Tempo recently caught up with Angelisa Espinoza Murray, the co-founder of Heritage Inspirations (HI) - Heritage Hotel founder Jim Long is her partner in the company's tour guide operation.
Murray had worked as a tour guide in New Mexico for a decade before partnering with Heritage, and along with deep roots here, she knows it like the back of her hand - one could not ask for a better guide to this Enchanted Land.
Heritage Tours are inspired by the history and cultural heritage of New Mexico, reflecting Long's personal ethos of providing an authentically New Mexican experience to his hotel guests. The tours run the gamut from outdoorsy adventures and visits with Pueblo potters to art walks in the historic districts of our state, including here in Taos.
Clearly, the pandemic put a damper on the brisk business Heritage was enjoying pre-COVID 19, but we imagined with the world slowly reopening, Murray would be gearing up once more to introduce visitors from near and far to the magic and mystery of high country.
How have you been holding up through the pandemic?
Our approach of "proactive innovation" has truly allowed us to shine as we start to see travel become more robust for HI. Last year caused HI to think outside of the box and to ponder how to craft more ways for our guests to get outside in our beautiful outdoor element and social distance.
After being a bike guide for a decade with Backroads, I have often been asked why we didn't offer bike tours. This had me thinking, since Northern New Mexico is at a higher elevation it can be challenging in our terrain to ride a bike and have fun; it often separates families and groups as some can be great at riding and others are more challenged. I asked myself how can I create more travel experiences for getting our guests outdoors in a "one-size-fits-all" approach to bike outside, and BOOM our E-Bike Pedal Assistant Program was born!
Last summer we developed immersive city tours in Santa Fe and Albuquerque to experience both through a whole new lens. This year we opened our SF and ABQ Ebike shops in mid-March and our tours have been busy ever since!
I know you are doing city tours in Santa Fe and 'Burque on electric bikes, do you plan to roll them out here too?
I've definitely considered how awesome it would be, could you imagine Ebiking to Taos Pueblo when they open again? The challenge here is the infrastructure, safety of our roads and designated bike paths. I've been in touch with Mainstreet and learned that there are indeed bike path proposal plans that have been written for the Town of Taos, but not necessarily in motion. I think if we were to offer Taos City E-Bike Tours we would need to have more safe options for our riders. But it's definitely a dream of mine!
El Monte Sagrado now has a bona fide Heritage Inspirations presence. Can you discuss this?
YES! I have a long history with EMS as this is where I used to stay on our Backroads Biking & Hiking Tours with our guests. Then moving to Taos in 2014 my first job was the Director of Guest Experiences at EMS and now it's an honor to finally open our HI Headquarters & Travel Hub where our guests can meet with us in person to learn more about our signature travel experiences, purchase our glamping merch and get to know our tribe. Our office is located in the old sales office on the right just past the valet and entry onto the property! Come by and visit us!
You have made glamping your signature. I recently read a bit in the Guardian about how glamping saved tourism during the pandemic. Would you like to chime-in on that?
Our approach is a little different in that our excursions are "roving." Meaning that we have a Glamping Crew of 9 who set up our 'glamp camp' in hard-to-reach locations in Taos, Taos Ski Valley and Chaco Canyon while pairing our Day Tours for our guests before arriving at our 'glamp' location.
We immerse our guests into the topography, the culture and most of all a way to sleep in a luxurious 'bell tent' so they can witness the phenomenon of our New Mexico night sky. As we are losing more and more of our star viewing in cities (and everywhere), it's mind-blowing for our guests when they experience our skies for the first time on these excursions.
And lastly, there are our local chefs whose passion is to offer decadent coursed meals paired with wine, mindfully local ingredients that spoil the palate as they soak in the wild elements of our surroundings. The experiences transform lives, they inspire people to get outside more and also allow our team do all the work so they can simply indulge and savor every moment!
Our newest glamping trip is in partnership with Taos Ski Valley and Women in Transformation to offer a Women July Full Moon 3 Night & 4 Day Retreat that still has a few spots left! We plan to offer this annually to savor summer adventure in our beautiful alpine terrain!
Knowing you, I am sure you have a dozen irons in the fire. Can you tell our readers just a little about some of them?
Yes, as you know my living gift that we celebrate with HI is "to inspire others" and we do that with every travel experience we curate. Our team has grown (I now have 15 employees in our tribe) and so have our physical locations having Travel Hub offices in Albuquerque located inside of Hotel Chaco, Santa Fe inside of Inn and Spa at Loretto, and now our beloved Taos inside of El Monte Sagrado. We are busy!
Our newest creations for Taos this year are focused on the outdoors and the culinary talent of our newest Inspired Guide and Chef Josh Willette who was medleys sous chef for the past four years and now HI Taos chef where you can experience our Culinary Outdoor Adventure rafting on the Racecourse and savoring Josh's gourmet menu where he cooks outside at Vivác Winery, pairing wines after your river adventure!
We are also working on a Taos Artist Farm to Table Dinner Series for summertime to illuminate some of our partners in the art world and create more innovative opportunities to get outside in Taos and learn more about our dynamic historic and contemporary art history.
HI has also started a new Wellness Program for our 3 regions in our partnered hotels that allow our hotel guests to enjoy a wellness walk and/or a yoga class complimentary when staying at our Heritage Hotel & Resorts partners.
Lastly, this year's Eat Pray Love Women Lead tour will be my dear friend and colleague Ilona Spruce of Taos Pueblo. This Sept. 10-12 we are looking forward to this 3 Day Wellness Retreat that starts and ends in Santa Fe but spends both nights here in Taos (at El Monte Sagrado) with an invitation to "Come back to Center."
For more information, visit heritageinspirations.com