Looking for uncrowded slopes in the winter and rugged mountain adventures in the summer? Then look no farther than New Mexico’s four season sports hotel, the pet-friendly Lodge at Angel Fire Resort. A scenic drive from most major cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort is a hidden gem, tucked in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with views of Mt. Wheeler, at 13,161 feet, the tallest peak in New Mexico.
Scenic Road Trip
We landed at hassle-free Albuquerque Airport, claimed our luggage, and stepped onto the rental car shuttle, within the first 30 minutes of landing. Another 15 minutes, and we were loaded in our car, with directions in hand.
The 3 hour drive from the Albuquerque Sunport International Airport to Northern New Mexico is crammed with breathtaking southwestern scenery: views of dessert, canyons, and mountains, while you pass through quaint towns. Your road trip takes you near the iconic Santa Fe and through Taos, a distracting side trip or stop for a meal.
At 8,600-feet elevation, the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort is the centerpiece of this small mountain town, a mid-range, four season resort situated at the base of the mountain. The resort is a typical mountain lodge with a porte-cochere, made of stone and wood.
Enter into the lobby, with vaulted ceilings, stretching to the 2nd floor. Directly in front is a sitting area, with couches and chairs and beyond that is the Coffee House, serving breakfast and lunch, and to the left is a stairway leading to the second floor restaurants and walkway to the Chile Express chairlift. To the left is additional seating and a business center. Enter the door to the far left and you’ll find the entrance the indoor pool and hot tub.
To the right of the entrance is the reception desk, and check-in was quick and simple. No bell staff, so we grabbed a luggage rack and made our way to the elevator.
Access is through an outer door, additional security for the two rooms beyond, but it does require using your room key card twice. Spacious rooms are an understatement, probably the largest I’ve experienced at ski resort, with 500 square feet standard rooms with two queen beds.
With the electric fireplace in the corner, my renovated room on the 3rd floor offers a cozy log-cabin feel with earthy décor and wood detailing. Plenty of living space with a work desk near the patio doors, which lead to an enclosed public patio at the foot of the mountain with views of the skiers. Complimentary WiFi was another bonus.
A leather chair and a lamp invited lounging near the fireplace. However, we discovered relaxing there became too warm, so we moved the chair and lamp closer to the entrance, which also alleviated the only complaint – not enough lighting near the closet. The bathroom was adequate and not as updated as the rest of the room.
The biggest amenity is the access to the ski lifts, literally not a five minute walk out the second floor (past the fitness center), up flight of stairs, and voila, you are at the base of the ski mountain. Skiing, snowshoeing and tubing are convenient within minutes from accommodations.
The newest addition to the mountain is year-round ziplining, soul food to the adrenalin junky. Yes, that includes me, and although the winter months shorten the 9 zip lines to 4, sailing through the air above the skiers and snowboarders with a chilling view of the mountains – priceless!
As mentioned previously, the resort also offers an indoor pool and hot tub.
The new Angel Fire Resort Golf & Country Club is perhaps the best kept secret of the resort’s amenities boasting panoramic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains surrounding Angel Fire. The recently renovated building also includes a towering rock fireplace and giant white spruce beams of the upstairs restaurant, Elements.
We discovered snowshoeing at the Country Club, with a guided 2 hour jaunt on a mild winter day in January, traipsing through the snow-laden golf course. We passed by another hidden gem, a tubing hill where a 5 year-old little girl and her family had the hill to themselves. Cross-country skiing is also an option.
Outdoor activities are many here at the Country Club, from a full-service golf shop with an 18-hole golf course. During the warmer months, outdoorsy types can hike and bike the mountain, or simply recline.
The surprising treat was the Coffee House on the lobby of the Lodge. A classic cooked-while-you-wait-breakfast (eggs, home fries, and toast) priced right at $7.99, add bacon (several strips!) for an additional $3. The massive, shareable, homemade cinnamon rolls were hard to resist at just $3.99– and I didn’t! The spicy homemade Breakfast Burrito ($6.99) was filling enough on its own. Lunch included gourmet Panini Sandwiches ($9.99) and many other sandwiches and salads, priced from $6.99 to $8.99.
The on-site dinner options included LEGENDS Grill, a sports bar and restaurant, and Chiantis Pizzeria. We opted several times for the sports bar, kicking back with brews and comfort food.
Two mountain dining options are available: near the Chile Express Chair Lift is Sunset Grille, a casual restaurant with top notch margaritas. At the top of the mountain is a light fare dining as well.
For a fine dining option, take the 5-minute shuttle to Elements at the Country Club (open Tuesday-Saturday at 5-9pm). Be there early for mountain views and the sunset. Depending on the weather, choose from indoor or outdoor seating. Menu selections include steaks, seafood, and salads. An extensive wine list and full bar make your experience topnotch.
For a lighter, upscale option, choose a seat at the Elements bar (open Tuesday-Saturday at 4 pm). Sit back and relax while the bartender shakes you up their specialty martinis (yes, please a Cosmo with a twist). Order their appetizers – my favorites were the pot stickers and Crispy Fried Egg Rolls.
I’m a Colorado gal, so mountain resorts aren’t new to me. What is surprising the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort is that with the primo ski-in/ski-out location at the base of the mountain the room rates are more than affordable — $112 per night on my late January 2013 visit. Liberally mix in the laid-back welcoming attitude of the staff and the guests, affordable dining, and plenty of outdoor experiences. With a front row location at the base of the mountain and an array of affordable amenities, the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort is a hit with couples, families, and singles.
Check prices online at hotel’s website.
Accommodations courtesy of the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort.
Photos courtesy of Diana Rowe.