The Vacation Atlas

Chaco Canyon Tours from Albuquerque with Heritage Inspirations

Jun 3, 2024 | Uncategorized

My Chaco Canyon tour with Heritage Inspirations started at 7 am from Hotel Chaco located in Old Town, Albuquerque. It made the perfect basecamp for our second day of touring New Mexico’s ancient sites. I attended the cultural bundle which includes a trip to Acoma’s Sky City on Friday, and a trip to Chaco Canyon on Saturday.

Hotel Chaco is the design creation from Gensler (the London-based architecture firm) and was greatly influenced by the nearby ancient site. In fact, the architects and designers when constructing the hotel spent an extended period of time at Chaco Canyon, even committing to camping onsite to become fully immersed in the sacred space and thus modeling the hotel’s design in true Chacoan image.  

I think the most noteworthy thing about Hotel Chaco– and something I have immense appreciation for as an architecture enthusiast– are all the creative ways the designers from Gensler found to integrate Chaco Canyon’s famous discoveries into the design of the hotel. 

For example, theobromine and caffeine residue (indicating the ritualistic consumption of cacao) was discovered in a number of ceremonial vessels found in The Great House, providing evidence and insight into the extensive trade routes that ran through Chaco culture all the way down into Mesoamerica. Hotel Chaco has incorporated this finding into their spa’s signature offering: The Cacao Signature Renewal which utilizes cacao, local honey, and a propolis spray harvested from Taos beehives for a lavish full-body skin treatment.

Dendrochronology (the science of dating by analyzing tree-rings) was also a significant discovery that was founded at Chaco Canyon. Since the sandstone building material that make up the site can’t be dated, archaeologists were able to pinpoint when Chaco Canyon was built and occupied based on the wood pillars that were used as lintel beams during the site’s construction. Each room at Hotel Chaco is adorned with a large wooden cylindrical coffee table that depicts tree rings as an ode to this fascinating discovery. Dendrochronology also gave archaeologists the ability to track the rainfall levels during the time the Anasazi occupied this site based on the thickness of the tree-rings. Thicker rings indicate more rain during that period.  

Speaking of sandstone and the prominent use of stone building materials, the rustic yet modern design ties this in beautifully with a stone sink basin in the bathroom atop a sandstone countertop. 

Lastly, Hotel Chaco tops off its unique design with local indigenous made pottery and weavings that can be found framed in various locations within the hotel’s walls.

Tying this altogether by venturing through the site that inspired such seamless yet significant design, really solidified the specialness of the experience that was so carefully tailored by Angelisa from Heritage Inspirations. To know that New Mexico is home to what was once one of the greatest trade routes in Mesoamerica casts the state I grew up in in a new light and I’m grateful for this newfound appreciation for this land. If you like culture and architecture, the cultural bundle is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the underappreciated richness that New Mexico and these sacred sites offer.

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Written By Mia Stallard

Mia Stallard is an adventure blogger and content creator documenting unique stays and experiences. She's based wherever there’s wifi and a good view, but currently resides in the magical mountains of Northern New Mexico. Her hobbies include drinking overpriced lattes in swanky cafes, road trips through the desert, and skinny dipping in naturally occurring bodies of water across the globe.

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