Road stop 5: (continue from part four…)
. The expectations and bar were set high, having heard about this place for years from various sources. The spa is tucked away in the piñons and juniper trees on the mountain road to Santa Fe Ski Resort. Its “Japanese-adobe” aesthetic has just 13 lodging rooms, and stays consistently booked throughout the high season (May through October).
With no vacancies, I stopped off for a half-day visit before heading home. Built in 1981, it was undergoing a remodel during my visit and some of the areas were off-limits. I was told I could use the co-ed pool near a construction area, but that I needed to keep my swim bottoms on. Glancing over at a half-dozen guys in hardhats, I opted instead to head to the more secluded women’s hot tub.
Philip, an older hippy-looking guy sporting a long ponytail, was my masseur for the “Nose to Toes” treatment. He’d been with the resort 20 years and began my treatment by saying, “Get ready to go on a journey.” The voyage involved exfoliation (as if by now there were a single dead skin cell left from previous spa treatments), massage with Thai stretches, and finally an extended “” head, neck and shoulder treatment and a Japanese foot massage and scrub using rice bran, green tea and adzuki bean powder. Something to nourish my foot that would be pressing the gas pedal on the six-hour drive back to Colorado afterwards.
The spa’s restaurant, , bills itself as an “izakaya serving upscale Japanese bar food.” Translation: small plates meant to be shared, featuring locally sourced seasonal meat and produce. It is not a sushi bar, as hauling fish from the ocean there would go against the locally-sourced theme. My table on the patio offered a wonderful view of the mountains. The beet salad was sheer perfection and paired well with my fresh ginger rosemary spritzer.
The pit stop in the restaurant bathroom was noteworthy in that it featured a high-tech Japanese toilet which offered a toilet-paper-free treatment for the toosh, complete with front and back water spray options and a dryer. A Japanese version of a bidet combined with a toilet, I suppose. Be warned: Be ready to hit the dryer button a second time to turn it off, so as not to burn your nether-regions.
Cost: Rooms start at $215 in the low season.
I bid farewell to my new favorite nextdoor neighbor, New Mexico, feeling recharged and ready to reunite with my son. It would be a few more days until he returned from kid-cation with family in Texas.
He emerged from the jet bridge, looking a few inches taller and more mature; we hugged one another as if he’d been gone two years, not two weeks.
It was hours past his bedtime when we got home, but not too late for him to go room to room, in search of scavenger hunt clues I’d made, each paired with a souvenir from my trip—some jigsaw puzzles, a wooden scorpion, and best of all, my renewed sense of self.
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