First Covid Hotel Adventure
After months of hunkering down at home, Don and I decided to plan a trip to see our kids in August.
Adding to the Notable Night list was not the goal. We cared more about safety than adventure, on our drive from Texas to Oregon. Our stop at La Fonda gave us both.
A Quiet Friday
We arrived on a Friday afternoon and found the lovely, tourist town eerily quiet.
We were able to easily to park on the street across from the Pueblo style building.
Two years ago when we toured the hotel, we saw no signs about masks and there were no containers of hand sanitizer. But I was happy to see both, on this visit.
We had chosen to stay at La Fonda, because we'd read positive reviews about how the hotel was handling the pandemic.
How Much Risk?
This was the final hotel stop on our drive back home. All our other hotel stays had been with clean, safe and boring Marriotts. Was it risky to stay at a charming, historic hotel?
Lack of guests made it feel very safe... and sad. This beautiful lobby should have been bustling on a Friday.
Harvey House History
Without guests, it was easier to picture the hotel in 1925, when the famous hotelier, Fred Harvey began operating one of his Harvey House Hotels
I loved picturing this cozy space, in the Roaring Twenties, when La Fonda first opened. If any flappers visited, they might have needed the warmth of a cozy fireplace.
Our hotel adventures have always involved lots of exploring. But these are different times. Don and I are incredibly cautious. It suddenly felt strange to be wandering in my mask...
But, there was no one in sight, so I felt safe. I took in all the details in the stairwell... the tiles and stained glass.
The stairs at the east entrance had intriguing murals.
I don't know the history, but I loved the simple figures and pueblo buildings.
Stairs & Windows
I traveled up the stairs from the lobby and found some colorful, hand-painted windows.
The mezzanine floor had a great view of "La Plazuela", which has been cleverly turned into a temporary art gallery.
This is the same view, 2 years ago.
I took the photo early, before the restaurant opened. It was an indoor space, but felt like a courtyard. I so hoped that we could eat here on our next visit. Not this time.
Art in the Halls
We were given a first floor room, which meant no elevators. Yay! One more way to avoid contact with others.
I loved studying the curious art in the hallway. The porthole didn't open. I tried. I wisely, did not try to open the painted door. I left the fire extinguisher alone.
I loved the hefty door to our room. Look at the curious, angular accents surrounding the door.
The room was cozy and quiet, just like the whole hotel.
The colorful headboard and heavenly bedding was a perfect combo.
The bathroom had a sleek, sliding door and a colorful bit of art in the shower.
The furniture had a classic southwest lodge feel. I'm not sure if any was original, but it fit the theme. The cabinet stored the modern fridge and coffeemaker.
This sweet space, gave us a little extra room to spread out.
Our first floor room was raised just enough, to give us a nice view. There was a market across the street and some interesting clouds. Beyond the market we could see Loretto Chapel and a wedding party, all dressed in masks. Interesting and sort of sad to watch.
A couple years ago, Don and I visited the Tower Bar and had drinks at sunset. We had good memories of sitting in that row of chairs, looking out over Santa Fe.
I'm not even sure if the bar was still operating, but we decided to avoid it. Instead we checked out La Terraza, for dinner.
We peeked in and met Alysia, who was waiting tables. She greeted us in her mask and gloves and put us right at ease.
She invited us to look around, before making reservations for later.
In all our months of caution, Don and I had not dined anywhere, inside or out. We hadn't even been tempted.
But, the staff and atmosphere at La Terraza had made us excited for the first time.
Everyone on duty wore masks and gloves. We were handed disposable menus. We kept masks on to order, then waited for our sparkling wine.
Our table couldn't have been any more isolated! We had a perfect view of St. Francis and the bells chimed at 7:15, right after we sat down.
Cheers to First Pandemic Restaurant Dining
We decided we needed to offer a toast to our first meal out in nearly a half year.
It felt odd. We kept looking around to see how other diners were handling the experience. Were people placing their masks on the table? Were they putting masks on when they stood up? No one looked like it was their first "dine out" experience.
When I stood to take the photo of Don, a man at a nearby (well actually not all the near) noticed and stood up. "Oh allow me!" He reached out for my photo and offered to take our photo.
It was all so fast. I reached out to hand over my phone. He suddenly apologized for not putting on his mask. He took the photo and we all laughed awkwardly. I sat down and reached for my travel hand sanitizer. I guess we broke some rules there, but oh well. We got a photo of our big night.
Rain & Food
Just before our food arrived the wind began to gust and the clouds let loose. Our umbrella didn't quite do the trick. But we were able to sit under the roof of the open air room.
My Huitlacoche Tamal was quite amazing. Don's Enchiladas del Norte was spicy hot! The food was delicious and I was extra impressed with the gracious staff... from the woman who cleaned our table to the manager who seated us!
After dinner, Don and I spent some time wandering bit. We knew we would need to leave before daylight the next day.
We've stayed in Santa Fe before, but never this close to the town center. What a wonderful treat to visit St. Francis on a quiet, balmy night. We had it all to ourselves.
A lot of people come to Santa Fe, just for the shopping. That wasn't something we were up for, but before turning in we enjoyed a little window shopping.
This shop window was at our hotel. Don was the first to notice it. We both burst out laughing. Don pointed to her and told me, "Girl, this is how you do Santa Fe!"
We have wanted to stay at La Fonda for many years. The pandemic prices made it possible for us. It wasn't the experience we dreamed of long ago, but I would say it was better. I will always remember that our stay at this wonderful and safe hotel, gave me a little bit of hope. If Covid is with us for 10 more months or 10 more years, at least I know there is a way to escape a bit, even if while wearing a mask.
Our short stay was a piece of pandemic heaven.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!