Hilton Santa Fe Golf Resort & Spa at Buffalo Thunder Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Downtown Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Pros

  • Full resort with golf course, tennis, spa, and casino
  • Gorgeous outdoor and indoor pools, reminiscent of Las Vegas hotels
  • Multiple restaurants, bars, and a Starbucks cafe
  • Comfortable rooms with flat-screen TVs and iPod clocks
  • Free self-parking and affordable valet

Cons

  • Fee for Internet usage
  • Weekend crowds can be noisy at the 2 pools
  • Cigarette smoke from casino can be detected in some public areas
  • Golf and spa are expensive compared to others
  • Not really walking distance to anything

Bottom Line

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).

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

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.

 Location

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.

  • 2-hour drive from Albuquerque International Airport
  • 30-minute drive from Santa Fe Municipal Airport
  • 1-hour drive to Taos
  • 5-minute drive to the Santa Fe Opera House
  • 20-minute drive to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
  • 20-minute drive to the New Mexico Museum of Art
  • 20-minute drive to the Plaza, the shopping and cultural center of Santa Fe
  • 25-minute drive to Canyon Road, home to over 100 art galleries and studios
  • 45-minute drive to Ski Santa Fe

 Rooms

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.

  • Nice-size standard rooms with Native American Pueblo decor
  • Big marble baths
  • Double King and Queen rooms have kiva-style adobe fireplaces

 Features

There's lots going on at this full resort!

  • Two Las Vegas-style pools (indoor and outdoor) with luxurious surroundings
  • Large fitness center with lots of cardio machines
  • Large casino with blackjack, poker, slots and more -- smaller non-smoking casino too
  • Full-service spa is top-notch if pricey
  • Towa Golf Club with three 9-hole courses, putting green, and driving range
  • 2 nightclubs, Blue Tower Lounge and Club Warehouse, offer live entertainment and karaoke
  • Multiple restaurants provide good options
  • Tennis courts
  • Shops selling Native American art, clothing, and sundries
  • Game room with arcade games for kids
  • View full list of amenities

 Food

From fine dining to burgers and fries, this resort delivers.

  • The Red Sage Restaurant serves Native, European, and Latin cuisine for dinner
  • The Turquoise Trail Bar & Grill serves casual lunch and dinner, and offers live entertainment
  • The Painted Parrot Buffet offers a multi-cultural buffet for dinner
  • The Pueblo Deli serves quick, easy, basic foo late into the night
  • The Pool Grille serves lunch and dinner by the pool
  • A Starbucks cafe in lobby

 Bottom Line

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).

Things You Should Know About Hilton Santa Fe Golf Resort & Spa at Buffalo Thunder

Address

  • 20 Buffalo Thunder Trail Santa Fe, NM 87506

Room Types

  • Deluxe Junior Suite
  • Guest Room
  • Guest Room w/ Fireplace
  • Superior One Bedroom Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 158
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Casino: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Downtown Santa Fe, Santa Fe
Address: 20 Buffalo Thunder Trail Santa Fe, NM 87506
(See Map)
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