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Culture Club

Culture Club

By Linda Hayes
posted: 12/24/2005

The stark beauty of the Sangre de Cristo mountains has long stirred the passions of visitors to Taos, N.M., from artists and writers to skiers and adventurers. Home to the historic Taos Plaza, with its abundance of galleries, shops and restaurants, Taos has become a culinary destination for even the most well-traveled gourmets, and its growing coterie of chic inns, B&Bs and resorts has helped turn Taos into more than a mere ski town. Yet a ski town it remains: 22 miles north, Taos Ski Valley is one of the country's most soulful ski mountains, luring diehards with its challenging terrain. The dilemma: Stay in town or close to the mountain? No question, the local color is in town—if you don't mind the 30-minute drive to the slopes. Here are our picks.

SouthwesternThe Historic Taos Inn From its signature neon thunderbird sign to the authentic Southwest style of its rooms, The Historic Taos Inn epitomizes local color. A cluster of buildings dating to the 1800s surrounds a courtyard and patio, but the 36 rooms and suites are modern and comfortable. Come après-ski, order a Cowboy Buddha margarita in the famous Adobe Bar, and stay for dinner at Doc Martin's Restaurant, which serves excellent chile rellenos and boasts an award-winning wine list. $60—$225 per night; 888-518-8267;

El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa Just blocks from Taos Plaza, El Monte is as much about ecological preservation and sustainability as it is about luxury. The former is evident in its thorough recycling and water-purification systems, as well as in its chlorine-free indoor swimming pools and hot tubs. You'll find the luxury part of the equation in the gourmet fare served at De la Tierra restaurant, in treatments such as the Sumatra Body Polish at The Living Spa, and in the 36 plush suites and globally themed "Casitas of the World. $395—$1,095 per night; 800-828-8267;

Casa de las Chimeneas There's a fireplace in every room, but that's not what gives this B&B its warmth. Two blocks off Taos Plaza, the eight-room inn was once a private home, and it's still run that way. Three-course breakfasts and evening buffets are feasts, and the Wellness Spa offers couples massage and yoga classes. All rooms have TVs, private baths and mini-fridges stocked with free juice and soda. Ask for the Sala de Patron room for its massive, hand-carved bed, private sitting room and two-person jetted tub. $165—$325 per night, including breakfast and buffet; 877-758-4777;

The Bavarian Lodge If you must make first chair, the Bavarian, fashioned after the lodges of its namesake region, is your best bet. With only five suites, each named after Bavarian kings and castles and decorated with European antiques, it's hard to believe this lodge is midmountain at Taos Ski Valley—until you step outside and hop the Kachina chair for first tracks. Authentic sauerbraten and kalbsbratwurst in the lodge's restaurant amp up the Old World appeal. $275—$600 per night; 888-205-8020;

Also Consider

Luxury The Fechin Inn, three blocks from Taos Plaza; $127—$383; 888-751-1007;

Historic Old Taos Guesthouse, about two miles from Taos Plaza; $85—$165; 800-758-5448;

B&B Touchstone Inn, located at the edge of Taos Plaza; $85—$250; 800-758-0192;

Slopeside St. Bernard Condos, at the foot of the slopes; $375—$450 nightly, based on a six-night stay; 505-776-2251;

December 2005

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