Home ReviewsHotels and Resorts Mother Daughter Weekend to New Mexico at Tamaya Resort

Mother Daughter Weekend to New Mexico at Tamaya Resort

by Jan Schroder
Tamaya Resort near Albuquerque, New Mexico

Why a stay at a New Mexico resort was the perfect mother daughter weekend.

“This is kind of hard,” we laughingly said to each other as we took our hand-size  smooth rocks and pounded large clumps of clay into smaller pieces as we squatted over a huge bowl behind the Tamaya Resort. But we persisted, and soon our pile was ground down into a fine red dust.

Then it was time to really get down in the dirt as my daughter, Catherine, and I mixed the sand, straw and water until we could form a big mud ball, place it in a mold, level it off and imprint it with a native American design, all with the patient instruction of two staff members from the Santa Ana Pueblo.

Adobe brick making was just one of the activities we enjoyed during our mother daughter weekend to Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa.

The range of activities, delicious dining choices and proximity to the Albuquerque airport and Santa Fe made the resort a perfect choice for our getaway. Then there’s the added bonus of my hair.

The first time I visited New Mexico I realized my hair looks better there than any other state. Rather than battling my tends-towards-frizzy hair every morning, it was a delight to wake up, brush it and go.

So when Catherine suggested it as a destination for our mother daughter weekend as she had never been there, I was all for it. Here are a few of the other things we loved about the resort.

brick making at Tamaya Resort during a mother daughter weekend

Brick making was kind of like making mud pies together when Catherine was a child.

The location and landscape of Tamaya Resort

Tamaya Resort is about a 30-minute drive from the Albuquerque airport. One thing I immediately loved is how different the landscape in New Mexico is from our tree-filled, rolling hills of Georgia.

After driving through commercial areas of town, we turned onto the winding driveway to the resort, which is located between the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande River. It is on 550 acres of the Santa Ana Pueblo, which has around 79,000 acres. The Santa Ana people have lived in this part of New Mexico since the 1500s and now less than 500 people occupy their pueblo, the term for a North American Indian settlement in the Southwest. The Santa Ana Pueblo owns the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa and many of the residents work at the resort.

Another difference from where we live – me in Georgia and Catherine in Texas – is the presence of the Indian reservations. New Mexico has 23 tribes and more than 10% of its population is Native American.

At the resort’s Tamaya Cultural Learning Center — a single, round room in the adobe style — a member of the tribe shared its history with us as we viewed the artifacts that included blue cornmeal and the white, soft leather boots people of the pueblo still wear today for special occasions. And you don’t need to leave the resort to take home crafts from local artisans. Galleria Tamaya, next door to the cultural learning center, offered work from local artists, and we both selected pieces to take home with us.

The resort is also only about an hour from Santa Fe, making for a perfect day trip. (See below for more on that.)

{See related story: Taste of Tradition at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort]

The sense of place of Tamaya Resort

view of Tamaya Resort in New Mexico

The front of Tamaya Resort with the Sandia Mountains in the background.

One of the thrills of travel for me is feeling immersed in a different culture, a different landscape where with every glance I know I’m not at home. Local art is one way a hotel gives guests a sense of place, and we found that before we even went inside Tamaya Resort.

The circular entryway, called the Plaza of the Generations, features four sculptures in the center representing the past, present and future of the People of Tamaya and modeled after people who live in the pueblo. Throughout the property you’ll see Southwestern décor and Native American art, and the architecture of the resort is classic adobe style.

I loved the lobby area with two huge adobe fireplaces flanked by large Southwestern-style pots and full-length windows for views of the Sandia Mountains, which take their name for the Spanish word for watermelon because, for one beautiful moment at dusk, they glow pink. The resort has three pools, and the round Kiva pool is designed to reflect a traditional meeting place in the pueblo.

guest room at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort

I loved the Southwestern decor of our spacious room.

Our room was spacious with muted colors of beiges, browns and reds and a traditional pueblo blanket was draped on the wall. The best thing about it was the large balcony and an amazing view of the cottonwood forest and the Sandia Mountains. There was no doubt we weren’t in Georgia or Texas any longer.

Every one of the 350 guest rooms here has a patio with table and chairs, and other views include the courtyard or pool area.

A nice touch was the offer of a margarita at check-in, available in either alcoholic or non-alcoholic versions.

view from guestroom Tamaya Resort

The first thing I do when I get to a hotel room is look out the window. And this is what I saw.

The wide range of activities available

Lucky for us, my daughter and I run at about the same speed. We both love a lot of activities and are generally eager to fit as much as we can into a trip. (Although we will never top the 14-hour, 4-theme-parks-in-one-day trip to Disney.)

Because we were there on a summer Thursday, we were able to go to the Tamaya Rodeo at the Stables at Tamaya. While it didn’t quite match the scale of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, we were quite impressed to see several little girls weave their big horses around barrels and some brave teenagers attempt to lasso a calf. In between the rodeo events, children in the stands were invited to grab a hobby horse and run around the ring themselves. Just be prepared: it’s quite dusty! A snackbar onsite offered artisan popcorn and adult beverages, with sales benefiting the stables’ horse rescue program.

Catherine Villarreal and Jan Schroder heading on a bike ride.

Heading out on a bike ride. I used Shutterfly to make these matching backpacks with a photo from one of our previous mother daughter weekends. They fold flat and were perfect for taking to the pool or on this bike ride.

One evening before dinner, we borrowed bikes from the resort to take ourselves on a self-guided tour of the grounds. We took a peek at the Cottonwoods Gazebo and Pavilion, one of the resort’s wedding venues, and rode the Bosque trail down to the mighty Rio Grande.

What mother daughter weekend is complete without a visit to the spa? I don’t think spa treatments for kids and teens was a thing when Catherine was growing up, but she did have a spa party for her 13th birthday. I hosted it at our house with stations for manicures, paraffin treatments, hairdos and facial masks. So while I never took her for manicures, I did introduce the concept of pampering to her at a young age.

Tamaya Resort has a full-service spa onsite, the Tamaya Mist Spa and Salon where we sunk deeper into our state of relaxation with the Royal Renewal Treatment, which definitely lived up to its name. After being painted all over with a mask made of kaolin clays, we were covered with a shea butter-infused oil and had head and neck massages and facials. In the spa’s waiting room, we enjoyed fruit-infused water and snacked on chocolate with red chilis.

Our final morning at the resort, we were able to squeeze one last activity: making pueblo oven bread in a traditional Huruna (oven) situated in the resort’s courtyard. Again we found ourselves kneading — although this time it was dough rather than mud, and we got to eat the fruits of our labors: delicious warm bread loaves delivered to our room later that morning.

baking bread at Tamaya Resort

Catherine helped load the bread into the oven at the end of the bread baking class.

There were so many cultural activities we couldn’t fit them all in, but others include jewelry making classes with a Navajo Silversmith, gourd painting, and storytelling under the stars with acclaimed Native American storyteller.

Other activities at the resort include fly fishing, jeep tours, horseback riding, pueblo tours and hot air ballooning with the Rainbow Riders through the Rio Grande River Valley. If you’re traveling with younger children, you can take advantage of Camp Hyatt, which has a range of activities for the younger set.

Dining at Tamaya Resort

My daughter is like me in that food excites us and is an important part of our day and dining is definitely an integral part of any mother daughter weekend we take. While she and her husband eat mostly vegan fare at home, she’s game for anything when she visits us and when we travel. She says she’s a “hospitalitarian” – she’ll eat whatever she is served.

With five places to eat at Tamaya Resort we never saw the need to leave the resort and I absolutely loved being able to walk to meals. We had most of our meals sitting in the outside covered area of the spacious Santa Ana Café, often at the same table, which we came to think of as ours.

Catherine Villarreal and Jan Schroder at Santa Ana Cafe at Tamaya Resort

Having lunch at “our” table at Santa Ana Cafe. Please note Catherine’s cactus shirt – a nod to our New Mexico location.

Santa Ana serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition to regular breakfast items, you can choose indigenous-inspired fare like the Azteca chia bowl, Tamaya blue corn pancakes or Mocking Bird Huevos. The lunch and dinner menu includes pizza, burgers, tamales, taco salads, vegan power bowls and enchiladas — all available with red and green chiles, which seemed to be an integral part of any New Mexico meal.

We got dressed up one night for our dinner at the fine dining restaurant The Corn Maiden, named after the deity who is a symbol of sustenance, survival and life. I can say I’m firmly in favor of all of those things and this dinner was one of the highlights of our mother daughter weekend.

We sat by the window for spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains before dark descended. This menu has enticing items like scallops and prawns, stuffed poblanos, short ribs and the Corn Maiden Classic K’uchininak’u, which is native beef strip loin, buffalo sausage and Fresno chicken breast.

One of the more popular spots at Tamaya Resort is the Rio Grande Lounge, with a large deck for dining, listening to live music and watching the sun go down over the mountains. We grabbed a late dinner after our big day in Santa Fe. In addition to the full bar, wine and beer menu, the bar menu has burgers, fajita tacos, tamales, salads and chicken wings.

rio grande lounge

We spent a lot of time at the Rio Grande Lounge enjoying this view.

The Rio Grande Lounge also has daily promotions like Bacon Bloody Marys on Sunday and burger and draft beer night on Friday. One night when we were there the lounge hosted a chicken & waffle pop up on the patio – yum.

Other places for food are the Plaza Bar & Grille by the plaza pool and Atush Bar & Grille at the Twin Warriors Golf Course. Head to the Trading Post where you can get your Starbucks coffee and a casual meal to go as well as sundry items and souvenirs. We picked up ceramic hot air balloon Christmas ornaments, painted with hummingbirds.

Day Trippin’ to Santa Fe During Our Mother Daughter Weekend

Catherine-Villarreal-jan-schroder-santa-fe-train

A selfie at the station before boarding the Rail Runner Express Train in Santa Fe during our mother daughter weekend.

Catherine had never been to Santa Fe and we were thrilled when we found out we could jump on a train and be there in an hour, perfect for a day trip. A shuttle bus from the resort took us to the station a short distance away where we could hop on the Rail Runner Express Train that runs from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.

Painted like a road runner, the state bird, the double-decker train was comfortable and passed through stunning scenery of some of North America’s oldest settlements. For about 20 minutes of the trip we were asked not to take photos as a sign of respect as we passed through some pueblos.

The peaks of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountains are nothing like we’re used to on the East Coast and viewing them was all the entertainment I needed for the short trip.

At Catherine’s request, our first stop was Meow Wolf, a rather indescribable art sensory overload experience that has you wandering through a replica of a home in a former bowling alley, walking through refrigerators and crawling through fireplaces.

[See related story: George R.R. Martin and His Trippy Santa Fe Attraction]

Our next stop was the the square in Santa Fe. Saturday visit coincided with annual Santa Fe Indian Market, which draws huge crowds. We learned that Santa Fe in August can be really hot, the craftsmanship of the jewelry was fascinating and that for women visiting Santa Fe, there is no such thing as too much turquoise. We saw women draped with dozens of necklaces, bracelets and rings with turquoise belts around their waist.

After viewing markets we did our next favorite thing – find the local consignment shop where we only had a few minutes before closing to check out Double Take Consignment Shop. Catherine, who always has the best luck at consignment stores, engaged in some speed shopping and bought a few items.

On a tip from one of the sales ladies, we walked around the corner to Paloma where we relaxed in a small courtyard with margaritas and guacamole before heading back on the evening train.

Another memorable mother daughter weekend

If you count the first trip to Chattanooga with her brownie troop, which we probably shouldn’t as it was rather disaster-filled, we’ve been taking mother-daughter trips for more than 20 years now. We’ve been to Miami, New York, Chicago, Aruba, Cabo and on a Caribbean cruise. Next year? Who knows.

[See related story: Memorable Mother Daughter Getaways and Why You Should Go]

To book a stay, visit Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa.

– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief

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Memorable Mother Daughter Getaways [+ A Few Mishaps] - The Travel 100 January 3, 2020 - 12:25 pm

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