Home to some of North America’s oldest cultures, New Mexico’s artistic heritage has roots that are long and deep. At the same time, the state is far from stuck in the past. It’s also an incubator for cutting-edge developments in art, science and technology.
As a result, groups will find venues and activities reflecting not only Spanish colonial and Native American traditions, but also New Mexico’s key role in modern and contemporary art movements. Futuristic endeavors in science and technology, including commercial space travel, are part of the mix as well.
The state’s largest city is experiencing an urban renaissance that is bringing with it new venues, entertainment hubs, hotels, public transit and forward-thinking business ventures, according to Tania Armenta, president and CEO of Visit Albuquerque.
“There is tons of positive activity going on Albuquerque,” she said. “Coming on the heels of a renovation of our convention center, there are plenty of things happening to match it.”
Among them are new enhancements to Civic Plaza, part of the Albuquerque Convention Center campus, which includes an interactive fountain that visitors can activate with their mobile phones. Just south of Civic Plaza, One Central is a mixed-use entertainment complex set to open next year with residences, restaurants, bars, a craft brewery, bowling alley and other features.
Under development by the University of New Mexico, Innovate ABQ is a seven-acre downtown district consisting of research labs, tech start-ups, business services, communal workspaces and other components. According to Armenta, the venture will strengthen the city’s ability to attract science and technology conferences, already one of its key segments.
“Innovate ABQ will not only draw even more entrepreneurs and researchers to the city, but it will be a great resource for science and tech meetings,” she said. “Our ability to help planners find thought leaders and presenters will be further enhanced.”
Another exciting development is Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART), which will connect Old Town, Nob Hill and downtown upon its completion at the end of the year. The high-tech transit system using a new generation of electric buses will be the first of its kind in the U.S., Armenta said.
Albuquerque also boasts a vibrant art scene and an abundance of venues where visitors can enjoy both traditional and contemporary artworks.
“Artists are drawn to Albuquerque and New Mexico—the light and topography here is so unique and inspiring,” Armenta said. “There are galleries all over town and events like ARTScrawl where the galleries host receptions with artists on the first Friday of the month. We also have a great public art program throughout the city that really impresses visitors.”
The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (aka the Albuquerque Museum), the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center are among venues that boast outstanding art collections as well as flexible indoor and outdoor spaces for events. The recently expanded Albuquerque Museum includes an outdoor sculpture garden and galleries devoted to a wide range of works, particularly those by regional artists.
“The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is one of our go-to places, particularly for large groups of up to 1,000 people,” said Lydia Griego-Hansen, co-owner of Destination Southwest, a local DMC. “We can bring in local artisans such as tinsmiths and silversmiths who demonstrate their craft and have items for sale. We can also do a progressive dinner at the Albuquerque Museum, the nearby Museum of Natural History, and Explora, a children’s science museum that is also a blast for adults.”
Shaped like a Mayan pyramid, the National Hispanic Cultural Center includes an art museum with over 2,500 works by Hispanic artists from around the globe. Along with galleries available for events, the center also offers meeting rooms, learning labs, courtyards and two performing arts theaters.
Art from New Mexico’s 19 Pueblo communities is the focus of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which exhibits a huge collection of pottery, jewelry, textiles, baskets, prints, paintings and archaeological artifacts. Among its signature features are exquisite pieces by master potter Maria Montez and murals depicting Pueblo life displayed throughout the building. Event spaces include conference rooms, banquet halls and a mural-lined courtyard.
Planners looking for the best time to meet in Albuquerque should not rule out any time of year, including October when the highly popular Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place, according to Armenta.
“We’re a high-desert city so we have a fairly mild climate during each of the four seasons,” she said. “We also have a growing hotel inventory of 17,000 rooms which is keeping rates competitive and affordable. Even during Balloon Fiesta there are full-service hotels interested in meetings.”
Meetings-friendly hotels in Albuquerque include the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Albuquerque, Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown, Hotel BLUE, Hotel Andaluz and Embassy Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Hotel & Spa. The newest property is the 118-room Hotel Chaco, which opened this spring in Old Town with a rooftop restaurant and original works by Native American artists in the guest rooms and public spaces.
For group resort options, Isleta Resort & Casino, located seven miles from Albuquerque, offers over 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space with mountain views, a full-service spa, 27 holes of golf and seven dining outlets.
North of the city on the Santa Ana Pueblo, the 350-room Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa is a luxury property with over 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space and extensive cultural programs. Santa Fe New Mexico’s enchanting capital city of Santa Fe, with its low-rise adobes in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is constantly evolving with new restaurants, venues and visitor experiences, according to Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe.
“Santa Fe is a wonderful choice for meetings because of the numerous and diverse hotels in the historic downtown area that give attendees walkable access to art, culture and world-class restaurants,” Randall said, adding that the National Geographic Society recently recognized the city with a World Legacy Award for its preservation efforts. “Our unique culture and traditions make us a memorable destination.”
Among hotel choices for meetings is the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, the city’s largest property, with 219 rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Others include La Fonda on the Plaza, Inn and Spa at Loretto, Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, Drury Hotel, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi and Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. The city’s main venue is the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, a LEED Gold-certified facility with 40,000 square feet of space.