Road stop 3: Sunrise Springs, New Mexico (continued from part two..)
While Sunrise Springs is a sister property to Ojo Caliente, the two properties felt distinctively different. Radically in fact. I’d called ahead my last morning at Ojo to see if I could check in extra early at Sunrise due to the smoke from nearby forest fires which they were more than accommodating.
From the moment I arrived at Sunrise Springs, I felt like I’d entered a place not just to relax, but to truly be nurtured. The resort staff embodied hospitality at its best. If there’s a spa for everyone, this one had my name on it. I could truly switch off my 24/7-mama-bear mode and successfully hit my reset button—mind, body, palate, and soul.
Sunrise Springs’ 70-acre resort is nestled in the high desert Sangre de Cristo and Ortiz mountains of Santa Fe. Its natural cold springs are steeped in history, offering respite for Native Americans and Spanish Colonists millennia ago. There are no day visitors coming and going in mass, so the place feels more sanctuary-like. Visitors can dine at the restaurant or get a treatment at the spa, but the rest of the property, its classes, and its pool are exclusively for overnight guests.
Connecting to nature sets the theme here. All the art, culinary, fitness, horticulture, outings and therapy, center around just that. A sense of play is also woven through to encourage guests to hop on a cruiser bike outside the art studio or rope swings hanging from the towering cottonwood trees. While the resort opened less than two years ago, some areas are still being built out, like the infinity hot tubs that will look out over the natural cold springs.
I stayed in one of the casitas, a detached suite with a kiva fireplace, desk area and small kitchen corner, offering optimal privacy and quiet. It felt very southwestern-meets-Crate & Barrel with attention to detail. I arrived to find a meditation book and journal on my pillow alongside a tray of tea cups and a selection of teas.
As a destination spa, it offered both lots to do…or nothing at all. Even at my most relaxed state, I’m a doer. I couldn’t wait to see the activity schedule. Each day offers something different and in three days I covered a lot of ground, including qi gong body movement painting with pen and ink and Haiku photography on the art front.
In the culinary/horticulture realm, I took “A walk through the garden” class where we strolled through the resort’s teaching raised-bed gardens and greenhouse to harvest and learn about over 50 edible plants and herbs. In the “Natural Body Care” class, we made our own toothpaste and deodorant out of basic natural ingredients.
For fitness, I took “Yoga for Everyday Life,” learning proper form for ideal posture and muscle use. And on another day, I set out on a guided hike, a short drive away, through some of New Mexico’s most prolific petroglyphs.
Dr. Sally busted popular dieting myths in a nutrition discussion. In animal therapy, I held a silkie chicken (because why not?) and played with the resident litter of Labrador Retriever puppies that are part of an assistance dog training program.
Native American Concha led the sweat lodge ceremony and in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I endured an hour in 130ºF heat (done in four ten-minute segments). It was a therapeutic, transforming experience that wasn’t just about releasing toxins through sweat but was also emotionally healing and spiritually transformative. What came up for me was a reconnection to a book about my late father gnawing at me to be written, which I’d shelved when my son came along. I committed to carving out time to make that happen on my return.
In the Ojitos private open-air soaking tubs, I jacuzzied overlooking the spring-fed pond. At the spa, I set sail on the “Ancient Echoes” treatment billed as an “East Indian Head Massage technique…that will take you on a voyage that explores a variety of massage and energy balancing techniques … finishing off with a luxurious foot massage.” I left blissfully, zombie-like.
Every dish at every meal at the resort’s Blue Heron restaurant was a hit. Rocky, the resident chef, I learned was a major coup for the resort and attracts a steady local clientele. The fare is farm-to-fork in which Chef Rocky infuses creativity and a beautiful presentation. Favorite dishes included the tuna sashimi salad and the “Oops ice cream cone” (served upside down as if someone dropped it).
I squeezed the most out of my three days there and didn’t want to leave. It was like Zen summer camp for adults (no children allowed). I knew I had to re-enter the real world again and I was off to the ideal spot to transition back into reality.
Cost: A la carte packages start at $225/night and all-inclusive ones at $395. Check out their website for a multitude of deals ranging from a “Girl’s Getaway” to a “Couples’ R & R” to a “Best of Both Resorts” offering visits to both Ojo Caliente and Sunrise Springs resorts. If ever you were looking for a reason to splurge, this is it.
In part four: La Posada de Santa Fe.
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