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Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino Brings Together Two Cultures


Hilton Hotel at Buffalo Thunder Resort

Standard Room with 2 Queen Beds at Buffalo Thunder, Santa Fe

©Elizabeth R. Rose

Buffalo Thunder Resort Basics:

Buffalo Thunder Resort is located 15 minutes north of Santa Fe off 84/285.

Address: 30 Buffalo Thunder Trail, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87506
Phone: 505.455.5555

About Buffalo Thunder Resort:

This place is huge! I visited in Fall of 2008 when things were still shiny and new. The 395 guest rooms all had pillow top comfy beds and were beautifully decorated with Native American influenced design. Many had decks where you can sit and watch the real thunder roll over the New Mexico hills.

Venture out and enjoy 36 holes of golf at the new Towa Golf Club, hit the tennis courts, luxuriate at the pool or spa, find a new dining spot and, of course, visit the casino on the lower level.

The Buffalo Thunder Santa Fe Hilton:

Is this a casino hotel? Well, actually, no. I noticed while spending time in the lobby that the lower level casino was a world apart from the luxurious hotel. Only rarely did someone wander through the hotel with that dazed look after spending one too many hours at the slot machine. What the Hilton management and the Pojoaque Pueblo have done is to create a beautiful setting for Native American art, relaxing natural views and luxury at every turn.


Although dining venues were still getting organized when I visited I did notice the variety:
  • Mark Miller's Red Sage Restaurant and Bar - upscale current decor and fresh gourmet fare
  • Mica Restaurant - lunch
  • Painted Parrot Buffet
  • Turquoise Trail Bar & Grill - Pub and American Casual fare
  • More.. Lounges, Starbucks on site


The Buffalo Thunder has some great shops. My favorite was the SWAIA (Santa Fe Indian Market Sponsoring Organization) shop with beautiful collectible Native American jewelry, sculpture and art.

Room Rates:

All non-smoking rooms. Generously sized guestrooms themed in Native American decor that feature hand crafted furniture, oversized windows or balconies, in-room safe, Cuisinart coffee-maker and Lavazza coffee, the Hilton Serenity Collection, mini bar, high-speed internet, on-demand movies and games and more. Kayak, online booking, lists rates at $150 - $207 per night when booked online.


Towa Golf Course, located at the new Buffalo Thunder Resort offers challenging golf and expansive southwestern vistas. Twenty-seven of the 36 holes, designed by Hale Irwin and William Phillips are open. A first class Clubhouse and Golf Shop features a full service restaurant and bar complete with meeting facilities. Course is open to the public.

Weddings and Meeting Facilities:

The resort has a beautiful mission-style chapel right on the property. Add to that large, beautifully appointed meeting rooms and you may just find your dream wedding venue. The 66,000 square foot conference center can host small meetings or receptions on a grand scale. Break out rooms surround the main rooms.

Let's Not Forget the Casino!:

Down the hall from the hotel lobby and down an escalor, you will enter the bring and exciting world of Indian gaming. With an 80,000-square-foot casino featuring 1,200 slot machines, 22 table games, a 10-table poker room, this is Las Vegas-style gambling. They have a players club that you can join online.

Impressions and Review:

If you love Native American art, you will feel right at home at the Hilton-managed Buffalo Thunder resort. You can even grab a art lover's walking tour map at the concierge desk. If you like to drift off to dreamland in those billowing beds with crisp white linens, you will love the rooms at Buffalo Thunder.

Buffalo Thunder is immense. You can enjoy dining or having a drink in the spacious lobby without even sensing you are near a casino. No bells or ching, ching, ching!

You can head out for a hike or spend the morning playing tennis. There are wonderful pools and a children's play area. If you want to luxuriate, check out the spa and the indoor pool reminiscent of Roman baths.

The conference facility is also built on a grand scale - 66,000 square feet! When I visited, we had a pre-dinner party hosted on an open terrace. It was a beautiful place to watch the clouds gather and sun set. What we didn't expect was the thunder and lightning show that night. It was truly a Buffalo Thunder experience. The staff gathered things quickly and moved us inside to finish our cocktails. We then experienced the hospitality of the banquet staff while sitting at beautifully decorated tables all with a Southwest Native American theme. One of the entrees was, you guessed it, Buffalo! It was tender and savory, an excellent representation of what the banquet chef and team can produce.

You won't belive this... the hotel has an immense "Governor's Suite," co-designed with Pojoaque Pueblo Governor, George Rivera, who is a noted artist. The suite was two stories high, and contained signature pieces of Native American art, an immense hot tub spa room, a guest room and fascinating details at every turn. If you have a special event coming up and you want to impress, consider the Governor's Suite. (See our photo gallery for photos of the Governor's Suite).

The best thing about Buffalo Thunder is that is located in the beautiful wide open spaces of northern New Mexico, is an excellent example of collaboration between two cultures and is convenient to Santa Fe.

Yet to be reviewed are the resort's restaurants and spa. Things were just too new and hectic while we were there to get a sense of how dining might be. And, as we toured the spa we were impressed with the facility but have not yet experienced the services.

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