May 14, 2010

Profile: Rancho de San Juan Country Inn and Three Forks Restaurant in Espanola, New Mexico

Profile: Rancho de San Juan Country Inn and Three Forks Restaurant

(Read more about this travel series at the bottom of this story.)
Owners John Johnson and David Heath
All photos in this story courtesy Rancho de San Juan
Nestled between Taos and Santa Fe, Rancho de San Juan is located on 225 acres in the Chama River Valley. The property features 12 deluxe rooms and casitas designed for comfort and relaxation, with sensitivity to detail and southwest casual elegance, highlighted by the owners' private art and antique collections.
Rancho de San Juan was recently ranked top in New Mexico for cuisine and service in Conde Nast Traveler's “Gold List” for 2009 and the magazine placed it in the top 35 small hotels in the U.S. in their annual Readers’ Survey.
Examiner: What makes your establishment unique?
David: We were the first Relais & Chateaux establishment in the Southwest. We are hands-on operators and see to the needs of our guest personally. We offer elegant accommodations, award winning service, fantastic views and the ultimate in a romantic setting.

Examiner:  What is a little known factoid about your place?
David: Rancho de San Juan is located in an area where three rivers converge. Thus the name for our restaurant Three Forks. We are the fourth owners of the property since the Spanish Land Grant in the 1700's. There are old camp sites all over the 225 acres.

Examiner:  What is your specialty?
David: Providing for the needs of our guests. With so many people celebrating special occasions here, we are small enough that we can customize menus and special request so that their stay is a memorable one.
Examiner:  What is your patrons' favorite thing about your establishment? What's your favorite?
David: The majority of our guests enjoy the quiet beauty of the rugged surroundings, no TV's, the fantastic sunsets and the gourmet dining.
Our favorite thing is seeing our guests enjoy the company and conversation of other guests. Many become fast friends and repeat clientele.

Examiner: Anything new on the horizon that people can look forward to trying?
David: The hit last year was our Passport International Dinners. They were so popular that we are repeating them again this year. We will be doing a French Connection with various regions of France, Moroccan Nights with entertainment, Seductive Istanbul with Turkish dancers, Sizzling in Sicily with folk dancers. Food for the Gods - an evening in Greece with entertainment. (just to name a few).

Examiner:  What is the top thing you recommend visitors to your city do/see - besides your business, of course?
David: The back roads to see the beauty of the New Mexico countryside, taking in the numerous fiestas, concerts and the Santa Fe Opera if time allows. We arrange for guests to visit artist in their studios, do a horseback ride with a picnic or visit the natural hot springs in the area.

Examiner:  Anything else you want to add?
David: New Mexico is truly the Land of Enchantment. There is so much to see and do that one trip will not cover it all. Once New Mexico is in your blood you will return again and again. Slow down and enjoy life !

This article is part of a travel series profiling chefs, owners, managers and people behind the scenes of restaurants, hotels and other things of interest to tourists and locals alike across the Western US. These profiles also include a local favorite thing to see or do from the person at the helm in addition to him or her sharing the local flavor of their place.


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