This luxury hotel is a rich celebration of Native art

Check in and check out these amazing works

By Lois Alter Mark,

Every space in Hotel Chaco is filled with important art — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark

I’m a big believer in hotels that respect and pay tribute to their surroundings. I think they bring a sense of pride to the community and offer a more meaningful, more authentic experience for guests, teaching them something new about the place they’re visiting – which is the whole purpose of travel.

Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque is the perfect example of that, drawing its inspiration from New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO Heritage site that is home to the most exceptional expanse of Pueblo ruins in the Southwest.

Cultural hotel designer Kris Lajeskie conceived Hotel Chaco’s stunning interiors to honor this Native culture, juxtaposing ancestral references with contemporary materials, furnishings and original artwork.

"My mission was to evoke the spirit of Chaco through the use of coloration and materiality," said Lajeskie. "In particular, we sought out Native artisans who were inspired to connect with their ancestry. From the moment you enter, your senses will be activated and you will know you are in a very special place."

Here are 10 stand-out pieces that ground this luxury hotel and make it a must-stay. And, if you're moved to recreate this spiritual atmosphere in your own home, the on-premises Gallery Chaco is filled with beautiful Indigenous Fine Art available for purchase.

"Oneness" by Joe Cajero from Jemez Pueblo

It's impossible to miss this stunning sculpture in the lobby — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

Joe Cajero, of the Jemez Pueblo, is a sculptor who creates clay originals, limited edition bronze sculptures and unique monumental commissions.

Heritage Hotels & Resorts commissioned Cajero to create a one-of-a-kind sculpture for Hotel Chaco's lobby. According to the artist, the sculpture represents love, energy and oneness lifting up from the ground. It has four sides, representative of the four directions, with a female image on one side and a male image on the other side. It celebrates the connection between mind, body and spirit, setting the tone for the whole hotel in its place of honor.

"The Guardian" by Roxanne Swentzell from Santa Clara Pueblo

“The Guardian” watches over all — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

Roxanne Swentzell, of the Santa Clara Pueblo, comes from a family of renowned potters and sculptors and is known for creating expressive, full-length clay figures.

Her sculpture, "The Guardian," sits on the ledge above the hotel lobby reception desk, representing the complete spectrum of the human spirit and welcoming you to the hotel. It offers a soothing presence and makes you feel that you’re being watched over during your stay.  

Cloud Antlers Chandelier by Ira Lujan from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo

The delicate, glass Cloud Antlers chandelier — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

Ira Lujan discovered the possibilities of incorporating Native themes and influences with ancient techniques of glass blowing, and is fascinated by its potential.

According to Lujan, "Glass is the new pottery medium as it is light suspended in time." The antler and the cloud are both ancient, sacred symbols, and the chandelier is a striking piece that makes you look up and take notice.

Signature Uniforms by Patricia Michaels from Taos Pueblo

To say that hotel's signature uniforms are eye-catching is an understatement — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

The staff’s signature uniforms were designed by acclaimed fashion designer Patricia Michaels, who is known for one-of-a-kind couture that defies trends. She was first runner-up on season 11 of Project Runway, a historic first for a Native American designer, and was asked back to compete on season 4 of Project Runway All Stars.

Inspired by the pottery painting shards found in the ruins at Chaco Canyon, the uniforms immediately catch your eye and are gorgeous conversation pieces.  

Lobby Doors by Tammy Garcia from Santa Clara Pueblo

These unique lobby doors set the tone for your stay — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

The hotel's massive doors were created by award-winning artist, Tammy Garcia, and immediately let you know you're entering someplace very unique. 

The doors themselves are modern interpretations of black on black pottery. The image on them is Avanyu, the Tewa water serpent that appears in petroglyphs all over the Southwest and at Chaco Canyon.  

Oculus by Tammy Garcia from Santa Clara Pueblo

You can't hep but notice the Oculus — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

Tammy Garcia descends from four generations of artists at Santa Clara Pueblo and learned the basics of pottery by watching her mother and grandmother. 

The Oculus in the lobby ceiling represents three eagles. Guests' eyes are drawn skyward towards the sacred birds. 

"I am" by Rhett Lynch, Navajo/Dine

Rhett Lynch's painting is inspired by petroglyphs — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

In his thirty-plus years as a professional artist, Rhett Lynch has found expression in a variety of mediums including hand-woven tapestries, sculpture drawings, monotypes, paintings in oil and acrylic, writing and acting.

His painting in the lobby is a representation of petroglyphs found at Chaco Canyon as well as all over the world. The placement of the handprints brings the meaning "I was here, I exist, I am." The spiral is a representation of the Sun Dagger spiral found at Fajada Butte in the Chaco Canyon.

Untitled Painting by Marla Allison from Laguna Pueblo

Marla Allison's Untitled painting captures Native American tradition — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

Marla Allison, an award-winning artist from Laguna Pueblo, was commissioned to create artwork now featured on the second-floor corridor.

The painting is her interpretation of Chaco Canyon bricks and a woman grinding corn for traditional Native American cuisine. 

Navajo Rugs by Toadlena Trading Post

Navajo Rugs can be found in every guest room — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

In each guest room, an original hand-woven Navajo rug from the historic Toadlena Trading Post is placed prominently above the bed, becoming the focal point piece of art.

The weavings are 100% pure wool in natural colors ranging from black, brown and gray to tan and cream, which blend with the hotel rooms' serene color palettes. Each one has been made specifically for the Hotel Chaco and the weavers have each customized their own designs. The Trading Post itself is located on the Navajo reservation in northwestern New Mexico.

Chaco Cylinders by Lee & Flo Vallo from Acoma Pueblo

Vallos' Chaco cylinders can be found on your way into Equinox — Photo courtesy of Hotel Chaco

The Vallos created original cylindrical clay pottery vessels with intricate black and white designs based on the treasures found at the famous Chaco Canyon archaeological site. The artists mine clay from a sacred mountain, dry and prepare it, then form the vessels using traditional methods. They hand-paint them using natural pigments with a quill from a yucca plant.

The pottery lines the walls of Hotel Chaco next to Equinox, the lobby restaurant.