advertisement

The American Southwest, with its multiple and varying landscapes, offers as many types of vacations as there are vacationers. From rugged ranches to rubdowns at spas, we've rounded up some intriguing offers to suit individual tastes.

For culinary lovers, Collette Vacations (tel. 800/340-5158; www.collettevacations.com) offers an eight-day cooking package to New Mexico focusing on the techniques of regional Native Americans. The tour spends time in Santa Fe; includes cooking classes; stops in Taos; Durango, Colorado; Mesa Verde National Park; and Albuquerque. Cooking classes are provided by the Santa Fe School of Cooking. One of the included sightseeing excursions include a river float-trip through the Rio Grande Valley, home to the Pueblo Indians, many of whom still practice a traditional Native American lifestyle. Twelve meals are included in this food experience. Cost of the eight-day trip, not including airfare, starts at $1,249. For an air-inclusive option, pricing starts at $1,629. Call a Collette Vacations representative to find out detailed prices from your departure city. This trip takes a hiatus from October 2005 till April 2006 with the next available departure date beginning on May 28, 2006. Book now as this popular trip sells out quickly.

Hyatt Regency Tamaya (tel. 505/867-1234; www.hyatt.com) is an all-inclusive resort sitting along the Santa Ana Pueblo on the Rio Grande. Activities and amenities on the 500-acre resort include a world-class spa, a championship golf course and desert grounds that make for great trekking around the Sandia Mountains. The resort has stables and equestrian experts who can take you on guided horseback tours of the surrounding area as well as wagon rides for the entire family. Hot air ballooning can also be arranged through the hotel, including a champagne breakfast upon your return to Earth. While rates start around $180 per night for two people, Hyatt has a special promotion called "Sunshine on Sale" through December 16, 2005, which includes a fourth night free. Mention the FALL05 code when booking. In celebration of the city of Albuquerque's 300th birthday, Hyatt is offering a one-night special for two people from $189 that includes one-night's accommodations, breakfast for two, admission for two to a special art exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, a jar of red or green salsa and free valet parking for the night. The hotel is built in the style of a traditional Pueblo community with a large circular pool in the middle.

For a real New Mexico dude ranch experience, try the Rancho Canon Ancho (tel. 505/666-2004; www.duderanches.com/RanchoCanonAncho/RanchoCanonAncho.html) in Wagon Mound, New Mexico. The dude ranch season usually lasts from May till early October, so you should start thinking about next year. Normal rates are $165 per night and include a tent and meals, but if you bring your own horse the price goes down to $145. Tents can sleep four to eight people. Dude ranch vacations are for the tough but fun at heart. You'll work the cattle, join in on the branding, hang out around the campfire, bath in the bathhouse, take wagon rides and likely hear the coyotes howl. It's a true Western experience, so start planning now for the coming spring.

For a functional winter dude ranch, the Double E Guest Ranch (tel. 866/242.3500; www.doubleeranch.com) in Gila, New Mexico has a healthy educational and work environment good for any cowboy or cowgirl. Nightly rates start at $185, but that includes meals and "activities." Non-horse riders should expect to pay $140 per night as their days will be different from those who can ride. Of course, novices can take a riding clinic at the ranch. Be prepared, the nights get cold and the days are filled with hard work. See the ranch's site for a list of activities.

Do you know about a deal to New Mexico? Tell us on Message Boards today.