Monday, February 23, 2009

Earn your turns

Hello there!

This weekend was another one in paradise--between the Vinyasa yoga at Body of Santa Fe ( and "skinning" up Ski Santa Fe, plus a nice afternoon sitting outside at the Teahouse on Canyon Road (, I was in heaven.

With friends Mary, John, Carol and Elizabeth, and three dogs (Stella is my blue heeler, to the right) we put felt "skins" on telemark skis and started our ascent, which totals about 1,800 vertical feet from bottom to top, at 4 pm. My dog, who is a herder by breed and from the Espanola Valley Humane Society (, couldn't resist chasing at the heels of the skiers and snowboarders on the last run of the day. That was her first and last day on the ski slopes!

One hour later we made it to the top of Ski Santa Fe (, a resort nestled high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and a mere 16 miles from the historic Plaza.
The view of the desertscape below us was worth the hard work. Minutes later we breezed down to the base and enjoyed a hot mug of mint tea.
If you're interested in getting a fantastic work out and need telemarking gear, Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works will hook you up with fantastic rental equipment:
Here's to another great week in the Land of Enchantment!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ecotourism--a natural fit for the Land of Enchantment


Right now I'm working on an exciting new initiative for the New Mexico Tourism Department, one that could redefine our state as a "green" destination: Ecotourism. Ecotourism is a big word with a lot of baggage, so let me break it down for you here with the International Ecotourism Society's definition, on which we are building this program:

"Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

When Secretary Cerletti and I recently held a press conference (Jan. 15, 2009--see a photo to the right with guest speaker Stuart Ashman, Secretary of Cultural Affairs, at the podium)) to unveil our Ecotourism project, it was with the intention to share our plan for promoting and preserving the already rich treasures that bring visitors to the state—scenic beauty and cultural heritage—repackaging and rebranding what is qualified and vetted by Ecotourism experts as Ecotourism, thereby putting the state on the map as one of the country’s first statewide Eco-destinations.

Ecotourism is the fastest growing segment in the tourism industry and brings a desirable type of visitor—one that stays longer, spends more money, and has an interest in authentic, hands-on experiences. Here are some bottom-line facts regarding what the state has to gain by this initiative, as provided by the International Ecotourism Society.

Since the 1990s, Ecotourism has been growing 20% - 34% per year.

In 2004, Ecotourism/nature tourism was growing globally 3 times faster than the tourism industry as a whole.

“Experiential” tourism—which encompasses Ecotourism, nature, heritage, cultural, and soft adventure tourism, as well as sub-sectors such as rural and community tourism—is among the sectors expected to grow most quickly over the next two decades.

Analysts predict a growth in Eco-resorts and hotels, and a boom in nature tourism — a sector already growing at 20% a year — and suggest early converts to sustainable tourism will make market gains.

In Europe:

--20%-30% of travelers are aware of needs & values of sustainable tourism.

--10%-20% of travelers look for ‘green’ options.

--5%-10% of travelers demand ‘green’ holidays.

Nearly half of those surveyed in Britain said they would be more likely to go with a “company that had a written code to guarantee good working conditions, protect the environment and support local charities in the tourist destination…”

The question shouldn’t be why are we looking to bring Ecotourism to New Mexico, rather, why wouldn’t we? By branding and marketing ourselves as such, we stand to gain sustainable tourism that values scenic beauty, wildlife, outdoor adventure, and cultural heritage and will be a huge boon to an industry that already touts an economic impact of $5.2 billion dollars in direct spending each year in the state.

By identifying ourselves as the Ecotourism destination in the United States and offering Eco-adventures and packaged vacations across the state, New Mexico has the capacity to lead a rapidly growing sector of the tourism industry. This is our chance to embrace our already magnificent “Enchantment”, capitalizing on our existing assets in a new and growing market, and setting ourselves even further apart from our competitors in a time when ingenuity and freshness are in high demand.

If you can't tell--I'm excited about this project! The flood of interest and support from communities across the state and the country have been heartening. This is a big opportunity. For more questions feel free to email me:


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hats off to New Mexico--another success in Pasadena

Dear friends,

It was a crystal clear morning, New Year's Day, as Wiley Coyote resumed his perpetual chase of the Road Runner through New Mexico's desert--only this time, it was at the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, on the state's beautiful float. Recognized with the Bob Hope Trophy for Best Use of Humor, the float marked the New Mexico Tourism Department's third appearance in the famed parade.
It's hard to imagine the sheer size and incredible detail of each float when you're watching it on TV, as millions of Americans do each year. Let me tell you--it is a fascinating experience. Hundreds of volunteers swarm hundreds of floats in the arenas where they are built in the days leading up to the 1st of the year, and the smell of flowers is overwhelming. Everything from huge fresh pine boughs and full, luscious roses to wildly exotic birds of paradise and the smallest shells of peas. If it's organic, it qualifies to decorate the floats, some of which are over three stories tall, and often mechanically animated. As the floats stream by on Orange and Colorado Boulevard in the beautiful old neighborhoods of the City of Roses, you can smell the flowers.

It's not just for kids either--this event brings out the child in everyone who attends. It was another great year of showcasing New Mexico's scenic beauty--and sense of humor.

PS--to the left is a shot of Jimmy Garcia, of El Pinto in Albuquerque, alongside the daughter and grandson of famed cartoonist and creator of Wiley Coyote, Chuck Jones.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NM: The Last Frontier! (at least for the Chinese)

Hello everyone,
It's been a while, but I'm back, and I want to tell you about a recent trip. In November I traveled to Shanghai with Secretary Michael Cerletti to attend CITM, China International Travel Market, a trade show for those those in the tourism industry.

I met with thousands of tour operators, media, and consumers in the Shanghai Expo Center, where a myriad of states, countries, and vendors of all types set up shop to pitch their product, spanning hundreds of thousands of square feet. Ken Lingad, a Native celebrity from Isleta Pueblo, outshined even the glitziest hotel set up, standing in our space with his long black hair and big turquoise jewelry. A native of Isleta Pueblo, Ken was a magnet for the Chinese, who are huge fans of anything that has to do with cowboys and Indians.

Sec. Cerletti signed documents in a formal agreement to partner and cross-promote with the Jilin Province in the northeastern part of China. Astoundingly, this province alone is home to over 27 million people. Since this was the first time that New Mexico traveled on a mission to promote itself in China, it was a radical learning experience--this massive market is trending toward increasing travel to the United States, and not just the tried and true destinations that usually attract the Chinese, such as Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Instead, the Chinese have a particular interest in indigenous culture and art, both are rich treasures found in the Land of Enchantment.

While Shanghai impressed with astounding architecture and an efficient, bustling, and polite people, it sure was good to get back to New Mexico and take a deep breath of big, clean, high desert air. We are so lucky!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting away from it all

Good afternoon lovers of all things New Mexican,
A long weekend is ahead, a little snow is on Santa Fe Baldy, the leaves are at their peak and by the smell of the fireplaces burning pinon wood each evening, it feels like winter is just around the corner.

But before you get out your winter woolies, consider a trip to a southern New Mexico town where the next ten days feature daytime temperatures in the 70s and crisp desert evenings in the low 50s. It may have a funny name, but last winter Vanity Fair named it "the next Marfa" and it continues to get national attention for being one of the country's up-and-coming hip spots to hang out: Truth or Consequences.

T or C is where I go to get away from it all, even though I live in Santa Fe, which is a small, quiet town where lots of urbanites come to relax and contemplate life with a margarita in hand, scanning the surrounding open spaces. I need my own retreat.

Named after the famous 1950s radio (and eventually TV) show as a publicity stunt, T or C is three hours south of Santa Fe, so, two hours south of Albuquerque and an hour north of Las Cruces. Right off of I-25, T or C is near our largest lake, Elephant Butte Reservoir (in Elephant Butte Reservoir State Park: and is on the banks of the Rio Grande. Overlooking the town is the beautiful and arid Turtleback Mountain, a southern extension of the Rockies. The area, once a healing destination for Native Americans, has always been popular because of one thing: HOT WATER. Mineral-rich water pops right up out of the ground from wells as shallow as three feet that tap a giant aquifer under the town. I can attest--when I visit T or C, the very first thing I do is soak in the water. Before bed, upon waking--you really do want to be in it all the time. Nothing makes me relax faster.
On a quick trip last month to T or C I met up with journalists from the BBC documenting a cross-country trip called "Talking America" to quiz Americans on their country and the recent election. For their take of T or C, go here: The Brits were so taken by T or C that they may be back for election night.
But from the heart, let me tell you why I love T or C, and why it's special to me. I spend a lot of time on the road in New Mexico, and there is something about T or C that feels like coming home. There's something about a heavy yellow moon rising over the desert mountains, the smell of the creosote in the desert basin rising up in the morning, friendly folks who wave on the quiet downtown streets. The light hitting pastel green, pink and lilac adobe buildings, the sense of ease in the dry air, the big sleepy Rio Grande slipping by. T or C has a sense of humor about itself. It's quirky, it's in the middle of nowhere, and it's peddling a lot of hot water. People moved there because their cars broke down at that particular exit. Just go, though, and you'll know what I'm talking about. T or C is a feeling. A good one.

For the record, I recently stayed at the Blackstone Hotsprings; with their themed rooms (think Roy Rogers and I Love Lucy) and lovely patio garden, it's a cozy spot right downtown on Austin Street My goal for the next visit is to take a class at the Mothership Yoga Lounge. More information on a big upcoming class by guru Cyndi Lee here: or go directly to their website:
For a comprehensive glimpse at T or C in the Oct. 5th, 2008 New York Times article by Granville Greene, go to this link:
Enjoy the weekend,

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Pecos River runs through it

Greetings from another sparkling autumn day in New Mexico's high desert. A prescribed burn to thin forests near Santa Fe has put a pleasing scent and haze into the area, the sky is almost cloudless, and the leaves are genuinely beginning their change. The temperature hovers just over 70 degrees but it must have been in the 40s when I went to get the paper early this morning.

When I was a young girl I had my dad's broken down rod and spinner reel from when he was a kid within easy reach all summer. Our property in Hailey, Idaho, butted up against a small creek fed by an artesian well only two miles upstream. The little creek, a tributary to the Big Wood River, was cold all year long and full of brook trout--which, although small, are some of the finest for eating, and also one of the most beautiful varieties of trout. They are dark and densely covered in lavander and mandarin spots recircled with rings of white. Easily spooked, I'd sneak up on them after collecting grasshoppers in the timothy grass and spearing them on the small hook for bait, spending countless hours stalking trout. In no other way could I lose myself more easily.

Soonafter I took up fly fishing. When I moved to New Mexico in 2002 I planned day trips all summer in order to find the good trout water. Though I can't walk to the Pecos River the way I could to the little creek behind my old house, it is close enough. Within twenty minutes of leaving my house I am on world class waters, with a little hiking I can be completely alone, and it is almost guaranteed that with a hopper or a stimulator size 12 fly I will catch a fine New Mexico brown trout. It's almost just the same as when I was a kid wet wading under a big high desert sky.

This morning I attended a press conference where Gov. Bill Richardson announced his intentions to preserve Pecos Canyon by making it a State Park with the help of legislators and the Jemez tribe. Gathered near a brilliant stand of cottonwoods and a steady and clear Pecos River were citizens of the riverside hamlet of Pecos, employees of the Forest Service and State Parks, and others who support the designation of 35th State Park. On the drive up I was tempted by all the sweet spots I normally fish on the Pecos, and being there in that peculiarly intense fall sun reminded me how lucky I am to live here and to be part of a state that truly believes in, and makes progress in, preservation of our wild and scenic places.

NM has 34 diverse State Parks where one can find everything from sand dunes and rock art to canyonlands, rivers and lakes--even dinosaur tracks. For more information on our state parks visit this website:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Private New Mexico

Hi Everyone,

I want to first introduce myself--I'm Jen Hoffman, and I'm a new addition to the Promotions Team here at the New Mexico Tourism Department.

The purpose of this blog is to keep in touch with anyone who is interested in the Land of Enchantment. It doesn't matter whether you're a resident, a visitor, a curious traveler, from Texas or Paris (and not Paris, TX). If you're into the outdoors, history, culture, great culinary adventures, art--maybe you have always wanted to come to New Mexico but haven't had good enough reason to quite yet.

I want to tell you about my private New Mexico. The day in and day out wonder of living here, the little adventures I'm lucky to go on because of my job. It's time to talk you into making a trip to a place where the most common question is Red or Green? And what we're referring to is the fragrant aroma of red or green chiles being roasted in parking lots under a massive sparkling NM sky each fall.

It's time to put on your vintage cowboy boots, get out your big turquoise and sterling jewelry (as one vendor at the Tesuque Flea Market puts it: "If you can't see it from the highway, why wear it?") Sit by a pinon-burning kiva fireplace and enjoy some of the best food in the country. Spend a day fly fishing on a tributary of the Rio Grande for cutthroat and hefty brown trout. Take a stroll on the otherworldly White Sands dunes. Check out where the films "No Country for Old Men" and "Wild Hogs" were shot. Billy the Kid. Chaco Culture. Georgia O'Keeffe Country. Art that will blow even the nation's most cutting edge metropolises out of the water.

If you want to know more about the great events and other unique opportunities for NM visitors, you're at the right place. is rich with information on everything from where to stay and play to where to meet a healer or get a spa treatment. You can always call me directly at 505 827 6674 or email me at