An easy 30 minutes from the albuquerque, NM, airport, Tamaya Resort and Spa (Santa Ana Pueblo, NM) is set on the Rio Grande river with views of the Bosque cottonwood forest backed by the Sandia Mountains. The scenic beauty helps explain why the resort was given its name, which means "a quiet and special place," in the Pueblo Indians' language. Tucked in a verdant valley in the high desert region, Tamaya draws on its location and Native American history to offer guests an exceptional experience.
Guests can choose their own treatment scent at the spa's Oshadhi aromatherapy bar.
Fully owned by the Santa Ana Pueblo, a Native American tribe that settled in the area long ago, the property is managed by Hyatt Hotels Corporation and is just one of the businesses launched by the Pueblo to give its members greater economic advantages. Though the Pueblo has no part in daily operations, its culture helps enrich the facility. Modeled after the tribe's ancestral village, the resort features Native American art and includes an historical center, which can be toured by appointment. From decorative touches to treatment offerings, Tamaya Mist incorporates the culture as well.
The blue cornmeal body scrub using native-grown corn has been on the menu since the spa opened four years ago and is currently part of the popular Tamaya Body Glow treatment ($60, 25 minutes). According to spa director Joe Herman, the staff has taken great care to be respectful of the Pueblo's traditions in developing the spa menu. "The Pueblo is sensitive and private," says Herman. "We're slowly putting more of the culture into the treatments."
The Hot Stone Therapy ($170, 80 minutes) is a popular menu offering.
Now, in addition to such regularly requested treatments as Swedish massage ($95, 50 minutes; $135, 80 minutes) and the Aromatherapy Facial ($105, 50 minutes; $145, 80 minutes), which uses customized blends of Oshadhi aromatherapy oils, clients can also book the Pueblo Dry Brush Therapy ($145, 80 minutes), which includes a body mask made of a combination of native grains and essential oils.
The spa also offers the Spirit Path ($155, 80 minutes), a massage and body wrap service that incorporates the osha root. The treatment was developed after one of the spa's therapists realized its healing properties and traditional uses while doing research. "The osha root, which is indigenous to this area, has been used by Native Americans for centuries to treat several maladies, including respiratory ailments, indigestion, and more," says Herman. "It's very aromatic. For Spirit Path, we created a sachet that is placed on the client's chest during the linen herbal wrap."
Spa guests can relax in the sunshine or enjoy a soak in the hot tub between treatments.
With approximately 70 percent of the spa's guests coming from the resort and the other 30 percent composed of locals, Herman estimates that more than half are first-time spa-goers. Because of this, an emphasis is placed on creating a comfortable atmosphere. "I look at [first-timers] as an opportunity," says Herman. "Chances are they're going to stay at another Hyatt [in the future]. We want to create a positive experience." To help clients acclimate, the staff is trained to read body language and pose questions to the guests. "We guide them through it," Herman says. "We explain that the therapist is there to work with them."
To find the best staff, Herman seeks licensed, experienced therapists who are also inherently nurturing. "We are looking for people who truly enjoy and are rewarded by taking care of people," says Herman. Currently the spa has seven full-time therapists, 10 part-time therapists, and five on-call therapists. "Tamaya's spa is a newer facility and is state of the art," says Herman. "It attracts a certain clientele who is willing to pay a little bit more, so therefore we can pay a little bit more. That improves the caliber of our therapists."
Just beyond the spa's reception and retail areas, the enclosed patio is a warm and welcoming spot to relax.
On a typical weekend the spa books approximately 140 treatments. Weekdays average 40 appointments. The spa also offers a yearly membership program, with premier members receiving 10 percent off all activities, including spa services, and elite members receiving a 20 percent discount. In addition, the spa hosts special events for members, such as a recent visit by a Skinceuticals representative. At the event, members received professional skincare analysis and education.
Beyond Skinceuticals, Tamaya Mist offers a range of skin- and bodycare products, including its own line featuring the spa's signature cedar scent. However, according to Herman, selling is not emphasized. Retail currently contributes about seven percent to the revenue. "We're not about pushing products," he says. "We're about developing relationships."
The strategy seems to be working. Though the spa broke even its first three years, profits improved significantly last year. Now, in addition to a juice bar, Herman says what he'd like most is more busy days. His wish may come true. As many first-time spa-goers are discovering, Tamaya Mist is quite a special place. "We get a lot of comments that everyone seems so genuine here," says Herman.
Many of the spa's treatment rooms open onto private patios, allowing fresh desert air and natural light to stream in.