Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Warm-Up

by Wolf Schneider

Ojo Caliente in winter. Photo by Maria Rychlicki.

When I arrived at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs & Spa with my friend Maria, I was bundled in a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and ski parka. It was in the twenties! We were shocked to find hardy souls in bathing suits and flip-flops. After our massages and mineral soaks, we had almost joined the club, stripped down to T-shirts and sweats. Here are the highlights as we both experienced them:

Wolf says: For just an hour's drive north of Santa Fe, Ojo Caliente made me feel like I'd gotten away into the country. The snow-splashed mountains along U.S. 285 gave off an expansive vibe. At lunch, the Green Chile Fries (potato-crusted Poblano chiles) were a crunchy treat alongside the Ojo Fish Tacos (blackened mahi-mahi, mango salsa, and jicama peanut slaw). Soaking in our private iron-arsenic pool with our own kiva fireplace and mountains just steps away was memorable – – as well as making us feel like we were in that fabulous western McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Maria says: I arrived from California on New Year's Eve wearing fleece and fake fur to visit my friend Wolf. I was looking forward to returning to Ojo Caliente after 20 years, yet when I got there I didn’t recognize it due to its recent facelift. Lunch was created by Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Neil Stuart, an ex-New Yorker (as I). I was disappointed that my long-remembered Watsu treatment was no longer available, but delighted we could share a private pool with minerals known for improving circulation, immune systems, and arthritis, enhanced by our kiva fireplace’s heat and wonderful aroma. As we drove home feeling reinvigorated, I thought, what a great beginning to 2012 to warm up in the waters of New Mexico’s high desert.
Wolf Schneider has been editor in chief of the Santa Fean, editor of Living West, consulting editor of Southwest Art, and also blogs at

Photographer: David Alfaya, Taken in Artist Studio: Gregory Lomayesva