Santa Fe’s Bishop Lodge closed in 2015 in order to undergo a massive renovation. After years of delays, more delays, and then Covid, they have finally reopened as a member of the Auberge Collection, and the result is quite extraordinary. While our over-seas travel is still on hold due to Covid, we have continued our exploration of destinations in the US that have been on our list for a long time, such as Santa Fe. After seeing some of the advance press on Bishop’s Lodge, I decided now was the time to go.
The hotel re-opened in July following the completion of more than $75,000,000 in upgrades and improvements. Keep in mind that although the property is stunning, it is not 100% finished. Currently about 1/3 of the accommodations are available to book, and the spa is not complete (mid November is the estimate we heard). There is presently one restaurant open on property (Dean Fearing‘s SkyFire), with a second more casual spot slated to open shortly. In addition, as with everywhere else currently, there seems to be a shortage of workers.
With all this in mind, the staff at Bishop’s was OUTSTANDING. Every single person we encountered was genuinely intent on providing the most friendly, helpful service they could. In truth, we were incredibly impressed. Aesthetically (even for people like myself who was never enchanted by the Southwestern vibe) the rooms and common spaces are stunning. The price point is very high, and while I don’t think it is worth it right now, it will be when everything has opened and things are running smoothly.
We actually drove to Santa Fe from our home in Montana (stay tuned for details on that journey) and arrived towing our Trailer. Danny the Valet (who is worth calling out- he was so welcoming and obliging) assisted in finding an out of the way spot for our RV and getting us settled in.
We entered Reception, stealing glances at all the fabulous details around the property. We were then driven up to our suite Kiva Moon which is located high upon a hill. There are three of these special suites, and they are really gorgeous.
A Kiva is a Hopi word for a round or rectangular room in a modern pueblo used for special occasions. Our room certainly was special. Best of all, everything was so new and immaculate; while I am sure there have been others who stayed before us, it still seemed pristine. The highlight inside was the double gas fireplaces- with one side facing the bedroom sitting area, and the other side facing the tub. In addition there was a bar cart with a recipe for us to mix our own specialty cocktail. Fun!
The bathroom was a winner as well, a fabulous space opening out to a private patio complete with firepit and plunge pool. The firepit got a lot of nighttime use, but the plunge pool which was set at 80 degrees stayed covered throughout our visit.
Our Virtuoso booking included not only breakfast, but a $100 daily resort credit to be used towards food or activities. Our first night we applied it towards drinks and snacks on the outside patio of SkyFire before we headed into town for dinner. The space is lovely and the quality of the food was really quite yummy. (A full rundown of all the great ,and not so great, dining spots will be published shortly).
The siting of the Kiva Suites is such that they are in the perfect position to catch the incredible sunsets, and once the sun goes down, the fire gets lit!
Breakfast at SkyFire was a daily highlight, we had a chance to walk through the dining room as well as the bar and reception area on the way to the morning patio, and it is just beautifully done. We continue to just eat outdoors due to Covid, but the dining room has the benefit of being open to the outdoors, so one morning we sat inside, just at the edge of the room. Currently it is mandatory in New Mexico to wear a mask in any indoor space, so to be honest, it felt pretty safe.
My breakfast every morning was the same (oatmeal, berries and peanut butter) but my husband did his part in sampling all the other delicacies on offer. If he had to choose his favorite among his four breakfasts (Shrimp Grits, Huevos Rancheros with Christmas (red and green) Chile Sauce, Cornmeal Pancakes and Breakfast Salad), he said it was close, but the winner was the Huevos Rancheros.
The property itself has lots to explore, including an inviting pool, the historic Chapel established in the mid 1800’s by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, and some very photogenic horses.
Although the spa is not yet open, we were able to book massages in our room. Mask mandate withstanding, we both enjoyed what is billed as a CBD infused massage with turquoise centering stones. While it was great to enjoy our first massage since Covid began, I know it would have been a whole lot better if done in the spa. They also forgot the turquoise stones.
We set aside one evening to dine at SkyFire, and we were not disappointed. The menu was created, and the kitchen is overseen by Dean Fearing who is very well known from his days at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. It was a Saturday night and the restaurant was full with both guests and members of the public who are welcome to dine at SkyFire. We were seated on the patio, and there was just one server attending to about 8 tables (which was a bit stressful). She kept her smile on, and her energy up- but they definitely need some support staff. The menu is appealing, but falls very short for someone who is both gluten free and vegetarian like myself. It is so lacking in choices that the chef (not Dean Fearing) came out to discuss creating and adapting some dishes that I could enjoy. Kudos to him for taking the time and making the effort, but as I don’t think gluten free vegetarians are all that rare- they need to have some menu choices available.
It turned out that the dinner was delicious, including the Watermelon Gazpacho amuse bouche, the Summer Green Salad of fruit and veggies and the Chef’s quinoa, pistachio, picked mushroom, radish, avocado and goat cheese entrée created just for me. My husband enjoyed his Hamachi Ceviche and Mesquite Grilled Strip Steak. The highlight of the meal for my husband though were the Fried Donut Holes with assorted dipping sauces.
After four days of relaxing, eating, and enjoying Santa Fe we were ready to head off to Utah and Idaho on our way back to Montana. We ended up having a chat with the Front Desk Manager who acknowledged that the property is not quite running at 100% , so he kindly offered me a night’s credit off our stay as well as a promise of a free night to experience Bishop’s Lodge when all the work has been completed, and it is functioning the way it should be, which I really appreciated.
The hotel has tremendous promise, not least of all because the staff is so committed to making it work. We look forward to returning next year, once it has reached it’s full potential.