Relaxation at 7,000 Feet Above Sea Level

10kwavesstepsAt 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe New Mexico is already a heady experience, but if you want to take it a bit higher, climb another few hundred feet to visit 10,000 Waves. Primarily a day spa in the traditional Japanese style, this luxury spa on Hyde Park Road North of Santa Fe has expanded in recent years to include lodging as well.

From its humble beginnings in 1981 when it had only 8 outdoor hot tubs and 1 massage room, 10,000 Waves has really refined the spa experience. Using the Japanese model, they have made it all about fun and relaxation. The Asian themed architecture is not a Disney façade, but rather an integral part of the experience. From the long flights of steps with paper lanterns to the intricate wood cabinetry, this is the real thing.

There are now communal baths, ofurobathprivate baths, and the new nine foot Japanese soaking bath with wet/dry sauna and a heated cooling berth. The last one is what we tried on our most recent visit. When you first arrive you are given a kimono and you can browse in the gift shop while the Ofuro room is prepared. I was fascinated with the Japanese snack foods for sale while my wife checked out all the soaps and salts. And true to form, I bought the tee shirt.

A staff person takes you down to the Ofuro room and gives you the quick tour. There is a changing area, a private toilet and a shower with rain head and detachable hose head on all to one side of the space. Once you go through the door to the adjacent space you are shown the huge jetted bath, the sauna room and the cooling berth. There are light dimmers and clear instructions for how to operate the bath jets. There are also several intercoms should there be an emergency. The end of the space is artfully screened to reveal the woods and mountainsbeyond, while maintaining all the privacy you could want. The soaking bath has a bench at one end and will accommodate 10 people (who really know each other very well). The temperature is kept at a constant 108 10kwavesdegrees and each cycle lasts 15 minutes. You have an hour and a half in the room, so we found it useful to keep track of time by hitting the jets switch after each cycle. I tried the sauna for variety and it was equipped with a ladle and water source to add some steam to the mix.My wife tried the cooling berth and found it quite nice. A heated mattress keeps your body warm while a window open to the woods allows the cool evening air to circulate in the small berth.

Fifteen minutes before your time is up, a gentle voice on the intercom urges you to enjoy your remaining time. That’s when you realize it would be nice to end every week this way. And -- that's a lot of steps back to the parking lot!!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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