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Spa Travel - Ten Thousand Waves

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe NM

Mission: Finally see Roberta Jordan's true vision for her Asheville mountain spa, Shoji Retreats. Inquire about spa operations, such as: how do they keep their therapists so happy and drama free, compensation data and work perks. Get a great massage, eat lunch and relax.....

The Dogs and I rented a lavish one bedroom adobe on canyon road, across the street from a small park. It was one of the nicest homes I had ever rented. Amenities such as a claw foot tub, gas fireplaces in both the living and bedroom, an espresso machine, and king size bed with cozy bedding. Lisa's place is on airbnb listed under "Canyon Rd Amor-Adobe", Santa Fe.

The rental was a short 7 minute drive from the famous "Ten Thousand Waves". The main reason I came to Santa Fe was to see this spa. In 2005 I moved to Asheville NC, when "Shoji Retreats" opened, a similar themed Japanese spa in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was such a special time to be a part of the picture then because the spa was not yet built upstairs. I worked with Shoji over two years managing the spa and developing the menu. From a paint brush, to clients in my hands, I did what was possible to help this business grow and learned a lot in the process. Last December I was asked to come back for a small consult job, to hire and train a new Lead Massage Therapist. I realized on my return, that it was time to see the spa in New Mexico that planted such a great seed in Roberta's heart.

"Ten Thousand Waves" Key Points:

  • Began in 1981 ( I heard that it started with only a tub or 2 and some wondering pigs)

  • 148 employees, 130 massage therapists, and 15 estheticians, 19 massage rooms (therapists are private contractors)

  • 15 lodging accommodations (Dog friendly available!!!)

  • Full-service restaurant

  • They take pride in their great massages, authenticity, and dedication to constant, mindful improvement

  • In 2015, voted one of the top three Best Destination Spas in the World by Condé Nast

  • Open 365 days, 7 days a week, including holidays

  • 2 public tub areas, one for co-ed bathing and the other for woman only

  • Cold plunge pools and saunas at each public tub area

  • Private tubs available by reservation

  • Silent mediation room with earphones and lounge chairs (love this idea)

  • State-of-the-art purification system for all baths, utilizing ultraviolet light, hydrogen peroxide, and ozone. Chlorine is not used in any bath. The entire water content of each tub passes through the sanitation system every twenty minutes

  • The source of the highly mineralized water used in the baths is a 900-foot deep well This is not a geo-thermal hot spring

  • An incredible saki selection

After 37 years of refinement, you will not find many flaws on this land. They have their own wood-work shop and do not want plastics involved in the business. With several carefully planned, winding stairs ahead of me to get to the spa, I decided to take it all in breath by breath. Snow still hid around the feet of the tall juniper trees. The smells were crisp and sweet. Upon entering the gardens, lavish water features and wooden Japanese architecture instantly lure you into a warm smile. Ember greeted me at the front desk and she was very informative, even walked me to the woman's locker room and made sure I didn't have any questions unanswered.

The business is modeled after the great hot spring onsen's of Japan. Families and individuals come to soak in serenity and relax under natures canopy. After all of the hours I had logged on the road on the long drive from Asheville NC, I was ready to soak my tight muscles. I decided on the public woman's tub, not for the modest, clothing optional. Once I stripped off my robe I could care less if I was naked, after all when will I ever see these people again?

The Japanese bathing ritual is to scrub down with soap and water in the shower before getting into the warm tubs. You are given a kimono cotton robe, sized sandals and a locker. I gooped up my hair with conditioner, threw it up in a scrunchy and hit the ladies tub. Normally I prefer soaking in a private tub but wanted to have this experience. There were two Asian woman from San Fransisco and another on a long road trip from Indiana. After 20 minutes of soaking and chatting, they called my name over the intercom. I had ten minutes until my scheduled Shiatsu Massage Therapy.

Bridgette, was very professional. She guided us to our warm and inviting private treatment hut, designed with simple yet sleek Asian flair. A France native, she has worked with the company for several decades as a LMT and even studied with a Sensei in Japan, which was a subsidized incentive even though she is a private contractor and makes her own schedule. This information instantly gained my admiration. Most spas treat private contractors as just that, with zero incentives. In the long run they both benefit from such projects, the end result is in the guests unforgettable experience, thus resulting in high client retention rates and a thriving business. The service truly shocked me. I have been to Asia plenty and even studied in India and Thailand but had never received such a thorough shiatsu with consistent pressure and unique techniques. I would highly recommend a treatment with her! After 80 minutes of releasing my energy pathways through stretching, hand and finger pressure through my loose fitting yoga clothes (they also provide loose clothing for this treatment if needed) I walked my spacey head and body to the sauna for a sweat. Again this is the ladies section and clothing is optional.

I finally showered, changed into my street clothes and headed to the restaurant for some fuel for the drive home. Margaux was my waitress. She was very informative about the saki menu and gave me a beautiful Japanese traditional over-pour of saki. The over-pour flows into a saucer and for luck you are to take your first sip without hands. I am always out for some fresh luck!!! She mentioned that she won an all paid trip to Japan for her employee performance! It was life changing for her and without a doubt it showed in her hospitality.

In conclusion, yes, yes , yes plan a visit to Santa Fe and visit and stay at "Ten Thousand waves"!! While in town stop at "Wear your Grace" for unique local jewelry and "Cashmere and Chocolate" for a box of the best handmade truffles!! Have an award winning margarita at "The Shed" the chef, Jose, will even babysit your dog while you go to the bar! Also visit the Rosewood Inn, sit at the bar with David and order the lamb stew with fresh corn tortillas.

I love Santa Fe!

Next Stop: Toas, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa

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