An exterior shot of the new Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino showing the pool complex area.
The front entrance to the Buffalo Thunder casino.
The lobby of the Buffalo Thunder hotel.
The Red Sage restaurant dining and decor reflect the culture of the Pueblo of Pojoaque.
The Buffalo Thunder casino has 1,200 slot machines, 18 table games and an eight-table poker room.
The Wo' P'in Spa includes a spa, salon and a fitness centre, and offers the Pojoaque-style massage therapies.

The Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is a venture of the Pojoaque tribe of Native Americans. The new resort, which opened in August 2008 (the ceremonial opening occurred on 3 September 2008), has been constructed on a site in the 13,500 acres that makes up the Pojoaque Pueblo community.

The resort is 12 miles north of the City of Santa Fe, USA, on US 84 / 285 and is a joint project of the Pueblo of Pojoaque and Hilton Hotel Corporation. The new 80 acre resort, which is the second hotel and third casino that Pueblo has opened, was built on a 587 acre site of unspoilt land at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico, which gives the resort a superb setting with excellent views and an abundance of outside activities.

The resort took 15 years to plan and 18 months to construct. Work began during the second quarter of 2007.

The design architect for the project was Thalden Boyd Emery Architects of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the construction contractor was Centex Corporation of Dallas.

The architect collaborated with the client to include more than 200 pieces of authentic Native American pueblo art in the resort design (includes pottery, drawings, sculpture, carvings and tapestries). In addition, the designer incorporated a 12ft bronze sculpture depicting a Pojoaque warrior performing the sacred Buffalo Dance. The project has created over 900 jobs for the native people.

Buffalo Thunder Resort facilities

The $280m project includes a 395-room, five-storey, four-star hotel, a luxury 16,000ft² full service spa and fitness centre and a 66,000ft² event centre.

“The Buffalo Thunder resort took 15 years to plan and 18 months to construct.”

There are also two back-to-back 18-hole golf courses designed by Hale Irwin and Bill Philips (Towa Golf course opened in September 2002), an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, a 100-seat outdoor performance venue, a dance club, a 12,700ft² retail promenade, an 8,000ft² a children’s area, children’s pools, a theatre, computer labs and a library.

The event centre includes a 1,200-seat main ballroom, a 650-seat junior ballroom and eight breakout rooms. There are also seven restaurants, which include a 350-seat buffet, a sports bar, a flair bar, the Painted Parrot Buffet, the Turquoise Trail Bar and Grill, and the Red Sage, which is run by celebrated chef Mark Miller.

Rooms and suites

The rooms are decorated in a Pueblo style and have been outfitted with a range of luxury equipment, such as a flat-panel 37in LCD TV, an in-room safe, a mini-bar, luxury Hilton Serenity bedding, an MP3 clock radio, and a Cuisinart coffee maker.

All guestrooms and suites at the hotel are non-smoking. The hotel also has a two-storey, 2,500ft² Governors Suite with views over the Pojoaque Valley, a ski basin, a wedding chapel (opened in October 2006) and surrounding countryside. Use of the suite costs $5,000 per night. The hotel also has ADA-complied accessible rooms for physically disabled guests.

Dining at Buffalo Thunder

The Turquoise Trail Bar and Grill serves a classic American menu and offers live entertainment. The Red Sage restaurant serves southwestern-style cuisine with a native influence. It includes a bar, lounge area, two private dining rooms and outdoor seating.

“The Red Sage restaurant serves southwestern-style cuisine with a native influence.”

The Painted Parrot Buffet offers a variety of international cuisines. The two-meal restaurant, Mica, serves regional and continental recipes. The Pool Grille at the outdoor pool offers snacks and refreshments.

The Blue Tower Lounge has a circular tower design and ceiling, and offers signature drinks and wines. Guests can also relax with refreshments at the resort’s Lobby Lounge. The Pueblo Deli serves a variety of salads, sandwiches and desserts. The resort also has a Starbuck’s Coffee shop near the conference centre.

Resort casino

The 61,000ft² casino includes 1,200 slot machines, 18 table games (black jack and roulette), an eight-table poker room and a simulcast wagering system for horse and dog betting.

In the south-east wing of the casino is Thunder Alley, an area equipped with 270 slot machines and special lighting and sound systems to give a thunder-and-lightning effect when the casino announces a special offer. The casino is operated by Buffalo Thunder Inc.

Other facilities

The new casino and hotel resort is part of a larger group of businesses that already provides facilities on the Pueblo. These include the Cities of Gold Casino (which is 40,000ft² and has 575 slot machines and 12 table games), which is located about two miles from the new complex; the Sports Bar Race Book Casino (with 150 slot machines and horse-racing simulcasting); the 124-room Cities of Gold Hotel & Conference Center; the 127-unit Butterfly Springs Apartments; and the Butterfly Mobile Home Park.

“The new resort is part of a group of businesses that already provides facilities at Pojoaque Pueblo.”

Shopping amenities include the Pojoaque Supermarket; the Pojoaque True Value Hardware Store; the Pojoaque Visitor Center and Gallery; the Pojoaque Convenience Store; the Pojoaque Travel Center; the O Eating House restaurant and a launderette.

A new bowling alley has been constructed at the Cities of Gold Casino and a 63-unit recreational vehicle (RV) park was completed in summer 2007. The Homewood Suites by Hilton and the new Wedding Chapel are part of the Buffalo Thunder Resort.

There is also a 1,400 space carpark at the resort (including RV spaces).

In addition the planning of the Buffalo Thunder required the construction of an environmentally responsible, wastewater treatment facility that has 100% water recycling capability. Plans also call for harvesting and purification of rainwater through the use of settlement basins.