With the sharp outline of the Sangre de Cristo mountains as a backdrop, the town of Taos never lets you forget where you are. At least until you walk inside one of the themed suites or casitas at El Monte Sagrado resort. With its array of culturally inspired lodgings, the new luxury inn takes you on a trip around the world. Never been to Morocco? Bed down in "Marrakech, a two-bedroom casita decorated with teak furniture and hand-woven rugs. Need a Far East fix? Check into "Bali, boasting hand-painted walls and a bamboo shower. Each casita has a wet bar, a kiva fireplace and a patio with a hot tub. For a taste of the local flavor, opt for one of 18 suites—including "Kit Carson and "Geronimo—custom-decorated by area artists.
Attention to detail makes El Monte Sagrado an interior-designer's dream, while the resort's commitment to the environment embraces a new reality. Owner Tom Worrell Jr. is an eco-pioneer who built the resort in 2003 as a prototype to promote green development. Using Biolariums (a purification system that uses plants to filter and recycle the water) and solar trees (the "leaves are solar-heat panels), the resort generates 20 percent of its own power and plans to be self-sustainable within five years.
Yet no luxury is lost. The waterfalls, swimming ponds (which also recycle water) and tropical flora tap into the serenity of the outdoors. If you're inspired to leave this haven, the resort offers a range of activities to get you into the Southwestern sun—llama treks, snowshoe tours and guided trips to the Taos Pueblo, to name a few.
Returning from a day on the slopes at Taos Ski Valley, 30 miles northeast, guests filter into the spa for yoga and massage, as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture and Reiki. Later, they may cap off the night with cocktails at the resort's Anaconda Bar, followed by a full repast at De la Tierra restaurant (check out the dining review in SKI's January 2004 issue). The eatery serves up worldly entrees accented with regional ingredients, such as greenhouse-grown chiles cultivated on site. A fiery reminder, lest you truly forget where you are.
Click below for a slideshow and details of El Monte Sagrado.