Art All Around New Buffalo Thunder Emphasizes Luxury, Culture

Date May 16, 2009 at 10:00 PM

Publication The Santa Fe New Mexican

Categories Local News & Sports


Talk about a splurge. One night in the Buffalo Thunder Resort's governor's suite doesn't come cheap. At $4,000 a night, ;you can really lay it on heavy,; said Richard Ross, the Hilton resort's marketing and sales manager. Of course, that's the top of the food chain at the luxury resort. The 2,500 square-foot, multistory suite features thousands of dollars in original Native American artwork, a marble hot tub, and of course, access to all the resort's many upscale amenities including the spa, the Towa golf course, the indoor and outdoor pools and the stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains. Like all 400 or so guest rooms at Buffalo Thunder, the governor's suite is decorated in colors and textures indigenous to Pueblo culture and hand-carved furniture -- just more of them are in the suite than in the regular $149-to-$300 rooms. Ross noted that all the architectural features -- furniture, laced, leather-covered railings, the handcrafted clothing chests, to the sconces in the guest hallways and the lobby's lighted ;Aspen Grove; designed by Firelight company literally across the street -- are conceived and approved by a ;theme team; consisting of Native American artists, historians and Pueblo and Hilton officials. That's because the complex is ;not just a casino, not just a resort,; but is grounded in as much Native American art as possible,; Ross said. ;It's all about the senses,; he added, ;what things look like, how the food tastes, even the smell.; To that end, the resort has developed its own scent, sold in bath oils and such in the spa and gift stores, drawn from native plants and indigenous outdoor scents. ;We want people to leave here with more than just the 'wow' factor,; he said. One of the resort's major wow factors is the number of food and beverage venues -- nine -- where you can have anything from a Starbucks latte to breakfast or lunch at Mica's in the lobby to nachos or a hamburger at the Turquoise Trail just off the casino floor to chipotle prawns or duck Habanero fig sausages at Mark Miller's Red Sage Restaurant. Another amenity that brings out the wows in patrons are the personal indulgences at the Wo' P'in, or Medicine Mountain, spa. Prices for a wide assortment of relaxation therapies vary, but generally run from $130 for a 50-minute Red Earth Cocoon mud bath or a Father Sky Gentleman's Facial to $270 for a Medicine Mountain journey that includes a traditional body scrub, warm Vichy rain showers, a full-body massage and a herbal wrap. Also on the upper end of the price scale at $270 is a not-for-the-sensually timid, four-hand Buffalo Thunder massage that results in a ;veritable stampede of therapeutic indulgences.; Or for $555, take a six-hour Spirit of the Mountain Journey that combines several of the pleasure packages. A unique aspect of the resort is its connection with Santa Fe's Indian Market. In 2008, Buffalo Thunder launched a title sponsorship of the Native art event, and will help pay for the planning and presentation of this August's market as well. As part of the partnership with the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (the group that puts on Indian Market), Buffalo Thunder's SWAIA Gallery features the work of juried Indian Market artists. Gallery assistant manager Diana Ortiz said that the gallery tries to get as many of the artists into the consignment shows as possible, turning over the work every 90 days. ;We are new at this so we are still learning,; Ortiz said. Jewelry sells the fastest, she said, but noted that the gallery recently sold a beaded golf bag by Freida Battise from Phoenix for $20,000. Also on consignment are textiles and clothing, pottery and clay sculptures. In addition to the gallery, many other Indian Market artists have work displayed around the resort -- pottery, paintings, drawings, sculptures, rugs, tapestries and carvings. It's a complete package -- a luxurious place to stay and surroundings that engage the senses. With its commitment to Native arts, it's also a resort that stands apart. Details Learn more about Buffalo Thunder Resort at