Hacienda del Sol

In the era of airbnb, it’s easy to forget about the fabulous Bed and Breakfast Inns every town worth its salt, has to offer.

Taos has long been home to innkeepers, accidental hoteliers mainly, who out of sheer necessity provided shelter for travelers and stranded souls alike. As the town became a destination spot, the hotels and inns (and their keepers) became more refined and purposeful. Since the 80’s B&B’s have flourished up here until the recent spate of short-term rentals began gaining popularity.

No matter the autonomy that comes with airbnb, albeit with more comfort than the generic hotel room, there is still something romantic and charming about choosing to stay at a well-appointed B&B especially one where the breakfast promises to be spectacular.

Hacienda del Sol is a family run Bed & Breakfast. Gerd and Luellen Hertel purchased the Inn back in 2006. He is from Germany and has been working as a chef since he was a teenager. Luellen has been a Cruise Director for alumni, museum and art associations since the late 70’s.

They met on the legendary Sea Cloud (1930’s sailing vessel of EF Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post) when he came on board as the Chef.  They continued to work all over the world finally settling in Miami to raise three children, “before so called retiring to Taos to purchase the Hacienda.” Luellen told me laughing, when I visited the Hacienda last week.

“Gerd still consults for hotels and restaurants and I am a Cruise Director on the Tauck World Discovery riverboat in the South of France (on the Rhone River), but Taos is home now.” She said as she showed me around the rambling house.

Gerd has been a gourmet Chef for the last four decades. He was the Executive Chef for Hyatt Regency Hotels, Ritz Carlton Hotels, and the Corporate Executive Chef for Norwegian and Celebrity Cruise lines. Today he is a Consultant for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. At the Hacienda del Sol, Gerd offers occasional cooking classes to guests. Their website (linked below this post) has all the information.

Their daughter Erica and her husband Mark moved here to help Luellen and Gerd manage the Inn, so it is very much a family business.

For many years the property was owned by Mabel Dodge Luhan (her name is on the deed) and her fourth husband, Tony Luhan. In those days the hacienda consisted of little more than a four-room adobe, an apple orchard and many acres of farmland and pastures. Mabel and Tony used the house as a temporary residence and for some time used it as a guest house.

Taos resident and author Frank Waters lived here in 1939 and it was during his stay here that Frank wrote The People of the Valley, as well as gathering the material for The Man Who Killed The Deer which he dedicated to Mabel and Tony.

The Hacienda del Sol borders Indian Land and located just two miles behind the property is Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the most visited sites in New Mexico.

I was curious what prompted the couple’s move to Taos and the purchase of the Hacienda.

“We initially came because Gerd was interested in buying (Momentitas de la Vida) the restaurant now called Sabroso which was owned by Chris Maher.” Chris and his wife Valerie remain close friends with the couple even though they did not purchase the eatery.

“We visited Taos and the hacienda three times,” Luellen explained, “and each time we were convinced we were crazy to buy an inn but it haunted us would not let us go, so we bought it.”

“There is something about the beauty of our property that attracted us and perhaps our ghost, Tony Lujan, wanted us to be there.” She smiled, as she led me into the old part of the house; the original structure complete with old vigas and the small doors and windows that are a signature in old Taos adobes.

“The original adobe structure was built in 1804.” Luellen said. “Mabel is on our deed as the owner in the late 20’s 30’s, it (the house) was apparently her guest house for her artist and writer friends.”

Frank Waters wife (Barbara), came before she died to see the room where her husband penned The People of the Valley.  She continued. “Tony is our friendly ghost and some guests claim they have had encounters with him – I personally have never seen him but “normal acting” guests have.”

“Over time, four other buildings were added on, including just recently two suites in the Western Style and our personal home, which was constructed by the previous owner who spared no expense.” She told me.

We had gone outside to enjoy the late afternoon sun and to look at the grounds.

“The property was once a farm-house, it has also been a school including being the guest house of Mabel, and an inn for the past three decades.” She mused as she looked across the meadows at the Mountain.
“Today, we have amazing weddings facing Taos Mountain, family reunions as well as cooking lessons in our commercial kitchen upon request for groups of ten or more.”

Wedding season is about to begin and Taos is a huge destination for tying the knot in an unforgettable location, but Spring Break is upon us and I asked Luellen if the Hacienda was offering a Spring Break special to entice Millenial’s away from their airbnb game?

“Yes,” she said, “new reservations for March and April can take advantage of a 10 % discount by reserving on our website with the promo code Spring10.

As we walked back into the Inn, a couple of guests wrapped in thick fluffy robes, walked back to their rooms after soaking in the hot tub. They had been skiing all day – the Hacienda is a short drive from Taos Ski Valley, and five minutes from town.They looked totally blissed out.

“Our trees are the oldest and tallest in Taos.” Luellen said as she looked around anticipating Spring and everything budding and blooming, “Beautiful cottonwoods, willow, spruce, lilac, apple, and pine grace the property that backs up to Pueblo land.”

“One can find our delightful guests seated in our courtyards facing Taos Mountain with a glass of wine at sunset,” she smiled.  “It doesn’t get more relaxing than that.”

The Hacienda del Sol is also conveniently located behind the Love Apple, dinner is literally a few steps away after a long day on the slopes!

For more info please check out the Hacienda del Sol’s site linked below and be sure to use the code Spring10, for a discounted rate during Spring Break!

All images c/o Hacienda del sol