Play Starting a New Tradition at the Bunkhouse
Life can throw some curveballs, but there’s one constant that I always look forward to, and that’s vacationing with my eight best girlfriends from college every other year. It’s a tradition that’s become sacrosanct. It keeps us grounded and connected to what’s most important in life—spending time with loved ones. The choice of destination has changed over the years from big, energetic cities with buzzy dining scenes in our first few reunions, to relaxed beach getaways for melting the stress right off as our lives got busier.
This time, though, we thought we’d try something entirely different. With our spouses and kids in tow—a staggering 29 of us in total—we stayed at the Bunkhouse at Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe, a legendary landmark set on over 300 acres near downtown but that seemed a world apart.
Spread over nearly 10,000 sq. ft., the sheer size of the Bunkhouse was perfect for our very large and rambunctious crew. There were a dozen rooms, each with its own double bed plus alcove with bunkbeds (the kids loved those, with each clamoring for the top bunk), so each family felt like they had their own private sanctuary. When it was time to gather together, there was plenty of room for that, too. The aptly named Great Room featured soaring vaulted ceilings, a vintage bar, massive fireplace, and super comfy sofas that were perfect for lingering over stories and our daily Southwestern snack, like chips and guacamole with cold Coronas and drinks, that were brought to us each afternoon.
Our days were filled with adventure, sometimes in a small group, and sometimes all together. My girlfriends and I embarked on a hot air balloon ride the second morning there. I was skeptical about getting up so early (before sunrise!) but it turned out that soaring above Taos and getting a bird’s-eye view of the Santa Fe National Forest was a soul-stirring way to start the morning.
What my girlfriends and I have learned from years of vacationing in far-flung places is that gaining an understanding of the local culture and heritage is an intrinsic part of meaningful travel. We gathered all the kids together for fun hands-on classes where they learned how to make their own ceremonial rattles and drums using animal hides, gourds and shells, and took part in a special ceremony to understand their significance.
Gathering around the pool was another favorite group activity. The kids loved splashing around after a day of playing in the dry mountain air, while the adults caught up on the day’s stories on shaded loungers, drink in hand—or on the adorable tree-stump tables.
When we first arrived at Bishop’s Lodge, we were thrilled to learn how families had vacationed at Bishop’s Lodge generation after generation. After a week’s stay, we completely understood why: It was the ideal getaway for feeling connected—with nature, with the region’s fascinating history and culture, and most importantly, with one another. We might have just started a brand-new tradition.