The Water is Fine: Prime Soaks in and around Santa Fe

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Santa Fe’s the #2 Relaxation & Spa destination in the US, according to TripAdvisor’s annual Travelers’ Choice Awards 2010 poll. Indeed, the City Different abounds with excellent avenues for shedding stress, from recreational to therapeutic. One of our favorite ways to decompress and counterbalance the effects of  dry desert air is through warm water soaks.  Ten Thousand Waves, tuned to fine perfection over its 30 years of operation, is an exquisite escape just ten minutes from The Plaza. We love the super-premium private tubs, Ichiban and New Ofuro. Each offers low key luxury in a distinctive setting plus longer soaking times for an exceptional spa experience.  But The Waves’ carefully crafted and beautifully tended atmosphere ensures a quality experience for all visitors.  The Communal Tub is a comparative bargain at under $19.00 for unlimited soaking. Note that clothing is optional before 8:15 pm; the clothing-optional Women’s Tub is available daily until 8:15 pm.

About an hour north of Santa Fe, the Mineral Springs Resort and Spa of Ojo Caliente provides a disarming cocktail of physical removal, rustic charm and relaxing, hot mineral baths. We spent a voluptuous 4 hours there a few Sundays ago, breaking up our drive with a lunch of green chile lamb enchiladas at Angelina’s in Española. This local institution is relaxed, reasonably-priced, tasty and well worth a detour. Tel: 505. 753.8543 For a loving, yet accurate review of Angelina’s restaurant, check out Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blogpost.

Read What to Know Before You Go on Ojo’s website for the full low-down on pricing and what to bring. During late Fall and Winter, we recommend taking along two extra towels (one is included with admission) and either a warm robe or sweater for cold weather transit between the pools. Although lockers are available (bring your own lock), they are small. You may want a pack or bag to carry personal items around the grounds.

There are seven public pools: the iron, arsenic, two iron-arsenic combos and soda are open year ’round; the mud pool and large pool are seasonal. At this writing, the entry fee is $24/person. A few private tubs are available for $40/hour–each with a kiva fireplace that can be lit for an additional $10. With a one hour private tub rental, the admission fee is required. Rent a tub for two hours (actual tub time = one hour & 50 minutes), and admission is included: the bargain we chose.

Ojo lacks the polish of Ten Thousand Waves.  The floor of the coed steam room was gritty and cold air blasted away the sauna’s heat every time the door–unfortunately situated directly opposite the building’s exterior door–was opened. Circulating “Shushers” with paddles admonishing clients to whisper were well-meaning, but made us all feel a bit like misbehaving kids. But as the friendly and helpful front desk staff asserted, “the owners are always looking for ways to make the place better” and it shows.  After an hour in the tub, watching the erratic tracings of geese cross the brilliant New Mexico sky, I got where I wanted to go: empty in mind, full in spirit.

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UPDATE:

Vote for your favorites at Spa Magazine’s Fifth Annual Silver Sage Reader’s Choice Awards. Voting ends on June 29th, 2011, so act soon.

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