The Bishop’s Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection, opened Thursday with $1,000 to $3,000 per night rooms for ultraluxury travelers who want a resort experience rather than just a room.
The 100 guest rooms, suites and stand-alone accommodations accompany outdoor activities such as mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking and horseback riding on the 317-acre property along with guides available for excursions around Northern New Mexico, general manager John Volponi said.
Bishop’s Lodge could become the only New Mexico top-rated AAA Five Diamond hotel, he said.
“We believe there was a limited number of luxury rooms in Santa Fe, and there is a demand for this,” Volponi said. “[Auberge Resorts has] resorts in Colorado and Utah that are basically a day’s drive apart. We put together itineraries for people to go from resort to resort.”
He said many guests in the opening months are customers at the other 19 Auberge Resorts Collection properties in places like Napa Valley, Calif.; Aspen, Colo.; Telluride, Colo.; Hawaii; Austin, Texas; Los Cabos, Mexico; and Greece.
Reservations started in mid-February.
“I have very little availability through July,” Volponi said. “August is booking up, well over 50 percent. We will be 80 [percent] to 90 percent for August. I think that will continue into December.”
Tourism Santa Fe Executive Director Randy Randall believes there is a niche in the local tourism market for another ultraluxury hotel.
“It really [provides] a different option for our visitors that has been missing,” Randall said. “Assuming they can maintain occupancy, they are proving there is a demand for that type of room. I think we need to have a broad offering of lodging in Santa Fe.”
Auberge Resorts Collection is the management company for the property owner, HRV Hotel Partner, headed by Richard Holland, who invested more than $75 million to reconstruct a property dating back to the 1860s when Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy first settled on the property. The original chapel remains as well as the 1915 residential lodge that now houses the SkyFire restaurant.
Auberge brought in Dallas chef Dean Fearing to develop the SkyFire concept and menu and serve as the “culinary inspiration” for the restaurant. Fearing owns the AAA Four Diamond Fearing’s Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas and before that he was executive chef for 20 years at another Dallas AAA Four Diamond restaurant, The Mansion on Turtle Creek. They are two of only four AAA Four Diamond restaurants in Dallas.
Fearing was guest celebrity chef at the 2018 Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta and hosted the Food Network show Entertaining at Home with Dean Fearing.
Holland acquired the property in 2014 with the intention to open a luxury hotel in 2017. After a series of delays, construction began in July 2019.
The lender of a $43 million loan to Holland to finance the project filed a complaint May 7 in First District Court seeking a monetary judgment and court approval to foreclose on the property for alleged nonpayment. A notice of excusal was issued May 17.
The delays in opening positioned Bishop’s Lodge to avoid the 2020 tourism collapse and open in the early months of travel frenzy.
“There is a real resurgence in discovering the U.S.,” Volponi said. “People are taking resort vacations. This is such a unique, special part of the U.S.”
Auberge Resorts Collection regards itself as a collection of properties rather than a chain. Each Auberge property is specifically designed to reflect its region.
“Bishop’s Lodge is our first name,” Volponi said. “Auberge is the family name.”
Dallas-based Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architectsand the Hospitality Interiors Studio of global design firm HKS designed the Bishop’s Lodge. HKS director of hospitality interiors Mary Alice Palmer at one time lived in Santa Fe.
A stay at Auberge Resorts is sold as an experience, not just a room.
“We contact every guest before they arrive,” Volponi said. “We have a suggested list of activities at the resort and in the area. We arrange that for you.”