I had the pleasure of spending a relaxing and rejuventing weekend at the historic Ojo Caliente Resort and Spa in New Mexico. Ojo Caliente is known for it’s healing mineral pools that have been deemed sacred by the Northern Pueblo tribes who discovered the pools thousands of years ago. I went to Ojo Caliente as a mere shell of myself and came back reenergized and refreshed.
Lodging – You have a choice of lodging at Ojo Caliente. I stayed in the historic hotel which has both pros and cons. The building is indeed historic, which basically means that it is very outdated in every way. The rooms are in the style of an SRO (single room occupancy) hotel. There are no showers in the rooms, but there is a toilet with a sink, plus two additional toilets in the hall.
The hotel is also a bit noisy since it is connected to the restaurant (a door separates the bar from the rooms) so if you are on the end of the corridor near the bar you will hear all of the noise from the bar every time the door opens. The doors are wooden and for some reason they slam when they are closed. The floors are also creaky despite being carpeted. I kept my heater/fan on the whole time which created white noise and drowned out most of the sounds, but if you are a very light sleeper (which I am not) you will want to take that into account. There are also porch chairs right outside your window so if people sit outside to chat you will hear them talking quite clearly.
There are no TVs or phones in the room so it is like stepping back in time. You are forced to relax and unwind. Everything pretty much shuts down by 10:00 P.M. so it definitely quiets down by 11:00 P.M.
Here are the other options for lodging at Ojo Caliente.
Day pass vs. lodging: Day passes are available and range start at $20 depending on the day of week. Weekends are definitely more expensive and more crowded.
Food and drinks (free coffee in the bar area in the morning!) Breakfast isn’t served until 7:30 AM. and dinner is served until 9:30 P.M. Bar closed at 10:00 P.M. The food is very fresh and some of it is grown on-site. I had a standard bacon, eggs, and toast breakfast which was wonderful. For dinner I had the blue corn chicken enchilada. While I waited for my meal I was served mini blue corn muffins that were warm and moist! Everything was fresh and prepared with loved. View the menu here.
Spa – Opens at 8:00 A.M. and closes at 10:00 P.M. You have a choice of several public or private mineral pools to soak in as well as a steam room and sauna. Each of the pools offers a different mineral composition. Towels are provided free to guests of the resort however a day pass will get you one free towel and $2 to rent additional towels. There are lockers on site where you can lock up your values. Additional services include massages, scrubs, and facials.
Weather: The resort is open year round so dress accordingly. I went in April and while it was beautiful and sunny it was chilly. When I left Washington, D.C. the weather was in the 70s. It was much cooler in New Mexico and I wore a jean jacket (which was much too light) during the chilly morning and evening hours. The temperature toggled between 50-60 degrees during the day. Keep in mind that the resort is located at a higher altitude so it might feel cooler than what you are used to in your area.
Demographics: There was a good mix of locals and tourists. During the weekend there were a lot of families and during the week more of the retiree set. Racially there was not a lot of diversity but there was a very small sprinkling of POC. when I was there.
Customer Service: The team working at the resort is top notch. I would give Ojo Caliente a 4.5 our of 5 stars. If I had a primary complaint it would be the hours of service. The front desk isn’t open until 8 AM and everything pretty much shuts down by 10:00 A.M. I wanted get a head start on my departure and had to wait. A staff member was kind enough to get me checked out a few minutes earlier.
Wifi and cell phones: There is free wifi in the historic hotel. Use of cell phones is limited to rooms and the parking lot. All of the guests were respectful of the cell phone ban.
Transportation: I drove to Ojo Caliente from Albuquerque. It was a 2 hour drive and I used half a tank of gas in a compact car for the trip to and from. I don’t recommend that you do the same unless you have time to hit up tourist spots between Santa Fe and Albuquerque or you have someone who will share the driving with you. The woman who recommended the spa said that she stayed at Buffalo Thunder and that a driver drove her to the spa for the day. It is still about a 45 minute to hour drive from Buffalo Thunder.
Final cost: I stayed at Ojo Caliente for 2 nights. The room was $209 for Saturday night and $169 for Sunday night plus tax. I added a private pool for $45 (I mistakenly thought I was getting a private tub for $12) and I ate one breakfast and dinner (including cocktail) in the restaurant (around $45 all together plus tip!) My final bill came up to $521.00 with taxes included.
I wrote a blog series that offers a more in-depth review of my stay at Ojo Caliente. Be sure to follow and subscribe to this website in order to read more.
Have you been to the Southwest before? What was your experience? Share it in the comments section.