There are certain cities in the world that wrap you up and take you to another place in time. Of course, cities like Paris, Venice, and Rome come to mind, but within the United States, one of the most unique and diverse cities that you’ll encounter is Santa Fe. From the high desert setting and unbelievable sunsets to the fiery food and talented artisans, Santa Fe offers so much for the cultural traveler.
I’ve had the privilege to visit Santa Fe on numerous occasions. My husband is a native New Mexican, and most of his family still resides there. Each time we visit, we’ve had the opportunity to check out one of Santa Fe’s spas and with each visit, I learn a little bit more about the culture and the history of the area.
This last visit, we visited the Inn & Spa at Loretto. The property was built in 1975 and is located next to the historic Loretto Chapel and just a block off the infamous plaza. The chapel, now a private museum, rests at the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Unlike many of the other Catholic chapels in town, the Loretto Chapel was designed in a Gothic-Revival style, featuring elaborate walkways, the “miraculous” staircase, as well as ornate stained glass brought in from Paris. (Keep in mind, the chapel was finished in 1878 can you imagine the trek the glass had to make to get there?)
On the plaza, you’ll find artisans of every variety selling their wares year-round, while the scent of green chile and pinon wafts from nearly every corner. The Inn at Loretto while only 35-years-old, looks however, like it has been in its current location for centuries. The adobe structure honors its Native American and Spanish heritage both in style and d©cor. The 129 rooms and 55 suites each prominently display local artwork and pottery against a colorful backdrop of terracotta red, gold, black and white the predominant hues found in Anasazi pottery. Many of the rooms offer balconies that overlook the Loretto Chapel and the Sangre de Cristo mountains, although a few overlook other rooftops, so be sure to request a specific view if you’d like one.
Unlike the current “more is better” approach to many spas where spas exceed 50,000-square-feet and feature dozens of treatment rooms, the Spa at Loretto believes in cocooning clients in spaces that allow for multiple uses. The spa has 6 treatment rooms, most of which are equipped for everything from facials and massage to hydrotherapy in one of their beautiful claw-foot soaking tubs. Treatments rely heavily on the healing culture inherent in Santa Fe with Native American inspired therapies like Sage Massage and Sacred Stone Massage, but the spa also offers Global Rituals with inspiration from around the world. During my visit, I was limited in my choices as I was 5 ½ months pregnant, so I opted for the Mother-to-Be massage. During my 80-minute massage, my therapist worked vigorously on my tight lower back and hip muscles and also did a lot of nice massage work on my feet and lower legs. I was so totally relaxed during the treatment that I didn’t even notice the claw-foot tub in the room, until I got up to leave and realized I’d love to spend an entire afternoon in this haven a cup of tea, a warm bath, a kiva fireplace, and a massage? Sign me up. Later, I realized that while spa living is certainly not how the average Santa Fean spends her day, the pace of the Spa at Loretto truly reflected the vibe of the area. People are not racing around here. Traffic is calm. Lunches are long, siestas are frequent, and smiles are abundant. More isn’t always better. Life moves at a pace that I love and spa living embraces the entire experience in the City Different.