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Santa Fe highlighted as top vacation spot

PBS travel show host Darley Newman, here at the Allan House Sculpture Garden, has a new project that features Santa Fe County. (Courtesy of ‘Travels With Darley’)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

As New Mexico and the rest of the country slowly inch back toward a post-COVID world, a travel explosion just might be on tap as folks cooped up for the better part of a year seek new venues to explore.

And thanks to a little help, Santa Fe County is well positioned to be at the forefront of people’s minds when that happens.

Noted PBS traveler Darley Newman has included two packages from the area as part of a new project to highlight some of the world’s top vacation destinations.

“Darley Vacations” was originally set to launch last spring, she said, but the virus derailed those plans for a year.

Darley Newman visits with Pedro Martinez, one of the interpreters at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. (Courtesy of ‘Travels with Darley’)

“One of my initial thoughts was to go on one or two trips a year and lead a group in Santa Fe,” said Newman, whose PBS travel series, “Travels with Darley,” has won two Emmy Awards. “I love Santa Fe. It’s such a great destination. A lot of people have been to Santa Fe and a lot haven’t necessarily been to the great natural parks. It’s such a sense of Santa Fe.”

Newman started the project with six itineraries: two in California, two in upstate New York, and the two in and around Santa Fe.

The local itineraries include a “Luxury Santa Fe” vacation and a “Santa Fe Spa and Downtown” vacation.

Although it’s technically outside of Santa Fe County, Darley Newman seeks to educate people about areas in and around Santa Fe, such as Bandelier National Monument. (Courtesy of ‘Travels With Darley’)

The Luxury Santa Fe vacation package spans six days and five nights, and includes a stay at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, horseback riding, exploring National Parks and Pueblos, sightseeing and an art walk, and touring the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

The Santa Fe Spa and Downtown vacation spans six days and six nights, and includes stays at Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort and Casa Culinaria, as well as exploration of national parks and area pueblos, downtown Santa Fe, art walking tours, cooking classes and diving into the culture of the area.

“I think Santa Fe is a great place to go and will be a great place to go once the vaccines are given out and the pandemic is over,” Newman said. “There’s still an opportunity around Santa Fe to do so many things in nature, which is a big part of these trips. They’re a mix of things I’ve done. A mix of being outside, wellness, the culinary aspect of Santa Fe, and arts and culture melds it all together. I could probably put together a bunch more trips because there are so many different things to do in and around Santa Fe.”

Getting publicity like this is something that should be beneficial for the area very soon, said Elias Bernardino, Santa Fe County deputy manager.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to shine a light on the diversity in the Santa Fe County open spaces,” he said. “And everything in between those spaces. It’s an outsider’s perspective. She travels all over the world. To put Santa Fe in the top three places, competing and having the competitive edge with New York and LA is something special.”

With the end of the virus beginning to emerge, this is a good time for Santa Fe County to be featured, Bernardino said.

“It’s a great opportunity, the timing is perfect,” he said. “It really exemplifies the diversity of Santa Fe County, with its richness and natural landscape elements … and strong, historical cultural significance.”

The idea behind the project, which is operated in conjunction with a travel agency, is to provide an easy, informative way for people to learn about the area and plan their own trip to suit them.

“The trips are customizable,” Newman said. “We wanted to make it even easier by publishing information so it’s readily available. We put together these itineraries so they can call up and book trips, and, with the travel agent, customize it even further. Like mountain biking. You can be at different skill levels and still do it. If you wanted to, you can focus more on the culinary aspect. We wanted to give people more options.”

For more information, see darley-newman.com/dvacation/usa-vacations/.

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