If you are following your festival calendar, you will surely know that the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is coming up Oct 5-12! It is quite the visual event. Hundreds of balloons up in the gorgeous southwest sky… with a week long of activities and entertainment. The highlight of the week is Mass Ascension is when all balloons (some 600) go up all together, crowding the clouds.
It is sort of like a typical fair – with consession stands of local food – lots of chiles! and different forms of entertainment. Kids are definitely welcome -but beware – the festival starts super early in the morning to get the balloons up, and it can be very cold. I froze the couple years I visited.
Many visitors stay in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the event, however both times I have been I stayed in Santa Fe, about 40 miles north. I didn’t just go for the fiesta, so staying in Santa Fe, where there is more to do, turns the trip into a more diverse adventure.
I was in Santa Fe again recently and stayed at the lovely Four Seasons Rancho Encantado…… I will be straight forward with you and let you know that the Four Seasons is not direclty in the Santa Fe town square like most of the other nice hotels. It is about a 10 minute drive from the plaza, in a more desert-like setting, on 57 acres of the Sangre De Cristo Foothills. For those of you traveling to Santa Fe so you can walk into the town, this isn’t the place for you. However, I loved being away from the plaza, immersed more in nature.
Each of the 65 casitas has a private patio or terrace with a view… and it is more relaxing.
Plus, let’s face it. the Four Seasons service makes any trip truly feel like a vacation. Martha at the front desk was incredibly helpful – after dinner one night we told her we wanted to hike, and see some things off the beaten path. The next morning, we had a packet of ideas with maps delivered to our room.
Another benefit of being away from the plaza is that there is just more space – space enough for an outdoor pool and lounge chairs. Many of the downtown hotels don’t have room for this.
Cocktail hour is lively in the bar, and the restaurant has a nice menu with local flavor.
Even if you don’t come for one of the major Santa Fe-area events like the Balloon Fiesta, Opera Season, or the Santa Fe Indian Market, there is plenty to do in Santa Fe. But – you need to be proactive planning things to do, or you could end up wandering around the plaza for days, shopping in the art galleries and somewhat touristy shops, and trying some of the tasty restaurants.
Look into other things, like a hike… or visit Georgia O’Keefe’s studio just outside of town… or participate in the Santa Fe art walks – one of my favorite things to do.
Of course, if you stay at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado, you can always relax….for a price – the rooms start at around $600-$700 a night.