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April 28--ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Heritage Hotels and Resorts' new Albuquerque creation sits at what company president Jim Long calls, "the modern crossroads of the Southwest."

Hotel Chaco is designed in every way to reflect the spirit of the people of Chaco Canyon, who once created a crossroads of trade and culture in Northern New Mexico, Long said.

He sees the hotel as an opportunity to show the sacred site to the world in a way that is "respectful, but also, frankly, (supports) the New Mexico economy."

The hotel is an intricately designed 118-room hotel, built at a cost of about $40 million, according to an industrial revenue bonds application.

Heritage also will be involved in redeveloping the surrounding Sawmill District, located just north of Historic Old Town. Renovation will include loft-style housing, retail, entertainment, dining and mixed-use buildings.

The plans for the hotel and the district are designed to entice people to Albuquerque to stay in a modern part of town and yet experience the history of New Mexico.

"Typically, hotels are built like stackable boxes," Long said. "But our design was after something different. We were really trying to capture the spirit of ... this beautiful civilization. "

Heritage used local Native American artists to provide all of the hotel's art, and the interiors were the work of award-winning designer Kris Lajeskie.

The building was designed by renowned architecture firm Gensler, in its first project in New Mexico.

"Hotel Chaco follows the same lines of solar and lunar cycles, just like the ancient pueblo," Long said. "So the buildings are perfectly aligned as they were back a thousand years ago."

"Even though this is a very modern... hotel, it has a spirit about it that reflects (Chaco Canyon)," Long said.

It features a 1,200 square-foot fitness room, a lounge and five retail spaces, with a Santa Fe-based chocolatier, two art galleries and a tasting room for local wine makers.

The hotel is five stories tall, "the same as Pueblo Bonita" in Chaco, says Long.

And it has a rooftop restaurant and bar, appropriately named, Level 5, which has a near 360-degree view of the city and can be accessed by elevator or a private stairway leading from the deck of the hotel's 960 square-foot Presidential Suite.

Heritage Inspirations, a sister company, will run day tours of Chaco Canyon, along with overnight excursions.

Within the hotel is a ground floor restaurant that is looking for a 2018 opening, and a spa is set to follow.

Long feels that this project is much more than a hotel.

"We often times worry about so many things but we don't do enough to feed our soul. So this was a project that we really saw having a special responsibility to tell the (Chaco Canyon) story."

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