Possessing a wealth of history, great sites and attractions, and some of the most spectacular scenic beauty in the country, it’s no wonder that New Mexico’s moniker is “The Land of Enchantment.”
One of the best cities in which to enjoy a smattering of this captivating Southwestern state is Albuquerque.
Business or Pleasure
For a city of its size, the metro area encompassing some 887,000 residents, Albuquerque has a great deal to offer visitors who go there from across the country and beyond.
Ten commercial airlines fly into the Albuquerque International Sunport, located just minutes from downtown; motor vehicles arrive by way of I-25 or I-40, and Amtrak stops in town as well.
Leisure and business travelers alike enjoy a bevy of unusual destinations there. Old Town Albuquerque features 10 blocks of historic Southwestern adobe buildings, comfortable hotels and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns, restaurants encompassing everything from mom-and-pop bistro fare to fine continental cuisine, and more than 150 distinctive galleries and boutiques.
Albuquerque’s Downtown Convention Corridor consists of three major hotels — the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Albuquerque, the Hotel Andaluz and the Albuquerque Hyatt Regency — together offering 700-plus rooms, 640,000 square feet of meeting space, six distinct restaurants/lounges, three rate structures and the convention center, all under one roof.
Attractions for all ages include Cliff’s Amusement Park and Hinkle Family Fun Center; canoeing, rafting and horseback riding along the Rio Grande River; minor league baseball games in season with the Albuquerque Isotopes, a Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers; and annual events like the National Fiery Foods and Barbeque Show in February and the Albuquerque Folk Festival in June, just to name a few.
Meet Me in Albuquerque
Albuquerque is a popular destination for meeting and convention planners as well, as the city has invested more than $300 million in recent and planned hospitality developments and offers a wide array of exceptional meeting facilities.
The Albuquerque Convention Center, which is now undergoing a $25 million renovation, offers spaces that can accommodate events ranging in size from eight to 8,000 guests; their main ballroom features colored LED lighting that can be themed to match the client’s occasion.
“We are flexible and accommodating,” said general manager José Garcia. “Our guests rave about having their own event manager and how fast and with ease we handle changes. Our pricing is supercompetitive, and clients leave feeling they received real value for their event.”
Catered meals at the convention center incorporate a variety of high-quality, fresh and local ingredients with a New Mexican flair.
The Grand Territorial style of architecture, a combination of the traditional Native American pueblo forms and colors with the milled lumber and details brought to New Mexico by the railroads and established throughout the state in the 1900s, is the focal point of the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town.
There, brick parapet detailing, geometric layered ceilings, carpet inspired by early Navajo rug patterns and magnificent tin and glass chandeliers and wall sconces are just a few of the striking Southwestern architectural elements.
“We find that people appreciate a hotel that provides them with an opportunity to experience an authentic cultural experience with each stay,” said Cainan Harris, the hotel’s director of sales. “The hotel provides one of the largest meeting facilities in the city, with 40,000 square feet of indoor function space and 21,000 square feet of outdoor function space.”
As a Heritage Hotels and Resorts property, the hotel also has a strong community partnership program in place wherein they adopt a local nonprofit group to wich a percentage of their room night revenue is donated.
Location, Location, Location
One of the most attractive aspects of Albuquerque is that although it is situated in a high desert climate, it enjoys four distinctly beautiful seasons, more than 300 days of sunshine and low humidity, the latter resulting in comfortable summers and mild winters.
The city sits at an elevation of approximately 6,500 feet, making it one of the highest metropolitan cities in America. This altitude allows visitors, including those embarking upon pre- and post-meeting and convention trips, to enjoy a number of outdoor diversions year-round.
Among them is the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, which whisks visitors from the base (at 6,600 feet in elevation) to its 10,378-foot summit (a distance of 2.7 miles, the longest span in North America and the third longest in the world) in about 20 minutes.
Other excursions include hiking, biking and running the trails in the Sandia foothills; exploring the ancient indigenous cultures of the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos, one of the 19 pueblos in the state; and shopping at the nearby Casa Blanca Commercial Center, which sells many handcrafted items from the pueblos.
Golf is popular at courses such as the nationally recognized Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club, and there is skiing at the Angel Fire Resort; visitors can do both in the same day if they like, as these entities are only about 30 minutes apart.
Scarfmaking at Albuquerque Alpacas, a beautiful rural setting and home to a small alpaca farm and ranch store, and visiting one of the seven breathtaking national parks located within 100 miles of the city are other popular activities.
Rob Enriquez, vice president of convention sales, services and sports for the Albuquerque Convention and Visitor Bureau, points to several distinctive venues for a big-bang opening or closing meeting/convention event or dinner.
“El Pinto, the city’s largest restaurant with seating for about 1,000 people, is known for its authentic New Mexican atmosphere,” he said, “and the ABQ BioPark, specifically the Rio Grande Zoo or the Rio Grande Botanic Garden, offers group dinners in a beautiful setting.”
The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, Enriquez said, provides a taste of why Albuquerque is known as the “Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World,” and the Los Poblanos Inn and Organic Farm is a retreat focused on relaxation in an upscale agricultural environment.
Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder
Many Hollywood and television studios have chosen Albuquerque’s spectacular scenic beauty for their film projects, among them the smash hits “The Avengers” and “Breaking Bad.”
Dramatic views of the desert, particularly at dawn and sunset, are part of the experience during the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Billed as the world’s premier international ballooning event, the fiesta showcases more than 600 balloons from more than 50 countries and attracts an estimated 100,000 people over the course of eight days.
Stunning vistas take center stage at a number of popular area wineries and vineyards, among them the Gruet Winery, the Casa Rodeña Winery, and the Anderson Valley Vineyards, just to name a few.
Albuquerque has also earned recognition as a leading arts and culture destination, thanks to institutions such as the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. The Explora Science Center and the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History are representative of the city’s renown as a hub for science and technology.