Quick quiz: What is the best hotel between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado?
You guessed it, the Santa Claran Hotel and Casino in Espanola, New Mexico. And if you take my advice, you WILL be staying at the Santa Claran.
Why mention this place and where the heck is Espanola? When you travel to New Mexico to play one of the best courses on this planet and possibly my all time favorite, Black Mesa Golf Club, you’ll need a place to stay. There you have it.
Santa Claran Overview
The Santa Claran is a new hotel and casino, recently built by the Santa Clara Pueblo tribe. The location is in the town of Espanola, about 30 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The hotel is the biggest and nicest in the town of Espanola and tops any place within a 30 mile radius. The hotel boasts 122 rooms including 19 fantastic suites. My review is based on my stay in one of the suites.
I loved my spacious suite. There were three main rooms–the bedroom, bathroom and family room. The suite included wired and wireless internet, which was nice and fast.
In the family room there was a kitchenette, fridge, sink, flat screen TV, couch, chairs, coffee table and a dining room set.
The bedroom was spacious and also had a flat screen TV and lazy boy type chair. The king sized bed was very comfortable, especially for my bad golfer’s back. I felt great in the mornings after sleeping on that bed.
The bathroom alone was probably more square feet than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in and appointed with great tile work. The bathroom had separate shower and bath, as well as a large dual-sink counter with mirror.
I also enjoyed the nice balcony. I sipped a few frosty beverages while chilling out on the balcony, enjoying the New Mexico fresh air. The balcony was accessible from the family room and the bedroom.
The lobby is beautiful and a great place to relax and sip a cup o’ joe from the coffee shop. In the lobby is a great gift shop which features some beautiful native American artwork, jewelery and pottery. Near the lobby, the hotel has a business center with computers and office equipment. There’s a 24 hour fitness center with some nice brand new cardio equipment. Three restaurants are within the property including the fantastic Black Mesa Steakhouse. I’ve had many a filet in the Steak House and enjoyed the great atmosphere.
Of course the Big Rock casino has all sorts of gaming and entertainment. Bowling is a big thing in northern New Mexico, and the Santa Claran offers the Big Rock Bowling Center.
The one amenity I missed was a pool or hot tub. After some bad swings on my first round at Black Mesa, I could have used a session in a hot tub.
In addition to the room, the hotel offers many great amenities and nearby attractions.
Of course, the main attraction for me is the amazing Black Mesa Golf Club. Any regular reader here knows that Black Mesa is tops on my list of courses. BM is a “must play” and the Santa Claran is a five minute drive from the course.
A little farther from the hotel are the Puye Cliff Dwellings. These ancient Indian dwellings are well preserved and a fascinating archaeological attraction. Highly recommended.
About 30 minutes from the hotel is the fabulous town of Santa Fe. Santa Fe is full of great art shops, restaurants and museums like the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
[rant] The one problem I had at the Santa Claran was regarding my morning coffee. I’m a mess if I can’t have a cup in the morning to jump start my brain. I get more and more grouchy if my coffee isn’t hitting my bloodstream within five minutes of waking up.
The suite had a coffee maker, but there were no coffee packets the first morning of my stay. A call down to the front desk was fruitless as they were out. They suggested we just go down to the coffee shop, which we did. That morning the coffee was out at the coffee shop. I patiently waited as the lady behind the counter made a new batch. The coffee shop at the Santa Claran “proudly serves Starbucks coffee.” After reading that sign I thought it was odd to read the name on the big bag of coffee beans she cracked open, Seattle’s Best!
The following morning presented the same coffee quest. Once again the hotel was out of in-room-coffee packets and suggested that we go down to the coffee shop. But that day was a holiday and the coffee shop was closed! #coffeefail The front desk lady suggested I walk over to the Big Rock casino bar for coffee. The bar was closed. I then went to the restaurant, and they told me there were free coffees on the wall by the exit of the casino. I grabbed those and returned to my room some 30 minutes later.
If I owned the place, I’d make sure that they had coffee in the rooms and that the coffee shop actually did serve Starbucks and not Seattle’s Best. Or I’d make them change the sign to say “proudly serving Seattle’s Best.”
Coffee issues aside, the Santa Claran is a great place to stay, and within five minutes of the world class Black Mesa Golf Club. The suites are spacious, clean and comfortable. Nearby attractions other than golf are plenty in this beautiful area of northern New Mexico.