Nestled at the foot of the beautiful Sandia Mountains, about halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, there is a spectacular wedding destination located on the sacred lands of the Santa Ana Pueblo.
The only Hyatt property owned entirely by a Native American tribe, the Hyatt Regency Tamaya is a luxury resort and spa that has recently come into its own as a destination wedding venue in the Southwest. As threats of Zika and concerns over international terrorism grow, more couples are considering wedding destinations in the continental United States. While New Mexico might not top most couples' lists of dream destination wedding locales, this resort (which I recently visited) is a mecca for brides and grooms looking for a spot to host their whirlwind wedding weekends, as it offers many of the same spectacular features found in the world's most popular wedding destinations.
Activities for Guests
While the New Mexico property obviously doesn't have traditional beaches, the Rio Grande winds its way across the property, and features just as many water sports and activities as anything along a coast in warm weather. Skiing is just a hop, skip and a jump away in the winter.
For those who would rather sit by a pool, the resort offers three swimming pool options to suit every taste and style. The longest tram ride in the world is nearby for guests who would rather observe than participate. And there's a good golf course on the property, and a spectacular Conde Nast Traveler-ranked spa that incorporates a number of local ingredients.
The Food Is a Bride and Groom's Dream
The adobe hotel complements its desert surroundings. The Pueblo Tribe has left its stamp all over the property, not just in the architecture, but also in the sculptures, art, cedar-burning lobby fireplace, and menu in its critically-acclaimed restaurant, Corn Maiden. Interestingly, unlike most hotel properties, each restaurant within the hotel has its own chef and kitchen team, allowing brides and grooms to identify who will be supervising their wedding menu, and to work with them directly to create a menu that wows their guests. Many of the ingredients come from the property's own gardens and the honey found in so many dishes comes from the resort's own bee hives.
You Feel Like You're in a "Destination"
In this time of heightened social awareness about the plight of the Native American legacy, Hyatt Tamaya is a resort that offers a southwestern feel with as much, or as little, Native American influence as a couple likes. If you wish to highlight the region's history, you might have your guests greeted by Native Americans in traditional dress, with a locally-crafted blue corn necklace. Or book a performance of an authentic celebratory dance performed by locals for your welcome party.
Tons of Stunning Spots to Say "I Do"
Each of the resort's three wedding venues has a completely different feel: The House of Hummingbird's ceremony spot provides a backdrop of the Tuyuna Mesa, the most sacred spot on the Pueblo. It's so special to the tribe that you cannot visit it, but you can get married right in front of the breathtaking mesa. In the Sunrise Amphitheater, your backdrop is the Sandia Mountains, which turn pink on top at sunset. There are several indoor and outdoor reception venues located across the property, mostly isolated so that your event won't be interrupted by other hotel guests.
Your Wedding Will Be Totally Unique
Greet your guests with honeycomb snacks and little bottles of honey from the hotel's hives, and thank them with a locally-made dreamcatcher or hot air balloon ornament. After a farewell breakfast with a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar (called the "Bloody Married Brunch"), invite your guests to see you off on your honeymoon in a hot air balloon. There's nothing typical about this wedding destination. The only question is will you have enough time to do everything you want to do while you're visiting New Mexico.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.