I arrived tired and cranky after driving 5 hours thru sleet and snow from Pueblo, CO. Upon first approach, I saw that the hotel grounds were vast and meticulously maintained. Perched on a gradual slope with stunning views of the mountains and the city, make sure to request your preference upon check-in.
We valet parked upon arrival (free for hotel guests), bellmen were available. Check-in was a breeze, and I must admit that my crankiness disappeared immediately upon entering the vast, inviting, stylish, polished, and swanky lobby. The southwest decor was of good taste, there were plentiful comfy chairs to sit in for people watching, a free daily paper was available from the bell desk, a complementary computer kiosk available next to the front desk, and free wi-fi throughout the property.
The handsome, clean, and modern elevator delivered us briskly to our floor (room 840). The carpet, walls, decor were in such good condition, I believed the establishment to be brand new (factoid- not new, but recently refurbished). Our room looked out over the city, my husband would've preferred the mountain view, but my wishes trumped his, and we had a city (in the wee distance) view. The room was vast with attractive furnishings which matched the rest of the hotel (southwestern theme, but with a modern twist). I fell in love with the bathroom, huge, with granite countertops, soaking tub, separate shower with that thick, clean glass that all the fancy hotels have.
For our convenience, there was a fridge, Keurig coffee maker with a handful of k-cups (free), flat screen HD TV, iron, hair dryer (of course), plenty of hangers AND plug-ins right next to the bed on both sides. Extremely handy for charging my Kindle, camera, and cell phone. There was also one of those iPhone docking station radio/alarm clock things (not sure how they work, my cell phone has buttons - I know, totally uncool.) Another nice surprise were the FREE local phone calls. The bed linens were crisp and high quality/thread count. The pillows were oversized and fluffy, I'm not sure if there was a flat one in the closet or not (although there were extra bed linens in there).
The Casino: My husband fondly refers to me as a degenerate gambler, which I suppose I am, but that doesn't mean that I have low standards in regards to slot machines. I want lots of them, I want them new, I want drinks brought to me, and I want to play until my head is spinning with bonus rounds, triple bars, free spins, and I'm either completely broke (for the night) or winning and exhausted. That being said, the Sandia has a very comfortable casino. While I am not a smoker, I found the slots in the non-smoking casino to be pretty tight and too quiet. I like noise, ching-ching-ching, people laughing, hooting, and the such. So, I preferred to wander the main casino looking for games with 80%+ payout (look for the little white sticker near the screen for this guarantee). I had a $150/day budget and I played for hours on end! I play pennies, I bet fairly small (30-60-90), I like the thrill of the spin, I have never played so many bonus rounds! I won some each night, after a 3 day stay, I came out ahead! Sure, I didn't win any jackpots, but I'd say I gambled about 4-5 hours each day.
The Buffet: To me, the one real downer of the Sandia resort is the buffet. I should qualify my comments to follow... I am a foodie, so take what I say with a grain of salt (himalayan, pink to be precise). The food on the buffet seemed unoriginal, tired, and bland. While everything seemed "fresh," nothing was good or tasty. It's really hard to describe, nothing was "bad," but neither was anything good. The food was fairly pedestrian, maybe a step or two down from say... Golden Corral. So skip it and head into town for some traditional New Mexican fare (the Range in Bernalillo was phenomenal or Chen's Chinese in ABQ has excellent chop suey, it's on Juan Tabo just S of I-40).
Overall, this was an excellent trip. Sandia resort can compete with the likes of Wynn or Caesar's in Vegas as far as the hotel and gambling goes (slots), and the food- well, let's leave that for another review.