Review: Diamond Upgrade and Benefits at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort in New Mexico

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I was doing Route 66 through New Mexico and had the Amex Hilton Aspire Resort Credit left that I had to use by the end of the year, so I chose to stay and check out the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino. The property is listed on the Hilton Resorts list, therefore, making it qualify for the Aspire resort credit. The room rate is inexpensive and is also covered by the Aspire resort credit.

Location

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is located outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thus, you’ll need some transportation to get there. Driving makes the most sense, and best of all, parking at the resort is complimentary.

Suite Room Upgrades

A couple of days before the check-in, I messaged the hotel via the Hilton mobile app for a possible suite upgrade for being a Hilton Honors Diamond elite member. I booked the least expensive room, which is the standard 1 King Bed. However, I received a message from the front desk manager offering a 1 King Bed Studio Suite upgrade, and that made my day.

I feel that the Thunder Buffalo resort is very accommodating if you check and ask for a Diamond upgrade a few days before your check-in date. If they have the suite or the preferred room type that you want available, they’ll be happy to upgrade you. It never hurts to ask beforehand, especially when the front desk staff is not well trained for Diamond recognition and acknowledgment during check-in at this resort based on my experience.

Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that you may see the upgraded room type changed on your reservation, and the more expensive rate is reflected in the room rate, but don’t worry. That’s what happened to my reservation, but a call to the resort confirmed that I still paid the original standard room rate and not the suite studio rate. It’s always good to be cautious and double-check your final bill after your stay.

Studio Suite Review

The King Studio Suite at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is a Junior Suite with a good size of living space. The decoration is more of an “old style,” but that is probably because it is Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Adobe style and Southwestern interior design.

As the suite name suggests, the Studio Suite has the living and bedrooms in the same space. There’s a small dining table and chairs, a work desk and another chair, a pull-out sofa bed, and a sitting chair.

The king-size bed is so comfortable with four comfortable pillows.

The Studio Suite also has a small balcony with two sitting chairs. The view from my suite 3161 is, unfortunately, a parking area. Still, I was just happy to receive the Hilton Honors Diamond elite upgrade jump from several room types to the King Studio Suite.

The en-suite bathroom is another good room amenity. It has ample space with a bathtub and a walk-in shower.

Hilton Diamond Recognition

This is the strangest check-in experience I’ve ever had. First, the receptionist did not acknowledge my Hilton Honors Diamond elite status. He found my reservation, made the room key, and then wanted to send me my way to the room as quickly as possible. Furthermore, I had to ask him about the Hilton Diamond benefits, and he only told me about the $15 food and beverage credits.

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino really falls short in the elite recognition area. Therefore, lower your expectations, and if you want anything, such as upgrades, or have questions about your elite benefits, I suggest you do that before your arrival. Consequently, I was very disappointed with the service level I received at the check-in as a Hilton Honors Diamond member.

Executive Lounge

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino does not have an Executive Club Lounge for Hilton Honors Diamond members.

Welcome Amenity

As a Hilton Honors Diamond member, you also receive 1,000 bonus Hilton Honors points for the stay.

Food & Beverage Credits

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is a U.S. property. Therefore, Hilton Honors Diamond elite members get $15 daily food and beverage credit per person. So, if there are two of you, you get $30 daily food and beverage credits. All you have to do is ensure to dine at the resort and charge your bill to your room, and the Hilton system will automatically take care of it accordingly.

Breakfast

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is a U.S. property, so Hilton Honors Diamond does not get complimentary breakfast. Instead, Diamond gets a daily $15 food and beverage credit mentioned above that can also be used for the breakfast expenses.

The onsite breakfast restaurant Iguana Cafe opens daily from 7 AM to 11 AM and is not expensive. For example, a breakfast burrito costs $13 without meats (that burrito is enormous enough to be shared), two breakfast tacos with a side of hash browns is $13, a steak and egg breakfast is $17, etc.

Dining

There are no dining venues that are within walking distance of the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino. Therefore, your options are the restaurants and bars inside the resort. You can use the Hilton Honors Diamond elite food and beverage credits at the following onsite restaurants:

Resort Fee

Although Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder is a resort, there are no resort fees to worry about. You only pay for the taxes based on the room rate.

Casino

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder is not only a resort but also a casino. You can access the casino floor through the casino’s entrance or the hotel’s floor. If from the hotel’s floor, you take the escalator down to the casino area.

The casino floor is a good-sized space and is full of slot machines. Moreover, the Turquoise Trail Bar & Grill is also inside the casino, and complimentary non-alcoholic beverages are offered.

Parking

Parking is self-parking and free of charge. In addition, the resort also has a Hilont Honors Diamond reserved parking spots.

Pet Policy

Pets are also accepted at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Resort and Casino for a non-refundable $75 per stay. Moreover, the resort’s area is very pet-friendly because there are lots of grass areas to walk your pet, and the resort itself is huge.

Housekeeping

Housekeeping is on request only, and you can text or let the front desk know if you need your room made or want additional amenities.

Internet/Wi-Fi

Yes, Wi-Fi is free for all guests, and you receive the access code from the front desk after checking in.

Bottled Water

Yes, two mini bottles of water are provided inside the room. They also have extra bottles at the front desk that you can help yourself.

Early Check-in

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is very accommodating. Therefore, I believe that if the resort is not busy and your room is available, they will be happy to let you do an early check-in as a Hilton Honors Diamond member. The regular check-in time is 4 PM.

Late Check-out

Similarly, if Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino are not busy, they will be happy to honor your late check-out benefit as a Hilton Honors Diamond member. The regular check-out time is at noon.

Spa

There’s a spa at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, but we did not use it. I kept seeing a special spa day promotion at a reasonable price on the advertising board at the resort, though.

Fitness Center

The fitness center is located off the lobby near the spa entrance on the first-floor lobby level. Also, the fitness center is open 24 hours.

In-Room Safe

Yes, available inside the closet.

Robes & Slippers

None.

Swimming Pools

The outdoor pool and hot tub are unfortunately closed for the season during my stay. The resort also put such an announcement on the website. The closure typically is from the end of October through May. Otherwise, if the weather permits, it’ll be good to hang out and relax in the outdoor pool area.

Photo Credit: Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino

The indoor pool, however, is open. It’s also a nice-looking swimming pool, and there’s a hot tub too. The indoor pool is located in the same area as the fitness center.

Other Amenities

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is enormous and offers other amenities for guests staying at the resort. There are concert venues, tennis courts, a golf course, and an arcade room.

Contact

How to Stay Free at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder?

Conclusion

The Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino in New Mexico offers amenities such as suite room upgrades for Hilton Honors Diamond elite members, complimentary parking, and various dining options. However, the resort lacks elite recognition and does not offer an Executive Club Lounge. It also provides Diamond benefits like a $15 daily food and beverage credit per person and 1,000 bonus points for Diamond members. The resort is also pet-friendly and hosts additional amenities like a spa, fitness center, and an arcade room.

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is also listed on the Hilton Resorts list, making it qualify for the Amex Hilton Aspire Resort Credit.

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