Award-winning interior designer Kris Lajeskie conceived Hotel Chaco’s interiors using subdued hues inspired by the natural wool variations employed by Navajo weavers. The hotel’s interiors juxtapose ancestral references with contemporary materials, furnishings, and original artwork.
“My mission is to evoke the spirit of Chaco through the use of coloration and materiality in the interiors,” shares 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.”
Insiration for Hotel Chaco was drawn from local artists and the true artisan nature of indigenous painters, sculptors, and basket-weavers. With a hand-crafted quality to the overall project, an intense focus is placed on materiality, texture, and light. The woven façade articulation of the native limestone is a poetic translation of the basket-weaving craft. Chosen materials throughout Hotel Chaco reflect a natural palette inspired by the vast New Mexico landscapes.
Hotel Chaco’s pale stone masonry façade and wooden accents are designed to work with the warm, dry climate of the Southwest and are reminiscent of architectural elements found at Chaco Canyon and in New Mexico’s pueblos. The hotel’s southern walls feature deeply recessed windows to protect guest rooms from excess heat in the summer, while the northern side of the building utilizes large windows that allow the low winter sun to warm the interiors, following the model of Chaco Canyon. The sandstone used for the exterior façade is sourced from the Colorado/New Mexico border and until now has never been used in a commercial project. Some of the original building materials used to build Chaco Canyon, including lumber, came from the same.
Guests are welcomed to Hotel Chaco with a soothing ambiance and the juxtaposition of flowing water and a warming fire. A tranquil oasis in the heart of a desert city. The circular lobby and entrance design are inspired by the architecture at Chaco Canyon. Guests enter the interior lobby of the hotel through a narrow circular vestibule and are greeted by water and fire elements on opposite walls. Stacked stone masonry is used throughout the main floor, highlighted with recessed rock and wood elements. The lobby is aligned to the directions north-south and east-west.
Stone banco seating lines the circular walls similar to structures found in Chaco Canyon. The roof structure is highlighted by vigas and latillas, traditional Southwestern architecture also evident at Chaco Canyon. A giant glass oculus designed by Tammy Garcia is the ceiling focal point. Wooden beams surround it in a traditional Hogan pattern. The concrete floor is unevenly polished to show the granite pebble aggregate reminiscent of a riverbed. The space also features original Native American artwork by Joe Cajero, Tony Abeyta, and Roxanne Swentzell.
Hotel Chaco's community spaces and common areas invite visitors to relax, and embark on an interior journey drawing on the serenity of the area’s natural landscapes. The community room features a fireplace, an extensive reference library and original artwork by Rhett Lynch. Large doors open onto an exterior courtyard landscaped with natural grasses and native cottonwood trees. A variety of stone pavers lie in a circular pattern that represents how the rain falls to the earth. Monumental basalt stone columns form an organic fountain feature with a reflecting pool. Guests may relax in seating around a firepit.
Cylindrical clay pottery vessels with intricate black and white designs were also among the treasures found at Chaco Canyon. For decades, a mystery shrouded the actual purpose of these vessels. After tests conclusively found traces of cacao on the pottery, we now know that they were ceremonial vessels for special cacao elixirs. Kris Lajeskie has created these vessels for display at Hotel Chaco. Plans are also underway to create a special chocolate elixir to serve in the hotel.
Recently, the National Park Service staff surveyed the Chaco collection—which includes thousands of items, from turquoise jewelry to rare items such as woven-grass baskets and sandals. They found that nearly 1,400 of the pots assembled during the past century are in urgent need of restoration due to the age-related deterioration of glue. The non-profit Friends of Chaco is fundraising to aid in the restoration of pottery from Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.