Be Enveloped in the Land of Enchantment
By Melissa B. Williams
New Mexico has a way of enveloping you. It wraps your body and spirit in an oversized blanket, and almost forces you to surrender to the natural healing energy found here. Every night the sky opens up to a glittering display of stars, while the arid landscape, rust-colored earth, and native plants seem to dance beneath the glowing light. Once you’ve been here you understand why so many flock to New Mexico in search of healing and health. It isn’t just that there are world-class spas here; it’s that the entire environs is nurturing from the earth to the plants to the people.
When Auberge Resorts announced their first New Mexico property, Encantado, spa-goers like myself were intrigued. Auberge Resorts are renowned for their wine country spas, their almost seductive spa therapies, and equally enticing settings. How would this translate to the arid setting of Santa Fe?
My husband and I visited last fall, shortly after the property celebrated its first anniversary. Arriving at night, we were certain we were lost. Guided only by the night sky (no city lights here, folks), we kept checking the odometer to make sure we hadn’t gone too far. Encantado, although with a Santa Fe address, is actually located about 10 minutes outside Santa Fe’s historic plaza, nestled against the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. A 57-acre former ranch turned luxury spa, Encantado features 65 casitas, each ranging in size from 630 to just under 1000 square-feet. The property was designed to feel more like a collection of private abodes, as opposed to a hotel. And while I love Santa Fe, sometimes traditional Santa Fe design is a bit too rustic for my modernist taste; this is why I instantly fell in love with Encantado’s contemporary take on Santa Fe style. There’s the rustic: beautiful wood beamed ceilings, kiva wood-burning fireplaces, and oversized hand-carved wood doors. And there’s the modern: polished cement floors (with radiant heat in the bathroom), a modern and neutral color scheme, and an enormous soaking tub. These rooms are designed to be havens where you allow yourself to unplug and be enveloped. Each suite also features a private courtyard with a thatched wood fence, an outdoor fireplace, and plenty of furniture that beckons you to lounge and take in one of New Mexico’s legendary sunsets.
Throughout the property, evidence of the incredible Santa Fe art scene can be found, including a private art and sculpture gallery. From carefully placed benches to iron sculptures and water fountains, each piece seems as if it was chosen specifically for that location. There doesn’t appear to be any “design rules,” instead an organic, yet, perfectly melded art collection provides moments for contemplation whether by the pool, in the spa, or even in the bar.
With a Santa Fe address, one should expect top-notch healers in Encantado’s spa. And you won’t be disappointed. The spa is a labyrinth of 15 rooms each named after a different, local gemstone. Each spa room is designed to accommodate a variety of therapies and needs and includes a private patio with a bathtub or outdoor shower. The rooms are connected by paths that lead a circular meditation/relaxation lounge, aptly named the Warming Room, that will make you wish you had more time to just unwind. Before your treatment back in the women’s and men’s lounge areas, you’ll spend thirty minutes in the Encantado Purification ritual, where you’ll shower and exfoliate with a native cactus fiber cloth. Afterward, you’ll soak in the private outdoor soaking pool, which will be followed by a steam in the circular eucalyptus steam room. You’ll finish with a brief rinse in the outdoor rainwater shower before wrapping yourself back into your cocoon as you await your spa therapy. Yes, this isn’t even the “spa therapy” portion of your experience.
After indulging in the water circuit, I opted for the Blue Corn and Honey Body Ritual treatment made on-site. The blue corn proved to be a nice exfoliant, not as course as sea salt but just as effective. After the scrub, you’re covered in a honey mixture and then wrapped while the honey is absorbed into your skin. Honey has natural antibacterial and humectant properties, and is a wonderful antidote to the dry New Mexico air. [LINK TO http://www.healinglifestyles.com/index.php/jul2006-spaandbeauty-seasonal] During the wrap, the masseuse gave me a head massage with juniper, another native plant of the area, which was followed by a full-body massage. Afterward, I met with April Fair one of the estheticians who helped open the spa, for my Enchanted Facial. The treatment started with a soothing foot soak in a milk, honey, and lavender mixture—all ingredients that help release tension and soften the skin. For the facial, she utilized tourmaline gemstone globes that were quite cool to the touch, to help calm my skin as well as products from Naturopathica, a skincare line renowned for their use of herbs and botanicals. It almost felt like the products could have been picked just outside my spa window, fragrant, fresh, and very effective. The spa menu includes regionally inspired therapies designed to help negate the effects of the 7,000+ foot elevation, and the dry clime that comes with such an address. The spa also offers Ayurvedic, Eastern, and Native American-inspired therapies as well as an extensive couples menu (and two amazing couples’ suites.)
After stumbling back to my room and taking another luxurious soak in my bathtub, my husband, daughter and I checked out the bar and restaurant, Terra. The bar, a swanky space with views of the valley, proved to be the place to be. It was funny, the resort felt so quiet during the day because of the private casita spaces, yet, it all seemed to come together at the bar. The wine list proved Encantado was still an Auberge property with some of the best wines from the Willamette and Napa valleys as well as New Mexico’s own sparkling Gruet. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay for dinner. The Shed, one of Santa Fe’s renowned New Mexican joints, beckoned me. (Or the green chile did.) And while my body felt cleansed inside and out, I couldn’t miss out on a plate of traditional Christmas-slathered enchiladas. I’ll save the bar for next time.