An Oasis of Tranquility: El Monte Sagrado Resort & Spa in Taos, New Mexico

As I drove past the home of legendary Kit Carson on his namesake Kit Carson Street, the entrance to El Monte Sagrado Resort & Spa was a couple blocks further up the road. A large sign marked the entrance, whereupon I took my left turn into the drive way without overshooting the mark.

A valet desk was perched in front of the entrance with nearby parking rows designated for valet parking only. Since a resort fee is added to your stay, it includes valet parking, so why not take advantage of it?

El Monte Sagrado Resort & Spa is the most recent acquisition of Heritage Hotel & Resort – an independent hotel brand in New Mexico with culturally distinct properties. Since purchasing the property, Heritage Hotels has spent about $70 million for upgrades to the property, ranging from room refurbishment and technology improvements to adding to an art collection of about 300 pieces.

The resort is designed in pueblo-style, drawing its inspiration from Native American adobe homes with Spanish architectural elements. Earth-toned exterior stucco is accentuated by natural materials, exposed wood and bright accent colors. Asymmetrical design protrudes throughout the property, with vigas and wooden beams adding support and flavor.

El Monte Sagrado translates to “The Holy Mountain” and once on the property you are graced by surrounding mountains. The resort encompasses 11-acres of secluded oasis, with ponds, streams, waterfalls, flowers and aspen trees. Essentially, it is surrounded by high desert and mountain terrain. A green area known as the “Sacred Circle” is in the center of the oasis, enveloped by willow and cotton wood trees.

Surrounding all this natural beauty are 84 spacious guest rooms. All come with a unique décor that celebrate brick and wood floors, hand-painted walls and local art. There are several types of rooms with different rates. At the top are the 1,100 sq. ft. casitas reflecting a global theme. All have private patios, while two have hot tubs.

I spent the night in the Jim Thorpe suite, one of the 18 spacious Native American suites of 575 sq. ft. A plush pillowtop king bed, kiva-style fireplace, enormous pebble-stone shower with a rain shower head, private balcony overlooking the Sacred Center, and separate lounge area were part of my generous quarters for the night.

The Taos Mountain rooms are more traditional but still come with private balconies, fireplaces, jet soaking tubs. Plus, you have access to all resort amenities which includes a pool, library, and fitness center.

The trendy Anaconda Bar showcases an aquarium to ponder as you enjoy what is considered to be one of the best happy hours in Taos. Drafts go for $3 while house Chardonnay and house Pinot Noir go for $5 a glass.

Breakfast is served by the De la Tierra Restaurant in The Garden, giving breakfast an al fresco ambiance. I ordered the Taos Farmers Market Omelet, a tasty egg entrée of fresh mushrooms, Feta cheese, spinach, and red bell peppers served with home-style potatoes. With such a delectable breakfast, it was too bad the coffee wasn’t up to par as it was rather bitter. For $3.50 a cup, it should have been better.

For dinner, I signed up for the Heritage Inspirations Farm-to-Table dinner on the Taos Mountain Lawn. This was an exquisite foray into farm-to-table fine dining with paired wines from Vivac Winery in New Mexico. Offered every last Wednesday of the month starting in June through October at El Monte Sagrado, these dinners celebrate the growing season through themed-ingredient menus designed to “toast the connection to our food.” Executive Chef Cristina Martinez guided us through a culinary family-style dinner journey based on seasonal foods and recipes inspired by childhood memories. A toasting cocktail, appetizers, salad, and main entrée paired with local wines and beers, along with a special hand-crafted dessert completed our feast. Reservations are a must.

I didn’t get a chance to try any of the spa services like aromatherapy massage and various facials. However, I’ve read enough reviews that The Living Spa is award-winning and worth checking out.

This is a pet-friendly resort, something that can sometimes be hard to find when traveling with your pet. A friend of mine from New Orleans stayed here in April and had this to say: “Lovely place and best of all it was dog-friendly for the one time we actually took our dog on a trip.”

The night I stayed the elevator was not in operation and my room was on the second level. For those that require handicap access, be sure to inquire about room location and about a working elevator.

Rates start around $183 but be sure to add on a $30 resort fee. Prices can vary depending on season, day of the week, and type of room/suite booked. New Mexico residents receive a 20% discount off the best rate while residents of the neighboring states of Arizona, Texas, and Colorado receive a 15% discount. Active duty military with I.D. receive a 15% discount as well.

Book your reservations at the hotel’s website www.elmontesagrado.com or any of the usual booking sites such as Travelocity or Expedia.

Review and photos by writer/photographer Karin Leperi, who was hosted one night at the property for purposes of review

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