Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A sprawling resort with a lot of action for Santa Fe
The Buffalo Thunder greets visitors in dramatic fashion with a five-story, pueblo-style building rising up below the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with a large bronze sculpture of a Pueblo warrior clutching bow and arrows at the hotel entrance. Created by the Pueblo of Pojoaque's Governor George Rivera, the sculpture embodies the confluence of local art and culture that characterizes the resort both inside and out.
The spacious lobby could easily double as an art museum; glass boxes of ornate pottery and carvings vie for attention, as do the stained-glass wall, numerous sculptures and paintings, and colorful stone floors. The sophisticated-yet-fun feel of the large space is completed by an impressive Pueblo-style ceiling of wood beams and hundreds of vigas arranged in the traditional circular fashion.
Guests rave about the spa, which while pricey, offers a full range of services within attractive, nature-themed treatment rooms. Both the indoor and outdoor pools are popular. The big outdoor pool becomes the focal point of fun during summer weekends when many locals arrive to celebrate under the blue New Mexico skies. An adjacent kid’s area with splashing fountains means that it’s a family-friendly affair, but some guests have complained about the noise and revelry cutting into their weekend swims.
For the gamblers, the large casino contains countless slot machines, a poker room, and many other gaming options. Although the resort has gone to lengths to minimize cigarette smoke by placing the casino below the main lobby floor, the odor can be an issue for some guests in certain public areas.
The Towa Golf Club offers three 9-hole courses all within view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. If golf isn’t your thing, live entertainment can be had at one of the three nightclubs,, and larger shows are regularly staged outside with acts such as Styx, Los Lonely Boys, and Jay Leno making appearances in 2011.
14 miles north of Santa Fe in the Pojoaque Valley
Depending on your point of view, the Buffalo Thunder is either perfectly located for exploring northern New Mexico (14 miles north of Santa Fe, 70 miles south of Taos), or, somewhat isolated and far from Santa Fe (a 15-minute drive). Generally speaking, there is little to do in the immediate area, so some guests may feel compelled to spend their time on-site. However, attractions such as the Santa Fe Opera are only 5 minutes away, and the Plaza in Santa Fe can be reached within 20 minutes. Shuttle service is offered to downtown Santa Fe, the fee for which can be reimbursed with slot machine play.
Situated on the Pojoaque Pueblo reservation in the picturesque Pojoaque valley, the Buffalo Thunder occupies land that has been settled since 500 AD. Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early 1600s and built a mission at Pojoaque which can still be seen today.
Nicely decorated and good-size -- but beware of hidden fees
Buffalo Thunder offers 395 rooms featuring Native American Pueblo decor and the work of local artists. Blond, hand-carved wood furniture, brightly colored paintings, and patterned cushions on the beds are set inside adobe-style walls. Some rooms contains wood beams in the ceilings and kiva-style fireplaces. The flat-screen TV and iPod docks are contemporary touches. But there is a fee for even non-Wi-Fi Internet use, and it's per device not per room. Plus, nothing is free in the mini-bar; even the water will cost you.
There's lots going on at this full resort!
From fine dining to burgers and fries, this resort delivers.
The Buffalo Thunder is a sprawling, upscale Hilton resort 14 miles north of Santa Fe on the Pojoaque Pueblo reservation. There’s plenty of fun to be had at the huge casino and the golf course with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The pottery and Native American art on display throughout the hotel, and the rooms themselves, are spectacular, but be prepared for a rowdy pool party during summer weekends -- and hefty fees (Internet, golf, spa adds up).