Santa Fe offers a quintessential southwestern getaway for groups, with striking landscapes and terrific culinary offerings. But it offers plenty of surprises as well. Successful Meetings recently spoke with Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe, who is responsible for the convention and visitor's bureau, the community convention center, and the office of arts and culture. He shared his insight about what's new in the destination, and some hidden hot spots visitors should consider.
What's new in Santa Fe for groups?
Renowned Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf recently announced the opening of the "House of Eternal Return" installation. This is Meow Wolf's first permanent exhibition and the follow-up to their successful "The Due Return." Game of Thrones creator, longtime Santa Fe-resident and supporter of the project, George R.R. Martin says, "'House of Eternal Return' is going to be like nothing you've ever seen before." A group of 135 artists are involved in creating 70 different individual immersive spaces, a 300-person music venue, an arcade with 14 games, four treehouses, an interactive cave system, and more. The exhibition takes audiences of all ages into a fantastic world of exploratory imagination by way of a radical new form of storytelling where audiences are immersed within a multimedia art experience that unfolds through an interactive and magical narrative.
What's a "hidden gem" for visiting groups?
The new Santa Fe Margarita Trail will launch May 5 as an ongoing culinary cocktail experience for visitors and Santa Fe locals alike. The Trail highlights 31 restaurants and bars that offer a special, uniquely designed and named margarita using the finest tequilas and ingredients. The Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport describes participating establishments and includes the recipe for each margarita. Passports will be used to collect stamps for each margarita sampled. Passport holders can turn them in at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center Visitor Center for a special Santa Fe Margarita Trail t-shirt or other tiered gifts based on number of stamps received.
Santa Fe was the first place tequila was ever exported from Mexico, up the legendary El Camino Real Trail. They say "all trails lead to Santa Fe" and The Santa Fe Margarita Trail is the latest in centuries of trail tradition in "The City Different."
What's a good outing for a group looking to get a sense of the culture or history?
The New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors National Historic Landmark are distinctive emblems of our nation's history. The museum presents exhibitions and public programs that interpret historical events and reflect on the wide range of New Mexico historical experiences. The museum actively acquires and holds in perpetuity collections relating to the heritage of New Mexico and the Southwest. The institution serves as a history center for research, education, and lifelong learning, delivering quality programs that encourage knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of New Mexico's diverse cultures.
The Palace of The Governors was originally constructed in the early 17th century as Spain's seat of government for what is today the American Southwest, and chronicles the history of Santa Fe as well as New Mexico and the region. This adobe structure, now the state's history museum, was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1960, an American Treasure in 1999 and a National Treasure in 2015.
Where should a group go to get a truly local culinary experience?
The Santa Fe School of Cooking is an internationally acclaimed, recreational culinary school and market that specializes in foods of the southwest. The school offers an array of Southwest cooking classes nearly every day, year round, and is famous for their Santa Fe restaurant walking tours and other special cooking and Southwest food events.
The beautiful new downtown facility has a hands-on kitchen and a greatly enlarged demonstration kitchen with multiple live video angles and large flat screens that has allowed for new classes and to accommodate more many more guests for traditional favorites. Classes are highly entertaining, educational, delicious, and taught by some of the best chefs in Santa Fe as well as world-acclaimed guest chefs and cookbook authors.
You can learn about the "Three Sisters" -- how corn, beans, and squash were grown in perfect and sustainable harmony, and why the majestic chili pepper grows best on the planet here. I especially suggest their restaurant tours, where you see the best of Santa Fe chefs in action and get to work with them in their environment. Great for groups. The service and the entire experience is first class, a must for those who love cooking -- or just eating.
Anything else that makes Santa Fe great for groups?
Santa Fe is one of the world's most beloved destinations. "The City Different" offers four centuries of history and legend, ancient and modern cultures, a majestic outdoor world of recreation and adventure, vibrant visual and performing arts, expansive culinary delights, revitalizing spas, and uniquely tasteful shopping.
Santa Fe provides the highest possible quality in each and every category a group could desire. In "The City Different," groups are limited only by their imagination.