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Soaking up Santa Fe

It’s a spa eat spa world, especially here in Santa Fe – a massage Mecca, a hot tub haven and home to hundreds of practitioners of the so-called healing arts who are willing to manipulate, realign or otherwise cleanse and bring peace to your body and soul.

But among the surfeit of spas, there’s one that has risen above the rest – at least in terms of its size and its fame — and it has something more going for it than detoxifying herbal wraps, exfoliating salt glows and facial masques that make use of sanitized nightingale droppings.

Ten Thousand Waves allows dogs, both in its cottages and in its private baths, and that, in case you’re wondering, is how I – one who feels uncomfortable being disrobed in the privacy of my own home (when I had one) — ended up buck naked in the mountains of New Mexico.

But not with nightingale poop on my face.

At the recommendation of the person for whom I am pet sitting, who once worked there, and upon hearing it was dog friendly – unusual for spas, which can be pretty unrelaxed about their rules – Ace and I headed up to Ten Thousand Waves yesterday.

The Japanese-style spa was opened in 1981, by a “child of the 60’s” who got his start in the business world by selling T-shirts at Woodstock. Originally, Duke Klauck planned to open a storefront in Santa Fe with a couple of hot tubs, but when a prime piece of countryside became available just outside the city limits, he snapped it up – to the displeasure of some neighbors.

One of them, shortly after the spa opened, showed his opposition by building a pen for a dozen of his pigs at the edge of his property, six feet away from one of the tubs. The news media picked up the story, providing Ten Thousand Waves with much early publicity, and a judge later ordered the pigpen moved. The bathhouse containing the tub was subsequently named Kobuta, which means piglet in Japanese.

When I called to reserve a private bath, I requested that one. Dogs are permitted in the private baths, but not the public ones, and they are not allowed in the tubs, I was told. I asked about getting a head and neck massage, but was told dogs aren’t allowed in massage rooms, as they would distract both the rubber and the rubbee. It was suggested that I could put the dog in my car during that time, but, even with Santa Fe’s mild temperatures and the spa’s shaded parking lot, I, for reasons of pawlitical correctness, passed on that.

Ace and I arrived in the afternoon, climbing the 90 stairs to the lobby (and burning 45 calories in the process, according to the sign). We were given a robe and directed to the men’s locker room. Guests are asked to shower before their baths, which I guess makes sense in an odd way.

I looped Ace’s leash over a towel peg while I showered and, even though he blocked the entire row of lockers, none of the other guests seemed upset by his presence. He sat patiently, and didn’t stick his nose into anyone’s private areas. I robed myself, and we walked back down to the lobby, where we were directed to our bathhouse.

It was surrounded by bamboo fence, and had a large wooden tub, five feet in diameter, and the water was a toasty 105 degrees. When I turned on the jets, Ace watched with interest for a while, then settled down at the tub’s edge while I gradually immersed my naked self. When I got to the point of overheating, I walked over to the “cold plunge” and took a dip in freezing cold water.

It was an amazingly tranquil little spot, and Ace seemed calmed by it, too. When the five minute warning came, we didn’t want to leave — either our tub or the spa, which with its koi pond and waterfalls seems to suck the stress right out of you.

Ten Thousand Waves is modeled after spas in Japan and, for years, Klauck’s Akita, named Kojiro, roamed the grounds, followed by another Akita. Though Klauck’s intent was to simply provide some hot tubs, the spa now has more than 100 independent massage therapists on contract and a staff of about 90.

Dogs have always been permitted – both in the resort’s cottages (for an additional $20) and in the private baths (which cost $30 an hour).

“It certainly fits in with Duke’s whole philosophy. He loves dogs. He’s always had a special affection for dogs and an empathy for dog owners. I don’t know of many other spas that allow dogs,” said Bob Sheffield, the front desk supervisor who’s known at the spa as Buddha Bob.

“We have guests come in with dogs about every other day,” said “A lot of out of town guests are traveling with a dog and they prefer not to have to lock it up in a car of board it in some kennel. Dog lovers like the companionship of their dogs in all the things they do, and by being dog friendly, it really makes them feel more welcome.”

Ace and I felt the love, and none of the uppity-ness that, though we don’t frequent such facilities, we’d guess are common in the spa experience. The healing arts can get a little high faluting, and spas can have a country-club snobiness about them. It was nice to find one that’s down to earth and, far more importantly, dog friendly.

Comments

Comment from Derek
Time July 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

Looks very relaxing for the both of you! I hope you and Ace are feeling reinvigorated and re-energized, after the week in a home and the spa treatment, as you get set to hit the road again. Look forward to seeing where your travels take you next!

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