Native Americans have been soaking in the natural springs that are now Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa for over a thousand years. It’s possible that people have been luxuriating in hot springs from the moment they were discovered countless thousands of years ago. In a time when you had to heat hot water over a fire, finding it coming out of the ground must have been astounding and perhaps a little frightening.
When the Spaniards arrived in the area looking for gold, they were sadly disappointed. There was none (or none that the Pueblo people knew of). One explorer noted, “The greatest treasure that I found these strange people to possess, are hot springs which burst out at the foot of a mountain.” He named them Ojo Caliente, which translates as hot eye.
In 1869, Taos native, Antonio Joseph, arrived in the town of Ojo Caliente and opened Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. It was the first natural health spa in the country. He also built a sanitarium, which gained a national reputation as a place for healing. Three of the resort’s restored buildings are on the National Registry of Historic Places: the Co-ed Bathhouse built in the 1860s, the mission-style Historic Hotel, built in 1916 and the Adobe Round Barn erected in 1924.
The term spa is said to be the acronym for the Latin phrase, sanitas per aquam, (health through water). Today, the word “spa” is used more loosely, but Ojo is a true spa. There are four different mineral waters coming out of the ground; lithia, iron, soda and arsenic. Water from the iron and arsenic springs is blended in various pools throughout the property. The green, state-of-the-art filtration system purifies all the water used here. Soaking pools are emptied and cleaned three times a week.
The Lithia Spring is located at the heart of the springs. The historic pump has dispensed this unique water since the nineteenth century.Currently, due to age, it’s not working. The resort is currently evaluating whether to fix or put a soaking pool in it’s place. Lithia is believed to relieve depression and aid digestion.
The Iron Spring is considered to be beneficial to the blood and immune system. The ancient people who lived here believed that the giant rock in the pool guarded the sacred place that provided food and water in times of famine.
The Soda Spring (the only pool that is enclosed) is said to relieve digestive problems.
The Arsenic Spring is believed to be beneficial for relief from arthritis, stomach ulcers and healing for a variety of skin conditions.
Today, Ojo has been restored and renovated. There are 48 guest accommodations, including the suites added between 2007 and 2009. These suites are sited around a central plaza similar to those found in the traditional Pueblos in the area. The Plaza Suites, on the west side of the square, were built on the footprint of the South Cottages (dating to 1930). The Pueblo and Cliffside Suites, all with fireplaces, enclose the south and west sides of the plaza. The Cliffside accommodations also offer private soaking tubs on their back patios. The Kiva Pool is in the center of the landscaped Plaza. The round pool, built as the Pueblo people built their ceremonial chambers, called kivas, is for suite guests only.
The Spa offers a range of treatments in therapy rooms added in 2009. The Main Bathhouse offers individual soaking tubs for guests who want a more private experience or prefer to bathe au natural. Indulge yourself with a Private Ritual Herbal Soak followed by the spa’s signature Milagro Wrap. The private soaking pools with kiva fireplaces are sublime for anyone and a perfect for a romantic getaway.
The waters at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa have been relaxing and rejuvenating people for millennia. Discover their magic.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa: Then and now is second post in our series on Santa Fe Treasures. Read the first one on architect John Gaw Meem.
We had a hosted stay at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa. Their generous hospitality did not influence this post in any way,