GREEN IS MONEY: Think there’s a disconnect between “green” and “luxury”? That misconception is snuffed upon arrival at El Monte Sagrado, where these contradictions mix with gorgeous results. Adobe architecture rife with plant life and water features blends effortlessly with elaborate crystal chandeliers flown in from Italy. The Sacred Circle—a virgin piece of land, perfect for yoga or meditation—coordinates perfectly with hotel owner Richard Kessler’s extensive art collection. Sculpture and paintings abound in every corner of the property—from the grounds to the lobby, library, and gallery. The glamorous ballroom, complete with a Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano, is almost as impressive as the water system that recycles all black and gray water, which is later used for irrigation. The point is, whether your goals are purely altruistic or monumentally selfish—or somewhere in the middle—you can accomplish them here.
SLEEP AND SPA: Choose from 48 rooms with sleek and modern decor or 36 luxury casitas with international influences ranging from Morocco to Argentina. I stayed in “Egypt” and had King Tut as a roommate. But as lovely and amazing as all that is, the real star of the property is the Living Spa, a peaceful, light-filled haven offering more than 40 treatments. Sure, you can get massages, facials, and body wraps anywhere, but this is New Mexico, which means the focus here is less on looking good than feeling good. Spa employees are especially nurturing while administering care. Prior to beginning the Talistone massage, the massage therapist, Paul, presented a number of engraved Talistones from which I was asked to choose the intention that meant the most to me. (“Change,” if you must know.) Paul placed it on the table next to me, and for the next 75 minutes, he and I focused on it while he pressed heated river stones, gemstones, and oils all over my body. I left feeling relaxed and happy—and I even got to keep “my” stone. During the Signature High Desert Body Treatment, my poor therapist was given the task of exfoliating my dry, flaky skin with a Zuni salt mixture. After a quick shower, I was painted with a volcanic ash mask and wrapped in foil like a baked potato. While I was “baking,” I was treated with one of the nicest scalp and facial massages I’ve ever received. Spend a weekend at this retreat, and your inner cynic will all but disappear. On my final day at El Monte, a waitress mused, “Isn’t water the most wonderful miracle?” as she refilled my water glass. I didn’t even laugh.
How To Get There
Southwest Airlines flies nonstop from Dallas Love Field to Albuquerque. From there you need to rent a car for the two-hour drive to Taos. The public shuttle is a bit shady.
Where To Stay
El Monte Sagrado
317 Kit Carson Rd.
Taos, NM 87571
Rates: $209–$309 for casitas; $459–$619 for premier suites; $669–$769 for global suites (including Egypt)