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The Encantado Resort Expected to Be One of Santa Fe's Most Luxurious,
Managed by Auberge Resorts, the Encantado Will Feature 65 Casitas
By Bob Quick, The Santa Fe New MexicanMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Apr. 15, 2008 - There's little left of the former Rancho Encantado in Tesuque, but in its place is rising a high-end hotel, restaurant and spa that is expected to open this summer.

Encantado is one of a few new hotels built in the Santa Fe area in many years and promises to be among the most luxurious, with 65 plush guest rooms and suites; a 10,000-square-foot spa offering health, fitness, rejuvenation and spiritual well-being services; and a restaurant overseen by a nationally known chef.

The property will be managed by Auberge Resorts, a hotel management company based in the Napa Valley of Northern California.

Jeff Mahan is general manager of Encantado; he held a similar position at Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe for many years and after that was general manager of El Monte Sagrado in Taos.

Mahan said none of the former Rancho Encantado structures remains as a part of the new resort, but that famed property lives on in the spirit of the new development.

"We've taken an old historic property and are giving it a new life and a new concept," he said.

Seventy percent of the hotel's management team will be hired locally, Mahan said. Among those already in place is the hotel's director of sales and marketing, Angie Cross, who has worked at a variety of local hotels over her years in the industry.

Mahan added that between 90 percent and 95 percent of the staff to be hired will be local.

Room rates at Encantado are initially expected to range from $425 to $875 per night, based on the type of accommodation and the view. Over the next five years they will rise to the level of other Auberge Resorts' properties, Mahan said.

A year ago, the total cost to build Encantado was estimated to be around $60 million, but Mahan indicated the cost has risen substantially since then. He declined to disclose the amount.

At the group's flagship resort in the Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil, rates start at $850 and range up to $1,850 per night, according to Auberge Resorts' Web site.

Encantado's sales department is now concentrating on group business and has already booked several groups for visits later this year. The resort will turn its attention to leisure travelers once the property is closer to opening, Mahan said.

Mahan pointed out some features of the new resort in a recent tour of the project that involved slogging through resort grounds left muddy by last week's snowfall.

But weather has failed to slow construction crews from Jaynes Corp., which finished demolition of Rancho Encantado in August of 2006 and started construction in October of the same year.

Chris Butler, project manager for Jaynes, said about 130 workers are employed at the Encantado development.

Guest rooms include spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers, fireplaces, patios, balconies, flat-screen televisions and complimentary mini bars.

All but five of the rooms also have views of the neighboring Sangre de Cristo mountains.

The resort's Spa at Encantado will be a "major focus" of Encantado's operation, Mahan said, and will offer treatment rooms, a movement studio, a 360-degree view and, nearby, a large swimming pool.

The spa's signature treatment will be the Ojo Caliente Purification Ritual, which will offer a combination of healing minerals.

The resort's Terra Restaurant is the domain of nationally known chef Charles Dale, who previously had Renaissance Restaurant, the R Bistro and Rustique in Aspen, Colo. Dale was a James Beard Award nominee in 1998 and 1999.

In a brief interview, Dale said Encantado's restaurant will offer the best of Spanish, French and Italian cuisine. But there also will be bar menu with a "great" burger and pizza, he added.

That bar, which is adjacent to the restaurant, will be known as Betty's Bar, in honor of Betty Egan, long-time owner and operator of Rancho Encantado.

"We're hoping to get as many local people in the bar and restaurant ... as we can," Mahan said. There also will be private and semi-private dining room and a patio that that will accommodate as many as 450 guests.

"We would like to do 40 to 50 weddings and receptions a year over time," Mahan said. "We expect to do a significant amount of group business."

As part of Encantado, eight villas will be built near the former home of the Egan family, who operated Rancho Encantado from 1967 until 1995, when John Egan sold the property to a hospitality group.

The villas will be priced at $5 million each, Mahan said. Construction will start in the summer.

The former Egan home is now being used as a temporary office for Encantado. Eventually it will be demolished.

Encantado is owned by Canyon Encantado, a partnership that itself is part of the Canyon Group of Larkspur, Calif. Homi Vazifdar is the chief operating officer of Canyon Encantado.

In addition to Vazifdar, principals in the Canyon Group include Kjell Spangberg, a Swedish venture capitalist, and Christoph Henkel, a German investor whose family owns a controlling interest in Henkel KgA, a German conglomerate.

Contact Bob Quick at 986-3011 or bobquick@sfnewmexican.com

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To see more of The Santa Fe New Mexican, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.santafenewmexican.com/.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Santa Fe New Mexican

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