In New Mexico, the Pueblo is at the center of Native American culture. Its beginnings trace back to Chaco Canyon, a National Historical Park, and Unesco World Heritage Centre that contains some of the most notable ruins from pre-Columbian civilizations in the United States. The park lies in the northwestern part of New Mexico between Albuquerque and Farmington. Today the Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque, New Mexico pays homage to Chaco Canyon and its culture.
Chaco Canyon History
The history of Chaco Canyon and the early Puebloans, the Anasazi, begins in 850 and continues through 1250. The site focuses on ceremonial, trade, and political activities, revealing the importance of community life and the higher level of social organization. Structural elements include multi-storey construction, sophisticated masonry, and roads. It is an architectural achievement utilizing sandstone walls, mud mortar, multi-storey structures, pine roofs, and beams. The buildings were often aligned to solar and lunar cycles and surrounded specifically by sacred mountains, mesas, and shrines that contain spiritual and meaningful significance, both past and present. The Chacoan culture was the precursor of public architecture.
Hotel Chaco is located in Albuquerque’s Historic Old Town center and across the street from the new urban Sawmill district. The hotel is a AAA 4 diamond boutique hotel and part of Heritage Hotels and Resorts, a group of hotels based in New Mexico.
The hotel design was conceived by the prominent architectural firm Gensler. The hotel’s façade, with its pale sandstone colors, creates an atmosphere that blends in with the Southwest’s dry arid climate. Many of the design features are indicative of elements found in Chaco Canyon and New Mexico’s pueblos. Canyon and New Mexico’s pueblos.
Interior Designer Kris Lajeskie is responsible for the colors and materials used in creating the interiors. Her goal was to evoke the spirit of Chaco, which is immediately apparent as you walk through the front doors of the hotel.
Even the logo and branding of the name Hotel Chaco relates to Chaco Canyon. This concept is especially true with the icon of the toad. The Mexican Spadefoot Toad is indigenous to Chaco Canyon. During the excavation of the Chaco Canyon site, carved frogs were found buried in the rooms of the Pueblo and ruins.
As I walked into Hotel Chaco’s lobby, I felt a sense of tranquility and serenity. The spirit and essence of Chaco Canyon’s national monument lie within the walls of this Albuquerque hotel. Both the sandstone and brown colors of the walls and floor add to the feeling of a southwest landscape yet perceived as a calm, quiet space.
Not only did I feel the Native American presence, but the hotel is very comfortable and pet-friendly, two pluses in my book.
Hotel Chaco Art
Hotel Chaco houses a marvelous collection of original contemporary Native American and New Mexican art. This prominent display of artwork alone is worthy of a stay at the hotel. As an art lover, I appreciated the significance of the artwork throughout the hotel. The lobby doors, the artwork and light fixtures on the walls, and the staff uniforms are central to the hotel’s ambiance. The décor of each guest suite blends with the artwork that adorns its interior. I even found spiritual meaning in the sandstone color of the building and landscaping as it brings out the best of the Southwest.
The art collection represents more than 23 celebrated Native American artists, and they denote many of the southwestern pueblos and tribes in the area. Each piece has a specific meaning, whether directly to the hotel or Chaco Canyon. The artistry reflects the spirit of the Hotel Chaco.
Hotel Chaco Entry and Lobby
Entering the hotel, you are greeted at the front door by artist Tammy Garcia from the Santa Clara Pueblo. She created the doors and the Oculus in the lobby. The black doors are a modern interpretation of the renowned black pottery from the Santa Clara Pueblo. Adorning the doors is the image of Avanyu, the Tewa water serpent, which appears in petroglyphs around the Southwest and specifically Chaco Canyon. Tammy’s vision for the Oculus reveals three eagles. The idea is to draw your eyes up to the sky.
The bronze sculpture in the middle of the lobby by Joe Cajero of the Jemez Pueblo, called Oneness, symbolizes the cohesion of nature, body, mind, and spirit, both male and female. Today, it signifies diversity and unites the lobby we observe the diversity of people who come and stay.
Above the front desk, artist Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo created a ceramic sculpture fused with metal called the Guardian. This artwork acts as the guardian angel of the hotel.
The hotel staff greets you dressed in uniforms designed by Patricia Michaels, Taos Pueblo. Each outfit is inspired by painted pottery shards found at Chaco Canyon. The clothing is befitting of the Hotel’s symbolic Native American spirit.
The art referenced in this article is just a sampling of what one views at Hotel Chaco. A visit will let you encounter more of the marvelous artwork on display as you wander the halls and open spaces around the hotel.
This post is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Wander With Wonder.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, this writer received hosted accommodations. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.