Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa – Retreat to Northern New Mexico

Historic Hotel Building at Ojo Caliente

Historic Hotel Building at Ojo Caliente

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa is a short hour’s drive from Santa Fe and two hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The resort provides visitors with upscale accommodations, fine fresh cuisine, health-giving mineral springs and rejuvenating  spa treatments.

This newly renovated resort, on historic property, is in a beautiful part of rural New Mexico. Enjoy a getaway in an area of rich cultural heritage and history.

When I mentioned to some Arizona friends that I would be spending an overnight at Ojo Caliente Resort in New Mexico, they kind of looked at me askance. You

Soaking Pools in the Shadows of the Ancient Cliffs

Soaking Pools in the Shadows of the Ancient Cliffs

see, Ojo Caliente once was one of those rural hot springs that mainly the locals knew about. It was kind of a funky, hippy type destination.

Ojo Caliente has a fascinating history.  Ojo Caliente is one of the oldest natural health resorts in the U.S.  In 1858 the mineral springs was opened as a Medical Spa.  The area has always had significance to the Native peoples as a source of healing and as a spiritual center. You can still climb to the top of the mesa and see where the pueblo of Posi was built overlooking the springs. The native people of the area built multi-storied buildings and farmed the terraced lands.

You’ll find pot shards and arrows in the area of the ancestral pueblo. The Native Tewa-speaking people of northern New Mexico  are believed to be descendants of these ancestral puebloans.

The New Ojo Caliente

Those who visited the resort in the past will be pleasantly surprised.  What you’ll find now at Ojo Caliente is a very different resort. Although the resort is newly designed and many new features have been added, the historic nature of the resort with its healing waters remains. Some of the original buildings, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, are artfully combined with new adobe suites, hand-hewn stone walls and new state of the art pools.

Ojo Caliente is now a draw for the discriminating visitor as well as the local people who visit the pools and the day spa. The old is artfully combined with the new and the feeling of healing and peace remains. The additions made by the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa has ensured that the natural beauty is enhanced and retained.

The resort grounds with ancient cliff formations serving as a backdrop to the rooms and casitas have winding paths taking you to your retreat. The resort has 48 rooms: 6 Cliffside Suites (new), 6 Pueblo rooms (new), 11 Plaza Cottages (new), 8 North Cottages (newly renovated), 15 Historic Hotel Rooms (newly renovated) and 2 Private Homes (newly renovated).

Kiva Fireplace in an Ojo Caliente Pueblo Room

Kiva Fireplace in an Ojo Caliente Pueblo Room

I had the pleasure of staying in a Pueblo Room and loved the kiva fireplace and patio. My friends, the Santa Fe Travelers raved about the Cliffside Suite with private outdoor tub. If you would enjoy a touch of the old funky Ojo Caliente, try one of the North Cottages. Although completely remodeled, they have quaint and fun touches, kitchenettes and nice porches and decks. Have a family reunion or a group retreat coming up? The Private Homes are amazing and, of course, newly redecorated.

Taking the Waters
The staff at Ojo Caliente reminded me that the word ‘spa’. literally stands for “health through water.” In Europe,  the word spa indicates that there will be mineral waters.

The ten pools at Ojo Caliente are filled with different types and combinations of waters including Lithium (yes, the same stuff that can elevate your mood), Iron, Soda and Arsenic (the healing variety) with temperatures ranging from 80-109 degrees. There is a large swimming pool that is a bit cooler than most of the soaking pools. You’ll notice that sulfur is not included in this list of minerals and so the sulfury smell often associated with mineral springs is absent.

My favorite was the new large Kiva pool that is available only to people staying in the nearby rooms and suites.  The stone work surrounding the round kiva-shaped pool, is reminiscent of the ancestral pueblo buildings.

In the summer, you can go to the Mud Pool and enjoy the healing qualities of the mud that you slather all over your body.

For romantics and those who just like privacy, there are beautiful private outdoor pools with a view of the cliffs and skies. These pools are large enough for a whole family to enjoy. After your dip, warm yourself by the pool’s kiva fireplace. At night the views of the starry skies from these outdoor pools ensure you’ll have an enchanting experience.

More Healing at the Spa
As the resort expanded, they added therapists and treatment rooms. When you check in for your spa treatment, you’ll enter a charming historic bath house. The therapists, highly skilled and accredited in their own areas of therapeutic modalities, all have in common that they can provide the signature treatments.

Mud wraps are very popular but I chose the Earth Keepers Hot Stone Massage. It was a very healing experience and, since the local river stones were warmed, ideal for a crisp fall day. The therapist will invite the spirit of the Native American Earth Keepers to enhance the healing power of the massage. You’ll have a great massage with warm oil and heated stones all working together to relieve tension, ground the psyche and rebalance the energy systems of the body. My skilled therapist quickly found the places where I hold my tension and focused on moving all that tension right out of my body!

Ojo Caliente has a special yurt built for yoga classes. Maps lead you to short and long hikes on which you’ll pass historic structures like their unusual Adobe Barn and hike up to the ancestral pueblo on the top of the mesa. You’ll find a small labyrinth on the main property but walk a short half mile and you’ll enjoy a very large labyrinth in the field by the round adobe barn. The area is very scenic and short drives with stops for a picnic or photography would enhance your stay. But if you are like me, you’ll be sampling the soaking pools and enjoying the spa,  restaurant and gift shop so much, that thoughts of leaving the grounds soon disappear.

You’re out in the countryside so there are no other dining venues in the immediate area. Fortunately the resort has an excellent restaurant and cozy wine bar.

Relax under the Portal at the Historic Ojo Caliente Hotel after Dinner

Relax under the Portal at the Historic Ojo Caliente Hotel after Dinner

The Artesian Restaurant provides a casual dining experience and charming atmosphere. It is located in the main historic stone building. The chef blends local flavors with global cuisine to create a delightful menu that ranges from seasonal southwestern favorites to a variety of contemporary international foods.

I enjoyed an excellent salmon dish –  Green Chile Crusted Salmon with smashed potatoes & Poblano chile sauce. Everything on the menu is fresh and healthy but if you dare, try the decadent “Chocolate Cigar” in flaky filo topped with fresh whipped cream!

Prices are moderate but the budget conscious could easily find an appetizer, soup or salad to keep the cost down.

More Things to Know
You can enjoy the spa for the day 365 days a year. The resort has an RV site and camping spots along the Rio Ojo. The resort is set up for weddings and groups. The resort is a non-smoking property. No pets permitted at the Springs with the exception of Service Dogs (cleaning fee charged if necessary).

Swimming Pool at Ojo Caliente

Swimming Pool at Ojo Caliente

Review and Recommendations
Your stay at Ojo Caliente, whether a weekend getaway or a week’s vacation will leave you feeling amazingly relaxed and re-focused. I truly felt relaxed and healthier after only one night, several soakings and the hot stone massage.

I love what the owners have done as “stewards of Ojo Caliente,” aesthetically and environmentally. The grounds are kept as natural as possible and the springs are cared for in a way that water quality is maximized.

I’ll be returning, to take a guided hike and learn more about the Native Americans who lived there and relax once again in the soothing hot springs. And, I’ll time my visit just right to enjoy lunch at The Artesian Restaurant.

Finding the Spa and Resort
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa is located in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, 50 miles north of Santa Fe and 40 miles South West of Taos. The Springs property consists of 1100 acres and is adjoined to thousands of acres of national forest and public land. Shop- and gallery-filled historic centers of Santa Fe and Taos are short drives to the resort. Private planes and small jets can fly into Santa Fe Airport or Taos Municipal Airport.
Address: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, P.O. Box 68, 50 Los Baños Drive, Ojo Caliente, New Mexico 87549
Phone: (800) 222.9162 (505) 583.2233
Ojo Caliente Specials
Photo Gallery of Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accomodations for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.