notch and friendly, from the property’s four bar/restaurants to Tamaya Mist, the on-site full-service spa.
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa is located just 30 minutes north of Albuquerque and less than an hour from Santa Fe, N.M., making it easy during the same trip to incorporate visits to those cities, also rich in Native American culture.
However visitors to Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa choose to spend their time at this bewitching locale cherishing time-honored traditions, they are sure to experience the magic of the Santa Ana Pueblo and enchantment of New Mexico’s natural landscape.
Santa Ana Pueblo Oven Bread
9 cups white flour
1 package dry yeast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons lard
2 cups water
1. Soften and dissolve the yeast in warm water.
2. Mix the lard, flour, salt and dissolved yeast in a large bowl and add warm water a little bit at a time, kneading and rolling to even out all the ingredients.
3. Cover the bowl with a heavy cloth and set the bowl near a warm place for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, allowing the dough to rise in the bowl, then push the dough back down.
4. After the dough has risen a second time, knead the dough for two to three minutes.
5. Shape the dough into balls and other shapes, then place the balls onto greased baking pans.
6. Cover the dough balls with a cloth and let them rise one more time in a warm place.
7. Bake the dough balls in 400-degree oven for 50 minutes to an hour or until the tops are browned and the loaves sound hollow when tapped at the bottom.