Families who want interesting, relevant and fun cultural experiences on a family trip often think that means forgoing the relaxing amenities of a more traditional resort-style vacation. At Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, guests get a great mix of both with a breathtaking New Mexico landscape as their backdrop.
The Tamaya resort is operated and managed by the well-known Hyatt Regency hotel chain. But the property and land are owned by the Tamayame Pueblo Indians and found on the Santa Ana Pueblo. This influence is woven throughout the experience of staying here, from the Native American-inspired artwork that adorns the walls to the activities offered to families each day.
Choices for cultural activities for children are plentiful, including adobe brick making, pottery lessons, dream catchers, leather stamping and traditional bread making. During peak seasons, cultural learning extends throughout the resort: Native American traditional dancing, storytellers, and more. Parents can participate in lessons as well, including jewelry making, watercolor painting and archery. There’s also a cultural center onsite where guests can further their knowledge of the Santa Ana tribe.
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Having visited the nearby Petroglyph National Monument a few days earlier in Albuquerque, my children chose to paint petroglyph treasure boxes with an experienced art teacher during our stay. Their instructor not only gave further depth to their existing knowledge of the petroglyphs, she also spoke to us at length about her day-to-day life (she is a part of a neighboring tribe and lives on a nearby pueblo). In fact, guests are encouraged to engage with staff here in this way, as many are Native Americans.
Families should also make time to go geocaching during their stay at Tamaya. There’s a well-developed trail and at each stop families learn not only more about the resort and the land, but also unique cultural details about this region of the United States.
While the quality cultural offerings might suggest that Tamaya is more living history museum than relaxing vacation destination, it is indeed both and the resort-style amenities are incredible. A highlight of our stay was a visit to the stables. My children participated in a lead-around for about an hour, while my husband and I enjoyed the peacefulness of the mountains and mesas in the distance. There are programs here for every age and level of equestrian skill. The stables at Tamaya are well known throughout New Mexico for their incredible rescue program, and indeed many of the horses there are part of this charitable mission.
We picked up bikes one afternoon (they have sizes to suit all, including baby seats and trailers) to explore the incredible grounds at Tamaya. We chose the trail that leads to the Rio Grande River, which also included fitness stations along the way. My active boys loved this.
There are also games throughout the property, fitness classes and a gym, a staffed kids’ club open year-round, a spa and salon, and an 18-hole golf course. Families with older children should consider arranging a hot air balloon ride, an iconic New Mexico experience. Tamaya has a launch point right on the property. And the nightly s’mores making is not to be missed, as it gives families a relaxing setting to interact.
Life at Tamaya in the warmer months revolves around the three outdoor pools. Children will never forget their first plunge down the three-story tunnel-style water slide, which ends at the main pool. The other two options include a peaceful, adults-only pool and a splash/shallow pool well suited for young children.
Tamaya is in the midst of a full room renovation (though it remains open), and by spring 2017, all the rooms will be completed. This renovation won’t rid the property of its Native American influence, but the fabrics and finishes will have a more modern and polished look.
Families will love that the 23 suites have kitchens, suitable for preparing meals. There are pullout sofas for children as well as suites that connect with a second bedroom. This flexibility in room configurations makes Tamaya an ideal spot for multigenerational gatherings.
For families of four or less, especially those only staying a few nights, the Mountain Vista Double is comfortable and spacious. Rates start at $234 for a family of four. Guests can also choose mesa or plaza (pool area) views, and all rooms have private balconies or patios.
I loved our ground-floor, mountain-view room because our patio opened right up onto a lawn area and my children felt like we had our own backyard (a rare treat while traveling!). They happily ran around this space in the mornings while my husband and I sipped coffee. The sunsets in New Mexico are unforgettable, so mountain views are certainly worth requesting. But rooms facing the plaza are also popular with families because of the proximity to the pools and activities.
Tamaya can please palates of all kinds from morning to night. Start with breakfast at Santa Ana Café — guests feast on a spread that includes all the usual morning staples, plus several local specialties. I loved the outdoor patio here, and on chilly mornings, a fire warms those who don’t want to give up on dining al fresco. Santa Ana is open throughout the day and serves all three meals.
For lunch, families can grab a quick bite from the convenience store or order food to be delivered poolside if they don’t want a sit-down meal. At dinner, we enjoyed the casual atmosphere of the Rio Grande Lounge and Patio. It has amazing mountain views and fantastic happy hour specials, and the patio overlooks a big lawn where children can play.
For a fancy date night, book the kids into Camp Tamaya and indulge in dinner at Corn Maiden, a fine dining experience housed in an adobe-style building onsite.
The unique offerings of New Mexico are on many families’ bucket lists. Tamaya is situated in a way that allows guests to experience so much of the area’s wonders, yet still retreat back to the resort each evening. Albuquerque is only 20 minutes away and its airport is served by most major airlines. It’s a city with many attractions that families would enjoy. Picturesque Santa Fe is 45 minutes away, perfect for a day trip. The resort can even arrange train rides into Santa Fe for those who’d rather not rent a car. Outdoorsy families will love the many national forests and other parklands suitable for gorgeous hikes throughout the area.
Tamaya itself feels worlds away from modern life, nestled into the forest on the edge of the Sandia mountains and the banks of the Rio Grande River with no other development immediately surrounding it. But surprisingly, it’s only five minutes away from Bernalillo, a town that has all the conveniences of the suburbs — perfect if families need to grab staples or just don’t enjoy being too far off the beaten path.
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa offers families a cultural twist on the usual resort experience. The connection to the land, the history and the people is a point of pride, as well it should be, and families will leave feeling richer for having experienced it.
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Editor’s Note: Nicole received a media rate for her stay at Tamaya. As usual, all thoughts and opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Nicole Wiltrout.
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