Courtesy El Monte Sagrado
Yolanda Archuletta looks at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa in Taos, N.M., and sees a masterpiece. With some 300 pieces of art displayed inside and outside the 84-room resort, it is a natural response. Paintings and tapestries splash its neutral adobe walls with color; sculpture twists and turns inside and on its 10-acre grounds, three blocks shy of Taos’ town square.
The art also goes beyond the obvious, Archuletta, a meeting planner, pointed out.
“They took care to pay attention to the details, from the door handles to the type of door to the way the light flows into the space to every piece of art, inside and outside,” she said. “The light fixtures are artwork in and of themselves; the ceilings are artwork. There is not another property in all of New Mexico that is like this.”
Patty Komko, who travels around the state as president of Leadership New Mexico, has brought the state’s business leaders to El Monte. She agrees with Archuletta’s assessment.
“I think it is the best resort in the state,” said Komko.
Changes come with Kessler Collection
Readers of travel magazines may remember the raves El Monte has received since it opened in 2003. But only in the past five years has the property caught the attention of the meetings industry.
The property was originally a small 36-room inn, built by Tom Worrell, a world traveler and environmentalist. The El Monte became a viable meeting property only after Richard Kessler and his Kessler Collection became a partner and 7,000 square feet of meeting space and another 48 guest rooms were added.
“It was Kessler’s objective to share the property with the world; but at the same time, they knew that with 36 rooms, it would not be profitable,” said Craig Leicester, resort manager
Expansions don’t dilute worldly aura
In its first iteration, El Monte was a memorable getaway for many, with each of its original 36 suites channeling part of the world through furnishings and decor. The added guest rooms are more traditional but nonetheless elegant; the new meeting space retains El Monte’s cosmopolitan air.
Handmade Italian chandeliers light its largest meeting space, the 2,400-square-foot Rio Grande Ballroom. The crystal fixtures reflect natural light that streams in from a series of french doors; mirrored walls further brighten the room, done in classic golds and dark woods.
“I’ve visited every property in the Kessler Collection, and I feel that we have the nicest ballroom space of any of the hotels,” said Leicester.
Bright original paintings with Southwestern themes enliven the 1,400-square-foot Sandoval Room.
In a round room just off the Rio Grande foyer sits an Imperial Grand Bosendorfer piano, one of only two in the world.
An oval table dominates a boardroom for 14. The table’s main surface, of Macassar ebony, was carved from a single tree. The room’s paneling is the same sustainable wood. The table weighs a ton. “We don’t move it, ever,” said Leicester.