Bridging the Past to the Present

By Mary Bemis / September 14, 2011

On a recent visit to Santa Fe, I made a point of stopping by the historic Inn and Spa at Loretto, a boutique hotel that’s an architectural recreation of the Taos Pueblo, a national historic landmark. I had heard that it had recently undergone a $7.5 million renovation, and I was curious to see if it had managed to keep its character and spirit intact. You couldn’t ask for a better location—the Inn is perfectly situated right in the heart of this city (which just happens to be the oldest capital in the U.S.). What I found was a space that had been lovingly restored with a tender respect to the spirit of those who had come before. “It all begins with clay,” says Robert Zimmer, co-founder with his wife Dolores, of Zimmer and Associates, a design company that specializes in wellness spas, hotels, and private residences. “We built [the Inn] on two pillars, the first one is really honoring the First Nation people, the Pueblo of the Santa Fe and northern New Mexico region.” That honor, relays Zimmer, goes back to respecting and remembering their work with the earth—especially with their first potteries.

The design details throughout the Inn take their inspiration from these artifacts and are subtly reflected throughout: the guest rooms (shown below) are painted a rich terra-cotta, the noteworthy restaurant Luminaria, a soothing charcoal, and the guest corridors are white-washed with black Native American stenciling. “We were trying to build the remembrance of these people and the beauty they held,” says Zimmer. “As well as the sacredness they held of the Mother Earth in this area. We put down a foundation of re-calling their work in the earth with clay and pottery by the colors and palettes we built on in the renovation.” The end result? A contemporary and authentic space that recalls the rich tradition and history of this very special city.

Mary Bemis
Mary Bemis

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