Adventures in Spa

Set among the Sangre de Cristo foothills, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe is the company’s first and only resort in New Mexico. Previously operated as an Auberge Resort, the newly branded property has undergone a number of updates, including the debut of its new Adventure Center earlier this year, to improve the overall guest experience. Managed by Adventure Partners, the center allows guests to arrange customized excursions that take advantage of New Mexico’s unique setting and cultural treasures. The extraordinary natural landscape also figures prominently in The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado and is inherent in its design and treatments.

According to spa director Emily Richey, it’s the spa’s sense of place that makes it such a tempting retreat. “The most unique part about our spa is the outdoor setting,” says Richey. “As soon as clients walk into our spa lobby, they face an outdoor rock garden full of beautiful lavender plants and other greenery to begin the spa experience.” In keeping with the alfresco theme, guests must walk outside to reach the spa’s 15 treatment rooms. The steam room and Jacuzzi are also located outside to help maximize space and encourage guests to enjoy the natural surroundings. “The spa is set up outdoors and really gives our guests another way to embrace our beautiful environment in the foothills,” says Richey.

New Mexico’s setting also came into play when creating the treatment menu. Fresh and local ingredients, such as Adobe clay, blue corn, and honey, proved to be ideal for healing skin exposed to Santa Fe’s high desert altitude. Guests can take advantage of the Mountain Spirit Purification ($300, 1 hour 50 minutes), a ritual that involves a smudging of sage, an Adobe clay body mask, a scalp and foot massage, and a juniper-sage hot stone massage; the Blue Corn and Honey Renewal ($245, 80 minutes), a local remedy that treats desert-parched skin; and the Altitude Adjustment Massage ($150, 50 minutes), a treatment that relieves headaches and other altitude-related symptoms.

“As the menu was already in place when the property transitioned to a Four Seasons Resort, my main goal was to keep the same services the spa always offered but to simplify them,” says Richey. “There were a lot of treatments that were being offered that could be made into one treatment, making it easier for guests to choose what they were interested in. It also made it simple for the spa coordinators to help guide guests in choosing the treatments that best fit their needs.” For example, there were originally six Ayurvedic rituals offered. Richey, however, was able to streamline the menu by eliminating treatments that were already packaged with others. 

Because most guests visit the spa with the intention of relaxing, massages are, by far, the most popular treatments. According to Richey, couples’ treatments are also common on account of the two beautiful couple’s suites, which feature private Jacuzzis and saunas. The Art of Surrender ($700, 2 hours 30 minutes), an open-air soak and a Spa Head-to-Toe Massage, and the Mountain Spirit Initiation ($800, 3 hours), which is the same as the Mountain Spirit Purification but for two, are especially coveted by couples thanks to the additional private time included to use the suites’ amenities.

Because many of the spa’s facilities are located outdoors, Mother Nature can present some challenges. For instance, to get to the treatment rooms clients must walk outside, which can require some preparation when it snows. Another challenge is the size of the spa, due to the time it takes therapists to travel to where they need to be. With only a 10-minute gap between treatments, if therapists are booked back to back and their clients relax a little longer in their treatment rooms, then they really have to hustle to turn them around for the next clients.

Fortunately, Richey and her staff aren’t letting these challenges keep them from exceeding expectations. In fact, Richey is busy strategizing ways to improve the spa. “I would like to add seating outside in our garden area so that we can offer a dining menu here in the spa,” she says. “I also want to continue promoting our specials menu. The current special is our Four Seasons Around the World treatment menu, which offers signature treatments from Four Seasons Resorts around the world.” Luckily, spa-goers don’t have to travel around the globe to experience first-class southwestern soothing.

OWNER: Canyon Equity

SPA DIRECTOR: Emily Richey 

OPENED: 2008


70% female

30% male


10,000 square feet; 15 treatment rooms


B. Kamins, Banyan Botanicals, Colorescience, Dr. Hauschka, EmerginC, HydroPeptide, Ila, LaNatura, SpaRitual


Living Earth Crafts, Monarch Cypress, Precor, SpaSoft, Yeah Baby 


Dana Aiken, Aiken Architects (Tustin, CA)


Wilson Associates (Dallas)