Article in The Albuquerque Tribune: Sandia Resort lives large with new hotel

For $2,000 you can get a lot of things: a used car, a computer or, if you head to the new hotel at the Sandia Resort & Casino, the equivalent of a small house for a night.

The hotel’s three, $2,000-a-night, 1,800-square-foot “super suites” – the largest of 228 rooms opening Thursday – are bigger than one-fifth of the homes built in the United States last year.

Along with a new spa, restaurants and 35,000 square feet of meeting space, the new hotel marks Sandia Pueblo’s foray into the destination resort business and – according to those in the hospitality business – a rise in Albuquerque’s reputation as a Southwestern city to visit.

“What the resort product brings to Albuquerque is the ability to go after boards of directors of both associations and corporations to come meet here, when before they would never even consider Albuquerque,” said Dale Lockett, president and CEO of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We see the potential for the groups that book the Sandia Resort to have opportunities for using other attractions in Albuquerque. This really opens up the opportunity to showcase the destination.”

And Sandia Pueblo Gov. Stuwart Paisano said it’s just the beginning.

“Sandia is not done yet,” Paisano said. “Clearly because of our location (near Albuquerque), we want to capitalize and basically diversify away from gaming. . . . Maybe it’s shopping, maybe it’s some additional restaurants. There’s a variety of things we’re excited about.”

In the meantime, he said the pueblo will see how this project goes.

“It’s a new era here in New Mexico, in my opinion, when a customer coming onto our property can have a variety of different types of entertainment,” he said.

Activities for resort guests include golf, gambling, pampering at its 12,000-square-foot spa and concerts. There’s dining at a steakhouse or a rooftop restaurant with views so crisp they seem to pull the Sandia Mountains against your fingertips through miles of clear sky.

Don’t feel like going out? Every room – from the top-of-the-line suites to the $119-a-night accommodations without views – comes with a 32-inch flat-panel TV.

“I don’t think anyone else in New Mexico can say they have a plasma TV in every hotel room,” Paisano said. “There are a lot of amenities.”

He said the resort offers what other nearby destinations don’t. In that sense, it’s more of a complement than competitor to others in the hospitality business, he said, although he admitted it might pull away some of their customers.

“I’m sure we will, and I’m sure they’ll take some from us,” he said. “It will be a good, positive thing for New Mexico and Albuquerque.”

There’s enough business to go around, he said, a point agreed with by Corrina Burns, public relations and marketing manager for the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, which lies about 13 miles north of Sandia Resort.

“It’s a different kind of product that they’re offering as far as what we have,” she said. “We feel that (Sandia) is just another way to make New Mexico a resort destination and bring new people to the state. We really feel it adds to the mix.”

FACTBOX:TRY IT OUT

If paying $2,000 for a night in one of the Sandia Resort & Casino’s three “super suites” breaks your budget, consider the $99 special available from the resort’s opening on Thursday to Feb. 28.

It will get you – Sunday through Thursday nights – an evening in one of the hotel’s deluxe suites. Normally they would go for $139 to $249, depending on the day of the week and the season, said Heinz Schutz, general manager of Sandia Resort Operations.

Call 798-3930 or (877) 272-9199 for more info.

Though not everything will be open Thursday, here’s a partial list of the resort’s offerings:

32-inch flat-panel TVs in every room.

18-hole golf course.

Wireless Internet.

12,000-square-foot spa.

Heated outdoor pool.

Steakhouse.

Concerts.

Rooftop dining.

Business center.

Gambling.

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