MACAU: Magical Charm
AUSTRALIA, TA: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
PERU: Lake Sandoval, Amazonia: Mundos Intocados – Untouched Worlds.
AUSTRALIA, SA: Hopping Across to Kangaroo Island
USA, WY: The Legend of Buffalo Bill
AUSTRALIA, SA: Dishing It Out In South Australia
USA, NV: Top 10 Las Vegas Travel Tips
KIWI: Stewart Island's Natural Beauty
KIWI: Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track - Stairway to Heaven
KIWI: Sitting on the DOC of the Bay - A Campervan in the Coromandel
HONG KONG: Top Ten Must See Attractions
MACAU: A Macanese Affair to Remember
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 2
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 1
KIWI: Top 10 Kiwi Coastal Department of Conservation Campsites
KIWI: South by Southwest Auckland
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Campervan Adventures on the Great Tropical Drive
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Adventurous Atributes
KIWI: Top 10 Adventure Activities to Experience in Auckland
KIWI: The Gems and Jewels of the Tutukaka Coast
AUSTRALIA, NSW: A South Coast & Southern Highlands Tasting Seduction
USA, WY: Unadulterated Wilderness - Yellowstone National Park
KIWI: Island’s in the Gulf
USA, SD: Famous Faces in Great Places
USA, MT: Montana’s Forgotten Ghost Towns
UAE: Abu Dhabi - More Than A Flight of Fancy
WESTERN SAMOA: In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stephenson
TONGA: Vava’u Island Group
KIWI: Unpack, Inhale and Unwind – Breathing Easy on Auckland’s West Coast
KIWI: Waiheke Island – Paradise Found
USA, ID: Sun Valley Lodge, Ketchum
USA, ID: A Big City with a Small Town Heart
SOUTH KOREA: Temple Tourism Where Silence is Golden
AUSTRALIA, TAS: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
AUSTRALIA, TAS: A Taste and a Tipple in Tassie
KIWI: Conjuring Up Some Matakana Magic
FIJI: Cavorting on the Coral Coast
USA, CA: Jamaica Bay Inn, Marina Del Rey
NEPAL: Kartwheeling in Kathmandu
KIWI: Going With The Flow - A Day on the Dart River
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 2.
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 1.
SINGAPORE: Capella Hotel, Sensosa Island
USA, HI: Hairpin Highway to Hana and Beyond
KIWI: Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown
ENGLAND: Haunted by Heathcliff - Yorkshire's Bronte Country
USA, CA: Handlery Union Square Hotel, San Francisco
KIWI: This Restless Land – Hiking the Tongariro Crossing & Mt. Ruapehu
KIWI: On My Bike - Mountain Biking and the Queenstown Bike Festival
ENGLAND: Mark it in Your Calendar – Visit Skipton, Yorkshire
SCOTLAND: A Scottish Highland Fling
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: Wrestling Wrasse on the Beara Peninsula
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: 48 Hours in Cork
ENGLAND: The Land of Romans, Myths and Medieval Castles
SCOTLAND: 48 Hours in Edinburgh
WALES: Wandering North Wales
USA, CA: In Yountville Pushing the Epicurean Envelope
ENGLAND: On The Trail of Lancashire’s Pendle Witches
THAILAND: Sky High in Bustling Bangkok
TAHITI: Lazy Hazy Days of Winter - Tahitii and Moorea
AUSTRALIA, QLD: In Seventh Heaven
VENEZUELA: Where Angels Dared To Tread
NORFOLK ISLAND: Isle of Exiles
NEW CALEDONIA: Flavours of New Caledonia
KIWI: The Wonder Country - Campervan Ventures in Southland
MALAYSIA, Sabah Borneo: In The Land of the Red Ape
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Taste of the Tropics

USA, NM: Santa Fe – Downtown Retreat & Mountain Ranch Resort

During the nineteenth century, La Fonda became the preferred destination of trappers, soldiers, gold seekers, gamblers and politicians. Through the Civil War, railroad expansion and New Mexico statehood in 1912, the building changed hands and names several times but remained a Santa Fe landmark.

AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2014


It was not what we expected; an icy Arctic blast had been pushed down from Canada all the way into New Mexico and it was unseasonably cold and snowing as we unloaded our bags into the lobby of La Fonda Hotel right in the heart of Santa Fe. Located on the town’s famous historic Plaza, it’s a beloved landmark of Southwestern hospitality – the oldest and best-known hotel in America’s oldest capital city.


Historical records suggest that La Fonda on the Plaza sits on the oldest hotel corner in America – dating back to 1607 when the Spaniards founded Santa Fe. In 1821, when Captain William Becknell completed the first successful trading expedition from Missouri to Santa Fe, the party found a comfortable inn – or fonda – on the Plaza awaiting them. Thus, the Santa Fe Trail was born, as was La Fonda’s reputation for hospitality.


During the nineteenth century, La Fonda became the preferred destination of trappers, soldiers, gold seekers, gamblers and politicians. Through the Civil War, railroad expansion and New Mexico statehood in 1912, the building changed hands and names several times but remained a Santa Fe landmark.


The current La Fonda, built in 1922, sits on the same site as previous inns, literally at the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail and the Plaza. In 1925, the new building was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, becoming known as the ‘Inn at the End of the Track’. It was then leased to the family of legendary hotelier Fred Harvey. The Harvey family turned La Fonda into one of the famous Harvey Houses, which it remained until 1968, when it was acquired by local businessman Sam Ballen and his wife Ethel.


In the autumn of 2013, La Fonda completed its most significant room renovation project since the 1920s. Prior to initiating the project, in an effort to maintain the historic property’s authenticity, the hotel team conducted detailed studies of the original building plans and the aesthetics of original designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. The resulting design remains true to Colter’s vision while bringing fresh, new modern touches. With the exception of the Terrace Suites, all guest rooms received new lighting, floor coverings and handcrafted furnishings; new energy-efficient casement windows; state-of-the-art temperature controls and sound insulation, and updated plumbing, electrical and communication systems. Also in this project, the rooftop Bell Tower Bar was expanded by 500 square feet. With dramatic views the fifth-floor rooftop setting is one of the best-kept secrets in Santa Fe.


La Fonda’s signature restaurant, La Plazuela, was the hotel’s original 1920s open-air courtyard and retains the same Old World charm where Chef Lane Warner updates northern New Mexico classics with locally sourced organic meats and produce. Several vegetarian and gluten-free options are available, and the restaurant’s extensive wine list has been given the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.


La Fonda on the Plaza is across from the St. Francis Cathedral Basilica on Santa Fe Plaza, where the local Native Americans sell their jewelry, rugs and touristy trinkets as well as being the centre of shopping, nightlife, annual art markets and special events. The hotel’s marriage of distinctive Old World tradition with contemporary luxury and convenience make it the perfect base for Santa Fe vacations.




Bishop's Ranch Lodge Resort & Spa:


Situated in the Canoncito del Rio de Tesuque, Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa, Santa Fe’s only authentic ranch resort is another genuine Southwestern experience just minutes and a world away from the daily life of a small city.


Spaniards had explored this area as early as the 1590s but it was Francisco Vasques de Coronado who in 1650 led an expedition to this region from Mexico in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola that were said to be made of gold but according to legend all he found were scattered adobe Indian villages and Native Americans who inhabited the foothills and mesas of the local mountains.


Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa presides over 450 scenic acres where four full seasons of activities and recreation are guaranteed. It is an historic destination ranch resort nestled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Wrapping around a 156-year-old historic chapel, hence the name, the resort includes 15 Santa Fe adobe-style lodges housing 91 unique rooms many with kiva-style (a Pueblo Indian ceremonial structure) fireplaces, quiet courtyards and quaint balconies as well as eight gated exclusive villas where the likes of Johnny Depp has stayed while he was filming the western movie, ‘The Lone Ranger.’


The first Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean Baptist Lamy, was drawn to the natural and tranquil beauty of the Tesuque Valley where he established his private retreat, La Villa Pintoresca, in 1853. Today, Bishop’s Lodge is dedicated to preserving Archbishop Lamy’s history including the original chapel, which is still in use to this day.


During spring and autumn, guests can explore the adjacent Santa Fe National Forest, which we did on one of their guided horseback rides where we enjoyed dazzling views of rolling foothills and majestic canyons. Joachim, a Native American Indian was our wrangler guide and there was little he did not know about the American Southwest. When I asked him about the lone burro mixed in with the horses in the corral, he said, “the burros hate coyotes and they feel protective of the horses, so they will raise a warning and will even fight off threatening animals – by the way the Burro’s name is Moonshine!”


The resort also boasts the award winning Shanah Spa, a Native American word for vitality and energy. There is also a beautiful outdoor pool with an adjacent fitness room, surrounded by lush lawns and towering cottonwoods ideal for a range of activities that include horse riding, mountain biking, bird watching, nature hikes and chapel history tours. There are also tennis courts, a yoga studio, sunset cookouts and a multi-sport kids program.


The resort is also home to Las Fuentes Restaurant and Bar, offering contemporary, creative American cuisine with of course a Southwestern flair. At dinner that night I opted for a delicious onion soup followed by High Desert Hare – rabbit pot pie with hatch green chile and desert thyme, roasted fingerling potatoes, stewed apples – mouth wateringly appropriate in this part of New Mexico.


One other place worth stopping in at is a little adobe building housing Santa Fe Spirits. This establishment specialises in Whisky tastings with seven or more on offer as well as specialty cocktails such as Wiskeyrita – Silver Coyote whiskey, lemon, lime and sugar to a Coyote Cactus – Silver Coyote whiskey, prickly pear juice, lemon, lime, and sugar then dusted with cinnamon.


If you venture into this Southwest corner of New Mexico, leave a few days free to visit a number of important Native American Indian pueblos, ruins and cliff dwellings that dot the landscape. Also near Santa Fe is Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The canyon was central to thousands of people between 850 and 1250 A.D. Today the massive buildings of the ancestral Pueblo peoples still testify to the organisational and engineering abilities not seen anywhere else in the Southwest. You can explore Chaco through guided tours, hiking and biking trails, their museum, evening campfire talks, as well as attending night sky programs.


No wonder New Mexico’s state motto is, ‘Land of Enchantment.’





Santa Fe is situated at an altitude of 2,130 m with it’s own municipal airport and is located approximately 96 km northwest of Albuquerque in north-central New Mexico.


New Mexico Tourism

P: +1 505-827-7400



Santa Fe, New Mexico

P: +1 505 955 6200



La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

P: +1 505 982 5511



Bishop’s Ranch & Spa, New Mexico

P: +1 505 819 4002



Chaco Culture National Historical Park

P: +1 505 786 7014



Shane Boocock flew courtesy of award winning Air Tahiti Nui, the international flag-carrier of Tahiti and her islands in the latest-generation Airbus A340-300 aircraft direct from Auckland to Tahiti and on to Los Angeles: W:



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