Hacienda de los Santos

Hacienda de los Santos, Álamos, Sonora, México - February 26, 2017 photo by Anders Tomlinson. layout of resort.

Hacienda de los Santos is a resort with a mission of excellence.

There is a special place in Álamos, Sonora, México and its name is
Hacienda de los Santos. It is a charming resort that can only be truly
appreciated by being there and in it’s moment. This cultural oasis has grown
over the years as owners Jim and Nancy Swickard developed three adjoining
colonial mansions and a sugar mill into a resort of taste, craftsmanship,
beauty and grandeur with multiple gardens, pools, two gourmet restaurants,
theater, museum, gym, spa, putting green and 34 guest rooms, suites and villas.
The luxurious resort’s compound covers approximately 3 acres with some
85,000 square feet of buildings under roof including the extensive portales.

Hacinda de los Santos walkways, Álamos, Sonora, México.  Photos by Anders Tomlinson, March 2017.

Enjoy walking, looking, listening, relaxing, sharing, reflecting, feeling…

Enjoy walking, looking, listening, relaxing, sharing, reflecting, feeling…

This is a story in two parts, three if you count the videos following Anders’
account of his 2017 Álamos Sonic Expedition’s visit. Anders Tomlinson
first photographed the Hacienda when it was the Swickard’s home and
they had just finished a three year renovation after purcasing Calle Molina 8.
Anders and innkeeper Jim have had a long running email conversation with
Jim updating and sharing his Álamos thoughts and observations with Anders.
One of the foundations of this continuing relationship is that “every day is
history.” The following correspondence, June 4, 2017, answered a request
by Anders for historical background on what is now Hacienda de los Santos…

Hacienda de los Santos, Álamos, Sonora, México - February 26, 2017 photo by Anders Tomlinson. Carriage on display

The Hacienda’s architecture and furnishings are a museum unto themselves.

” It is believed that part of the lodging portion of Hacienda de los Santos dates
to the late 1700’s (remember that Álamos was incorporated in the 1680’s).  When Álamos
went into decline between 1900 and about 1950, Mr. Levant Alcorn was solely responsible
for revitalizing the village by selling mansions in ruin to Americans who for the most
part were wealthy with names such as Astor, Pabst, DuPont and others.  One family,
Mr. & Mrs. William Walsh (she was a New York socialite and he was a famous lawyer who
participated in the Nuremberg trials) purchased the home at Calle Molina 8 in 1950.


Casa de los Santos, Álamos Sonora Mexico, 1992. photos by Gary Ruble.

Christmas 1992 – back in time with an elegant beginning. Photos: Gary Ruble.

Jim and Nancy Swickard purchased Calle Molina 8 in 1989 and it would
become the cornerstone of Hacienda de los Santos ten years later. The resort
opened in 1999 after purchasing the first of five adjacent properties.

The Molina 8 property is 14,000 sq ft under roof ( the Swickards home for the
first eight years), the additional acquisition (property number 2 which was
subdivided in 1870 and a dividing wall built between the properties
which we opened up with large cast iron Peruvian gates) was 8,000 square feet
under roof, thus restoring the property as it was prior to 1870 at 22,000
square feet. Molina 8 is thought to be the second oldest oldest building
in the compound.  

Hacienda de los Santos, Álamos, Sonora, México - February 26, 2017 photo by Anders Tomlinson. courtyard with museum and theater

Next to the two restaurants and bars are a museum and theater.

The stone theater, although less than 20 years of age, is a copy of an Andalucian
18th century structure located in southern Spain.  The brick, boveda, ceiling consists
of more than 10,000 brick expertly laid by the hands of ‘albaniles’ from Guanajuato.
There is a ‘Cava’ underneath the theater where wine and liquor  are kept naturally cool
and also temperature controlled to 50 degrees for ideal conditions, especially for the wine.  

Hacienda de los Santos, Álamos, Sonora, México - February 26, 2017 photo by Anders Tomlinson. travel guide gives nighttime presentation

Dining outdoors under the stars during a musical presentation.

The main portion of the hotel (Molina 8) in the 1800’s was leased to the various
managers of the Mexican Mint.  It is believed that an underground tunnel existed
which connected the home to the Mint and the possible location was recently identified
by local ‘diviner’ Señor Figueroa, along with a second tunnel running the length of
the main portal.  When acquiring the property, the Swickards inherited a Witte one
cylinder generator which is believed to have been the only source of electricity in
the village in the 1950’s, as well as have been the source of electricity for the
German military when present during WWI, covertly operating a very tall radio
station/antenna for transmissions to Germany on eavesdropping of naval ships in
the San Diego area.  Photos of the German antenna exist in the local museum and
there are remnants of its construction on Guadalupe Hill in the center of the village.

Bridge connecting Hacienda de los Santos, Alamos, Sonora México. Photos by Anders Tomlinson, March 2017.

Spanning Arroyo Escondido and bridging Haciena de los Santos

The stone arched bridge which connects the two sides of Hacienda de los Santos
was built in 2000 and was designed by Mexican Architect Felipe Almada.  After the
‘Álamos Flood’ of 2008, the city requested permission from the Swickards to duplicate
the style for the village and five additional graceful bridges were built in the village.

casa de los santos, alamos, sonora mexico. the largest fountain which was originally the sugar mill's 'Mill'.  It had oxen and a stone wheel to crush the sugar cane.  The operation went into bankruptcy in 1710 and we are the second owner's of record.

Listen closely and one may hear the past come alive. Photo: Tomas Escalante

What is called the ‘Sugar Mill’ was an actual sugar mill which was built in the
late 1600’s by the Murillo family and it went bankrupt in 1710. The same Murillo
family, many generations later, still live on two adjacent properties to the former
mill. The Cafe Agave was built by the Swickards, utilizing much of the original foundation
of the mill. The present day large fountain is the actual ‘Mill’ where the sugar cane
was ground with two oxen pulling a large mill stone in a circular fashion. The original
well at the mill is still in use today, providing excellent water for the Hacienda.
The ‘Zapata’s Cantina’ dates also to the late 1600’s and was part of the sugar mill complex.

Hacienda de los Santos, Álamos, Sonora, México - February 26, 2017 photo by Anders Tomlinson. art in patio

Wherever you look there is something to see.

Hacienda de los Santos has received numerous awards including:
Alvaro Obregon Humanitarian Award to Jim & Nancy by Governor Eduardo Bours &
Janet Napolitano. 18 Consecutive Years the AAA Four Diamond Awards (5.9% receive
this award of 28,000 rated hotels worldwide). Historic Hotels Worldwide (Member of
this U.S. National Trust Washington, DC non-profit group). #1 Small Hotel in Mexico
by Trip Advisor. Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Mexico by Trip Advisor.
#1 Hotel in Northern Mexico by U.S. News & World Reports.

Map of Hacienda de los Santos in Álamos, Sonora, México - 2017.

A map is helpful navigating the sprawling grounds and beauty buildings.

 With concerns about our environment, the Swickard family continues to make the
resort more ‘Green’ by having converted more than 90% of the lighting to LED.  Also,
most of the hot water used by their state of the art commercial washing machines,
which require the least water possible for perfect cleaning, as well as the kitchens
and many of the rooms and suites are heated by solar collectors which are not
visible to those staying at the resort.  For irrigation purposes, there is roof
catchment to harvest rain water which is stored underground including
two “aljibe” or cisterns..

Details at Hacienda de los Santos, Álamos, ßonora, México. Photos by Anders Tomlinson, March 2017.

The past, present and future come together – the best of all worlds.

The Hacienda have been converting all air conditioners to heat pumps to conserve
on electricity and offers three types of bicycles to guests including electric.
The Hacienda is one of the very few, if any, Álamos hotels which have
a complete electrical back-up system for the kitchens, dining areas, water
supply and one fourth of our rooms.  This was done primarily
so if there was a power outage during a major event with hundreds of people,
the party would continue and there would not be any accidents or possible
hysteria in the dark.  Half the cost of the expensive project was the Caterpillar
generator, the balance was dealing with esthetics so it would not be heard or
seen by the guests… in other words a colonial structure was built
to conceal the unit.


Hacienda de los Santos airplane hanger in Álamos, Sonora, México.

The Hacienda’s elegant private secure airplane hanger. Photo: Peter Offerman

As a pilot, Jim Swickard, was instrumental in saving the local airport from closure
in 1999.    It is the only resort in Mexico which offers private, secure hangar space
for a dozen single and twin engine aircraft.  Also, the resort has 52 acres adjacent
to the runway which includes a two bedroom ranch house for guests that might want
to stay in Álamos for a month or even long term.  It is in a beautiful mesquite
setting, has all city services, an oversized one car garage, large laundry,
two baths, new kitchen, etc.  All of this is in a park-like setting with an
18th century Andalusian style gatehouse and is expected to be operation by
December 1, 2017.  The airport is rated for business jets.   The resort
boasts the largest private pilot’s club in Mexico with more than 500 pilot members
in ‘Club Pilotos of Mexico’.
… Jim Swickard, March 2017.

Anders Tomlinson at the Hacienda d los Santos grpahic.

Walking through the large gardens of Hacienda de los Santos. Photo: Antonio Figueroa.

After months of planning, the Álamos Sonic Expedition 2017 was scheduled
to kick off February 23 with Anders Tomlinson arriving and spending his first
night in Álamos at the Hacienda de los Santos. The expedition’s goal was
to film an epilogue for Anders’ film project, Good Morning Álamos, Sonora,
, which began in 1983 with his first Alamos visit and concluded
in the summer of 1996. Anders was interested in what had changed over
the past 21 years since 1996. He emailed his Álamos contact list for
changes that they had seen. Everyone mentioned Hacienda de los
expansion and the increased number of cars on the streets.

Reception room at the Hacienda de los Santos in Álamos, Sonora, México. photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The reception room is entered from Calle Molina. Friendly staff await your arrival.

Anders arrived in Álamos before noon by bus from Tijuana and Navajoa.
On the ride into Álamos he was struck by the new construction west of
the hospital. He walked from the bus station in the Alameda, up
“Kissing Alley” and across Plaza de los Armas to the Museo
Costumbrista de Sonora
where he found Tony Estrada,
the director, at his desk. Tony gave Anders a short car ride to
the Hacienda de los Santos. Humberto Enriquez was at
the front desk. Humberto had been in contact with Anders for
over a year and had contributed photos and notes to
alamos-sonora-mexico.com. Jamie (Swickard) Alcantar entered the
reception area, just as she had in 1992 as a teenager while Anders’
film crew was photographing the very same room which at that time
was the living room. She selected Room 3 – Bugambilla
for Anders’ stay. One of the gardening staff carried the big
backpack that had all the cameras and audio gear to the room.
Anders had returned to Álamos.

Flowers at Hacinda de los santos in Álamos, Sonora, México. Photos by Anders Tomlinson.

During Anders’ visit the Hacienda employed seven grounds keepers.

On the walk to the room Anders noticed that art and gardens were
everywhere. Room 3 – Bugambilla was well appointed and felt like a
guest room in a friend’s luxurious home that opened a window to another
era back when Alamos was one of the richest towns on earth. Modern
amenities in the bath suite made life comfortable for a traveler who
had spent 22 hours on buses. Anders was relieved to see no television
to connect him back to where he had just come from.

Teatro Almada , Hacienda de los Santos, Álamos, ßonora, Méxicoi. Photos by Errol Zimmerman

Teatro Alamada is a place to share in style and comfort.

Later that afternoon, Anders and Humberto ran through a soundcheck of the
presentation for the Álamos History Association the next morning.
The theater’s acoustic properties impressed Anders. A ceiling of three
brick semi-domes, walls of different materials and a variety of chairs
including sofas and large upholstered club chairs enhanced the sonically
enchanted Teatro Alamada. The seating capacity is 88.

A view of Mirador from Hacienda de los Santos in Álamos, Sonora, Méxicoi. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Mirador lookout can be seen atop the hill behind the Hacienda’s gym roof.

Anders went up to the Mirador before sunrise on February 24th to take
in Álamos 2017 – the big picture. All the mountains were where he last saw
them two decades ago and there were more lights going up into the foothills,
especially on the northern side of Arroyo Aduana. The village had grown as
time and events marched on like they had in his own life. He was thankful
to be back. To the east the Sierra Madre spoke of other eras and Anders
listened lost in memories. Anders heard a familiar voice singing and
turned around to see the distinctive profile of Chaco, who had taken
Anders on a magical walk up Tecolote Hill on Anders’ last day in
Álamos during his first visit in 1993. De ja vu.

View of Hacienda de los Santos from the Mirador in Álamos, Sonora, México. Photo by Anders Tomlinson - 2017

Looking back at the Hacienda from atop Mirador. Notice one of the bridges.

There was a cool biting wind as Mirador’s shadow retracted across
the valley floor with the rising sun. Anders could see Hacienda de
los Santos’
large footprint spanning Arroyo Escondido. In a
couple of hours he would be presenting video clips that
demonstrated his Álamos film project and supportive websites.

Pool at the Hacinda de los Santos in Álamos, Sonora, México. Photos by Anders Tomlinson

Arriving at the Hacienda one is welcomed by the pool patio in all its glory.

Anders walked down the Mirador rock stairs that had been built since
he last visited. He arrived at the Hacienda de los Santos a
half hour before showtime. There was no time to shower and change.
He had a bountiful fruit bowl in the Cafe Agave and a brief conversation
with Jim Swickard who informed him a large crowd was expected and
it might be good to delay the start to make sure everyone had
arrived. As Anders walked across the grounds a woman, also headed
to the theater, asked what was happening. Anders replied that there
were going to be Álamos videos presented by someone from out of town.
The theater did fill up. Once the show was ready to start a college
class from Álamos came in and lined up on both side walls and joined
Anders in standing through the show which started with a video of Álamos
circa March, 1983. When the show ended Anders thanked the crowd as they
left the theater and he went back to “Room 3 – Bugambilla” to take a
shower, rest and prepare for his first afternoon shoot exploring Alamos
2017: walking, listening and looking with camera/audio recorder ready.

Photos of Hacienda de los Santos in Álamos, ßonora, México by Antonio Figueroa.

A splendid March afternoon at the Hacienda.

Hacienda de los Santos provides guests with a map of the grounds which
Anders found helpful since he was getting lost amongst the buildings
and gardens. He spent a second night at the Hacienda and enjoyed one
of the best sleeps in decades.

Hacienda de los Santos at night time. Álamos, Sonora, México. Photos by Anders Tomlinson.

Every night is a holiday at the Hacienda de los Santos.

The next morning Rigo from Casa Serena Vista picked up Anders at the
Hacienda de los Santos and drove him over to Joan Winderman’s
Casa 6 Toluca where Anders would establish a base camp
for the expedition’s duration. It takes a village to make a film.

Anders would return, in passing, to the Hacienda and photograph,
while audio recording, its grounds at different parts of the day.
He also videotaped two evenings of musical entertainment. Twice he lost the
windscreen to his small audio recorder and both times the groundskeepers found
it. The uniformed full-time staff of 45, and as many as 65 for large events,
were professional and attentive to their guests and represented the best
that Álamos has to offer. Hacienda de los Santos Resort
is truly a place where time stands still – a place where comfort
and elegance reigns in Álamos, Sonora, México.

2017 videos at the Hacienda de los Santos graphic

Conga line at Hacienda de los Santos

Another Álamos moment from early March 2017: 100 seconds with the
Estudiantina de Álamos performing at the Hacienda de los Santos in Álamos,
Sonora, Mexico as a busload of tourists from Arizona join the conga line.
Estudiantina de Álamos is one of many cultural programs under the guidance
of the Museo Costumbrista de Sonora. Rafael de Jesus Figueroa Ju, the
fantastic accordion player, is the current Estudiantina director. On this
evening the group leaders delivered beautiful new acoustic guitars donated
to the Estudiantina by the Desert Museum in Tucson.
Live Music and togetherness! An evening under Sonoran stars.

Yoreme Al-Leiya in Álamos

Februrary 26, 2017 Yoreme Al-Leiya, which means “cheerful Indian,” traveled
from nearby Navajoa, Sonora to perform at the Hacienda de los Santos in Álamos,
Sonora, México. Anders Tomlinson had the privilege of documenting this colorful
evening of dance, music, costumes and theatrical lighting. A wonderful time
was had by all.

A special place in Álamos

Hacienda de los Santos in Álamos, Sonora, México is a special place
in a special town in a special landscape. It was originally built
for a wealthy silver baron in the 17th century. Photos and video
editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music is by Álamos’ own Los Hacendados
led by local Jose Ramón Alcántar Hurtado performing “Chan Chan”
by Compay Segundo.

To see it as it is today visit Hacienda de los Santos Resort and Spa.

©2017 Anders Tomlinson and Hacienda de los Santos, all rights reserved.
All content by Anders Tomlinson unless noted.