Settled into 70 acres marked by cool spring-fed ponds, cottonwood trees, and green open space, Sunrise Springs Integrative Wellness Resort (Santa Fe, NM) has taken up residence on a historic property that served as one of the original parajes (camping places) on El Camino Real 500 years ago. Inspired by its roots of providing rest and replenishment for weary travelers on the trade route between Mexico City and Santa Fe, the destination spa underwent a major renovation led by cofounders Andy Scott and Andy Joseph to restore the buildings and grounds and revive the healing tradition as a complement to its sister resort, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, which is also owned by the Scott family. “People more than ever are looking for authentic, memorable, and even indigenous experiences that will contribute to their overall wellbeing,” says executive director David Hans, Ph.D. The updated destination spa features 32 guest rooms and 20 casitas with private courtyards spread throughout 20 lush landscaped acres dotted with trees, gardens, and pools. Inside, simple decor incorporates subtle Southwestern elements, such as Native American blankets, windows as artwork, and soothing earth tones reminiscent of the nearby desert. “In many ways, it grew organically over time,” says Hans. “It’s very comfortable, and it provides a very safe, secure, container for people to be with themselves and to connect with others and the environment.”
According to Hans, the biggest challenge was determining the identity to be an integrative wellness resort and defining what that would mean for guests. “First and foremost, we took the time to be thoughtful about the property,” says Hans. “We considered various identities as we were moving toward becoming an integrative wellness resort. It just kept evolving, and we listened to the property to feel what was being called into being here.” Once the identity was determined, the programming flowed naturally. All offerings are guided by four evidence-based principles—Nature Bathing, Digital Detox, Learning Through Experience, and Food as Medicine. These principles blend Eastern and Western therapeutic practices and Native American teachings for harmony between physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. The Medicine Wheel at the center of Sunrise Springs provides a visual reminder of the interconnectedness and harmonious balance between mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of wellbeing. “I think there really is something for everyone at Sunrise Springs,” says Hans. “The nice thing is guests decide how deep they want to go in any of these areas.”
To participate in the program, guests book one of three all-inclusive options: the Refresh & Recharge (starting at $239 per person, per night) for a minimum of two nights; the Wellness Exploration (starting at $339 per person, per night) for a minimum of four nights; or the Immerse & Thrive (starting at $549 per person, per night) for a minimum of nine nights. Sunrise Day Escape ($119 per person, half day; $199 per person, full day) packages are also available. Once on property, guests are encouraged to check in their digital devices before embarking on their customized wellness journeys. “It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with technology—if we’re not careful, technology can really control our lives,” says Hans. “When we’re able to let go of that, we start to reconnect with ourselves. Then we’re able to be more present for others.” Days at Sunrise Springs are as full or as free as guests prefer. “We have thoughtfully developed the schedule and curated the activities to maximize the benefit for our guests,” says Hans. “That being said, for some of our guests it may be as important, if not more so, that they have three or four hours a day just to sit in nature or to take a walk on one of our fitness trails.”
Even a busy day is pleasurable. Experiential Activities include Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga, Walking, Animal Interactions, Therapeutic Gardening, Culinary Arts, and Expressive Arts. Each is backed by research with proven mind and body benefits, such as increased self-awareness, stress resistance, cardiovascular health, immune functioning, and much more. “Through our Experiential Activities, guests are learning through experiences, and they’re learning about themselves through these interactions,” says Hans. “We’re only providing a handful of activities, but they all have the potential to provide guests with meaningful experiences and opportunities for learning that they can continue when they return home.”
The new Puppy Enrichment Program is just one of the many experiential offerings and already a popular choice. “We learn a lot just spending time with animals,” says Hans. “Animals are a wonderful mirror for our emotions and how our guests are doing. That was one of the things that drew us to animal interactions as one of our primary Experiential Activities.” Partnering with Assistance Dogs of the West, Sunrise allows guests to train puppies who will eventually become service dogs.
The experience is beneficial for the animals and spa-goers alike. “How we treat animals is usually a great indication of how we treat people in our lives,” says Hans. “It’s just one more way for someone to get to know themselves better, because sometimes sitting in a room and just talking to a licensed counselor is challenging.” Adult dogs and silkie chickens, an Asian breed known for its fluffy plumage, are also part of the animal interactions, and an equine program is on the horizon. “For some guests, interacting with chickens takes them back to an earlier time in their lives, and many of them have fond memories of those experiences,” says Hans. “Once again, they are connecting to a simpler, maybe easier time in their lives.”
The spa menu keeps it simple too. A few select restorative massages and facials are available at the 5,000-square-foot, nine-treatment-room Integrative Therapeutic Spa (known as ITSPA) for an additional cost above the package rates. For example, Ancient Echoes ($139, 60 minutes; $189, 90 minutes) draws from Ayurveda and stimulates neurological points on the face, head, and feet for a balancing massage journey. This therapy relieves stress, supports hair growth, eases headaches, and relieves insomnia and stress. For all-over stress relief, the Stone Fusion ($139, 60 minutes; $189, 90 minutes) massage incorporates heated basalt stones from the nearby Rio Grande River. Custom Face Therapy ($139, 60 minutes) gently relaxes the facial muscles and brightens skin using Suki Skincare. It seeks to bring harmony to the complexion with natural botanical extracts and hot herbal towels.
The healing doesn’t end when the time on the table is up, though. Spa-goers also have the opportunity to dig deeper after services by meeting with a licensed counselor to discuss emotions or thoughts that may have surfaced during their treatment. In addition to psychotherapy and spiritual counseling, behavioral healthcare options also include nutritional assessment, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and stress evaluation. The highly credentialed team comprised of medical doctors, nurses, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, integrative care specialists, and licensed massage therapists work together to ensure guests get exactly what they need. “All our guests have the opportunity to work with a collaborative team of wellness professionals,” says Hans. “By design, all of these providers are housed in one place and are communicating on a daily basis, so we’re able to deliver the very best services and care.”
Also key to the ITSPA space is a private hydrotherapy area and a boutique featuring a collection of signature clothing, skincare, books, and wellness-oriented items. “We think about retail as a way for guests to take the Sunrise experience home with them,” says Hans.
When guests step off the grounds, they continue on their wellness journey. “All of the experiences that we have decided to offer are easily accessible at home,” says Hans. “They’re not that complicated, but because of the way our society has evolved, we’ve moved away from some of these practices, and we’ve forgotten how good it feels to actually be working in the soil in our garden or just spending a few minutes petting the dog. It really does have an effect on overall wellbeing. We’re providing guests with a number of reminders of practices that they could reconnect with and continue upon returning home.” At Sunrise Springs, a new wellness day is dawning on spa-goers, and the sun isn’t setting anytime soon.
Owner: Scott Family
Executive Director: David Hans
5,000 square feet;
9 treatment rooms
Living Earth Crafts, MindBody
Michael J. Krupnick Krupnick Studio Architecture (Santa Fe, NM)
Amy McDonald, Under a Tree (Tucson, AZ)