Overlooking the Kiva pool at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa
Santa Ana tribal members perform traditional dances and sing in the Hyatt courtyard.
Tamaya—another world right around the corner
—Barb and Ty Belknap
Last month we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, nestled between the bosque and the mesas that we see everyday from home. If you’ve been reading this column, you probably know that we’re not the right people to do a review of a luxury hotel and restaurant. When traveling, luxury to us is an isolated level place to pitch the tent. But this beautiful October day was a special occasion, and besides, we were required to remove all evidence of habitation from our newly built house so we could call for a final inspection on Monday.
As a temporarily homeless couple toting dusty backpacks, we checked in early and were treated like royalty. The lobby was drenched in Native American textiles and pottery, the fragrant scent of juniper and soothing flute music floated in the air, bellhops hopped, receptionists smiled, and our room was just a few steps down the hall. It was a lush space with a balcony overlooking the Rio Grande bosque and revealing a glorious view of the Sandia Mountains. We could have easily remained in the room for the next twenty-four hours, but instead we donned thick terry-cloth Tamaya robes and headed for the pools.
One pool is round with a kiva motif. Another, called the Ox Bow Pool, is S-shaped, and meanders along like the nearby Rio Grande. The third includes a water slide housed in a two-story Pueblo-style structure. We were amazed at the sensation of speed achieved in moments of total darkness before splashing into the water, which is heated year-round and treated with a kind of chlorine alternative that doesn’t burn your eyes. The hot tub is bordered by a natural stone fountain and has powerful jets to massage your lower back, arms, and feet. The pool area may also be used by locals with the purchase of a pool pass.
This last taste of summer passed too soon. Back at the room, the hotel staff surprised us with a fruit basket and bottled water. The phone interrupted our nap and we were gently reminded that we were late for the art tour that we had signed up for. Barb rushed off for a tour of the entire Tamaya art collection, while Ty met friends in the lobby, as planned.
An hour later, reunited in the bar, we skipped the nature walk in the bosque and proceeded directly to the Corn Maiden for a gourmet dinner. Seating in the Corn Maiden surrounds a central open grill and makes the most of the view outside, especially at sunset. Four of us ordered different grilled platters, which were ceremoniously delivered to our table on two-foot-long swords from the rotisserie. At last count, we shared eleven different kinds of meat, fish, and fowl that tasted great, and well-lubricated with red wine, we had fun eating them all. The intimate dining room filled with conversation and cries of glee as other swords were served and the dessert cart appeared at each table.
After dinner we were entertained outside around a campfire by a well-versed Santa Ana storyteller who recounted Tamaya creation tales as part of the Hyatt’s Stories Under The Stars Program. This twice-a-week nighttime program of stories with s’mores is open to the general public.
There never seemed to be enough time to lounge around in our luxury room, but we turned in relatively early to rest up for our dawn walk around the award-winning Twin Warriors Golf Course. We overslept, of course, and opted for the breakfast buffet at the Santa Ana Café instead.
At nine o'clock, we boarded a wagon pulled by giant German draft horses and rode a mile north to a corral at the foot of Snake Head Mountain. The sight of this landmark fulfilled a prophesy that brought the original Tamaya settlers to the area. Three cowgirls rode with us on the rocky trail and made sure we didn’t try to run our complacent horses. “Too many holes in the ground,” one told us.
On our return from the wagon ride, there was still time before checkout to go back to the pools and watch tribal dancers perform in full-feathered regalia.
After checking out and stowing our gear in the car trunk, we headed for a last bit of luxury at the Tamaya Mist Spa. The packages at the spa are top rate and include permission to check in early to use the hot tub, steam room, and sauna. Indulgence is the name of the game here: from top to bottom, start to finish, clients are rolled, wrapped, rubbed, buffed, patted, kneaded, and moisturized—a real treat for any desert dweller.
We went home without working out at the Hyatt’s state-of-the-art fitness center, seeing the Tamaya Cultural Museum and Learning Center, or taking the shuttle over to the Santa Ana Casino. But then, we only had twenty-four hours.
For further information about the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa and its upcoming New Year’s Eve gala celebration packages, call 867-1234 or go to www.tamaya.hyatt.com.