I just returned from a 3-night trip to New Mexico to visit my Mom, and feel the need to share two of my favorite places. This trip was centered around getting some much needed R&R, and I can say that goal was successfully reached! While I have visited both Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Spa twice before this trip, and Ten Thousand Waves once before, I have never had the opportunity to experience both within 24 hours of each other! I will be splitting this review into two posts, one on each spa. In these posts, you will get access to my favorites from each spa, the must-do's, and the okay to skip's depending on how much time you have!
First up: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa
A brief history: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa first opened in 1868. Before being a health spa, the natural spring waters had been used for hundreds of years, and the waters are believed to have healing powers for various things. Even Tibetan Monks enjoy these waters! It is the only hot springs in the world with four different mineral waters including lithia, iron, soda and arsenic. Today, they house 11 different pools with various mixtures of those waters. (History and information are from Ojo Caliente's History Section, and About Our Waters Section).
There are many options when planning a trip to Ojo! There are different tiers of lodging offered, from camping to luxury suites. If you are looking for a day trip, it is less than an hour from Santa Fe and Taos, and about 2 hours from Albuquerque. The day use rates are very reasonable, and they offer a discount after 6 pm, both of which can be found below:
Rates as of May 1, 2015
Monday-Thursday: $20 per person
Friday-Sunday & Holiday Periods: $32 per person
Sunset Rate - After 6 pm
Monday-Thursday: $16 per person
Friday-Sunday & Holiday Periods: $28 per person
A locker with a robe, two towels, lock & key are an additional $15 per person per day. If you just want to bring your own towels and lock, lockers are available to use for free.
Public Mineral Pools, Mud Pool, Steam Room, and Sauna are included in the above rates, and are available for use from 10am-8pm daily.
(Please check Ojospa.com for current daily rates, private pool rates, add-ons, packages, and lodging rates).
I first experienced Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Spa as a treat for my 24th birthday two years ago. We went all-out on that trip, and stayed in one of the Cliffside Suites with a private outdoor soaking tub included! If you stay in a suite, you get private access to the Kiva Pool, which is only open to guests staying in a Suite (not just any room), and is open until Midnight. While the suite was a luxurious experience, unless you book it for a romantic weekend, I found the private tub to be unnecessary with so many public pools. There are also additional private pools available for a fee with reservations by the hour, so if you need more privacy, that may be a great option for you!
The above picture will looking something like your first steps into the Spa after checking in! To the left, you will find the large pool which is also the coolest pool at around 89 degrees and is great for swimming around, as well as one of the arsenic pools (not pictured). To the right, you will pass the Ladies Locker Room, The Steam Room and Sauna, as well as treatment rooms. Past those, you will encounter 5 various public pools, and the private pools . Straight across in the photo above, you will find the mud pool! To the right of that is the Bath House.
I have found that I like to start soaking in one of the arsenic pools, and go pretty much in a circle until I experience each pool. At that point, I will go back to my favorites, and then end my soaking in the large one. Most of the pools are relatively small, and can get crowded depending on when you go. This last week was the most crowded I have seen it! The crowd shouldn't take away from your experience though; everyone seems to have the same goal in mind and is very respectful of keeping things zen.
So, what are my favorite pools you ask? That would be the Iron Pool, The Mud Pool, and The Large Pool. Basically, the Iron Pool is a relaxation oasis surrounded by natural rock walls, complete with 3 spigots of water flowing out of them allowing you to fullly immerse yourself, and a pebble floor. Ohhhhh, the pebble floor! I love to sit under the spigot, then wiggle my toes between the smooth pebbles in the hot water. It truly is a luxurious experience! I always return to the Iron Pool at least 2 times! It also happens to be one of the most popular pools (Understandably so :D). My next favorite is the Mud Pool! My recommendation is to find a chair by the nearby large pool and leave your things there, walk over to The Mud Pool, and go all in! They have a sink-like contraption with a constant flow of liquid clay, which you are supposed to slather all over your skin. Next, lay out and let that clay set! Once you start looking like a desert statue, it is time to dip in the pool provided to loosen all of that clay. Clay is truly wonderful for your skin, and helps your skin to detox, leaving it feeling refreshed! Not only is it great for you, the experience can be really fun and comical depending on who you are with :D. Don't forget to use the waterfall showers before you leave the area to fully remove any excess clay! After the mud, I love slipping into The Large Pool to exercise my legs, and also float in silence. Just thinking about it is making me feel relaxed! Another great pool is The Soda Pool, which has a roof over it and no talking is allowed! All other pools are whisper zones only, which just adds to the experience. No cell phones are allowed either, allowing you to fully disconnect!
If you are looking for more than just soaking, Ojo Caliente offers a full Spa Menu, including things like private soaks, massages, body scrubs, wraps, and facials. I have personally experienced one of their massages, and the Native American Blue Corn & Prickly Pear Salt Scrub. Of the two, the scrub was my favorite...only because it was a unique experience! I have gotten many massages over the years, so the scrub set itself apart by adding a local flare to it. They scrub you down with local traditional ingredients, AND give you an amazing scalp massage with hot oil. They also finish your treatment with a lovely cup of tea that is supposed to aid in the detox process.
Okay, so now that you are in the know about the pools and spa treatments...What about dining options and gifts? I'm so glad you asked! While there is only one restaurant on property, I'm a big fan of it! They offer Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, with Breakfast and Lunch on the more reasonably priced side! They offer many healthy options, as well as some traditional New Mexican dishes. The best thing about this restaurant, is that they are a Farm-To-Table restaurant. A lot of their ingredients come from their farm that is right on property! (You will pass it on your way into the Resort). You will also find tons of herbs in their courtyard, like the Thyme pictured below! For those of you that know me, I got my start in a Pastry kitchen at a Farm-To-Table restaurant, so I have a big love for them!
Next stop: The Gift Shop! Located attached to the Lobby, you will find a store filled with jewelry, clothing, trinkets, books, and products made by local artisans. They also have things such as swim suits, sandals and snacks. I always love testing out all of the local products like salves, oils, teas, and skin care products (Shocker :D). During my most recent trip, I picked up two truly lovely products that are pictured below. I am still learning about Essential Oils, but have recently found a love for Lavender Oil. They had a whole spread of Lavender products in the gift shop from a Local New Mexican Lavender Farm. Not only that, the farm is a sustainable organic farm! That's considered awesome in my book, so of course I had to get some! Honestly, the oil is some of the best Lavender Oil I have ever smelled! The other item i just had to have, was the Rose Toner made by Ojo Caliente Spa! The first ingredient is Rose, and the ingredient that really sold me was the inclusion of soda water from the local springs! The clerk let me sample the toner before I purchased it, and it smells divine! It smells like you are walking through a garden of roses. Again, also the best rose smelling product I have ever encountered! Rose is amazing for your skin too! The best part? Both of these items are available for purchase online! Since I live in California, this was awesome to find out! Get your own Lavender Oil ($10) and other Lavender Products here. Pick up your own Rose Toner ($14) here.
Chelsea's Favorites/Must-Do List:
-The Iron Pool
-The Mud Pool
-The Large Pool
-Lay Out in the sun
-Walking The Grounds
-The Gift Shop
If You Have More Time:
-Try The Restaurant/Wine Bar
-Book a Spa Treatment or Package
-Reserve a Private Pool
If You Have A Weekend:
-Stay in a Suite
-Get multiple treatments
-Take a hike
-Try the Kiva Pool
-Take a Yoga Class
Tips and Skips:
-Skip the Cliffside Suites unless you need a private tub outside. The other suites are just as nice!
-Bring and apply sunblock, but ahead of time! I turned into a lobster during my first visit due to the sign that says no lotions or oils allowed. Remember that you at an elevation of about 6,000 ft, so the sun is stronger! This last time I applied sunblock an hour before, and did not burn at all! We were in the sun for almost 3 hours too! (I am ghost white and burn easily).
-Wear a swimsuit that you are okay with ruining. The minerals and the mud may discolor your suit! (Totes worth it).
-If you don't want to spend a lot of money, bring snacks! I recommend this for both day trips and extended stays.
-Drink A LOT of water!! Bring a plastic or stainless steel bottle (no glass allowed), or get a lot of the complimentary cups in The Bath House! When soaking in hot waters, it is essential to stay hydrated before, during, and after!
-Turn your cell phone off and enjoy yourself while in the pools. Close your eyes, breathe deep, float, and relax!
-Don't be self-conscious! There are guests of all shapes, sizes, and ages! Everyone is there to relax and have a good time!
So there you have it! Ojo Caliente is truly one of the most relaxing places I have ever experienced! I have had a love for hot springs since I was younger, and this only added to that love! You MUST include Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Spa & Resort on your itinerary to New Mexico! Stay tuned for Part Two, a review on Ten Thousand Waves Spa!
**All photos in this post were taken and owned by me, with the exception of the Ten Thousand Waves Sign photo. That was taken by my Brother, who has given me permission to use it**