A longing to experience a sense of tranquility, rejuvenation, and festive spirituality tends to come about this time of year. Yet, that’s a tall order and one that all too often goes unanswered as the holidays grow hectic and our schedules become full. But during a recent visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico, we discovered that this is just the place to find all three.
Experience the Spiritual at Sunrise Springs Resort
For tranquility and rejuvenation, there’s probably no better place than Sunrise Springs, just 20 minutes from the heart of downtown Santa Fe. The resort has been an oasis for centuries, a spa that was repurposed and reopened in 2015 to offer spiritual and experiential activities designed to renew not just your body but your soul.
A stunning 70-acre property, the resort includes beautiful gardens, walking paths, and undeveloped land. A newly opened Aqua Pavilion offers delicious hot soaks in private outdoor pools, perfect for soaking even in wintery weather. From gourmet meals, daily activities such as yoga, meditation, and expressive art classes, to animal interaction areas, and therapeutic massages and skin care, staying in this serene spot is a joyous experience any time of year. The 20 casitas and 32 guest rooms are serene and spacious; decor is soothing, pristine, Scandinavia meets Southwest in style.
Our casita included a lovely gas fireplace, writing nook, and wet bar; a beautiful private courtyard made a great spot for stargazing. Thoughtful touches such as a book of meditation exercises and organic teas abound. We began our stay with the Earth Keepers’ Hot Stone Massage, a blissful and very therapeutic 80-minute experience. Stones are warm, oiled, and meticulously applied to soothe muscles and relieve tension, placed on chakra points. Guests can also seek integrative medicine, Reiki, skin care, nutrition, and sleep consultation, and a wide range of Ayurvedic therapies. At the resort’s Blue Heron restaurant, elegant lunches and dinner are served in a restored, historic building that overlooks a beautiful, natural spring-fed pond. Dinner includes choices of starters, entrees, and desserts, featuring courses such as pan-seared diver scallops, a red kale Caesar salad, a poblano relleno made with quinoa, sautéed autumn vegetables, and mild red chile sauce, and grilled salmon with vegetable galette and lemon butter. Don’t miss lunch dishes such as the incredibly fresh Ojo Farm mixed green salad with dried apricots, candied walnuts and blue cheese vinaigrette, the roasted vegetable tamale, or the vegetable fajitas. Desserts such as the rich flour-less chocolate decadence with creme anglaise are worth every calorie. The menu changes seasonally, but each dish is foodie-perfect.
Puppies & Chickens
To burn off some of those calories, join the exuberant puppies in the All About Assistance Dogs program. These sweet pups are assistance dogs in training, selected for temperament to be of service. The nationally renowned Assistance Dogs of the West runs the program, working with dogs trained to care for individuals with a disability such as diabetes or PTSD. Supervised playful visits help train the dogs and guests are rewarded with fun. So is interacting with the resort’s Silkie chickens. Inside a large chicken coop, guests can hold these soft fluffy chickens which actually purr when contented. You can feed them, learn their habits, and collect eggs. These sweet birds make calming companions.
Exploring the Medicine Wheel and Take-Home Resources
One morning began with a lovely, peaceful dance-oriented yoga class, another with a restful meditation; both were followed by breakfast served in the sunny Sages building, which also houses the yoga studio, gallery, and puppy studio. After breakfast, we attended a program that is at the heart of everything the resort offers. “Finding Your Place on the Medicine Wheel” is both a discussion group and a transcendent experience. Located physically and spiritually in the very center of the resort, the wheel is divided into east, west, north, and south quadrants which represent different times, spiritual interests, and stages in each guest’s life. The rings of the wheel correspond to the activities guests would like to invite into their lives, the traits, and the understandings. The program was a wonderfully insightful 90 minutes, movingly led, and one which can be repeated daily.
Resort marketing manager Wendi Gelfound says the property was a former retreat center for 25 years. The owners of Ojo Caliente Mineral Resort took over Sunrise Springs in 2013, and spent years carefully crafting it into a space which is “visually appealing, with a conscious effort to bring the outdoors indoors, and create a beautiful, holistic space.” According to Gelfound, the beds and lamps in the rooms are designed and created by a Taos-based artist, while shampoos, soaps, and oils in the rooms and spa use locally harvested herbs and plants. A new spa apothecary line just launched, featuring massage oils and other products for guests to take home. “The idea here is to hit the pause button. A Japanese study recently noted that five minutes in nature can calm you down,” Gelfound relates. “We are passionate about expanding on that, and on showing people things here that they can incorporate into their lives at home.” Along with using insightful spiritual tools learned at the medicine wheel, the resort offers programs from gardening to cooking, providing guests with seeds to take home, cooking techniques that support well-being, drawing skills, and the ability to make soaps and tea. “We’ve moved from a clinical health approach to one of inclusive spiritual health,” she explains. “All our experience leaders are licensed counselors, and have helped us design our program and our physical area.” Along with overnight, weekend, and longer stays, the resort offers a day program that includes spa services as well.
Santa Fe Celebrations and Shopping
Sunrise Springs makes a wonderfully zen spot to welcome in the New Year, but Santa Fe itself offers a variety of stellar holiday experiences. At the charming, historic Inn of the Governors just a few blocks from the plaza, you’ll find spacious, vibrant, Southwest-style rooms with porches and kiva-style wood burning fireplaces. The hotel makes a great headquarters from which to explore the wealth of shops and galleries that makes Santa Fe not only an exciting, world-class art destination, but the perfect spot for finding holiday gifts or a new look for the New Year. Check out the Native American jewelry, art, and collectibles at the Shiprock Gallery, or the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s books, cards, and crafts. The galleries and quaint shops lining Canyon Road, a comfortable walk from the hotel, will keep you busy all day. Cutting-edge New York–style galleries are also easily accessible in the Railroad District.
A short drive will take you to the immersive, exciting installation known as Meow Wolf in suburban Santa Fe. Here, a former bowling alley has been repurposed as an arts installation that is to art what Disneyland is to amusement parks. Sculptures, art works, and interactive mazes will keep you busy for an afternoon, or a day.
To wind down, enjoy the Inn of the Governors’ Del Charro saloon, highly regarded for their margaritas, or indulge in the complimentary afternoon sherry, tea, or brandy served with biscochitos, New Mexico’s classic cinnamon and anise flavored cookie. Dine out at the hip, airy Eloisa, chef John Sedlar’s homage to his grandmother’s cooking, and a dining experience that merges creative style with traditional New Mexican recipes.
On Christmas Eve, you’ll find literally thousands of farolitos—weighted paper bags illuminated by tea-light candles along the walk ways on Canyon Road. This long-standing Santa Fe tradition commences at dusk, inviting residents and visitors alike to stroll the road and enjoy carols, warm cider, hot chocolate, fragrant pinon bonfires, and holiday decorations.
At Meow Wolf December 29th and 30th, recording artist Angel Olson will perform her edgy, layered, multi-voice music in concert.
On New Year’s Eve, Santa Fe Plaza comes alive from 9:30 pm to 12:15 am with a festive and family-friendly celebration to welcome the New Year. This inaugural bash includes bonfires lining the plaza, hot chocolate, food trucks, and live music at this free event.
Meanwhile, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, featuring the soaring “Ode to Joy,” will be performed to ring in the New Year.
But however you choose to celebrate, in peaceful meditation or at a party in the plaza, Santa Fe is the perfect place to welcome 2017.
Santa Fe Locales
Sunrise Springs – 242 Los Pinos Road Santa Fe, NM 87507 Phone: (877) 977-8212 www.sunrisesprings.com
Inn of the Governors – 101 West Alameda Street Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: (800) 234-4534 www.innofthegovernors.com
Meow Wolf – 1352 Rufina Circle Santa Fe, NM 87507 Phone: (505) 395-6369 www.meowwolf.com
Shiprock Gallery – 53 Old Santa Fe Trail Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: (505) 982-8478 www.shiprocksantafe.com
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – 217 Johnson Street Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: (505) 946-1000 www.okeeffemuseum.org
Lensic Performing Arts Center – 211 W. San Francisco Street Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: (505) 988-7050 www.lensic.org
Eloisa – 228 E Palace Avenue Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: (505) 982-0883 www.eloisasantafe.com
This article is a part of the 2016 Holiday - Radical Generosity issue of Whole Life Times.