Jenny's View


Each month, La Fonda on the Plaza recognizes an employee for going above and beyond. And each year, we nominate a handful of really stellar team members for the New Mexico Hospitality Association’s Top Hat Awards. The awards celebrate those whose exceptional performance elevates the travel, tourism, and lodging industry in our state. We brought five terrific people to the 2019 awards gala on November 6 as finalists in their categories, plus we were a finalist in the Best Digital Campaign category for our recent website redesign.

So let’s hear it for Patricia Tapia, Lead Concierge, and Fermin Moran, Front Desk Manager for being named the top finalists in the state for Front of House Hospitality; and Adrian Hernandez, Houseman, for Back of House Hospitality. Each one deserves recognition and praise for their efforts in making La Fonda the special place it is.

Now for the great news! We took home two big awards: Leo Granados, Bartender in La Fiesta Lounge won for Front of House Food & Beverage and Gil Mesa, Purchasing Manager, took the top award for Back of House Food & Beverage. Of course, we need to share with you exactly how these two gentlemen have contributed to La Fonda’s success.

Leo’s been working in one capacity or another at La Fonda for twenty-six years. He started working in the laundry part-time while he was still in high school. When he graduated, he moved into setting up for banquets, has run turndown service, worked in the maintenance department and then ten years ago, became a bartender. He’s tended to patrons at the Bell Tower Bar, at banquets and meetings, and now is the daytime bartender at La Fiesta Lounge.

“I’ve met so many nice people over the years that I feel responsible for them,” Leo says of his desire to take care of people and serve them. “People can be overwhelmed by how busy Santa Fe is and need a place to rest during the day. When they come in to La Fiesta Lounge I get to talk to them and get to know them. In the evening, with the music in the Lounge, it’s a different ambience and I don’t have much opportunity to interact. That’s also really fun, but I really enjoy talking with people from all over.”

Leo’s customer-centric attitude and genuine, authentic spirit of hospitality shines every day, making him a true hospitality rock star. Congrats, Leo!

If you compare La Fonda on the Plaza to an army, where the hundreds of guests and employees are the troops who need three meals, snacks and beverages every single day of the year, then Gil Mesa is the quartermaster. He ensures that supplies are always in stock and ready for the busy chefs to prepare the signature dishes the hotel is known for. As purchasing manager for the past 25 years, he has been responsible for ordering and deploying millions of pounds in foodstuffs every year.

Gil is also the person responsible for the annual La Fonda holiday gingerbread house, which itself draws thousands of visitors to the lobby each year. Gil and his team spend hours crafting ice-cream cone trees, adding LED lights for the farolitos, and finishing the construction of an edible masterpiece before wheeling it out to the lobby to add candy canes and other sweet touches. He’s also a master ice carver whose astounding displays grace our banquet tables all year long, including our Thanksgiving and Christmas buffets.

Gil is close to retiring now, and is looking forward to spending time with his large extended family, especially returning to Colombia where much of the family still lives. “I haven’t been back in 63 years, and I haven’t had a holiday off since I started at La Fonda. I wonder what it would be like to spend holidays with family? Although La Fonda really is my family – I’m never not thinking about how I can do my job better. I never punch out.”

So many thousands of people each day depend on Gil– he really is the beating heart of the food side of the hotel and we’re so pleased that he has been recognized for his extraordinary efforts.

Here’s to our fantastic crew! 


P.S. Don’t forget to stop by Detours for your holiday shopping.  I’m sure there’s someone on your list that would love a custom-made jacket fashioned from contemporary American Pendleton blankets. I had been holding out for many, many years in search of the perfect handmade Pendleton coat (so Santa Fe stylish!) to keep me warm since I’m always cold.  I never could find one that I thought was made beautifully and purchase worthy – despite looking at many of them.  When I discovered Lynn Wilkinson’s work and saw her exquisite craftmanship and designs, I knew my long wait had finally paid off. 

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Detours at La Fonda

A Santa Fe Merchant Since 1922

Sandy vaillancourt, Artist in resident

Join us at Detours during the holidays and visit with one of our signature artists, Sandy Vaillancourt.  

Winter marks Sandy's annual residency at Detours, La Fonda's Gift Shop.  Discover Sandy's whimsical Santa Fe scenes and high desert landscapes.  Sandy has the unique ability to capture the true essence of New Mexico through her vibrant paintings.  

Stop by Detours for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts that are truly unique!

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A Group Of Colorful Flowers In Front Of A Building

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Live at La Fonda

Half Broke Horses

Each member brings a wealth of influence and talent to the stage. Tasha Curtis, vocals and rhythm guitar, offers deep and earthy tones to every song. Jim Goulden, lead guitar, has been singing and performing in bands from Los Angeles to the South. He is also co-creator of the legendary Santa Fe based performance art/rock band, The Gluey Brothers. Bassist Zeke Severson has performed shows from New York City to parties in Yosemite. He’s played with numerous bands including Funkuation, Ronny Gene and the Lighthouse, Michael Hearne, and with La Fiesta favorite, Bill Hearne. Britt Alexander, drums and percussion, has over 50 years of experience, specializing in jazz and country swing.

Listen to selections on their website, or get to know the band better at Then come down to La Fiesta Lounge, where the locals gather, on December 27 & 28. La Fiesta’s featured cocktail this month rings in the holiday cheer, too. Bartender, Leo Granados mixes a delicious Yuletide Old Fashioned, blending 16 Knob Creek bourbon, allspice dram, orange bitters, with a cinnamon stick garnish.

It’s a Good Time To…

Spread your own cheer by heading Downtown for First Friday on December 6, when shops, galleries and boutiques will be open late to help you find that perfect present! Wander the colorfully lit Plaza, then head to Detours, La Fonda’s gift shop for seasonal themed items for friends and family. And don’t forget that when you purchase anything at Detours, you’ll receive the secret password for a $5 cocktail menu at La Fiesta Lounge that evening. Shop, stroll and relax at La Fiesta!

Chanukah on the Plaza lights up the darkest time of the year (Dec. 22) with the annual menorah lighting right outside La Fonda on the Santa Fe Plaza. Mayor Alan Webber joins the fun of live music, and of course, latkes, gelt and hot chocolate. And rumor has it that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham will be joining the festivities, too!

Santa Fe’s beloved Christmas at the Palace brings the community together just outside La Fonda’s doors for an evening (Dec. 13) of hot cider, cookies, live music, a chance to operate an antique printing press, old fashioned activities, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus – all in the legendary magic of the Palace of the Governors. Bring a donation of non-perishable food for this free, family event.

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden does its own holiday light show (Nov. 30-Dec. 31). Light up your holiday season with GLOW! This annual event features thousands of twinkle lights and beautiful large-scale light installations all aglow throughout the Botanical Garden. Enjoy live music, festive beverages, and meet Santa with the kiddos (12 and under get in free). Book our GLOW package and delight in this holiday tradition in Santa Fe, every night except Dec. 24 & 25.

Head out to Pecos National Historic Park for a laid-back evening to take in the magic and ambiance of more than 3500 farolitos. Contemplate the peace and quiet of a winter’s evening as you follow the illuminated 1-mile trail to the Spanish Mission Church and pueblo.

One of Santa Fe’s most beloved holiday traditions, the Canyon Road Farolito Walk, lights up the hearts and souls of thousands who stroll the iconic road on Christmas Eve, when art galleries open their doors as street musicians play and people gather at traditional bonfires.

Embrace New Mexico’s rich Native American culture by visiting a Pueblo on Christmas Eve. Many of the area Pueblos are open to the public for dances, bonfires and midnight mass. New Mexico is home to 19 Pueblos, including the eight Northern Indian Pueblos north of Santa Fe.

The City Different’s New Year’s Eve on the Plaza rings in 2020 with family, friends and visitors to on the Santa Fe Plaza (Dec. 31). The festivities begin at 9 pm, with the Plaza warmed by stationary heaters and cozy piñon bonfires scenting the night air with an unmistakably comforting New Mexican fragrance. Local bands will kick off the evening's live music on the Santa Fe Bandstand, just steps from La Fonda, where fireworks will launch from our rooftop to mark the calendar’s turn.

And don’t forget the citywide Artist in Residence happenings! La Fonda is delighted to offer this weekend art experience to connect New Mexico artists with our guests right here in the lobby of the hotel Friday and Saturday 4 to 7 pm and Sunday noon to 3 pm through February 29, 2020. Come experience the magic of art first-hand. Our calendar of artists is here and be sure to check out our Artist in Residence Package.

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A Fireplace In A Dark Room


A Pair Of Scissors

Tom Taylor



Shop local this Holiday and support the world renowned New Mexican silversmiths and leather artists of Tom Taylor. Tom Taylor has added stunning new pieces to their collection of one-of-a-kind belts, buckles, bags, jewelry, and accessories for the season. Visit Tom Taylor online or stop into their La Fonda store for unique, memorable gifts that are handcrafted for a lifetime.

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Sense Clothing® designed in the USA is headquartered in downtown Santa Fe, NM in the historic La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza. Sense launched their first collection in Spring 2005, consisting of ultra-soft fabrics and modern colors. Sense is all about the "multi-functional" wardrobe which makes our collection the perfect travel line, uniting the elements of Spa and Travel for today's active women.

Guests at La Fonda receive 25% off any Sense item.

111 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501 in La Fonda

Call: 505-988-5534

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Señor Murphy

Santa Fe Chocolate Maker

Señor Murphy's uses only the very best and freshest ingredients in their sweets.  Stop by their shop at La Fonda for delicious hand-made treats!

Film & Performance 

The Met Live in HD series at the Lensic beams in Akhnaten (Dec 7) with star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as the title pharaoh, the revolutionary ruler who transformed ancient Egypt, with the striking mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges in her Met debut as his wife, Nefertiti.

New Mexico School for the Arts presents Variations written by Katie Hims, directed by Charles Gamble (Dec. 5-7). Thirteen-year-old Alice wishes her life was completely different. Then one morning she wakes up and it is. Alice is taken through a series of parallel universes, reliving the same ten minutes over and over again. Maybe different isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but once you’ve started on this path, can you go back to normality? A play about family, string theory, and breakfast.

Santa Fe Playhouse stages the world premiere of No Number Home, written by Santa Fean Tencha Avila and based on a true story (Dec. 12-22). No Number Home tells of a young couple and their daughter living in a migrant worker colony in Colorado in December 1944. When their recently drafted 18-year-old neighbor, Jesus Rodriguez, deserts from basic training, the colony is invaded by the military police who vow to find him whatever the cost. Residents panic—they are sure that they will all be deported unless someone hands the boy over.

NT Live in HD series at the Lensic presents Present Laughter (Dec. 17). Matthew Warchus directs Andrew Scott (BBC’s Sherlock, Fleabag) in Noël Coward’s provocative comedy. As he prepares to embark on an overseas tour, star actor Garry Essendine’s colorful life is in danger of spiraling out of control. Engulfed by an escalating identity crisis as his many and various relationships compete for his attention, Garry’s few remaining days at home are a chaotic whirlwind of love, sex, panic and soul-searching.

Out & About

Celebrate the spirit of the season with 10 Who Made a Difference, the annual event honoring volunteers in our community. La Fonda is thrilled to host this event again this year (Dec. 4), recognizing the honorees for what they do and the impact their efforts have made.

Shopping on your mind? Discover the next generation of great artists and craftspeople at the Young Native Artists Winter Show & Sale (Dec. 7-8) at the NM History Museum. 

Then head over to Santa Fe Community College’s 29th annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair (Dec. 7) with 75 artists offering jewelry, baked goods, woven handbags, pottery, painting, scarves, tinwork, straw appliqué and woodcarvings.

The fourth annual String of Lights: A Holiday Market (Dec. 7) at the nearby Farmer’s Market Pavilion includes 50+ local makers selling unique handcrafted gifts–a perfect place to get all your holiday shopping done while you grab a drink, hang out with friends, and enjoy music.

Stop by the 13th Annual Winter Indian Market (Dec. 14-15) right here at La Fonda. More than 150 of the most accomplished Native artists in the world will be selling jewelry, pottery, paintings, weavings and much more in a festive and intimate environment. There’s the also a fabulous silent auction, live music and dancing! Stay at La Fonda and you’re literally feet away from this festive event. Our Winter Market package includes breakfast for two in La Plazuela and never any hidden resort fees. But don't wait long, this weekend always sells out!

Music & Dance 

What would the holidays be without mariachi? Mariachi Christmas (Dec. 6) at the Lensic is open to all ages, filled with music performed by mariachis and special guest artists, folkloric dancers, and a children’s choir surrounded by festive Christmas songs and traditional music.

The most wonderful time of the year takes on a whole new meaning when Storm Large returns to the Lensic by popular demand, this time with her signature Christmas show (Dec. 19). Storm will love you, leave you, delight you, and abuse you with wicked charm and stunning vocals that will have you begging for more.

Fiddle sensations Natalie MacMaster and her husband Donnell Leahy, the leader of Ontario's celebrated Celtic family band come to the Lensic (Dec. 20), bringing along their musical children and an ensemble of talented musicians for a rousing, warm, and exuberant performance like no other. Then join the New Mexico Gay Men's Chorus at the Lensic as they sing songs that reflect the joy of the holidays with The Holiday of Your Dreams (Dec. 21).

Celebrate Christmas Eve at the Lensic with the Santa Fe Symphony and Grammy Award-winning Mark O’Connor Band, featuring a breathtaking fusion of classical, bluegrass, folk, and jazz renditions of holiday tunes, plus O'Connor originals.

Santa Fe Pro Musica presents its free Family Concert (Dec. 28), the perfect way for you and your child to look inside the world of classical music with an hour-long exploration of J.S. Bach and his beloved Brandenburg Concertos. Then the holiday celebration continues with the group’s presentation of all six Brandenburg Concertos (Dec. 29-30), Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterpieces, timeless favorites on modern instruments.

Embrace the holiday spirit and revel in the magic of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s The Nutcracker (Dec. 14-15) at the Lensic. This iconic production–both uplifting and filled with humor–has become a seasonal Santa Fe tradition, with its whimsical twist on the classic story and a cast of more than 60 performers. Don’t miss this perfect opportunity to create lifelong memories for you and your loved ones.

AMP Concerts wraps its year in Santa Fe with Iris Dement at the St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art (Dec. 13). NPR calls her "one of the great voices in contemporary popular music." Then kick off 2020 in Santa Fe with fan favorite Dar Williams at the James A. Little Theater (Jan. 15).

Gig Performance space welcomes the Leni Stern African Trio featuring the master musicianship of Senegalese bandmates Alioune Faye on percussion and Mamadou Ba on bass (Dec. 4). It’s a December to remember with Meow Wolf’s line up: Joywave (Dec. 5), The Floozies (Dec. 6), Desert Dwellers (Dec. 7), Desert Dosio (Dec. 13-14), Cashmere Cat (Dec. 20), Ardalan and Kevin Saunderson and Mr. Good (Dec. 21), and ending the year with Emancipator (Dec. 28).

At the Museums

Yokai: Ghost and Demons of Japan opens at the Museum of International Folk Art (Dec. 8 – Jan. 10, 2021). Narrative arts such as Muromachi Period scroll paintings, Edo Period woodblock prints, and contemporary folk art that depict or involve yokai will illustrate their eerie tales. Ghost and demon characters also appear in classical theatrical performances and special festival events. Contemporary Noh masks and festival costumes and the artists who make them will be a particular exhibition highlight.

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture’s San Ildefonso Pottery: 1600-1930 exhibition (thru August 2020) features an art form that deserves recognition and appreciation alongside the other great world art systems. Before there was Santa Fe and before the idea of an “art colony” was born there was San Ildefonso, a small village of extraordinarily visionary artists whose ceramic legacy is rich and vitally meaningful.


Lannan Foundation’s Readings & Conversations brings Noura Erakat with Janine Jackson (Dec. 4). Erakat is a human rights attorney and assistant professor at Rutgers University, and has served as a legal advocate for Palestinian refugee rights at the United Nations. She is the author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.

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Vote for the Fred Harvey Foodie Dinner  and Cocktails at La Fonda