Hospitality and good taste are not mutually exclusive. At the world’s best hotels the two go hand in hand.
The word hospitality comes from the Latin hospes, which came from the word hostis, which originally meant “to have power.” Hospitality, as we know it today, is all about the art of entertaining or receiving guests. Heritage Hotels & Resorts, a New Mexican owned chain of boutique hotels, are well versed in the unspoken rules of the Industry.
Last weekend, my two daughters and youngest granddaughter and I, took a girl’s trip to Albuquerque. It would be our last for a while. My oldest daughter Angelica, is expecting a boy in early February. Her youngest daughter, Tatyana accompanied us just days after turning twelve. Angelica’s oldest daughter is fifteen and has a boyfriend. Enough said.
My daughter’s husband also shares custody of his thirteen year old son from his first marriage, so soon they will have four. Lukas and his dad, Lee were on the mountain (while we went shopping for the baby and for gifts from the inaugural New Mexico Artisan Market at Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town), happy to be at home enjoying the snow at TSV.
Genevieve and I had recently enjoyed Heritage’s renowned hospitality while staying at the absolutely stunning Hotel Chaco next door to where we’d be staying this time. We looked forward to sharing this experience with Angelica and Tatyana, and planned to eat one of our meals at Chaco’s Level Five restaurant, which we’d fallen in love with during our prior stay.
We had our literary mapped out. First evening after meeting up at the hotel, we’d go for dinner at Seasons, a favourite of ours close enough to walk! After two hours in the car, that sounded like freedom. Day two we planned to spend with Angelica and Tatyana shopping for the baby. Sunday was Market Day.
Gen and I checked in at around five and were directed to our room on the 10th floor. The hotel is known for its conference and meeting spaces, its wedding chapel and ballrooms, its bar and restaurant (Gardunos), and its beautiful outdoor pool and gardens. The colonial style part of the building is reserved for these public spaces. Hotel Albuquerque is also home to one of the finest Flamenco troupes in the state.
The grand lobby is no indication of what awaits one after one exits the elevator and signs informed us the hotel was about to go under renovation.The long hallways and innocuous but spotless rooms, are nothing special, yet are equipped with all one needs.
As with all of the hotels I’ve stayed at owned by Heritage, the amenities provided along with the beds, towels and linens are all of the highest quality, but the rooms at Hotel Albuquerque felt tired, with carpets a little past their due date, the furnishings not quite here nor there. I cannot wait to see what Heritage have planned for the upgrade, and we wondered if they would somehow attempt to connect the two hotels through the design.
The room we entered was large and light and opened onto a balcony which we furnished for our stay, with a bench and chair, so we could sip our coffee outside in the mornings, watching the day dawn over the Sandias.
Soon Angelica called from their room across the hallway, to let us know she and Tatyana had arrived, and we all went downstairs together to walk the short distance to Seasons, also in Old Town. The restaurant has a cool Taos connection – the Gorge and Parcht are owned by the same family who have occupied the same space here since opening Ogilvies decades ago.
We were greeted warmly by Lynn and Keith Roessler, two of the owners, and in no time we were seated upstairs and orders were taken. The service was stellar. My daughters the foodies, ordered an array of appetizers, all of which were delicious – and we ordered a couple of different entrees which we shared, as we like to do.
Tatyana refused to share her scallops but they looked great – plump and juicy. The duck and the lamb we ate was melt in your mouth, perfectly cooked and sublime. The lamb stewed with root vegetables, and the duck, grilled to perfection.
We were happy even before desert arrived! Creme Brulee and something chocolate. One tiny taste of the former and I was done! But I digress; back to Heritage.
James M. Long, the founder and CEO of Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Inc.which is headquartered in Albuquerque, is a 12th generation New Mexican, who has committed to investing exclusively in New Mexico over the last several years.
Mr.Long acquired his first hotel in 1992 and has owned over forty lodging properties throughout the United States. Heritage was founded in 2005 with the intention of preserving and advancing the unique cultural heritage of the state.
Long is one of the leading entrepreneurs in New Mexico and has founded numerous companies and charitable foundations. In 2012 he was appointed as an International Trustee of the Prado Museum Foundation in Madrid, Spain, one of only six people to serve on this board from the United States.
Long has served on several boards and was the Past President for the Board of the Spanish Colonial Society. Aside from his entrepreneurial skills, Mr. Long is also clearly a tastemaker, evident in the exquisite attention to detail in his company’s hotels which draw inspiration from both New Mexico’s indigenous and Spanish Colonial vernacular, and multi – cultural heritage. None of which is too surprising considering he earned his BA from the University of New Mexico in Architectural Design.
In this age of influencers, tastemakers remain as elusive as ever, but behind all the influencers, the tastemakers are always one step ahead.
You eat Farm to Table because of Alice Waters, what you are wearing is arguably related to Anna Wintour, and if you’re drinking decent coffee in Taos, it’s got a lot to do with Patrick Larkin. Influencers are early adopters who take their cues from the tastemakers they identify with. A tastemaker or cultural tastemaker is often relatively unknown, but they’re considered a subject matter expert, highly credible, and more crucially – they have the ability to create trends and cultural movements.
These people are influencing the fabric of our shared cultural capital and the content you consume every single day, whether you know them or not. Influencers are fleeting. Tastemakers stand the test of time. With his concept of creating and branding, a New Mexico-centric hotel chain that holds itself to the highest standards of hospitality, while offering a uniquely New Mexican experience, Mr. Long has mined proverbial Gold.
With New Mexico on the brink of a boom with the added impetus of Netflix moving in (talk about tastemakers), on top of our once again, flourishing Film Industry, not to mention Marijuana on the fast track to legalization, Heritage is poised to surf the wave. A deal is already in the works with Virgin to provide the hotel accommodations for Intergalactic Travelers lifting off in the southern part of our state. Shades of the Man Who Fell To Earth,(which was in fact filmed here in N.M.) Long is looking to the future as he and his team continue to elevate New Mexico’s cultural heritage in the present.
The inaugural New Mexico Artisan Market is one of the ways Long is asserting his taste and influence; His decision to fill the space once occupied by the annual Spanish Market in Albuquerque, which outgrew the hotel’s accommodations and has moved to the Multicultural Center, is a smart move; both in terms of the ongoing branding of Heritage and for the Statewide economy as well. Like all tastemakers, Long surrounds himself with a core group of professionals who in turn move his vision forward into the mainstream. One of the key players behind the scenes for this event, is Chris O’Donnell, the Brand Director for the hip new Sawmill District adjacent to Hotel Albuquerque and Hotel Chaco.
Having had an email correspondence with Chris for sometime, I was looking forward to meeting him. I wasn’t disappointed! He and his husband, Andrew greeted Genevieve and I at the entrance to the Q Bar where Heritage was hosting a cocktail party for the artisans and buyers who had come for the Market.
They were both delightful, warm and friendly, and super helpful.They gave us our passes and a few drink tickets and we spent the next half an hour or so mingling in the cavernous spaces, filled with strange and wonderful art, with black painted walls and long leatherette banquettes like something out of a Rock and Roll dream. The bar lounge was full and the rooms off to the sides were quickly filling up too as we said our goodbyes. It had been a long day.
The following morning found us looking for coffee before heading to Buy Buy Baby (yes), and Target of course,and finally hitting the Mall where Tatyana could indulge her fashionista tendencies. Angelica was shopping for the baby’s room and was hoping to capitalise on the Black Friday sales that stretched into the weekend for the big ticket items she still needed. Boxes and bags of stuff later, we arrived back at the hotel exhausted and ready for dinner.
Too tired to move, we managed to walk next door to Hotel Chaco, for the short elevator ride to Level Five. And there, ensconced in the booth just inside the door, overlooking the city skyline, we ate another wonderful meal. All of the food on the menu was locally grown and sourced. From the cheeses and charcuterie to the tender meats and fresh veggies in our entrees, everything was organic and prepared with such love and attention to the food itself – nothing over seasoned or overdone. The menu changes seasonally with what is available locally.
The service was as always, excellent. Heritage take hospitality seriously. The staff are with rare exception, friendly, discrete and courteous. They truly go out of their way to make you feel welcome and taken care of.
Genevieve and Tatyana went swimming after we returned to our rooms, while I kept Angelica company. Sleep came quickly and soon after waking we found ourselves at the same table as the night before, looking out over the now daylit skyline, eating a scrumptious breakfast.
Farm fresh eggs, freshly baked sourdough bread, sweet butter, home made preserves, local pastured meats, blue corn pancakes, huevos with chile con carne and great espresso; rich crema decorated with sweet shapes and served up with a smile. Fortified by this delicious repast, it was time for the New Mexico Artisan Market!
We arrived along with everyone else who decided to spend Sunday afternoon shopping. Hundreds of people filled the rooms, going from stall to stall. As many vendors from all over the state, including several from Taos, were set up in row upon row of stalls, showcasing the best of New Mexico’s Artisans, from Fine Artists to Wild Crafters, Magic Wand Makers, Soap Makers, Candle makers, Jewelers and Beadworkers, Salsa and Chile vendors, Leatherworkers and Designers, from clothing to table linens, foodstuffs and makeup, Wild and Cultivated Honey, with CBD or without, if it was made in New Mexico and met the high standards set by Heritage, it was here.
It was easy to while away the afternoon talking to all the amazing artists who make up the unique tapestry of this richly diverse state, that gave its name to the neighboring country to the south, sans the Nuevo!
And people watching was just an added bonus! We’d noticed several very stylish people staying in the hotel over the weekend, but the NMAM seemed to attract the most stylish people from all of our cultures, who wandered from stall to stall, filling the bags they brought with them or bought there. Everyone (ourselves included), was shopping!
We found our Taos friends, all of whom were thrilled to be there and hope to return next November. Patricia Michaels told us she’d had a big order!
“It’s been great,” said Mike McMahon of Taos Honey. “Especially considering this is the first event of its kind – so well organized and beyond our expectations in terms of attendance.”
Angelo McHorse of Bison Star Naturals agreed. “This entire event has been awesome.” He exclaimed when we stopped by to say hello. “We have made so many great connections and sales have been amazing.”
Just then Gen heard Chris O’Donnell calling out raffle winners and we figured I’d better make it over to where he was, to ask him a few questions before he was swallowed up by the crowd. We said our goodbyes, collected our bags and stopped at a Starbucks on the way out of town.
Back in Taos I emailed Chris, asking him to clarify a few things we’d talked about then.
1) Hi Chris, I wonder if you could you please tell my readers a little more about your work (at Yahoo), prior to coming here, and how you wound up in New Mexico to begin with?
In 2013 (having moved for this job from Los Angeles to Sunnyvale, CA/ aka Silicon Valley) I was brought on to help Yahoo’s internal branding agency as an environmental designer (a person who creates physical experiences that engage people in immersive and interactive spaces) to help communicate their brand through their various events, tradeshows and exhibitions. A few of the things I was involved in were the 2014 pre and post receptions for the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington D.C., Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, South By Southwest Festival in Austin Texas,flickr’s 20 Under 20 photographer’s showcase, and their red carpet presence at the Oscars to name just a few.
As Yahoo transitioned to focus their brand for online communications only, my particular position wasn’t needed and I was let go in mid 2015. At that time my husband Andrew decided to pursue his PhD and was accepted on a full scholarship into UNM’s Health Communications program. We have a pact with each other; we go wherever one of us has the better opportunity for both of us to grow from
So, now we’re here and both pursuing amazing careers that we would be fighting for back in L.A
2)You have a great and serendipitous story about meeting Jim Long, could you briefly retell for my readers please?
In short: My aunt and uncle (Bob and Laura Sandroni) were invited by a mutual friend of their’s and Jim Long, to the friend/designer’s home in Ibiza. They heard Jim was from Albuquerque and mentioned my name which he vaguely recalled, as I had submitted my resume for a previous position within Heritage.
He gave his contact info to my aunt and told her to have me email him my resume again. He then reached out to me with the position I currently hold, as his Sawmill District Brand Director.
3) The New Mexico Artisan Market at Hotel Albuquerque was fabulous and clearly a success – Congratulations! – how do you see it evolving in the future?
Thanks! It will always be hosted at Hotel Albuquerque, but I am in conversation and planning to grow it to happening at least two times per year, as Santa Fe has a grant I have submitted fo, to help bring it north and support artisans in that region of the state too.
This evolution will be a collaborative effort amongst city, private and nonprofit organizations, as well as the collective group of tastemakers and artisans who participate in each event we host. My hope is to develop a community of New Mexico’s finest artists and artisans that value the effort of NMAM’s mission to help promote them and grow their creative economy. Not just through the events we host, but hopefully through a growing online community too.
Ultimately, we would like out of state merchants, wholesalers and buyers to gain awareness of our states amazingly talented artisans and connect with them through our introductions to build profitable relationships, helping our artisans expand their product base and market.
As we headed to higher ground we mused on the meaning of hospitality and taste. Hospitality with its unspoken set of rules is one thing, but taste is another matter, and for that matter taste (or tastes), are subject to change. In good taste usually refers to – satisfying generally accepted social or aesthetic standards, and in this regard, Heritage have cornered our (regional) market, hands down!
Artisan Markets are popular all over the country these days for good reason – in San Francisco there are no less than fifteen of these markets held annually – unique, hand crafted goods that like the tastemakers who ushered in this new wave of bespoke shopping, will outlive both the influencers who copy (and paste), as well as the fleeting trends they set.
This weekend, thanks to Heritage, if you are in Taos, you can enjoy an Artisan Market without traveling very far!
The Taos Pueblo Artisan Market, happening Friday through Sunday (Nov. 30-Dec. 2), at the (Heritage owned), El Monte Sagrado , is sure to be a fun event and a great way to shop local this Holiday Season, support some of our homegrown artisans and pay it forward.
Patricia Michaels and Jacquelene and Angelo McHorse (who were also at NMAM in Albuquerque last weekend with their Bison Star Naturals Product line), will be here too, along with several other talented Pueblo artists. Admission is free.
For much more on the Taos Pueblo Artisan Market at the El Monte Sagrado Resort and Spa, Heritage Hotels & Resorts. Heritage Inspirations, and the New Mexico Artisan Market (and how to apply), please visit the sites linked below.
Editors Note:As we got ready to leave the NMAM I overheard a little girl asking her parents if they could go to Taos.
Her dad explained it was two hours away. I almost offered to take her home with me, but didn’t think they’d go for that!
Featured image of El Monte Sagrado by Jim Cox
All other images of Hotel Albuquerque and Hotel Chaco (exterior), thanks to Heritage