Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's not Luxury it's a Lifestyle

"The art, the air we breathe, the food we eat, spending a day at the spa... it's not luxury it's a lifestyle."

This was the wisdom we gleaned from a Santa Fe local, while we sipped cucumber infused water, wrapped in our spa robe waiting for our steamed herbal wrap.  We were at the famed Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese style spa nestled in the nearby mountains, just a 4 mile jaunt from the central Plaza in Santa Fe.  

Is this what everyone does in Santa Fe?  Eat gourmet food that could top anyone’s best restaurant list, have soothing spa treatments, and surround themselves with gorgeous and expensive art?  While I can’t say that this particular Santa Fe local voiced the true opinion of the masses, I definitely want to believe that there really is such a place in this world where luxury is expected, not taken for granted, but deemed a necessity, and this Shangri-la is right here in Santa Fe.  

I could get used to this...  

This had to explain why we talked to so many people who had lived and been born all over the world and decided to settle in Santa Fe permanently.

Let's get back to the restaurants.

El Farol
Going to a restaurant after Santa Fe was a letdown.  The restaurants here all had fresh ingredients, unique dishes, all with the flair of New Mexican cuisine.  What is New Mexican cuisine, you might ask?  Think inspired tapas and enchiladas with green and red chile sauce. My favorite dishes include the fried avocado and manchego polenta I had at El Farol.  I kept hearing people rave about the fried avocado all over town.

I can't think of anywhere else in the world where so much artwork is concentrated in a such a small uninterrupted area.  Canyon Road is an artistic haven, where galleries stretch for miles, save for a few restaurants.  I expected to see works that were distinctly Southwest in subject, but they had art to please even the most discerning eye, from works of famous artists of years past, modern art, and many subjects and styles inbetween.  

There is also as one would expect in the area, a dedicated Georgia O'Keeffe museum.  For photography lovers, there is the Smith Gallery, which houses iconic Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Annie Leibovitz images.  

Beyond the artwork itself, most galleries were housed in homes that are hundreds of years old.  It was fascinating to see all of the architecture, how the houses had been renovated while still retaining some of the original touches--the wood beams, the curved adobe fireplaces--and also the constant surprise of the picturesque old doors.  Santa Fe is home to the oldest church and house in the United States.

Although I can't say that all the Southwest wares and clothing are quite my style, I was mesmerized by the hand woven Navajo Rugs, in pristine condition, after over eighty years of foot traffic.  One shop even had a hand woven shawl that was from Abraham Lincoln's era.  

No trip is complete in Santa Fe without purchasing at least a little piece of jewelry as a keepsake, and what better place to find handcrafted jewelry than right in the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

Images via Travelmoon


  1. I need to go...maybe a girls spa trip at some point :)

  2. Count me in! We could meet halfway, now they have flights going from Dallas to Santa Fe!