I experienced my first Santa Fe sunset from the air as my plane was on the approach to land. Even my most jaded world traveler friends would talk about sunsets and the night sky there with a wonder and enthusiasm I found hard to believe until I saw it myself. By the time I reached my ultimate destination, the Encantado Resort, the stars had taken over the sky, the moon was full, and I was soon ensconced by the outdoor fire pit, martini in hand. I was waited on by a guy wearing jeans from Levi’s Eco line of organic cotton jeans.
Turns out everyone in the restaurant wears them. This organic-jeans-as-uniform was not only appropriate for the rustic environment, but it was also indicative of a larger “responsible luxury” initiative started by Encantado’s parent company, Auberge Resorts. Those initiatives play out at this 65-room property in various ways, some obvious, most not—from the use of Voss bottled water (because it has the lowest carbon footprint of any bottled water) to a large selection of organic and sustainable wines, and meats and produce sourced from local and organic farms (or the chef’s garden) wherever possible.
Recycling is tricky in New Mexico—the state handles pick up of cardboard, plastic, and paper but not glass. The staff at Encantado not only takes responsibility for separation of glass from other recycling, they personally drive it to the recycling station. They also compost everything except animal fats and proteins (but when I visited they were actively seeking out local farmers to handle that for them).
You’d never know it, but there are nine underground cisterns on the property that can capture up to 130,000 gallons of rainwater during the rainy months. That water is used for the gardens throughout the drier summer months. There’s also a wastewater treatment plant that’s part of the property’s subterranean irrigation system.
None of these details are very sexy, but they make the biggest difference. That’s not to say we don’t appreciate the bamboo floors in the gym and suites, or the corn-based robes used in the 10,000 square-foot, indoor-outdoor spa, or the fact that the spa store is stocked with almost exclusively natural or organic products from makeup to clothing.
And while we’re on the topic of sexiness, a discussion of the overall design of the resort is in order. Those familiar with other Auberge properties, like the impossibly romantic Auberge du Soleil or the luxurious Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley, need to adjust expectations before coming to Encantado. While there’s no doubt that this area, surrounded by the Los Alamos and Jemez mountains, is incredibly beautiful and infused with a soulful quality—that feeling is lacking at the resort itself due to an unfortunate placement of the parking lot in front of guest rooms, so that as you meander back to your room after a gorgeous dinner, strolling under a star-filled sky, you are walking along a parking lot.
The spa, however, is fantastic. I had two treatments, the Mountain Spirit Purification and the Enchanted Facial. Lead esthetician April Fair, a very knowledgeable woman, used Naturopathica products and gave me informed sug-gestions on products I might consider using to continue aging gracefully. The second treatment was a two-hour journey starting with a dry brush, followed by a wrap using a mud mixture made in-house and a massage with Tara Spa Therapy Desert Sage oil. It took place in a spa casita that had an outdoor tub and shower, which created a pretty magical moment. Another nice touch—the therapist heated my robe during the treatment so I had something warm and cozy to slip into afterwards. www.encantadoresort.com