The Inn and Spa at Loretto will reopen Wednesday, the last of eight downtown Santa Fe hotels to turn the lights back on after shuttering during the spring travel meltdown.
The delay in reopening the Loretto stems from extensive renovation work that overhauled the lobby and bar area and added a couple shops, said Molly Ryckman, vice president of marketing at Heritage Hotels & Resorts, which owns the inn.
Heritage also owns the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, which reopened July 15, Hotel St. Francis (July 1) and Hotel Chimayó de Santa Fe (July 1). All had closed in March as tourism collapsed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, leaving a handful of remaining downtown hotels with room occupancy rates at about 5 percent.
Advance bookings at the Loretto are at about 20 percent occupancy, a similar percentage as the Eldorado, Santa Fe’s biggest hotel that is a conference hotel with no conferences because of the state’s restrictions on gatherings of more than five people.
Americans are traveling robustly in August, with AAA forecasting only a 3 percent decrease in car travel from July to September over last year. New Mexico tourism is getting hammered by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham‘s 14-day quarantine for nearly all people coming into the state, a public health order put in place July 1.
“It’s very difficult,” Ryckman said. “Normally this time of year we would have 90 percent occupancy. We are trying to keep the employees we have employed.”
Heritage used the down time at the Loretto to undertake an overhaul of much of the public space, renovations that had been scheduled regardless of the coronavirus, she said.
The Living Room bar area was remodeled to create a large bar area. The front desk space also was remodeled.
Heritage’s travel company, Heritage Inspirations, will open its first brick-and-mortar shop among the shops near the Luminaria restaurant. Heritage offers walking, cultural, artisan, “glamping” and UNESCO tours, which until now met in the lobby of a Heritage hotel.
“It will be a hub for all of our Santa Fe tours,” said Angelisa Murray, who is a 50-50 partner at Heritage Inspirations with Heritage Hotels CEO Jim Long. “For five years, we were nothing but a website.”
With the store, Murray added 10 electric bicycles that can be rented and will also be used for City Different and Churches of the Royal City tours.
“We have been asked so many times, do we do bike tours?” Murray said.
The e-bikes also will make it easier to keep tours together, as hiking and walking tours have people moving at different speeds. Murray chose e-bikes to make it easier for people in the 7,000-foot elevation and also for older people.
“It changes the paradigm [for Heritage Inspirations],” she said about the e-bikes. “It’s a one-size-fits-all [business] model.”
Work is still underway on a new Crafted Cafe, a coffee, wine and spirits tasting room and patio. Only the patio will be used when Crafted opens Aug. 12 because indoor dining and bars are not allowed to operate under public health orders. Heritage has another Crafted Cafe at its Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque.
Another addition is the Salon at Loretto with hairstyling, manicures and pedicures, also opening Aug. 12.
Heritage also owns the Lodge at Santa Fe but has spun off operations of that property to a separate hotel management firm. The Lodge is expected to reopen in September, Ryckman said.