In February of 2020, just before the world shut down, my own private world was spinning out of control. I found myself 40 years old, completely discontent with my career and marriage, ready to pick up the snow globe of my life and shake it up. I had no idea where I was headed, but I knew I craved big change and decided to leave my marriage of nearly 17 years.
During this tumultuous period of self-discovery, my dear friend insisted we seek some spiritual renewal–we needed to step away from our families and responsibilities and head to the desert of New Mexico, deemed “The Land of Enchantment.” At the time I was not sleeping, could barely eat, my monkey mind compulsively ruminated and fretted, and I could not focus or calm myself. I needed comfort on the deepest level, or I was going to have a nervous breakdown. So, we packed our bags and headed to northwestern New Mexico to a centuries-old healing epicenter known as Ojo Caliente.
Nestled at the foot of the low-lying mountains and cottonwoods of Taos County, Ojo Caliente Spa features nine thermal, mineral soaking pools designed to blend seamlessly into the desert landscape. Voted Travel + Leisure’s best spa getaway in 2020, the resort’s design instantly instills a sense of serenity with earthy stones, desert fauna, and designated silent spaces peppered throughout the property. The minimalist aesthetic encourages the eye to look up to the expansive western sky. The property consists of cottages, a historic inn, and vintage Airstreams for overnight guests, as well as an adobe-style, globally-renowned spa that features hot stone and regional botanically-infused massage (think: blue corn, prickly-pear, and sage), facials, and body wraps. A yoga studio built inside a quiet yurt and a lovely farm-to-table restaurant make it so you never have to leave the property in order to meet all of your needs. Footpaths weave from the resort through the canyon and mesas where you might stumble upon an ancient indigenous burial ground, an abandoned circular worship space, or a labyrinth of stones (an ancient symbol for wholeness). Sounds of desert grass blowing in the wind and ravens cawing echo through the canyon–it is enchanting to say the least.
When you arrive, you are greeted with a lush white robe that you wear most of the time on site. In February, the mineral water that flows from the property’s hot springs remains 98-105 degrees, so even the heat was a comforting escape from the cold desolation of Louisville in winter. The pools are naturally rich in iron, lithia, arsenic, and soda–minerals that claim to elevate mood, detoxify and heal skin conditions, and treat symptoms from pain to menopause to arthritis. In the center of the communal pools is a mud bath where you can cake yourself in red desert mud and lay out on the sun-baked stones, a practice dating back to the ancient Mesopotamians.
While there, my friend and I soaked up the mid-winter southwestern sun as we sat silent and still in the communal soaking pools. We hiked through the ravine and up the neighboring mountain where I left behind a bucket of tears in the desert terrain and finally felt peace. We ventured to nearby Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O’Keeffe painted her iconic desert landscapes. You can hike up the mountain there and catch glimpses of the scenes her paintings made famous–just you and the sky and cacti sitting as she once did. Undeniably, this turf is healing if only to shut out all the noise to process whatever stressful situation ails you. I can’t imagine a more comforting space to sit with a crisis. In the evenings, we made cocktails and ate in the restaurant on site–in the mornings we sipped coffee in rocking chairs and went to yoga classes. But mostly, we just meditated and talked and existed.
When I returned home from Ojo Caliente, I was at peace. It was exactly what I needed to quiet my mind enough to make my next move. A few weeks after I returned, I filed for divorce with confidence, clarity, and acceptance.
Later that year, I received an email that Ojo Caliente had experienced a devastating fire. Since, the property has been rebuilding and reinstilling the heritage from the property’s past–Ojo Caliente is one of the oldest spas in the United States. One such post-pandemic/post-fire addition is a reimagined historical bathhouse constructed from the stones used to build the original structure in 1868. The bathhouse features a Himalayan salt sauna, a eucalyptus steam room, and a dramatic glass floor. There will continue to be ongoing construction throughout the winter of 2022, but Ojo also has a second property in the beautiful and artistic epicenter of Santa Fe–I can’t wait to return sometime next year to one of these properties and experience the changes. Afterall, such a soul-comforting and spiritual space helped me to make my own.
Other Spas In New Mexico:
Located in Santa Fe at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, I stayed here and loved it. Rooms and decor reflect an authentic southwest experience with woven blankets and terra cotta throughout. A beautiful spa and year-round heated pool are featured on site and within walking distance from Santa Fe’s historic plaza, and across the street from the famous Loretto Chapel.
This Cloudcroft, New Mexico spa is a great couples getaway, featuring a spa, special couples packages, and a Sunday champagne brunch. There’s a golf course here that’s open between April and October.
Santa Fe spa that offers packages with an aromatic steam room, massages, foot and scalp treatments, and fresh fruit with a two-night minimum stay. Located by the Santa Fe River in a quiet locale.
This Santa Fe spa features wellness experiences, including yoga, a journey to Abiquiu, and an ancient cacao ceremony. The resort also offers a year-round pool, on-site restaurant and bar, whirlpools, and if taking a family, the site offers babysitting and kids under age five eat free.
The ski resort area of Taos, New Mexico is an eco-friendly atmosphere with lots of pampering and healing. There are 10 treatment rooms, romantic couple’s suites for treatments, an indoor pool, hot tub, and a 24-hour fitness center. The accommodations include hot tub suites, standard rooms, and casitas.
By Megan Seckman
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