Sometimes all a writer needs when the juices aren’t flowing, is a change of scenery to inspire a new point of view.
I hit a bit of a wall last week and decided that even though a week away was out of the question, a night alone at the Palacio de Marquesa might be exactly what I needed to jumpstart the process on the book I’ve been writing, along with allowing me to share the experience of my stay with you, my readers.
I locked up my studio at around 4pm, and went to Cids to pick up some sushi and chocolate to keep me happy through the evening, before pulling into the walled compound a little before 5. The General Manager, Asia Golden wasn’t there when I arrived but her assistant greeted me at the door and invited me into the common space which is warm and welcoming and beautifully decorated with an overstuffed white sofa and deep red wing-back chairs.
We sat at a small glass table just inside the entry as she had me fill out a form and told me a bit about the Inn. I explained that I had visited and seen the property prior. Just then Asia arrived and we agreed to meet in the morning to talk about her new career with Heritage Hotels and her long history in Taos. After taking my breakfast order – I had decided to enjoy it in my room – I was escorted to my room by the assistant who explained that the Palacio works in tandem with its Cultural Partner here in Taos, the Harwood Museum, to uphold the legacy of the Remarkable Women Of Taos.
The rooms at the Palacio de Marquesa are all named for these remarkable women who have all left their unmistakable signature on Taos, ever since Mabel Dodge arrived and set herself up as the Grande Dame of the town.
I was staying in the Romantic Room, an homage to Dorothy Brett. The Hon.DEB was a high-born English Aristocrat who was friendly with Virginia Woolf, Aldoux Huxley, Dora Carrington and most famously, D.H. Lawrence. Brett as she was known in these parts, moved to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch with Lawrence and his wife Frieda in 1924. She ended up settling here in Taos and was long one of the town’s most eccentric and amusing characters until the end of her life in 1977.
I thought it highly appropriate that Asia had chosen this room for me. It’s cosy and understated and perfectly white except for the beautiful Chimayo weaving along the foot of the bed. Lots of negative space and no distractions! A writer’s dream. Unfortunately our dream rooms don’t usually manifest themselves looking as pristine as this one: cluttered with the debris of living and piled with the books and bits and pieces we writers invariably collect, there’s often little breathing room, let alone entire walls of inspirational, blank space.
I had that here in spades. And a marble bathroom. Divine.
After depositing my provisions in the room’s fridge, stocked with complimentary water, sodas and half and half for the very good Aroma coffee also provided, I unpacked the leggings and t-shirt I had brought to lounge around in, and folded and hung up the clothes I wore for the following morning.
I took a hot shower and wrapped myself in one of the thick, soft robes hanging in the closet before making myself a pot of coffee. I never watch TV so this seemed the perfect opportunity to check in with the world at large. Elections, disasters, shootings. After five minutes I’d had enough. I know why Elvis shot his and I was reminded quickly of why I don’t own one.
I got out my notebook and began to write. An hour passed, then two. At 9pm, I realised I was hungry so ate the sushi I’d brought with me. I didn’t touch the chocolate. By the time 10.30 rolled around, I was tucked in under the Italian linens, my head resting happily on a plush down pillow, and soon fell soundly asleep.
I woke early to birdsong outside my window, made another pot of coffee, showered, dressed and headed outside for a walk. The Autumn foliage glimmered in the early morning sun as I walked briskly along the path. Not long after I returned, a knock at the door announced that my breakfast had arrived.
The large picnic basket contained a breakfast fit for a Queen; a delectable spinach and mushroom frittata (so fluffy I wondered how long those eggs were beaten for) accompanied by heavenly fried potatoes. I’d never tried fried potatoes before as I’m a real whizz at mashing them. I always try to find the best potato mashers in the market because the tools you use make all the difference. Fried potatoes are definitely going on my list of foods to try and master now! When it came to drinks, I had a french press of espresso, a carafe of orange juice and more snacks to accompany them; a bowl of chilled chunks of melons and grapes.
Needless to say it was all delicious, but easily enough for two if like me, you generally blend up a smoothie or maybe get ’round to making a bowl of oatmeal (in the winter) most mornings. I ate as much as I could and sipped my last cup of coffee, enjoying my remaining few minutes in the serene cloister I would soon leave. I didn’t even look at my notebook. There’d be time to see if what I’d written was utter rubbish, later after I got back to my studio, I just threw it in the bag with the computer and the few things I carried.
Fed, rested and happy, I went into the Inn to find Asia.
A couple of guests were finishing their breakfasts at the communal dining table when I walked in. I noticed they’d eaten everything. Plates were scraped clean. I went to the kitchen to compliment the young chef on his delightful repast and asked him to tell Asia I had arrived.
She appeared a second later looking impossibly chic for that early hour, and we sat on the couch to chat for a bit before going outside to take some shots of her on the grounds.
“Today’s a big day,” she told me after asking if I’d enjoyed my stay. “Heritage is taking over the El Monte Sagrado today and we have people staying here and over there, all due to arrive later this morning.”
Heritage Hotels are a unique New Mexico owned, boutique chain of luxury Inns and Hotels with properties throughout the State. I’ve featured the Palacio here on the blog along with the stunning, newly renovated Eldorado Resort and Spa in Santa Fe. You can click on their link on the sidebar of this page under the Sponsors section, to discover more about their wonderful approach to hospitality and service in New Mexico.
Heritage recently acquired the El Monte Sagrado Resort and Spa, arguably Taos’ finest hotel.
As we talked, a couple came into the lobby to inquire about a room. They’d been sent over by the El Monte Sagrado, where they always stay, and were surprised to discover it was solidly booked.
Asia excused herself to go and talk to them, explaining the situation of Heritage personnel coming in for the night, but offering them a tour of a few of the rooms for future reference. When they returned, duly impressed, she went into her office to make a few calls and found them a room elsewhere. They were clearly disappointed but told her they fully intended to make a reservation for their next trip to Taos.
Asia started working as the General Manager of the Palacio de Marquesa a few months ago. She came to Taos from the East Coast when she was twenty and except for a year in Paris and some time spent on the West Coast, she has lived here ever since.
A woman of many talents, teaching being one of them, she was hired by Tom Worrel (the original creator/owner of the El Monte Sagrado) to run a Charter school for children he started here in Taos during the late 90’s.
Her last job was the Coordinator of Public Programs at the Harwood Museum so her current position here at the Palacio de Marquesa is very obviously, a perfect fit.
Elegant, self-assured, well-educated and very bright, Asia is also a lot of fun, and was even game for getting into the planters outside the Inn for a photo-op. We laughed and chatted as we made the rounds of the grounds looking for places to serve as backdrops for these shots.
The Palacio’s Golden girl is a remarkable woman in her own right and is the perfect Chatelaine for this little jewel of an Inn.
Make your reservations early because as Asia informed me, the secret is out – the Palacio de Marquesa is in high demand for travelers to Taos, and rightly so. I left feeling pampered and rejuvenated. Nothing like a bit of local luxury to make the world a brighter place.
Oh, as for the notebook. Well, let’s just say I came up with a few good ideas in Brett’s room, but in retrospect, it was more about the down time than it was about the work. I found that even a night away from daily routine is enough to prime the pump of the proverbial, creative well.
For more on Palacio de Marquesa please visit their site linked below this post.
All photographs of the Inn care of Heritage Hotels and Resorts, other photos of Asia Golden taken on my iphone