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Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder
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Reviews (2,416)
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Reviewed 8 October 2009

I am going to sound like a snob--but I will write this review anyway. Just know that I am not a snob.
We were visiting family and we thought it would be nice to stay at the buffalo Thunder/Hilton since it is a fairly new hotel and the pictures look nice. The reviews had me a bit concerned but I have ignored reviews in the past so...
The lobby is nice--as pictured. For those of you who are from California, or any other state that does not let you smoke indoors, you will notice the smell of smoke from the casino area in most of the hotel. I think they try and filter the air from the casino and it ends up circulating throughout the hotel. But I will say, our room did not smell like smoke. Our room was located in the wing with the indoor pool/spa area. Staff was nice, but I got tired of being asked how I liked the hotel, and "don’t you just love this hotel?" The rooms are fine--not Excellent--but fine. I hate tub/shower combo bathrooms, but that is just me. Bed was comfortable--newer Hilton beds. The kids enjoyed the indoor pool, and the workout room is adequate.
The lobby is the most striking feature of the hotel--high ceilings, lots of local Native artwork, new, native inspired furniture--Nice. It would be helpful if they would open the bar that is attached to the lobby, so that people might get a glass of wine and sit in that open area and visit, and enjoy. But as it stands--there is a small bar attached, and it is not open for use, so people sit for a few minutes in the lobby area and then move on.
Ok here is where I sound like a snob----the hotel apparently gives a lot of free (comped) rooms away to locals in order to encourage the hotel to appear fuller and more used than it is. I talked with numerous people who were staying there for free. the hotel staff admitted that they comp a lot of rooms, and the hotel is losing money (lots of money). So what you end up with is a portion of people who, if asked to pay, would not stay in the hotel. These are people who treated the hotel as a playground. There were two parties on our floor (separate parties) and they literally took cardboard boxes and filled them with ice so they could keep their beer on ice in their rooms. (I checked--rooms were comped).
My wife used the spa and even though she just called up asking if they had an opening—they laughed because she was their only customer for the past two days. Her comments when she returned were that “it was nice—not awesome—but nice” just to give you an idea—it will run you about 165/hr.
As for the Restaurant (Red Sage). Yes the menu is very good, and the wine list is more than adequate, but the prices are "creative". $30 for 4 scallops, and 54$ for a bottle of wine that retails for $17. But I will say that here is where you will not find the Free room crowd. They will not be bothering you here. Great Cocktails though--had several--Damn the price. The restaurant was empty on a Friday, and Sat night. Enjoyed the food but our whole table agreed that the price was 30% higher than it should have been. I pay outlandish prices in NY, Napa, Rome, LA, Paris, Chicago, Etc etc.---but Puaque NM??
The hotel is not in Santa Fe, it is 15 minutes north of the edge of Santa Fe. 20 minutes at least to the shopping area (old square of Santa Fe where everyone visits). So other hotels closer are the ticket if you are looking for the "Santa Fe" experience.
I am not sure what Hilton was thinking with this property--maybe "build it and they will come"
Maybe
Maybe not

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled with family
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3  Thank DrDoctor3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 October 2009

I would highly recommend the suites for a group of friends/ family for a good time. They have a functional common living area including full refrigerator/ freezer/ cupboards and stove/ oven/ dishwasher. This is a great place to spend several days! The price is expensive but worth it. There are 2 large bedrooms off the main area with large beds/ bathroom in each. The common living area also has a pullout couch. On the downside, the continental breakfast is a disaster. The people who run it are not very good at stocking items and the overall area to get food is too small and crowded.

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled with friends
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5  Thank chroy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2009

We decided to try this hotel for a couple of nights prior to going to Santa Fe near the Plaza. This is a huge resort property - the setting is beautiful, the rooms are spacious, and since the property just opened in 2008, its new.

After arriving on a Sunday evening, we were very disappointed to find a resort this size, with multiple restaurants, none was open for service. The front desk staff also gave unreliable information regarding their food service. We were finally directed to the deli in the casino and told it was open until 10 pm. It was approximately 9:30 pm. The front desk "supervisor" said "if they are not open come back and let me know." She did not offer the proper customer service experience and call to make sure the deli was open for us. We then went down to the "smoky" casino only to find the "deli" was closed off with a chair and they said they were closed. We decided to complete this adventure and report to the front desk supervisor that the deli was indeed closed. We then were astonished to be told to go to the gas station nearby for "a great deli sandwich." We could not believe it!! It was 9:30 in the evening and could not get service! The Hilton needs to provide "Customer Service Training" quickly.

Our room was spacious, nice flat screen TV, nice size bathroom with separate shower and separate bathtub w/shower. Lighting needs improvement.

Spent one day at the pool which was lovely with private cabanas and comfortable lounge chairs. Another disappointment - the pool bar was supposed to be open from 12:00 to 6:00 pm - it never opened. I went directly to the front desk and talked to the "Manager on Duty" to inquire if the pool bar would be open. I was told "yes" and he would have someone come out ASAP. No one showed up!!

We still will probably give this hotel another chance because it has great potential. Improvement is definitely needed in Customer Service!!!

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank jmhRichmond_Virginia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2009

My husband and I just got back from a trip to the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Spa. I honestly have to say I was a bit worried by some of the reviews that I read here before we left but can now say that it was a great place to stay. It is located about 12 miles north of Santa Fe but we knew this ahead of time (I do my homework). We are the type of people that like "new" as opposed to "historic" places to stay. There really isn't anywhere to stay on or near the plaza (downtown) that is new. We were actually thinking about booking the Hilton Santa Fe Plaza (which is downtown) and I'm really glad they were booked the weekend we wanted to go. The Hilton Plaza looked very old from the outside. It reminded me of an old school Holiday Inn/Days Inn etc and I think they had exterior entrances. It was also located on a very busy street near the plaza. Here are some of our comments about Buffalo Thunder:

Service - We thought the service was good. The bellman, front desk, housekeeping staff, and bar staff were very nice and friendly. Not once was someone actually rude to us as I read in some of the other reviews noted here.

Pool - Ok so the pool was a bit chilly but that was not the main reason for our trip anyways. The lounge chairs and cabanas were very nice and comfortable. The pool bar was only open on the Saturday that we were there but what can I expect it's Sept in Santa Fe. We didn't mind because we were only there for an hour or so each day to unwind before dinner and just brought a soda and a couple snacks with us to the pool.

Food - We were there 3 nights and only ate in the hotel once. We had dinner at the Sports Bar on the casino floor (1st night there after a long drive). The food was ok not great. We definately did not intend on eating a lot at the hotel to begin with. In Santa Fe we had breakfast at Zia's Diner the first day and Tia Sopia's the second. Zia's diner was showcased on the food network's Diner, Drive-In, and Dives. Tia Sopia's was supposedly "the" place to have breakfast in Santa Fe. We preferred Zia's over Tia's. Tia's was more of a meat and egg kind of place (no veggies) and Zia's had veggies that I could choose from to put in my omlet that I smoothered with their green chile. For lunch my husband had a burger from Bert's Burger Bowl which was also showcased on the food network. I'm not much of a burger girl but he said it tasted like an In-n-Out burger. For dinner we did not have to travel far. About 5 minutes down the road there is a restaurant called Gabriel's. Great Mexican food. We actually ate there both nights for dinner it was so good and reasonably priced. They make guac table side and also make their own tortillas. I would definately recommend this place if your staying at the Buffalo.

Casino - nice change for us as we do not frequent Las Vegas

Smoke smell - Ok so you can definately smell the smoke from the casino that flows upstairs into the lobby and onto the hallways where the rooms are. We could not smell smoke in our room. If you can't deal with the smoke smell don't stay here. It's as simple as that.

Couple other notes:

We did not get charged for entering the fitness area which you need to enter to access the pool.

If you are bringing your dogs (we did) there is not a lot of grass for them to do their business. We had to walk about 5 minutes to get to the grassy patch. No big deal unless you just can't get up in the morning to walk your dog.

Decor was beautiful and the hotel was very clean.

Oh yeah I almost forgot - parking does seem to be a bit of a problem on the weekend. We had to park farther from the lobby entrance on Friday and Saturday. They do have valet parking if that's your thing.

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank BeachLover4567
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 September 2009

We had three rooms on the top 5th floor. Each room was spacious with two queen beds.,good cupboard space,comfortable desk chair ,excellent flat screen TV and a balcony easily big enough for 4 people.The bathroom was also of a good size with a wide selection of amenities and a separate walk in shower.There were excellent views of the very attractive countryside from two of our rooms.

Amazingly there was no refrigerator supplied.There was a mini bar with a long list of terrifying things that would happen to any guest who attempted to put any of their own food or drink into it. Unnecessary and totally over the top.

The whole room w as beautifully designed and colour schemed, as indeed were all the public rooms we saw.The collections fo Indian art displayed all over the hotel were impressive as well as decorative.

All was clean and neat and clearly virtually new.

The location is fine.The high desert surroundings are superb but of course there are few restaurants etc in the immediate vicinity.If you that way inclined, the hotel is only about 15 minutes from all the razzmatazz of Santa Fe by car.

T he Casino is tucked away in the basement and does not disturb the hotels ambiance at all.

But the resort facilities provided are really not up to the standard of the hotel itself.The golf might well be OK. We do not play the sport. But the measly two unlighted tennis courts,and the indoor and outdoor swimming pools were much too small for what is advertised as the largest hotel in New Mexico.

Go for the hotel. Good rooms, great design, good service , a quality restaurant in Red Sage and a perfectly adequate Vegas style buffet.

Stayed: August 2009, travelled with family
6  Thank roger39
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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