The sun sinks behind the Tesuque Valley in Santa Fe, N.M. The distant foothills take on the vermillion color that gives this storied locale its name – Sangre de Cristo Mountains. From the balcony of our hotel suite, we imagine the view hasn’t changed all that much in the 400 years since the first Spaniards stomped through.

But those early explorers certainly didn’t have what we’re enjoying this long, luxurious weekend: A cozy room at the Bishop’s Lodge Resort and Spa (1297 Bishop’s Lodge Road, Santa Fe), tastefully decorated with rustic furniture and a gas-powered fireplace; massages at the SháNah Spa, a beautiful facility with teepee tents for outdoor treatments; dinner at Las Fuentes Restaurant, where we dine on red chile honey-glazed rack of lamb and succulent beef tenderloin with wild mushrooms.

The bishop never had it so good.

Jean Baptiste Lamy, the first bishop of Santa Fe, discovered the fertile valley, dotted with fruit trees, cottonwoods and pines. Here, sometime in the 1850s, he built a private retreat and a little chapel, which still stands a short walk away from the resort’s lobby. You may have read about Lamy’s adventures in Willa Cather’s novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Today, Bishop’s Lodge has 111 guest rooms in 15 separate lodges sprawling across 450 acres of gorgeous New Mexico desert. You can go horseback riding, skeet and trap shooting, hiking, mountain biking and swimming without ever leaving the resort. You can play tennis and badminton, or do yoga or Pilates in the gym. In the wintertime, drive 18 miles north to the slopes of the Santa Fe ski basin for a day of snowboarding or downhill danger.

Of course, you can just light up a fire in your beehive fireplace on the balcony and watch the sun’s slow descent into the valley. The idea is not to do too much. Slow down. Go for a walk on the lush grounds. Pick an apple from the orchard.

Within hours of our arrival from Los Angeles, we find ourselves cocooned in a treatment room at the spa. The masseuse works our tired muscles with her capable and practiced hands. She applies an in-house oil blend that smells terrifically of wild sage and lavender and pine. Soon enough, we can barely stay awake, threatening to drift away under the power of the scent and the soothing hands.

In the evening, we share a romantic dinner at Las Fuentes. The room, decorated with large oil paintings done up by a Santa Fe artist, is inviting, not pretentious. We’re enticed by nearly everything on the menu, from the butter-poached lobster salad to the chile crab relleno. For a second, we’re tempted to get the locally famous all-you-can-eat prime rib dinner. The ingredients are seasonal, mostly local, and superbly done. The prices are high, but no more than most nice places in the city. By the time we stumble out of the restaurant, we’re glad we don’t have very far to get to our rooms.

The next morning, we start all over again. At the restaurant, we treat ourselves to a Sunday brunch of epic proportions. Waiting in line at the hand-carved ham station, an older gentleman lets us in on the secret.

“This is the best brunch in Santa Fe,” he says. “We live in Albuquerque, but we drive here twice a month just for the buffet.”

And the best part about it? The mimosas are free flowing and all part of the brunch price ($29.95 per person).

To walk off our huge breakfast, we drive down to the Santa Fe Plaza, the epicenter for tourists far and wide. In the shops, you can find one of those belt buckles the size of a dinner plate and handmade cowboy hats and boots. You won’t find very many real cowboys.

But there’s still plenty of real history here. We duck into the impressive St. Francis Assisi Cathedral, which was coincidentally built by our guy, the Archbishop Lamy. There’s a statue of him in front of the church. Be sure to pay homage to the man whose quiet retreat is now a world-class resort.

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