The Best Spa

By Richard Mahler

Author of "New Mexico's Best"

A few years back, Ten Thousand Waves was voted "the best place to send friends" in a poll conducted by the weekly Santa Fe Reporter. It also has been dubbed "the best place for a romantic first date." Whatever the "best of" category, locals can't seem to get enough of this elegant Japanese-style onsen (outdoor health spa).

Tourists too can enjoy that special pampered feeling that comes from indulging in a deep tissue massage, steamy sauna, or soothing chlorine-free outdoor hot tub-there are both private tubs and commercial tubs. Dozens of therapists are on call, specializing in such exotica as watsu (underwater) massages and steamy herbal wraps.

"They sure don't have this in Passaic!" exclaimed one New Jersey visitor. And there's nothing else like Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, either. Efficient yet relaxed, close to the Plaza yet enclosed by a cozy canopy of pinon pines, this is a restorative refuge for mind, body and spirit.

Prices are not cheap-you can run up a thre-figure bill in an eyeblink-but your soul will thank you for it. For true decadence, rent one of the exclusive guest rooms and spend the night.

If You Go: Ten Thousand Waves is about 4 miles northeast of Santa Fe on Hyde Park Road (which is called Artists Road downtown). It is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., and later on weekends. Reservations are preferred (505-982-9304). Another 13 miles up Hyde Park Road is the Santa Fe Ski Area (505-982-4429). After a brisk day on the slopes, skiers often unwind with a stop at the spa on the way back to town.

Insider Tip: Avoid the crowds by skipping the busy weekend nights. If you're in Santa Fe often, a multiuse discount card is available. Also, you can use the mostly nude "community tub" and sauna for a much lower rate than the private facilities. During specified hours th community tub is reserved for women only.


Richard Mahler is author of "New Mexico's Best" and several other books. A journalist and photographer as well, he specializes in travel writing, among other subjects. He has contributed to National Public Radio since 1973 and to the Los Angeles Times since 1979. He has written thousands of articles for more than 100 magazines and newspapers, including The New Mexican, New Mexico magazine, and Santa Fean magazine. A longtime resident of New Mexico, he lives in Santa Fe.

For a full listing of Richard Mahler's books, and to place orders for them, visit

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