One of my favourite places near Santa Fe is the historic Rancho Encantado, or Enchanted Ranch. I grew up spending every New Year’s Eve at the Ranch with its gracious and inspiring owner Betty Egan. It was also a preferred dinner post for my family and eventually became the site of my first employment and my sister’s wedding. I worked for the ranch as a wrangler, taking “dudes” out for horseback rides. I have many hilarious stories I could share, but one of the best was the day about 20 horses stampeded down the trail back to the stable. As we reached the front gates, the horses sailed over them and charged up the main drive to the great surprise of the guests. It was quite a harrowing sight!
Rancho Encantado‘s history is truly special, dating back to the turn of the century when it was originally known as “Rancho de las Sonadores” or Ranch of the Dreamers. It was initially a dude ranch where guests cooked for themselves and looked after their horses. In 1954 Bill and Barbara Hooten bought the location and renamed it Rancho del Monte. The novel Guestward Ho!, later made into a movie and television series, was inspired by the Hootens.
In 1967 a Cleveland widow named Betty Egan purchased the property and re-opened it in 1968 as Rancho Encantado. (The Hootens moved on to found The Compound, a restaurant that has become another Santa Fe landmark). Betty created a world class resort that attracted luminaries including Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Redford and the Dalai Lama.
When Betty died in 1992, the ranch passed between owners until opening on July 1, 2012 as New Mexico’s first Four Seasons. Today you’ll find standard Four Seasons fare: a clean, modern getaway with a luxurious spa and upscale restaurant only a few minutes from downtown Santa Fe. The Ranch is tucked away on fifty-seven acres at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and enjoys a spectacular view of the Rio Grande valley and the Jemez mountains. It has the feel of a private sanctuary but is conveniently close to town. For ease of transport, the Four Seasons offers guests a Mercedes shuttle with hourly trips to and from the Plaza.
If you’re coming to town to shop for homes, or just popping in for a visit, I recommend staying at the Ranch. You won’t be disappointed. And I suspect you might feel some of the enchantment for yourself.