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Hacienda del Sol B&B Inn • Taos
By Kelly Koepke
Gerd and Luellen Hertel, owners of Hacienda del Sol, a Bed and Breakfast Inn in Taos, bring more than 40 and 30 years respectively of hospitality experience to the historic property they purchased in 2006. Gerd is a retired executive chef for Hyatt Regency and Ritz Carlton Hotels, and Norwegian and Celebrity Cruise Lines. Luellen worked as an international cruise director providing educational programs to travelers. Hacienda del Sol’s original (of four) authentic adobe building dates back to 1804. The property adjoins 95,000 acres of Taos Pueblo land with the sacred Taos Mountain providing a commanding backdrop.
We didn’t choose Taos or the Hacienda, it chose us. We were looking to retire from the cruise business, and searched the country for a small hotel, restaurant, or B&B to purchase. On a road trip, we discovered Taos and said, this is it! But the Hacienda didn’t make an impression right away. Instead, it haunted us for a year while we continued to look. And after a year of back and forth, we finally bought it.
Gerd is German and loves mountains, hiking, painting, and skiing. He took one look at the adobe architecture and the Western landscape and said, this was it. Where else could we have a business and ski and hike, with gorgeous vistas and sunsets right outside our door?
The Hacienda was once owned by Mabel Dodge Luhan and her husband Tony Luhan, and Mabel used it for her famous salons. So many interesting people were on the property with the Luhans – Frank Waters penned novels here. Georgia O’Keeffe and D.H. Lawrence walked through these doors. All of those reasons compelled us to buy the Hacienda. And it’s grown on us more and more.
We think Tony Luhan still haunts the place. Sometimes, the housekeepers talk about how they’ll put a key into a door, and he’ll push the key back out. And we’ve had guests say that someone is tickling their feet at night. I personally sometimes get a feeling of being followed – but it’s never malevolent.
The property itself was key for me, with the opportunity to garden and redecorate in a comfortable, authentic, and cleaner Southwest style, with original art from local artists and lots of color. Owning the Hacienda has been a labor of love – sometimes I look around at the trees and landscape and it’s just gorgeous! I love being out in the garden with some of the tallest, oldest trees around, heirloom lilacs that Taos is famous for.
It turned out to be the best decision ever. They say that Taos Mountain either accepts you or rejects you. And we’ve been accepted! We were able to get our children involved, too. In fact, our daughter and her husband were married on the property in the beautiful courtyard. After an eight-month honeymoon trekking around the world, they ended up back in Taos and even ran the property for eight years. They don’t anymore, and we have help to manage the day to day. This allows us to travel and consult for the hospitality industry, which we still do a bit.
For Gerd and me, the best part of being an innkeeper is talking to the guests. Our bed and breakfast guests are similar to my alumni cruise guests – they travel all over the world and are fun to talk to. I believe we provide an exceptional experience for them. Our guests say our Hacienda is “magical.”
HACIENDA DEL SOL BED & BREAKFAST INN
Gerd & Luellen Hertel