Ancient Civilization Inspires the Creation of Hotel Chaco
The marvel that is Hotel Chaco was inspired by the ancient civilization that once occupied Chaco Canyon. Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was occupied over 1,000 years ago by early Pueblo Indians. These people had a clear connection to nature and the elements and the architects involved in building Hotel Chaco wanted to bring in this same connection. The hotel’s use of the elements: stone, wood and earth contrast with the contemporary materials of metal, concrete and glass. This blending of new and old can be found throughout the hotel, from its interior, to the landscape and even in the food.
The architectural firm Gensler, who designed the hotel, believed that “great design can make the everyday places people occupy more inspiring”. They obviously know what they are talking about because Hotel Chaco is a very inspiring place. Inspiration for the hotel comes from local artists who have created paintings, weaving, sculptures and pottery passed down from the indigenous people of the area.
The first thing I noticed when pulling into the resort was the pale stone masonry facade with wooden accents and, as I soon found out, these are the same architectural elements found at Chaco Canyon. The construction is perfect for the dry, warm Southwest climate. The second thing I saw were the massive wooden front doors which feature the water serpent Avanyu, the protector of our water resources which are especially important in our world today. These doors were designed by artist Tammy Garcia from the Santa Clara Pueblo. Upon entering the lobby through a narrow circular vestibule, I was met by water and fire elements on opposite walls. The lobby is aligned to the north-south and east-west and a giant glass oculus is a focal point on the ceiling. The oculas was also designed by Tammy.
I learned about Joe Cajero’s commissioned bronze sculpture situated in the middle of the lobby, thanks to story teller/photographer and now my friend Bobby Gonzales. The statue is called “Oneness” according to artist Cajero of the Jemez Pueblo. It represents love, energy and oneness with nature. To learn more about Joe and his work go to cajerofineart.com. Or even better, book a tour with Bobby when you check into the hotel. He is full of interesting tales about the hotel, all the artists who contributed to its making, Chaco Canyon and tidbits about Albuquerque. You can reach Bobby through Instagram.
When checking into the hotel check out the interesting clay figure by Roxanne Swentzell seated above the reception desk. “The Guardian” is the protector that watches over the hotel like a guardian angel. I like seeing his toes hang over the ledge. Roxanne hails from the Santa Clara Pueblo and comes from a family of renowned potters.
Entering my room my eyes naturally flowed to a large glass wall opening to a patio which offered magnificent views of the mountains, gardens and pool. Every room offers views of either the Sandia Mountains, downtown, historic old town, west mesa or the gardens and beautiful pool. Hotel Chaco rooms bring together ancient civilization and modern architecture in a spectacular way.
The rooms are decorated in subdued hues inspired by colors of natural wool used by Navajo weavers. Each room has an original weaving over the bed made by master weavers from the Navajo reservation. These natural colors of browns and grays activated my senses the moment I stepped inside.
I found the hotel’s common area equally inviting as well as immediately relaxing. This large common area has a warm, over-sized fireplace as a focal point. I noticed the interesting paintings on either side of the fireplace of a spiral and large hands. These “I Am” paintings by Rhett Lynch (Navajo) are representative of petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon. The hands in the paintings say “I was here, I exist, I am” and the spiral is representative of the Sun Dagger spiral on Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon.
Look up again while in the lobby just outside the common room and you will see Ira Lujan’s Anther Cloud. I discovered this piece is a work in progress. Antlers and clouds are both ancient sacred symbols and Ira created a hanging sculpture of hand blown glass antlers bringing these two symbols together into a “cloud of antlers”. Ira will keep adding antlers to the piece of art until he feels it is done. Ira Lujan is from the Taos/Ohkay Owingeh Pueblos.
I like that the common room has large glass doors that open to the outdoors revealing comfortable patio seating for sunny days. The patio also offers circular seating around fire-pits for cooler days or evenings. I noticed too that the landscaping around the patio was done in native grasses and cotton wood trees. The Basalt stone columns form an organic fountain which features a reflecting pool. It was easy for me to get caught up in daydreams every time I sat out there. Note: these Besalt stone columns can also be found at El Monte Sagrado in Taos which is also a Heritage Hotels and Resorts property.
Just off the lobby I found the Equinox Cafe + Bar, one of my favorite hangouts. From coffee drinks and smoothies mornings thru mid-day, to evening cocktails with house made scrubs along with light bites, it was always a popular place.
Across from the cafe I noticed a wall of clay Cylindrical pottery vessels with intricate black and white designs. I was told these vessels were painsakingly and perfectly replicated vessels found at Chaco Canyon. These vessels were found to hold cacao elixirs used in native ceremonies. Hotel Chaco plans to create their own special chocolate elixir to be served at the hotel.
Level 5, the signature restaurant, offers fire grilled meats like venison and bison served with potatoes, corn and nuts which were eaten by the indigenous people here many years ago. A modern contrast is brought into play with desserts such as sorbet and eclairs.
Even the uniforms, brand and icon are representative of ancient origins. The uniforms were designed by fashion designer Patricia Michaels from the Taos Pueblo. You may recognize Patricia’s name from season 11 of Project Runway where she was the first runner-up winner. The logo lettering is designed to represent glyphs that evoke both ancient civilization and design from Chaco Canyon and the Toad Icon represents the Mexican Spadefoot Toad indigenous to the canyon.
In addition to all these artistic pieces and designs, Hotel Chaco offers those who enter many great amenities including:
- Equinox Cafe & Bar
- Level 5 Rooftop Restaurant
- Business Center
- Fitness Center
- Complimentary Yoga
- Outdoor Swimming Pool & Hot Tub
- Valet Parking
- Gallery Chaco & Dakkya Gift Boutique ( The gallery is owned and operated by artist Rhett Lynch, a contributing artist at the hotel.)
- Local Treasures Discount Program
- Pet Friendly
- Within easy walking distance to Old Town Albuquerque, museums, restaurants and the Sawmill District.
At Hotel Chaco come discover a journey that spans millennia but lets you remember to stop and be present in the here and now!
**Full Disclosure: I received a two night stay in exchange for my review. But don’t worry, all opinions are 100% mine.**
Location: 2000 Bellamah Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM
Phone: (505) 246-9989
For information on things to see, places to eat and information about Albuquerque go to: VisitAlbuquerque.org.