New Mexico is a gorgeous state, with impossibly beautiful light, vistas encompassing mountains, green valleys and desert hideaways. No wonder artist Georgia O'Keefe claimed this vast, unspoiled sun-drenched landscape as her inspirational muse.
New Mexico also has some of the country's most interesting spas, from the sacred geo-thermal mineral springs in Ojo Caliente, used for thousands of years, to the luxurious new Spa at Encantado in Santa Fe.
Bishop's Lodge and ShaNah Spa
Santa Fe itself is a vacationer's paradise with a variety of quaint, luxurious and holistic options for spa aficionados. Outside of town, Bishop's Lodge is historic ranch resort (with horses!) that's a charming throwback to days when families allowed their children to run gleefully and safely free, discovering creeks, white-tail rabbits and hiding places aplenty on its 450 acres.
ShaNah Spa (Navajo for vitality and energy) honors its Native American ancestors with indigenous-based treatments, traditions like smudging (to disperse negative energy) and use of regional herbs and plants. This small but well-maintained spa features a menu of 27 revitalizing treatments.
The Purification Polish is a powerful Native American-based treatment using ground blue corn, mineral salts and soothing aloe vera gel as a nourishing body scrub. After rinsing off, the treatment is finished with a light hydrating massage.
Modern Luxury at The Spa at Encantado
The Spa at Encantado just opened in 2008 and takes its inspiration from the rich community of spiritual healers, artists and body workers in Santa Fe. This 10,000 square-foot spa has 16 treatments rooms that radiate from the warm, spacious central reception area.
Treatments all begin with a toasty Chili Pepper Foot Warmer Ritual, a ritual incorporating tea tree oil, honey and chile peppers, to soothe and promote circulation. All herbs used in the hand-crafted treatments are sourced from the nearby Resting in the River biodynamic farm in nearby Abiqui.
My treatment was custom-designed to address a nagging back and shoulder issue and was so restorative I can barely recall the details. Altitude adjustment is a serious consideration here, so it offers a series of treatments designed to assist equilibrium, dehydration, and oxygen depletion.
Eldorado Hotel and Nidah Spa
Right on Santa Fe's historic Plaza, Eldorado Hotel offers an ideal location for those who want to museum-and-gallery-hop. It has 219 lavishly appointed rooms or suites, with Kiva-shaped fireplaces, balconies, plush robes and turn-down service.
The opulent gold and copper entry to its Nidah Spa is nod to the legendary town of Eldorado, the fabled City of Gold. Signature treatments include the Nidah Spun Gold Massage, a body-centric, personalized treatment that addresses tension, stress and restores vitality. Native-inspiredreatments include the precious Turquoise Gem Stone Massage and a "Venom" facial, based on Native wisdom that incorporates essential oil.
The Inn and Spa at Loretto is also conveniently located on The Plaza. It features Intuitive Lifestyle treatments that interweave ancient remedies, local herbs and natural oils implemented by Native spiritual healers to promote self-healing, tranquility and inner balance.
My Cranial-Sacral treatment addressed personal chronic nerve pain issues with care and consideration by a diligent therapist who obviously was well-trained. And after this treatment the dedicated therapist demonstrated healing, stretching exercises that I practice diligently to this day.
Another, off-the-beaten-track spa is housed next to its quaint, Victorian B&B, Absolute Nirvana at the Madeline Inn. My Javenese Lulur deluxe treatment, created for royalty (and supposed to last for 40 days!) was a delightful combination of intensive, essential-oiled massage, a lovely bath strewn with rose petals and a delightful treat of hand-made, vegan truffle, kiwi slices, decadently placed on the tub's rim. This is a one-of-a-kind, very relaxed spa without the bells and whistles of nearby luxury resorts.
Traveling north of Santa Fe you may blink and miss the town of Truth or Consequences. Don't blink. Two outstanding properties take advantage of the healing geo-thermal waters that bubble beneath the earth's surface.
Blackstone Hotsprings may be a tad rustic for some. But the real draw here is the tub in each room. Fill your bath with these healing waters and tension simply melts away. There are no spa treatmentshere.
Nearby, The Sierra Grande Lodge offers a hot mineral bath as a prelude to your treatment. Floating in the hot tub, my muscles relaxed but I had to escape the heat after a 30 minutes. What came next was one of the most intensive, stress-destroying experiences I've ever had, thanks to Toni. This amazing woman spent an unprecedented amount of time ensuring my body and spirit were at peace, two hours after she was supposed to leave. Her years of physical therapy experience and Eastern/Western massage training helped my body heal itself.
About an hour from Santa Fe and Taos, Ojo Caliente has some powerful "mojo" going for it. Its geo-thermal hot springs have been a gathering place for thousands of years. And it’s easy to succumb to the healing spirits that roam the property still.
In Albuquerque, I stopped at Isleta Casino & Resort, a huge luxury complex built for a Vegas-loving crowd, with gambling, movies and even a bowling alley. At an Albuquerque day spa, La Bella I had a terrific massage by Hans, but the product line (Phytomer) contained marine products to which I am extremely allergic. So, it's a cautionary tale: if you have allergies, speak up, because the therapist may not ask!
Still, the trip to New Mexico spas was magical and I returned home a changed person -- in a good way!
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary airfare, accommodations, meals and treatments for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this article, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.