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Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa

It's All About Water in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico

By Jan Schlain

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa located about 50 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico is like a little island of Tahiti in the middle of a high desert nowhere. However, it’s fairly easy to get to, and well worth the trip.

Main Bath House
The main bath house at Ojo Caliente Resort & Spa provides the ultimate atmosphere for relaxation.

Some say Ojo is more of a state of mind than a place. If you go, immerse yourself. Its hot sulfur-free, geothermal waters rise from a subterranean volcanic aquifer, and have for thousands of years. While the quiet untouched feel of the landscape makes Ojo seem almost surreal; what this desert resort is really about are the waters.

There are 10 different pools at Ojo, with seven being accessible to guests daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The other three are private outdoor pools, available by reservation only, and a small fee. People sometimes bring their kids, but frankly, they shouldn’t. Not that children aren’t welcome, it's just Ojo makes for the perfect romantic getaway and the pool atmosphere is more for relaxing.

“We have a large pool, but it’s not for playing Marco Polo,” said Laurie Moreau, marketing assistant for Ojo Caliente Resort.

I found the place, particularly in the morning when the pools were pretty empty, absolutely invigorating and intoxicating. I started with swimming a few laps in the cooler large pool first, and then warmed up in the arsenic pool, which is supposedly good for arthritis, stomach ulcers and skin. Next, I slipped into the hot iron pool, where the water sometimes bubbles up through the natural pebble floor. I then finished my dip in the enclosed soda pool, which has lovely soft echoes, hard stone walls and a gentle “steam room” feel. It’s said the soda pool is good for digestive problems and arthritis; but all of these health benefits are unproven. Health improving or not, the waters feel damn good. Ojo is also low-humidity, making the air feel as heavenly as the waters.

After soaking in the hot pools, enjoy one of Ojo’s signature, Millagro wraps. A spa attendant will wrap you, first in a light cotton blanket, then in a heavier wool blanket, a treatment intended to release the toxins from your body. After wrapping you up like a baby, the attendant leaves you to relax to the sounds of soothing Native American flute music playing softly in the background.

Ojo massage therapy
The spa at Ojo offers all the services and products guest need to enter the highest state of relaxation.

The Ojo massage therapists are all wonderful, making sure every guest leaves satisfied in the highest state of relaxation. The Ojo spa uses primarily Sundari skin care products, Ayurvedic-inspired products made primarily from plants, herbs, roots, essential oils and floral extracts that can also be found in the gift shop along with any other amenities one might need. It’s important to remember it is easy to get dehydrated with the hot waters and altitude, so be sure to stay well hydrated and fed.

The rooms at Ojo range from bohemian to upscale. Since new owners took over the resort eight years ago, Ojo has become less about New Mexico and more about the tourists. Along with 12 new suites and 11 new cottages, all existing rooms have been upgraded and renovated. These include rooms in the historic hotel, which mostly hippi-esque have only sinks and toilets, so guests who stay in the hotel shower and bathe in the spa.

Ojos most lavish rooms are the Cliffside Suites. They are spacious, with contemporary New Mexico furnishings, a wood burning kiva fireplace, a microwave, refrigerator and a private outdoor soaking tub for two, which are filled with Ojo’s legendary waters. I stayed in the Pueblo Suites, almost as classy as a Cliffside, but without the private outdoor tub.

After a long, hot shower in my Pueblo Suite, I relaxed on the room’s back porch to do a bit of reading and wind down my day (not that I ever felt wound up), before beginning my evening with dinner at The Artesian, Ojo's on-site restaurant. The meal was absolutely delectable; my salmon was superb, as was the warm, freshly baked corn bread. Complementing my meal with a glass of wine, which was much like my Ojo experience, ample and fine.

Private Outdoor Pool
The private outdoor pools at Ojo allow for a romantic soak for two.

The crowning moment of my Ojo experience was after dinner, soaking in a private outdoor pool at sunset. A spa attendant guided me to the private pool, unlocked the gate, and lit the kiva fireplace. Because the pool is secluded guests are allowed to bring a bottle of wine, glasses and snacks if they wish. The privacy also allows for clothing-optional soaks, perfect for a romantic trip. The spa attendant alerts you quietly by intercom when your time is up.

The property of Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa spans a total of 1,100 acres and adjoins to thousands of acres of national forest and public land.  Hiking trail maps can be found in the lobby, and with its breathtaking surroundings, a walk is highly recommended.  If you have the time, perhaps the following day, take some time to spend in Abiquiu, located just north on Highway 285. Stop for lunch and gift shopping at the Abiquiu Inn or drive a little bit further up the road to Bodes. If shopping is not your thing, just go for a drive along New Mexico’s glorious ribbons of highway; with spectacular views around every voluptuous curve. If you find yourself driving back to Ojo for one last soak, your free pass to the waters is good from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the day you check out as well as the day you check in.

If You Go:

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa
P.O. Box 80
50 Los Banos Drive
Ojo Caliente, New Mexico 87549
P: (505) 583-2233
Toll Free: (800)222-9162
Rates start at $109 but spa packages/rates are available
Located 50 miles north of Santa Fe and 40 miles Southwest of Taos

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