Hotel Central: Southwest Dream Catchers
Arizona and New Mexico hotels with American Indian connections offer cultural experiences.
By Christopher Hall
From the October issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Located in the Painted Desert, the 100-room Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites (from $89) became the first new hotel in 50 years on Hopi tribal lands when it opened in 2009 near Tuba City, Ariz., about 50 miles from the eastern entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. Hopi artwork—kachinas, baskets, silver jewelry, and more—fills public areas, old photos provide a fascinating glimpse of historic village life, and weekly programs illuminate Hopi agricultural practices. During hotel-arranged day-trips, guests might meet tribal artists, visit ancient petroglyphs, or share meals with villagers in their homes.
In the Sonoran Desert about 20 miles from downtown Phoenix, the 500-room Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa (from $90) is a showcase of Pima and Maricopa tribal heritage. Following tradition, all primary entrances face east or west here, and a cultural concierge guides guests through an impressive collection of art, which ranges from a creation story mural to ceremonial headdresses and baskets for which the tribes are known. Saguaro seeds, cholla cactus buds, and other local ingredients appear in the restaurant’s cuisine, while at the spa—where an on-site Native American healer helped develop treatments—you can relax in a cleansing wrap of local desert botanicals.
At northeastern Arizona’s View Hotel (from $99), every guest can wake up for sunrise over the Mittens, the iconic Monument Valley rock formations visible from each of the 95 rooms. The inn’s Navajo owners have furnished lodgings with etched pottery lamps, Navajo rugs, and traditional charts showing the plants used to make the rugs’ vegetable dyes. You can purchase tribal crafts—Navajo squash blossom necklaces and Zuni turquoise jewelry—at the on-site trading post.
In Sedona, the 218-room Enchantment Resort (from $275) occupies 70 tranquil acres in a spectacular red-rock box canyon said to be the birthplace of the Yavapai-Apache people. The daily Native American program might consist of a guided walk devoted to medicinal plants or to nearby archaeological sites, a drum and flute performance, or a documentary screening featuring interviews with tribal elders. Kids can try their hand at beading and weaving dream catchers at Camp Coyote, while grown-ups indulge in a blue corn body polish at the Mii Amo spa.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
With the nearly 10,000-foot Sandia Mountains providing a dramatic backdrop, Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa (from $175) spreads across 500 tribal acres of the Santa Ana Pueblo just north of Albuquerque, N. Mex. Southwest Indian pottery and weavings accent each of the 350 rooms, and the extensive art collection includes vintage Navajo rugs, coiled Hopi baskets, and ceramic vessels from a half-dozen pueblos. Programs allow guests to bake traditional bread in the outdoor ovens and take lessons in jewelry-making, archery, or gourd-painting.
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