Whole Life Magazine

February/March 2014

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Page 19 of 43

T he energy is subdued at 7:55am. People are milling about the Hotel St. Bernard dining room chatting soy, sipping coffee. Suddenly the quiet is broken by the sound of a brass bell being vigorously rung, and an elfin man who radiates warmth on this chilly mountain morning announces a cheery, "Voila!" His face lights up as he hands each guest a plate of fragrant Eggs Bene- dict, serving up smiles and quips along with breakfast. Jean Meyer (his name is pronounced Zhahn Mah-yay) is no ordinary kitchen staff, but the very-hands-on owner of this Euro- pean style inn he built "section-by-section" at the base of Taos Ski Valley resort. In another hour, when he's done presiding over the morning meal, he'll head out to his other job: teaching on the ski slopes, where he's technical director of the Taos Ski Valley Snow- sports School. But he'll be back in time to serve lunch. His would be a busy schedule at any age, but it's hardly what we've come to expect from age 78. Smart, hardworking and pas- sionate about nature, Mayer embodies the enterprising New Mexican spirit, and the word "retirement" isn't even on the horizon. "What mat- ters now," he says, "is what I can do for people, and with people." e Frenchman came to the United States in the 1940s with but a single suit- case—which he still carries in the annual 4th of July pa- rade—and what he's created (along with eight children and a growing tribe of grands) is more than an inn; it's an ex- perience. Guests at "the St. B" stay for a meal-inclusive week, dining and socializing around a cozy brass fireplace. Rooms are small but comfort- able, and if they're not entirely soundproof ? Pas de problème, we're all friends here. A peek out the window reveals a village that could be in the Alps. And the food is just what you would hope for from a French executive chef (yes, he's that, too): Delicious? Oui. Local and organic? Mais bien sûr! Free range? Sans doute. ose questions could just as easily be answered with a Ger- man natürlich, Spanish definitivamente, Navajo oat or Zuni E:, because New Mexico is a diverse melting pot. Native American tribes—22 in all—are very much a part of the culture, Hispan- ics comprise 46 percent of the population, and like Mayer, people from many countries come here "to enjoy the beauty, peace and mountain lifestyle." ALL OVER THE MAP My own visit to the Land of Enchantment began in Sante Fe, where flights now arrive nonstop from LAX. Our ultimate des- tination was the heart of the stunning Sangre de Cristo range, where I'd be skiing for the first time in several years, but we first explored this spiritual and cultural hub that is sus- tainable foodie heaven. Early in the week we stayed near the newer Railyard District at the only tribally owned hotel in town—the Hacienda at the Hotel Sante Fe—which features luxurious rooms (each with a humidifier and super-efficient gas fireplace) and a stunning collection of original Native American art. A mile up the road is the more affordable Sage Inn, which has the added bonus of being right next door to Whole Foods. From there you can walk to a number of shops and restaurants, and a robust farmers market. In line with the state's new focus on ecotourism, it's supported Escape to the Land of Enchantment Skiing, sustainability and Santa Fe By Abigail Lewis photo: John Gottberg 20 wholelifetimesmagazine.com WLT-FEB-MAR-1-30.indd 20 1/30/14 1:10 AM

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