Every time I travel to Santa Fe, I always plan a spa visit to Ten Thousand Waves, which is probably my favorite day spa in the U.S. It’s located in the hills above Santa Fe on the way to the ski valley and is a peaceful retreat that is modeled as a Japanese onsen. It’s tucked into a grove of evergreen trees and forest and there is desert sage and lavender planted everywhere so the air here smells so fresh and clean.
It’s main focus are its various hot tubs, some of which are communal (separate men and women’s tubs, which are clothing optional so beware) and several of which can be rented as a private tub experience. As I am too shy to get naked in front of strangers, I think the private tubs are the way to go and they aren’t that expensive. My cousin and I rented one of their premium spa suites for 90 minutes and it was about $60 per person and was well worth the price. They also have steam rooms and saunas available for men and women. Most importantly, do not be worried about hygiene here. The spa itself is spotless and very well maintained. All of the tubs circulate 100% fresh water in every 30 minutes and are tested daily so every one is assured complete cleanliness all day, every day.
Our adorable spa suite featured two individual ceramic “teacup” hot tubs, a changing room, shower area, private cedar sauna, cooling berth, cold water shower and separate toilet area. The spa provides you with towels, robes and fresh ice water as well. You have a vanity area with sinks and hair dryers provided too. Each private spa suite has its own private garden and is open air so you can breathe in that fresh mountain air and hear the wind moving through the trees. I have heard it’s especially nice to come here in winter when there is snow on the ground as it makes for a beautiful spa scene.
Our tubs had a waterfall feature as well so we both relaxed to the sound of falling water and nature. We rotated between sweating in the sauna, doing a quick cold water immersion in the outdoor shower and then dipping into our separate teacups. I believe there are 7 or 8 private spa suites available and they are all of different sizes and configurations so it’s best to look at them online or speak to someone on the phone about which one is best for you. You can even rent the large communal spa in the evening if you have a big group (we did this for a bachelorette party of 12 one time). You can bring in a bottle of wine or champagne on your own if you want but they only allow plastic cups in the spa suites. As they do focus on the health benefits here, bringing in alcohol does seem to be frowned upon (as our bachelorette party found a few years ago) but begrudgingly allowed.
Following our 90 minute hot tub experience, we each got massages. I had a shiatsu massage so I wore comfy, loose fitting clothing while my masseuse stretched me out and kneaded out my tight neck and back muscles. Some treatments are done in small japanese cottages set in the woods while others are done in a quiet cave like setting under the main building. My cousin had the therapeutic massage which is more like a traditional Swedish massage and said it was fantastic.
Ten Thousand Waves also has an upscale Japanese restaurant onsite called Izanami, which serves Japanese BBQ and ramen, not sushi. I have never eaten there but it gets rave reviews. Their gift shop also has some wonderful homemade bath and body products from their own spa line and I also love their super soft cotton t-shirts, robes and cardigans.
If you ever have plans to visit Santa Fe, be sure to spend a morning or afternoon at Ten Thousand Waves to relax and recharge. It’s probably my #1 favorite spa experience to date.