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Two New Mexico B&Bs Worth the Visit
by Andrea S. Lee
At the southern end, Casa de Sueños (House of Dreams) rests near a mesa
top at the edge of the open desert with fabulous views of the Franklin
Mountains and Rio Grande. Only 12 minutes west of El Paso, the B&B’s
serenity surprises—and delights—guests. “It’s a desert oasis,” says
Marlene Eichner, who with her husband, George Bollinger, owns and
operates the B&B. They do all the cooking, offering their guests a
healthful menu and specializing in Southwest cuisine. Marlene boasts,
“We make a mean huevos rancheros.”
In the central area of New Mexico,
nestled in the piñons of the Sandia Mountains near Tijeras, lies
Heavenly Lodge. The B&B’s park-like setting and privacy are perfect for
an intimate weekend, “quiet introspection, and just hanging out,” says
manager Linda Dunnill. Here, there’s no schedule. You can sit on the
lodge’s second-floor veranda and enjoy the mountain vistas or relax
under the stars in the outdoor hot tub.
Linda and Marlene are ready to
accommodate your particular definition of romance. Do you want breakfast
in your room—with fresh flowers? You’ve got it. An afternoon massage?
They know whom to call. Dinner for two by candlelight? That can be
arranged. Heavenly Lodge offers a “Sweetheart Double Date” two night
package for two or three couples, with a large, hot buffet breakfast
(you decide the time), a bottle of champagne for each couple, and the
entire three-floor lodge for you and your friends. With two weeks
advance notice, certified chef Penny DeRose will plan and prepare
additional meals, or you can take over the lodge’s kitchen, never
leaving the mountain retreat.
At Casa de Sueños, Marlene is
proud of all her rooms and she is able to board up to 11 people.
She recommends the Kokopeli and Los Pajaritos rooms because
they’re the coziest “good for snuggling,” she says. Kokopeli,
the largest room, has a king-size bed, alcove, and patio.
The patio off Los Pajaritos
room overlooks the river valley. Imagine spending a sunny winter
afternoon there, your favorite CD playing in the background,
reading a book, with the Casa’s two dogs, Abi and Peanut, at
your feet, and your sweetheart by your side.
Speaking of sweethearts, what if you
are planning a February wedding? Heavenly Lodge creates a heavenly
atmosphere for weddings. All kinds of arrangements can be made—from
ordering the flowers to getting tents set up to having food for the
reception. If spectacular views and thoughtful services aren’t enough to
make the wedding special, you can top it off by going to the pond at
night to sit and listen to the night around you, as the moon reflects
off the water.
From Heavenly Lodge in
Tijeras, you can take a daytime excursion along the Turquoise
Trail (N.M. 14) north to Madrid, the old mining town turned
artists’ community, or south to Mountainair and the Shaffer
Hotel for lunch and poking around its art galleries, or west
along Route 66 into Albuquerque. Maybe you and your sweetheart
want to take advantage of the great open spaces nearby and go
for a walk or run.
Set out on foot or bike
from the lodge to one of the hiking and biking trails in the
Sandia and Manzano Mountains, part of the Cibola National
Forest. Information can be found at the Sandia District Ranger
Station in Tijeras. If there is snow, Sandia Peak Ski Area is 35
You aren’t likely to find snow at Casa
de Sueños in February. The 50- to 60-degree average daytime highs make
February the Casa’s busiest month. But you can make easy day trips into
Mexico, either from the trolley service between El Paso and Juarez or
from Columbus, N.M., into Las Palomas, Mexico, 60 miles west on Highway
9. Or drive north along old Highway 28 to the village of Mesilla, with
its historic plaza, just outside of Las Cruces. Wineries, a pecan
orchard, a weaver’s studio, and a mesquite furniture maker are among the
attractions that line the route. Back at Casa de Sueños in the evening,
you can find yourself on the patio porch swing in the moonlight, a glass
of wine in one hand and in the other, your special someone’s.
If Your Go
Casa de Sueños
George Bollinger and Marlene Eichner
La Union, NM
Phone: (505) 874-9166
two-night package, two to three couples;
Michelle Dunnill and Linda Dunnill
Tijeras , NM
Phone: (505) 474-8359
Author: Andrea S. Lee
lives in Albuquerque with her cats, Carlos and Lobo, and
operates Legacy Editing, specializing in writing and editing
educational, literary, and religious/spiritual materials.