The new New Mexico

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In-the-know Dallasites have gone there forever — but even they will be surprised at what’s happening now. From Santa Fe and Albuquerque to a surprisingly bustling Las Cruces, clear your calendar and pack your bags.

THE FOUR SEASONS SHAKEUP Small, upscale hotels such as Rosewood’s Inn of the Anasazi and the Inn of the Five Graces set the standard for luxury in Santa Fe, certainly one of the world’s worldliest small towns. Now, a luxury heavyweight takes over the former Encantado, reinvented as the new Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. Just 65 casitas stake a claim to 57 acres in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. Each residentially appointed suite features bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, an indoor wood-burning fireplace and an outdoor patio. Therapists treat spa-goers to a healing dose of nature in outdoor treatments, and the perfect pairing of the day is a margarita at sunset in the bar. The encore: Southwest-accented bistro fare, such as mezcal-steamed mussels, at Terra restaurant. Rooms from $250. Information: 505-946-5700, fourseasons.com/santafe — Elaine Glusac

ART TO GO Leave other cities their food trucks: Santa Fe goes uniquely mobile with Axle Art. The gallery on wheels — an aluminum-bodied 1970s van, in fact — plies the city streets as well as festivals and schools, inviting passersby into the 6-by-10-foot exhibit space. Founded by two local artists, Axle Art, says co-founder Matthew Chase-Daniel, aims “to show diverse artwork to diverse audiences, to hold a mirror to show our community to itself.” The multimedia show “We Are Experiencing Some Turbulence” by artist Michael Schippling runs Sept. 14-30 as part of the International Symposium on Electronic Art. Information: axleart.com — E.G.

YOUR DAILY BREAD Six months before Dallasite Andrée Falls opened Sage Bakehouse in Santa Fe, she’d never baked a loaf of bread, but that didn’t stop her from opening a French-style boulangerie here. You’ll find everything from long, skinny baguettes and football-shaped batards to the baked-in-a-basket round loaves. “All doughs are scaled and formed by hand,” says Falls, who was inspired when she bit into her first slice from the famous Poilâne in Paris. “Every loaf is hand-scored and baked on a stone hearth deck. It’s a very slow, traditional method. Nothing is automated.” Along with ready-made sandwiches, croissants and muffins, Sage sells eight types of bread each day, all baked in a traditional French oven; some of the flavors, such as Cinnamon Raisin and 9-Grain 3-Seed, are only available on Saturdays. Mark your calendar. Mondays through Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 535 Cerrillos Road, 505-820-7243 — Ellise Pierce

HOME WHILE YOU ROAM With hand-carved vigas on the ceiling, a roomy Jacuzzi tub in the master bath (stocked with L’Occitane products) and 400-thread-count Italian linens on the beds, why hurry back home? That’s the idea behind Fairmont Heritage Place, El Corazon in Santa Fe, just three blocks from the Plaza. It’s the newest property in town, and perhaps one of the roomiest: The 1,200-square-foot (on average) condominiums are upstairs- downstairs affairs with a full-size living area, dining area and kitchen (complete with Jenn-Air appliances and Santa Fe’s own O’Hori’s coffee) on the lower floor and, above, two bedrooms and bathrooms. Rates start at $400 per night; the condos, smartly redesigned by Stacy Elliston with Studio 11 in Dallas, are also available for sale as fractional-ownership properties. 103 Catron Ave., 1-866-721-7800, fairmontheritageplace.com — E.P.

ART, IN A COYOTE-FREE ZONE In the ’90s, native DallasiteJames Kelly opened the first gallery specializing in post-war art from the U.S. and Europe in what is now known as the Santa Fe Railyard. Earlier this year, Kelly relocated to a larger, 8,000-square-foot space, which, for two months at a time, may be filled with works by the likes of transplanted Dallas photographer Nic Nicosia (who also calls Santa Fe home), sculptor Bruce Nauman, painter Susan Rothenberg or a number of other national and international artists. From multimedia works and video installations to paintings, sculpture and drawings, Kelly confesses that he shows what he likes. “I’m trying to spread the word that there’s more to the city than Western clichés,” Kelly says. “People think Santa Fe is just cowboy art, sunsets and coyotes.” 550 S. Guadalupe St., 505-989-1601, jameskelly.com. — E.P.

FRENCH COWGIRL CHIC, THROUGH THE EDITOR’S EYE A French flag flaps outside the chic adobe boutique Nathalie on Canyon Road, where Nathalie Kent — a cowgirl-in-training since she was a little girl in the northern French town of Croix, watching TV westerns — greets customers with a kiss on each cheek. Now firmly rooted in Santa Fe, Nathalie, the store, and Nathalie herself, a former accessories editor at French Vogue, are what happens when aesthetics playfully merge. To wit: In a window display, a felt cowboy hat sits atop the Eiffel tower, alongside Ryan Michael snap-button shirts and woven French market baskets. There are turn-of-the-century Navajo blankets stacked neatly against one wall; a roomful of boots both vintage and new (she designs them herself) for men and women; and home-inspired essentials, too — café au lait bowls and Côté Bastide bath products from Provence, mais bien sûr! 503 Canyon Road, 505-982-1021, nathaliesantafe.com — E.P.

DINING ON A WHIM Those in-the-know ask for the foie gras atJennifer James 101, the brainchild of Bryan, Texas-born, former New York food writer Nelle Bauer and three-time James Beard Award nominee Jennifer James. One of the business and life partners is in-house every night, cooking from a kitchen visible to guests at walk-in. The craft? A short, American-mainstay menu that changes on the whim of the chefs. (You might enjoy a fresh corn tamale with chipotle cream one night or James’ pork-belly specialty the next.) The snug, 1,200-square-foot space means that tables are typically elbow-to-elbow with diehard locals. The “complexity in our simplicity” is what lures them, James says. Reservations required. 4615 Menaul Blvd. NE, 505-884-3860, jenniferjames101.com — Jessica Elliott

FOR DESERT DANDIES On Route 66 in the Nob Hill district,Izzy Martin Menswear is to Albuquerque what Stag is to Austin— a rugged-meets-refined mix of men’s apparel, accessories, art and apothecary. Owner Rufus Cohen, who has spent the past 15 years restoring Navajo rugs with his company Textival, saw a need for high-quality, brawny Southwestern menswear and opened his shop a year ago. His loyal following includes informed locals and out-of towners, who trek from Lubbock and Santa Fe for elevated goods: Gitman Bros. vintage madras, flannel button-downs, Walk-Over oxfords, Josep Abril suiting from Spain and Naked & Famous raw denim from Japan. His lineup also includes Santa Fe-published Radius books, Alvarez Gómez soaps, vintage sterling silver Taxco jewelry and, of course, Navajo textiles. 3019 Central Ave. NE, 505-232-9223, izzymartin.net — J.E.

ART BEAT Nonprofit contemporary gallery-museum hybrid 516 Arts was founded in 2006 by New Mexico artist Suzanne Sbarge and a small board of directors with at least two goals: showcasing local, national and international art in all media, and revitalizing downtown. (As many as 1,000 have packed the 5,000-square-foot, two-story space for openings.) Its latest coup? The 18th International Symposium on Electronic Art — ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness — conference and exhibition, from Sept. 20 to Jan. 6 and produced by 516 Arts, UNM and the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History. 516 Central Ave. SW, 505-242-1445, 516arts.org — J.E.

FARM-FRESH LODGING Flourishing farmlands and lush lavender fields make an idyllic locale for an historic inn in the north Sandia Mountains valley. The 800 acres on which Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm stands were restored by congressman Albert Simms and his wife, Ruth, in the 1930s; the couple commissioned famous Southwest architect John Gaw Meem to build the ranch house. Today, 20 elegant guest rooms with wood-burning fireplaces, carved ceiling beams and luxurious linens beckon you to retreat. The inn’s delectable dinners are revered by locals — chef Jonathan Perno regularly forgoes menus, instead selecting day-of garden produce and supplementing with New Mexican dressings, meats and cheeses. Lavender-infused honey made in the apiary is served with breakfast; lavender spa products crafted on-site are in rooms and sold in the farm shop.Rooms from $145. 4803 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W., Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, 505-344-9297, lospoblanos.com — J.E.

MOVE OVER, GEORGE JETSON In the middle of the southern New Mexico desert, you’ll find Spaceport America, where billionaire Richard Branson and his team at Virgin Galactic are constructing the world’s first commercial space-travel terminal. Once fully operational, the $209 million complex is where adventurers with a spare $200,000 will blast into orbit aboard the mothership WhiteKnightTwo. For those with less fortified bank balances, a high-tech, Bransonworthy visitors’ experience — interactive exhibits, simulations, fleet tours, more — will be unveiled next year. Until then, space lovers can connect with Follow the Sun Inc., for thrice-weekly bus tours that allow unique access to the Spaceport site during its current preoperational phase. The tours end with a peek at the vertical-launch site, mission-control building, terminal hangar and 10,000-foot-long spaceway. Information: spaceportamerica.com, ftstours.com — Jill Becker

RIDING THE (UNEXPECTED) WAVES Think you need snowcapped peaks to go sledding? Not so. At White Sands National Monument, grab a board and ride the more than 200 square miles of wave-like drifts that make up the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Want to go really fast? Buy a plastic saucer at the park gift shop, wax it up and head to the park’s steepest slopes. If all your bones are still intact, there’s a guided sunset stroll. Information: www.nps.gov/whsa — J.B.

THE ART OF THE CITY Las Cruces has a thriving art scene. A short stroll through downtown reveals its largest collection of galleries, including Tierra Montana, which showcases a selection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and jewelry — as well as the studio of owner-weaver Ben Maestas, who transforms sheep’s wool dyed with bark, bugs and berries into meticulously crafted blankets and other creations. Don’t miss: The Las Cruces Museum of Art and the Branigan Cultural Center, steps away from each other along Main Street and both boasting permanent and rotating exhibits of regional and internationally recognized artists. Information: tierramontana.com, las-cruces.org/museums— J.B.

PROJECTILE GOLFING Las Cruces gets 350 days of sunshine each year, which means you should take full advantage of those clear skies at one of several area links. (You may even score your best game ever: At this elevation, almost 4,000 feet above sea level, your Slazengers will sail farther than they do in Dallas.) One top place to break out the clubs: the Sonoma Ranch Golf Course, an 18-hole layout surrounded by the rugged Organ Mountains. Or make the trek 90 minutes north to the White Sands Missile Range Golf Course, which may be the only course in the country located on an active missile range . Fore, indeed. Information: sonomaranchgolf.com, wsmrmwr.com —J.B.

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