Blissing Out Near Santa Fe


izanami full view w mtns copyright tom mc connellVisiting Santa Fe in July, I spent a few days exploring this enchanting city and its immediate surroundings. After hoofing it to the many great art museums, galleries, and vibrant Farmer’s Market (a not-to-be missed Saturday morning excursion, when the locals come out to shop), I craved a bit of R&R. My research led me to an unforgettable afternoon at Ten Thousand Waves, located about 15 minutes out of town and the most relaxing retreat I’ve ever experienced. It’s an ideal destination for moms and daughters and other multi-generational travelers looking for peaceful rejuvenation and pampering. If you have time for an overnight getaway, you can book a longer stay in one of the 13 hillside cottages, with minimal yet comfy modern design that includes wood burning fireplaces and fine woodwork.

Ten Thousand Waves is not a typical American spa. There’s no gym, no swimming pool, no hiking trails, no exercise classes. Rather, it is an immaculate and serenely beautiful Japanese-style bath facility (onsen in Japanese), with both private and communal tubs. A variety of massage and body treatments are offered in private, open-air huts—I had Japanese foot work that left me feeling very mellow. But the defining vibe here is the water. There’s nothing more relaxing than immersing yourself in hot water while outside in the clear, dry mountain air scented by piñons and junipers. I’m typically apprehensive about hot tub cleanliness, but all the baths here have a state-of-the-art purification system, sanitized every twenty minutes, that uses ultraviolet light, hydrogen peroxide, copper/silver ions, and ozone to create a highly mineralized water that is also tested weekly for bacterial cultures. The water felt divine.

Izinami restaurant opened in autumn 2013, shortly after my visit. I haven’t yet sampled the food, communal table copyright tom mc connellbut it has been getting great reviews and I love the concept: Japanese-inspired small plates in a casual, cleanly designed, “Japanese farmhouse” setting with a central community table. The seasonal fare of local meat and produce is organic or sustainably raised, and there are several vegetarian and gluten-free choices. The menu ranges from charcoal-grilled veggies to wagyu beef and includes a huge selection of Japanese beers and artisanal sake.

The three images shown in this article depict different views of Izanami and were taken by Tom McConnell.

The women’s, men’s, and mixed gender communal hot tub area at Ten Thousand Waves are sequestered from each other and are clothing-optional—so you’ll see people wearing bathing suits or not. I hung out at the women’s communal tub and the atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable, with no intrusion on my personal space. Everything you need for a visit – kimonos, lockers, towels, etc — is included in the price. For more details, including monthly specials, and more about Izanami restaurant, go to

About Regina Baraban

Regina Baraban is a veteran magazine editor and the author of Successful Restaurant Design (John Wiley & Sons, Third Edition, 2010). She was the founding editor of Hospitality Design magazine; “Best Dressed Restaurants” columnist for Metropolis magazine; and editor of Financial & Insurance Meetings magazine. She writes frequently about travel, design, and the arts and is content editor at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She lives in Newmarket, New Hampshire with a basic black wardrobe of no-iron travel clothes and too many shoes.