Santa Fe’s grande dame of Southwestern hospitality – La Fonda on the Plaza – will turn 100 in January 2022. The milestone will be celebrated with a Centennial Gala and a number of other special initiatives. These include the premiere of the hotel’s historic documentary narrated by Ali MacGraw, and the reveal of a luxurious upgrade to the hotel’s exclusive Terrace rooms and suites, now known as “The Terrace Inn at La Fonda.”
La Fonda is not only Santa Fe’s oldest hotel (reports of an inn at the same location date back to the 1600s) but also the only one located right on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the center of the city’s shopping, nightlife, and art market scenes. Visitors from all over the U.S. and the world choose the hotel for memorable vacations and destination weddings. Santa Fe residents call La Fonda’s iconic lobby their “living room,” and frequent the hotel’s rooftop bar to enjoy the spectacular sunsets, margarita in hand. The hotel has played host to countless world and U.S. leaders, as well as luminaries of film, theater, music and literature.
The current La Fonda was built in 1922. It was then acquired in 1925 by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and leased to the family of legendary hotelier Fred Harvey. The Harvey family turned La Fonda into one of the famous Harvey Houses, which it remained until 1968, when it was acquired by local businessman Sam Ballen and his wife, Ethel. True to La Fonda’s legacy as one of Santa Fe’s last remaining family-owned hotels, in September 2014, longtime family friend and current Chairman of the Board, Jennifer Kimball along with her brother, Philip Wise, and the investment firm Cienda Partners, purchased La Fonda from the Ballens. For a detailed history of La Fonda, a timeline can be viewed here.
La Fonda Now
To this day, La Fonda visitors are captivated by the distinctive, ever-present style of famed architect John Gaw Meem and celebrated Southwest architect and designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. Their original architectural and décor influences can be seen at every turn, and are complemented by the hotel’s expansive, museum-quality art collection which has been built by the owners over several decades.
While maintaining this heritage, La Fonda keeps evolving to meet the highest standards of modern hospitality. Since 2008, a phased series of renovations, guided by careful study of the original building plans and décor elements, have brought the hotel’s guest rooms, restaurant, bars, lobby and other public spaces to a new level of comfort and luxury. The latest of these is a luxurious transformation of the exclusive Terrace rooms and suites into the “Terrace Inn at La Fonda.” This hotel-within-a-hotel has a dedicated luxury concierge as well as a private refreshment area offering custom evening appetizers and cocktails and continental breakfast service. The accommodations feature stylish furnishings, original artwork, and private patios or balconies that overlook the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi or the historic Loretto Chapel and the sunlit Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The Centennial celebration will kick off with a Centennial Gala on January 22, 2022. Throughout the year, La Fonda guests will be able to enjoy special accommodations packages as well as Centennial-themed food and drink offerings created by La Fonda’s renowned culinary team. In addition, they can take home a special memento of the milestone in the form of a custom La Fonda Centennial Herradura Tequila in an exclusive etched glass bottle or a handcrafted holiday ornament, both available in Detours, the hotel’s gift shop. More details on these special initiatives will be available soon.