VISITING LOS POBLANOS always feels like a bit of a magical journey. Cruising through Albuquerque along neon-streaked Route 66, it’s hard to imagine that this historic inn and farm is hidden only 15 minutes from downtown. Its lush bower offers a panoramic view of the Sandía Mountains, which peek out from the fluttering drapery of cottonwood leaves.
Two years ago, the inn’s new Hacienda Spa channeled the place’s low-frequency vibe into a sustained om of stress-melting services and intimate yoga classes. Now Los Poblanos has alchemized the farm’s lavender buds, calendula petals, and mint leaves into a collection of lotions, potions, scrubs, and salves that allows you to bring its serene secrets home.
The formula that started it all is the farm’s signature Lavender Salve. Locals will warn you to moisturize well and often if you’re new to the parched high desert, and this stuff does the trick with the bonus of a slow-release aroma of lavender essential oil.
On a recent visit to the farm, I met Los Poblanos matriarch Penny Rembe gliding down a gravel path at the wheel of an electric cart. She and her late husband, Dr. Armin Rembe, bought the historic property in 1976, where they took up hobby farming, focusing on crops well-suited to the dry, sunny climate. They chose lavender because it’s pretty, drought-tolerant, and has great therapeutic potential. Rembe herself created the Lavender Salve as a solution for gardeners’ roughened hands.
“I spent hours mixing my first batch over the 1930s Garland stove in my kitchen,” Rembe says. “I poured it into 12 jars.” Two decades later, the salve continues to be her best-selling product—and it’s still made with the same five ingredients.
In recent years, Los Poblanos has grown in careful, thoughtful ways, weaving in a new section of modern farmhouse-style lodgings and renovating an old milking barn to make room for an expanded restaurant and farm shop. But every bit of the lavender essential oil is still produced on-site. During the summer, workers cut sheaves of Grosso lavender and bring them to an open-air shed behind the farm shop, where wide-planked white walls and corrugated metal roofing shelter two gleaming copper stills. Inside the stills’ plump bellies, the potent oil is separated from lavender-infused water. The water, properly called a hydrosol, becomes the base of the Organic Lavender Facial Toner, and the oil stars in the Lavender Skin Care Oil. The combination powers the spa’s hydrating Hacienda Facial treatment.
Although the lavender is still processed in-house, the production of most bath and body products has shifted off-property, allowing the farm to lean harder into crafting products for the spa that use herbs, flowers, and other farm-grown ingredients. Los Poblanos fans have long stopped into the Farm Shop for pump bottles of the lavender hand soap, lotion, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. But in the spa, aestheticians now showcase the farm’s bounty with rarer products, including hydrosols made from rose petals or white-pine needles. Dried botanicals get crushed and steamed for the Herbal Poultice Massage and Dry Body Scrub.
Many of the spa products, including the famous Lavender Salve, are made in small batches at the renovated 1940s-era building that houses Town and Ranch, the new Los Poblanos outpost in downtown Albuquerque. Here, Rembe’s old pots are kept as talismans of the growing product line’s homespun origins. The farmers’ ethos shows here, too. Town and Ranch (along with Farm Shop Norte, in Santa Fe) now features a refill station for customers to reuse their amber jars at a discount.
Town and Ranch is also a tasting room for Los Poblanos’s signature spirits, a Western Dry Gin that downplays its juniper notes, and a Lavender Gin that blends the potent herb with a combination of viola, orange, rose, and lemongrass. Try a gin cocktail in the lounge, which is a dark, elegant, and perfect place to imbibe the farm’s bountiful botanicals after you stock up on its body essentials.