Finding Serenity in Santa Fe and No. New Mexico
 By Ann Nelson



With all the uncertainty going on in the world around us, it's easy to wonder, how do we make our own lives grounded and centered? The first step is to stop and quiet our minds. Studies show that five to ten minutes of quiet meditative time each day can literally change our outlook and our life. Finding a quiet corner in your home may be a good place to start. Taking a trip with the intention of feeding your soul and renewing your spirit may be another solution.

Artists, spiritual seekers, and healers have been drawn to magical and quiet places since the beginning of time. After careful thought, I decided the best thing for me to do was to take one week and go away on a quiet sojourn. I chose Santa Fe, New Mexico and the surrounding area as my destination. Santa Fe, the second-oldest town in the U.S., was founded by the Spanish in 1607.

Located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe offers the perfect ingredients for relaxation and rejuvenation. The air has a clear quality to it. The night sky is ablaze with a billion stars. The area in and around Santa Fe is filled with world-class spas and healing centers. If you are currently feeling a financial pinch, you may be surprised to know that some of these spas are true bargains.

I flew to Albuquerque, rented a car and headed north. Santa Fe was one hour away. A high-speed Rail Runner is in operation offering quick and direct service to Santa Fe. Please contact for a schedule.

My first stop was Sunrise Springs Resort. Located fifteen minutes from the center of town, this tranquil and serene getaway situated on 70 acres is owned by artist Megan Hill. Her special touches and attention to color and detail are seen everywhere you look. The day at Sunrise Springs begins with a yoga class and ends with award-winning dining at The Blue Heron Restaurant. The garden-fresh seasonal dishes created by Executive Chef Eric Laslow are fabulous, and the soul-soothing setting hugs the edge of a huge pond.

Treatments offered at the Samahdi Spa were designed by spa director, Cari Cohen, and focus on healing and transforming your life. Carri, sunny, balanced and energetic is a walking advertisement of the benefits of these transforming treatments.  Sound Healing, Natural Medicine and Holographic Therapy are just a few examples of treatments that are offered. Healing Retreats and Spa Magazine rate Sunrise Springs the "Best Getaway without Getting Away."

Next, I made my way to the Ghost Creek Ranch, " a community for the Spirit - for rest, re-creation and renewal."  Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted here for many years before her death in 1986. While I was staying at The Ranch, I made it a point to go for walks before sunrise and just before sunset hoping to soak up the sunlight as it splattered across the tips of the stone mountains.

The way O'Keeffe recreated these colors in her artwork is simply remarkable. It's easy to see why she was inspired here. She called this "God's Country." Ghost Ranch offers a myriad of educational, weeklong classes, including health and wholeness programs such as 'High Desert Spiritual Quest' or 'Hiking to Ancient Sites, Ancient Waters.'  The website lists a complete schedule of upcoming classes. A full array of spa services are offered at The Ranch.

After spending a few glorious days at Ghost Ranch, I headed to Ten Thousand Waves for the day. The time I spent there was simply a blast! The concept is similar to a traditional Japanese hot-springs onsen, except this one is outdoors in the middle of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nine private tubs and communal baths are situated on hillside terraces.

Unlimited day use of the communal or women's bath will cost a mere $18.77. More than 125 therapists perform all types of massage as well as other treatments, including Thai (emphasizing assisted stretching, dynamic lengthening of muscles, and pressure point therapy), hot and cool stone massage, four-hands massage, and Shiatsudo, a new Anma massage technique.

One of the highpoints of my trip was visiting The Ojo Caliente Mineral Spa and Resort, fifty miles north of Santa Fe. This resort was established in 1868, and is presently listed as one of the oldest health resorts in the U.S. Prior to becoming a "resort," the springs were used for thousands of years by the Native Americans and then by the Spaniards. Spa Magazine voted Ojo Caliente "Top 10 Affordable Spa Vacation."

It is possible to spend an entire day lounging around in the mineral pools for $16.00. It is believed that the mineral pools containing arsenic, lithium, iron and soda are good for skin conditions, arthritis, digestion and depression. After a day of soaking, I had a wonderful dinner at The Artesian Restaurant. Chef Neil Stuart serves award-winning dishes such as Yucatan Barbecued Salmon.

Another great place to stay is Buffalo Thunder, a new resort hotel casino, convention center and spa. Within one hour of arriving at the resort the lighting and thunder show started. I was wandering around outside, checking out one of the most incredible lounge/pool areas I've ever seen when the sky unleashed. The thunder and lightening storm itself added to the soul of this place.

There is a fabulous art collection here with over 200 signature pieces hanging on the walls. There is only one standard at Buffalo Thunder. . .. perfection. The Woo' p' In' Spa is no exception. The fabulous treatments offered at the spa are collaboration between the cultures.

In between spa visits, I filled in my schedule with educational and historic side trips. Chimayo, a small Spanish settlement dating back to the 17th century was especially fascinating. Weavers such as Ortegas and Centinells Weavers are well known in this area with a fascinating history.

Three different cultures, the Indian, Hispano, and Anglo originally came together with great difficulty, but today all three cultures have melted together. This incredible blending of cultures comes alive in the artwork, crafts, weaving and pottery work.

While in Santa Fe, I visited BODY, the most "put together" day spa I've ever seen. Lorin Parrish, the owner of Body, says, "My goal is to bring a group together that is healing. When you evolve far enough to give back, you're finally at the beginning." This place is a one-stop shop for health and wellness. The spa offers day care, all types of classes, body treatments, a healthy food café, a boutique, and much more.

Before leaving New Mexico I decided to treat myself and stayed at La Posada Resort & Spa. The resort is located two blocks from the city's historic Plaza. This 159-room, AAA Four Diamond Award boutique resort was built in the 19th century. This magical retreat is characteristic of the early adobe art colony that originally occupied this site.

Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler rated La Posada as one of the top hotels in the country. The old world elegance seeps into your pores here. I didn't want to leave.

I made it a point to celebrate my last night in town with a margarita and dinner at Maria's New Mexican Kitchen. Voted 13 years in a row for "Best Margarita's in Santa Fe" by the Santa Fe Reporter with over 100 different margaritas to choose from.

Santa Fe is all about finding tranquility through exploration. Your senses fully come alive here, through the history, the art, and culture, interwoven with a stunning landscape that seems to go on forever. I came here for a quiet sojourn, with the intention of feeding my soul and renewing my spirit. As I was packing my bags to go home, I knew I found what I came for.

Ann Nelson is a freelance writer, presently living in San Diego, California.


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