An Enchanted Escape

As the oldest capital city in North America, Santa Fe, NM, is steeped in culture. Because it's home to both the oldest public building in the U.S. and the country's oldest community celebration, the Santa Fe Fiesta, it's no wonder modern-day visitors are drawn to the historic southwestern locale. And since August of last year, there has been another reason for guests to get into the Santa Fe spirit with the opening of Encantado, an Auberge Resort, which is the first resort to open in the city in 17 years. Named after the Spanish word for "enchanted one" and located on 57 acres among the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the property includes 65 adobe-style casitas, an onsite art gallery, a signature restaurant and bar, and The Spa at Encantado, which, like Santa Fe itself, embraces Native American, Mexican, and Spanish cultural influences while incorporating contemporary concepts.

 Outdoor paths leading to the relaxation area and treatment rooms, as well an outdoor hot tub and lounge area, all contribute to the feeling of being at one with nature.
Outdoor paths leading to the relaxation area and treatment rooms, as well an outdoor hot tub and lounge area, all contribute to the feeling of being at one with nature.

Upon entering the 10,000-square-foot spa, guests immediately notice the natural woodwork, clean design, and floor-to-ceiling windows in the reception area that allow natural light to stream in. After being led to the women's or men's locker room to change, guests walk outside down a path to the Warming Room, the relaxation area located in the center of the spa's property surrounded by the 15 treatment rooms that were designed as freestanding clusters. Each treatment room has a private patio with outdoor shower or bath where guests can take in the desert air while rinsing off a body scrub or simply enjoying a relaxing soak.

All of the treatment rooms feature outdoor baths or showers, as well as glass doors that can be opened in the warmer months for a more alfresco feel.
All of the treatment rooms feature outdoor baths or showers, as well as glass doors that can be opened in the warmer months for a more alfresco feel.

For those looking for a little romance, the spa also has two couples' suites that feature private access, a fireplace, an indoor steam shower, and an outdoor sauna, a whirlpool, and a shower for two. There, guests can opt for one of the spa's Interludes, which refer to private couples' packages. For example, Prelude to a Kiss ($350 per person, 2 hours 30 minutes) involves a soak, a steam, and time in the sauna prior to the couple painting each other's faces with adobe mud and exfoliating each other's bodies with a mixture of crushed corn, clay, and oats. Next, the couple is encouraged to let the clay bake either in the sauna or in the sun, after which clients rinse off in their private showers. To conclude, a candlelit couples' massage is performed. "We offer a variety of packages so that our guests are guaranteed to find one that perfectly fits both of their desires," says spa director James McIlrath. "All of them are designed to be romantically decadent and relaxing spa experiences."

Local ingredients are used in many treatments.
Local ingredients are used in many treatments.


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The menu also includes items created specifically for the spa's location, such as the Altitude Adjustment Massage ($155, 60 minutes). Because Santa Fe's elevation is more than 7,000 feet above sea level, this massage assists clients in establishing equilibrium and focuses on relieving altitude-related symptoms such as headaches. Other treatments on the menu incorporate local flavor, such as the Blue Corn and Honey Renewal ($245, 90 minutes), which uses native blue corn to exfoliate and wildflower honey to hydrate, making it an ideal choice for those with desert-parched skin. Guests are even offered chlorophyll water and herbal supplements to ease respiration issues. "When Auberge creates a property, the main objective is to be of the area," says McIlrath. "Our commitment to the indigenous culture of our area and expertise of the local therapists were major considerations."

All of the facials the spa offers were designed to be results-oriented. While Tara Spa Therapy products are used in the spa's Ayurvedic Rituals, all facials utilize Naturopathica. A favorite among guests is The Enchanted Facial ($225, 90 minutes; $295, 2 hours), which features a massage with semi-precious tourmaline gemstones for purification, as well as herbal enzymes and natural actives. For an additional fee, guests can add Ultra Technology to their facials, an aesthetic system that combines microcurrent, targeted lifting, LED therapy, ultrasonic exfoliation, and product infusion for optimal results.

Prior to all treatments, guests are encouraged to partake in the complimentary Encantado Purification Ritual, which includes a shower and exfoliation with a cactus fiber cloth, followed by a soak in the heated outdoor pool and a steam. Then, guests rinse off in a refreshing outdoor shower before relaxing under a heated blanket on an outdoor chaise lounge or in the Warming Room by the fire where they can hydrate with water or sage tea while waiting for their spa treatment. "This ritual draws from the traditional use of hot water baths, steam, and relaxation to cleanse and restore your entire being," says McIlrath.

With 20 full-time staff members and five independent contractors, the spa can accommodate up to 90 clients a day. Most resort guests are savvy travelers who know what they want when coming to the spa, so it was important to have a knowledgeable staff in place. "Our staff of professional body workers utilizes advanced techniques as well as ancient styles of bodywork," says McIlrath. "Integrated modalities from Santa Fe's wealth of healing arts let the spa deliver an unmatched and authentic Santa Fe spa experience."

Although the resort is just now experiencing its high season for the first time since it opened, it has already been receiving rave reviews and has seen its fair share of celebrity guests. So, with so much positive feedback about the resort and spa, does McIlrath have any complaints? "Just one," he says. "The fact that I have to stay behind my desk and not completely enjoy this beautiful environment all the time."

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