New Mexico

Destination / November 01, 2016

Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos are on top of wellness

by Jeff Heilman

  • /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/1116/Alburquerque1.jpg

    Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe

  • Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Albuquerque

    Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Albuquerque


    Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Albuquerque

    Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Albuquerque
  • Mountain Climbing, TAOS

    Mountain Climbing, TAOS


    Mountain Climbing, TAOS

    Mountain Climbing, TAOS

Created in the 17th century, the Acequia Madre, or “mother ditch,” vitally sustained Santa Fe’s Canyon Road neighborhood, then a humble farming community, with water from the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Still running parallel to now iconic Canyon Road, the acequia is one example of the region’s historic association with health and wellness.

Another is the perennially dry, clean air, which when found to be a life-saving tonic for respiratory illnesses, was directly responsible for attracting the early 20th century painters who transformed Santa Fe into a global art destination. These and other area stimulants, ranging from spas to stargazing, make the laid-back New Mexico trio of Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos ready uplifts for the mind, body and soul.


Home of the globally preeminent International Balloon Fiesta, which celebrated its 45th edition last month, Duke City helps groups rise to the occasion with a diverse set of elevating experiences.

“With inherent features such as natural hot springs, scenic beauty and wide-open spaces, Albuquerque and New Mexico offer groups much in terms of health and wellness offerings,” said Tania Armenta, president & CEO of Visit Albuquerque. “Whether enjoying a relaxing afternoon soaking in a mineral hot spring, partaking in a spa treatment that uses local and indigenous ingredients, or reawakening the body through active pursuits like hiking or biking, Albuquerque is a sanctuary where visitors can truly embrace their natural surroundings and leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and even transformed.”

One such escape is the Tamaya Mist Spa & Salon at the 350-room Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. Located on the Santa Ana Pueblo 25 minutes north of Albuquerque International Airport, this luxurious property offers groups 27,000 square feet of high-tech space. The spa, meanwhile, is for appointments with Native American-inspired treatments such as “Ancient Drumming” and “Spirit Path,” which incorporate local spices, oils and mud.

In Albuquerque’s North Valley, the landmark 1930s Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, designed by the “Father of Santa Fe Style,” John Gaw Meem, is a bucolic escape for meetings and events. Still a working farm, the property is presently undergoing renovation, including increasing capacity from 22 rooms to 50 guest suites and relocating its James Beard-nominated La Merienda restaurant to newly renovated barn space, new bar and bakery included.

Set on 130 acres in the Cibola National Forest about an hour south of Albuquerque, Manzano Mountain Retreat hosts corporate meetings, teambuilding, reunions and other gatherings for around 150 people. Backed by the majestic Manzano Mountains (Spanish for apple, after the orchards planted here by early conquistadors), the retreat’s facilities include private cabins and meeting rooms.

Backing Albuquerque, meanwhile, are the magnificent Sandia Mountains, with the famed Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway transporting groups above deep canyons and breathtaking terrain. With a full-service base facility, recreational options include hiking and mountain biking.

Santa Fe

Embracing the state’s unofficial “Land of Manana” moniker (or “Carpe Manana,” the adaptation coined and copyrighted in the mid-90s by George Adelo, Jr. from nearby Pecos) with open arms, the “City Different” is a singular departure for groups.

“People have been traveling to Santa Fe for many centuries to enjoy its rare beauty and climate, but also to refresh and renew themselves in a wide variety of health and wellness traditions created by the native inhabitants long ago,” said Randy Randall, executive director for TOURISM Santa Fe. “Santa Fe provides groups with rich opportunities to gather in truly inspiring locations, experience a unique spectrum of treatments—many native inspired and locally sourced—and enjoy outdoor pursuits in some of the most dramatically beautiful country imaginable,” Randall continued. “These features put a genuine, relaxed smile on meeting attendees and their family members.”

With the LEED Gold-certified Santa Fe Community Convention Center providing 40,000 square feet of versatile high-tech space, diverse sanctuaries around the city welcome delegates looking to unplug, unwind and reboot.

Combining the essential principles of yoga and hiking, Yogihiker offers guided programs in the Santa Fe National Forest and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, plus the 3 Elements Day Tour, combining a hike on sacred pueblo lands, yoga in a yurt and meditation in a hand-carved “art” cave.

Rooted in Japanese mountain hot springs tradition, Ten Thousand Waves is a cherished “elder” of the Santa Fe wellness scene, featuring a spa with outdoor hot tubs, upscale Izanami restaurant and 13-room Houses of the Moon lodging.  

New Mexico State Parks ranger and award-winning astro-photographer Peter Lipscomb, owner of Astronomy Adventures, entertains corporate groups with educational guided night sky tours, while Santa Fe Walkabouts offers customized hiking, scenic, off-road, winter and other private guided excursions.

Surrounded by mountain views from its spot on historic Museum Hill, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden offers facility buyouts or individual garden spaces for events. Under 30 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, the magical Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, featuring 7 million-year-old volcanic formations, is an awe-inspiring choice for self-guided hiking, photography, birdwatching and more.


About an hour north of Santa Fe, this fabled mountain escape is a world unto itself, with ancient tradition, creative inspiration and rejuvenation infusing the very (clean) air.

“Quite simply, Taos is totally unique,” said Ana Karina Armijo, director of marketing and tourism for the Town of Taos. “Even though it’s off-the-beaten-path, people have been making their way here for a very long time for relaxation, inspiration and renewal.”

With its own legacy as an art colony, Taos offers a hotbed of new ideas, perspective and possibilities for groups. Tours of the UNESCO-listed Taos Pueblo, continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years, offer a singular showcase of the “old school” approach to sustainability, collaboration and group dynamics. Started in 1994 as a pioneering eco-initiative in “radical sustainability,” The Greater World Community features 80-plus “Earthships.” Fashioned almost entirely from recycled materials, these remarkable off-the-grid homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels, can be rented for overnight stays. Tours and hands-on learning programs are also available.

Albuquerque may get all the attention for its annual International Balloon Fiesta, but as Armijo noted, “it’s not uncommon to see these silent beauties floating peacefully above the mountains in Taos, with guided balloon excursions offering an exceptional experience for groups.” Other liberating activities include high-altitude skiing, plein air painting, fly-fishing, guided mountain climbing and horseback riding.

Spa culture is also hot in Taos. At the 84-room El Monte Sagrado (“Holy Mountain”), which offers 7,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, the award-winning Living Spa offers comprehensive spa, wellness and fitness treatments, including remedies based on ancient rituals and oxygen therapy and featuring locally sourced organic ingredients. Groups can also take yoga and stretch classes in the Sacred Circle, a tree-circled outdoor area inspired by local Taos tribes.

Opened in 1868, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, 40 miles to the west, is one of the nation’s oldest natural health resorts, featuring mineral-rich pools frequented for thousands of years by ancient people. Flexible meeting spaces include the 1924-built Adobe Round Barn, Artesian Restaurant and historic Santa Cruz de Ojo Caliente Chapel. Ojo Caliente, which is currently remodeling its Main Bathhouse, has a new sister property in Santa Fe, Sunrise Springs Integrative Wellness Resort. 

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