With just one week until the premiere of The Bachelor's Santa Fe-filmed episode, both proponents and opponents of the city and state's subsidy to get the show filmed here are taking notice.
City Councilor Ron Trujillo, one of the most vocal critics of last fall's vote to authorize extra money to lure the ABC reality TV show here with tourism dollars, has said that he's plans to watch the episode and tally how many times the words "Santa Fe" are mentioned or the city is seen during the episode. The point is to see if taxpayers who forked over $50,000 from the city and $50,000 from the state are getting their money's worth.
On the other side, La Fonda on the Plaza Chairwoman Jenny Kimball is looking forward to seeing her hotel used as the backdrop for the show's infamous rose ceremony, where the male bachelor must eliminate some of his female suitors.
"We're all hoping this brings attention to Santa Fe," Kimball says. "That's why I'm excited. We're all excited."
By the looks of a trailer for the Feb. 2 episode, not all of the show was filmed in the City Different, as the cast is seen at Albuquerque's International Balloon Fiesta. But the words "Santa Fe" are mentioned, followed by "this place is absolutely incredible."
Still, the revelation that the show's cast and crew spent their October film stay at Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque—and not Santa Fe—caused concern from opponents of the taxpayer-funded subsidy that went to the TV show. Apparently Buffalo Thunder subsidized the TV show as well.
"The rooms were all provided as part of a marketing package that the hotel gave, so they didn't pay for the rooms," says Randy Randall, executive director of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, also known as TOURISM Santa Fe.
The TV show did make overtures to several downtown Santa Fe hotels before going with Buffalo Thunder. But their demands, which included around 100 rooms, according to Randall, were too much for some.
"They did reach out to us and we declined," Corey Fidler, general manager at Hotel Santa Fe, tells SFR.
One of the reasons Hotel Santa Fe declined the offer is because it likes to cater to tourists, who pay higher rates than group business clients. La Fonda, on the other hand, was hosting a wedding during that time period.
"I told everybody I would move heaven and Earth to make this work," Kimball says of getting the cast and crew to stay at La Fonda. "But I would not move a bride."
Smaller downtown hotels were apparently bypassed. But that's because they were too small to host the big crew.
"They had pretty specific needs," says Inn at Santa Fe General Manager Victoria Bruneni. "We're not the full service hotel that they were looking for."
The city money used to lure The Bachelor here comes from hotel lodgers taxes, which under state law can only be spent on tourism advertising. The Santa Fe-filmed episode of the show airs next Monday.
Watch the trailer below.