Santa Fe at a Glance
Location: Northern New Mexico
Access: Interstate 25, Amtrak Southwest Chief, Albuquerque International Sunport, Santa Fe Regional Airport
Hotel rooms: 6,000
Tourism Santa Fe
Santa Fe Community Convention Center
Exhibit Space: 40,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 18,000-square-foot ballroom, 6,600-square-foot outdoor courtyard
Eldorado Hotel and Spa
Guest rooms: 219
Meeting Space: 30,000 square feet
Drury Plaza Hotel
Guest rooms: 182
Meeting Space: 20,000 square feet
La Fonda on the Plaza
Guest rooms: 180
Meeting Space: 21,000 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Santa Fe
National Governor’s Association
La Cosecha Dual Language Conference
Santa Fe, New Mexico: The name conjures up images of adobe pueblos amid the sweet aroma of pinyon pines, temperate summers and crisp winters at 7,000 feet and handmade Native American artwork spread on bright-colored blankets in centuries-old stalls in the Palace of the Governors. And it’s all set against a backdrop of the stark high desert and the majestic Sangre de Christo Mountains.
With such distinctive images, it’s little wonder that Santa Fe landed among Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 10 Destinations in the World. It’s also a great place to host unforgettable meetings.
Built circa 1610 on the plaza in the middle of the city’s historic district, Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors, with its lovely interior courtyard, served as the seat of state government for many years. This star of the city’s Historic District has witnessed 400 years of history, from the Spanish occupation and the Santa Fe Trail to the Civil War and the Rough Riders to the days of Pancho Villa and D.H. Lawrence.
The Santa Fe Native American population still live in pueblos. Cool, thick-walled adobe churches of the same vintage host services, and ancient bells peal to celebrate weddings.
The oldest capital city in the nation is unlike any other in numerous ways.
“What makes Santa Fe a popular destination for the individual traveler is what makes it interesting for planners, especially if attendees are bringing spouses and families,” said Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe. “It’s unique: the architecture, the cuisine, the dress.”
Four of the city’s 13 museums inhabit Museum Hill, tucked in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains, including the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, with the most comprehensive collection of Navajo and Pueblo jewelry in the world.
Then there’s the weather.
“Santa Fe has four seasons, but they’re all mild,” said David Carr, director of sales for Tourism Santa Fe. “We have as many cocktail parties outdoors as indoors.”
A 317-acre upscale property, the historic Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort and Spa borders the 1.5 million-acre Santa Fe National Forest. Amenities for groups include a healing arts studio, horseback riding, mezcal tastings and a private dining room in chef Dean Fearing’s SkyFire restaurant. A wide event lawn holds 750 guests, and a Historic Chapel Garden, 100.
“Lonesome Dove” and untold numbers of well-known Western films have been shot on Bonanza Creek Ranch. A movie set since 1955, this privately owned venue is also a seasonal corporate events site. Destination Services of Santa Fe (DSSF) can arrange a Western-immersion experience for 15 to 60.
“Groups can enjoy cocktails and entertainment,” said Marcia Skillman of DSSF. “When the dinner bell rings, they can load up on barbecue and kick up their heels to a Western dance band.”
On another side of the culture coin, a remarkable art collective called Meow Wolf creates interactive experiences that transport audiences into fantastic realms of story and exploration. Meow Wolf began in Santa Fe in 2008 with the support of “Game of Thrones” creator George R.R. Martin, who purchased an old bowling alley that varied media artists transformed.
The 500-person venue features concerts, a full bar and a cafe.
Showcasing some of the city’s best contemporary visual and performing arts, the Santa Fe Railyard is a 50-acre collection of retail, restaurants, galleries, boutique hotels, microbreweries and a venue for 5,000 on the site of the old Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railyard.
Major Meeting Spaces
With 40,000 square feet of meeting space, the LEED-certified Santa Fe Community Convention Center is on the Plaza. Within walking distance are a number of hotels that vary in size, luxury and historic quality. Larger meetings can use the 2,000-attendee center in partnership with two or more hotels.
With 30,000-plus square feet of meeting space, the adobe-design Eldorado Hotel and Spa, built in 1986, has 219 rooms, including a rooftop presidential suite with stunning mountain and city views.
If La Fonda on the Plaza’s walls could talk, they’d have stories to tell. Described as the “grand dame of Santa Fe hotels,” the inn opened in 1922 to become one of the original properties of the Fred Harvey Company. Noted for its Pueblo Revival style, exquisite original art and handcrafted furniture, La Fonda has 21,000 square feet of meeting space and event venues that showcase the splendid Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi nearby.
The 182-room Drury Plaza Hotel offers 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, a complimentary daily reception, private balconies and lush gardens in a beautifully renovated 1950s building.
Owned by the Picuris Pueblo, one of eight northern tribes in New Mexico, the Hotel Santa Fe and Hacienda has 161 rooms, 35 of those with butler service.
After the Meeting
The third-strongest art market in the country, Santa Fe is known for its variety and depth of art, said Elaine Ritchel, founder of and guide for Santa Fe Art Tours, which leads individuals and groups and even offers artcentric teambuilding.
“From historic pueblo pottery to cutting-edge contemporary art, the sheer number of galleries downtown  can be overwhelming,” she said. To assist in learning, her tours are discussion based.
Those include Art and Yoga on Canyon Road and an Immersive Art Tour and Chocolate Tasting.
Heritage Inspirations specializes in electric bicycle tours exploring Santa Fe’s churches, Southwestern architectural interiors and exteriors, and wine. Santa Fe Mountain Adventures, on the other hand, explores the outdoors via hiking and mountain biking, and off-road Jeep and classic truck trips into the Rockies.
The Santa Fe Cooking School demonstrates New Mexican, Native American, Mexican, Spanish, vegetarian and contemporary Southwestern cuisine to small classes. Up to 60 people can revel in wine-and-food pairings or a chef’s dinner on an outdoor patio.
Since 1957, the Santa Fe Opera has been a summer oasis for arts enthusiasts to experience internationally acclaimed talent. Dance, theater, opera, choral performances and chamber music hold sway in a sweepingly contemporary venue with an open roof and mountain views.
Expressive art, gardening classes and one-on-ones with puppies are but a few of the stress reducers offered at the 70-acre Ojo Santa Fe Resort and Spa.