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New Mexico masterpieces

Photo by Paula Valentine

In tourism circles, New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment, a state where the influences of Spain and Mexico and of Native American peoples are as vivid as a Southwest sunset.

These days, meeting planners find New Mexico as enchanting as their leisure travel counterparts thanks to new convention facilities and improvements made to existing ones.

Santa Fe, the state capital and elder statesman at age 402, proudly opened a convention center two years ago that emulates the city’s artistic leanings, from its wrought-iron door handles and Navajo-rug-inspired carpets to its pleasant courtyards and rooftop terraces.

Las Cruces, not far from El Paso, Texas, will give meeting planners a southern option as New Mexico’s second-largest city opens a convention center early next year. At 55,000 square feet, it’s not as large as officials hoped, but it is still enticing significant groups, such as the New Mexico Governor’s Conference.

Albuquerque is reminding meeting groups that although it is a city of a half-million, its size has not diluted its spice. Each year, schoolchildren add more color to the plain walls of the state’s largest convention center with murals they have created there. And the city is effectively using local volunteers who are experts at everything from Native American culture and art to meeting planning and restaurants to answer visitors’ questions and give advice by way of its website’s ABQ Experts page.

As small towns go, Taos has a high profile. In addition to being a respite for Hollywood types, it is also a popular ski resort and a magnet for artists of all types. Its convention center is small, but it hosts a range of business, from groups that study labyrinths to regional conferences of Rotary International.

Read also:

Dig into Santa Fe’s cultural landscape
Albuquerque keeps its accent
Meetings migrate south to Las Cruces
Taos defies type-casting