Finding Escape at Bishop’s Lodge

When you think of healing, think of the ethereal colors of the sun rising over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and of the molten hues of a Santa Fe sunset. Think of restoring, as a bed that holds you like a mother, and of a buttery bite of Wagyu steak that floods your mouth with flavor. When you think of escape, think of a place where wilderness and luxury intertwine, where art and history live hand-in-hand. Think Bishop’s Lodge.

The molten hues of a Santa Fe sunset.

A Healing Escape

Every aspect of this 150-year-old property, settled by Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, is an immersive experience. Built on 317-acres just a few minutes north of Santa Fe, Bishop’s Lodge brings the pristine Northern New Mexico landscape to guests’ doorsteps. This is the land of the Tewa, a sacred space–the land of artists, poets, healers, and dreamers. This is the land where worlds collide, and within that paradox, Bishop’s Lodge creates a haven for those looking to touch something real in this modern world. 

We arrive at night, me, my three-year-old daughter, and our best friend Bianca, a school teacher newly arrived to the West from sunny Miami beach. I tell them stories of the land, about my time spent as a student in Santa Fe, how the air is cleaner here, and the land, trees and rabbit brush are as familiar as cousins. We share popcorn, laugh, complain, and sing as we wind past Santa Fe’s illuminated plaza, swinging left at the courthouse whose expansive lawn was once the site of my childhood romps. 

Getaway for the Girls

At night there is little but intuition and a GPS that I ignore (once being a local and all) to lead me to the modest east-facing road that leads up onto the Bishop’s Lodge grounds. The warmth of a fire and the hospitality of handsome young men gently wrangling a group of trip-happy gals greet us. This is a “girls’ trip,” and I’ve prepped my daughter as such, who has wisely insisted on packing her black ruffle party dress, baby doll, and knee-high Elsa boots for the occasion.

A beautiful sunset

Bianca, a Floridian, wonders aloud about bears. I don’t have the heart to tell her and the baby that bears are likely asleep for the winter. So, they wander into the moonlight looking for Pooh. “That’s where the bears live,” the baby tells me, as she marches me down the little hill to SkyFire for dinner, her Elsa boots clicking against the pavement.

Majestic waterfall, surrounded by nature's beauty and tranquility.

The Little Details Make the Experience

What does come to us is dinner in a spread of superb glory. Our waitress, Violet (Taos), becomes an Indigenous aunty to the baby instantly, and perhaps to us as well. I order the lamb shank–my Navajo taste buds watering–and Bianca the Wagyu, and the tot gets a huge helping of chicken tenders and fries (flavored unlike anything we’ve mawed so far on this mom-journey.) 

Dinner in a spread of superb glory.

In our casita, “Welcome Tachi’Bah” is across the standing mirror in rainbow ink. There are cookies and milk, and a little hand-sewn donkey filled with lavender, among other treats. At SkyFire the live musician sings a rendition of “Wheels on the Bus.” I get the impression perhaps the baby is this weekend’s Bell of the Ball. Then at dinner I’m left without doubt.

As a single mother, enjoying anything, least of all a nice meal, is a four-ring circus. The food is always late, the toddler is always antsy, the staff always hiding their annoyance by hiding in the walk-in, I guess. But on this night, I tell Bianca, I’ve never felt more seen. A mother of her own, Violet anticipates Tachi’s hunger meltdown and fast-tracks our meal. She brings fruit and juice and bread to the table with a coloring sheet and crayons. I could have cried with gratitude for this small kindness. 

A Peaceful Trip for All Ages

For the first time in our life as a momma-daughter duo, Tachi’Bah and I both enjoyed an outing. It is the best meal we’ve had in ages, while nurturing and accommodating. Here, folks understood the pressure of simply enjoying a meal with a baby. I believe the care a place takes for its child-guests is just a microcosm of the attentiveness it gives to guests at any age. If you can belly flop on the floor beneath a Fritz Scholder painting and still be accepted, well heck, the rest of us have it made.

That night we snacked and slept and watched Forrest Gump, and cried over Jenny, and snacked s’mores in front of a kiva fireplace that burned like eternity. After a deep sleep we returned in time for an experience learning and tasting chocolate from the source: Kakawa.

 Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe.

I bet most of you didn’t know that cacao is one of the oldest domesticated plants in the Americas? You might not know that it was a sacred elixir used in ceremonies by Aztecs, and traveled north as currency. And I’d bet the farm, you didn’t know that traces of cacao were found on vessels in Chaco Canyon. I didn’t either until an incredible workshop by Bishop’s Lodge with the owners of Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe. Now, I’ve done a little wine tasting so I know the swish and breath through your nose drill. But, this tasting was something extraordinary. I walked away with an understanding of chocolate as a complex treat, a part of history, and my Indigenous culture.

Rejuvenate Yourself at Bishop’s Lodge

I suppose this is all to say that I left Bishop’s Lodge re-infused. I got back a lot of the power that we lose in our day-to-day life. We have so many responsibilities on our shoulders that sometimes we lose that spark that makes us remember why we care, why we enjoy our heartbeat, and the tingle of our taste buds. Places like Bishop’s Lodge, the mountains, chocolate, bear hunting–however silly–these are the sparks that keep us lit.

Story by Ungelbah Dávila / Photography Courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection

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