Relaxation & Rejuvenation: Ten Thousand Waves

A Japanese Spa, Complete With 7 Baths, Lodging, 23 Massage Tables, And A Restaurant In The Sangre De Cristo Mountains

Koi Pond At Ten Thousand Waves [Photo Credit: Deborah Fleig]

In the Earth’s early years, the southwest was at the bottom of a vast ocean.  Though now a desert, one can see the evidence of the ocean with endless desert, like an ocean floor, stretching as far as the eye can see and huge mountain ranges that dot the landscape.  Tucked in one of these mountain ranges, the Sangre De Cristo, in Santa Fe, is a place called Ten Thousand Waves, appropriately named because of its rejuvenating and relaxing effects as if one is listening to the waves of that prehistoric ocean.  Ten Thousand Waves is an onsen, or Japanese Spa, complete with 7 baths, lodging, 23 massage tables, a restaurant...on 25 acres in the Sangre De Cristo mountains.  “The tradition of bathing in hot water goes back millennia due to the abundance of thermal waters in Japan,” Duke Klauck, owner of Ten Thousand Waves, explains, “The Japanese learned early on about the powerful healing and release gained by siting in hot water surrounded by the beauty of nature.”

How does a Japanese Spa end up in the mountains of New Mexico?  “Ten Thousand Waves has taken this model and transplanted it to New Mexico, where nature looks very different, but is no less beautiful,” Klauck says.  Director of PR Johnson furthers his explanation, adding, “The big blue skies we have in New Mexico add to the beauty and feel of the spa where magic and spiritualism abounds.”  It’s easy to see on a visit - the wooden bridges over ponds of koi fish, pinon and Juniper trees growing as if placed in a refined garden. There is also Japanese woodwork tucked into the hills that hold the spas and massage rooms.  “Ten Thousand Waves has taken this model and transplanted it to New Mexico, where nature looks very different “I hear all the time from countless people ‘I do not want to leave’ from lodging and spa guests alike,” Johnson adds, “the feeling starts as soon as you turn into the parking lot… the feeling of relaxation, rejuvenation, and genuine happiness.”

Fun In The Sun Inside The Grand Bath [Courtesy/Ten Thousand Waves]
Luna Lodging Room [Courtesy/Ten Thousand Waves]
Guest Relaxes In Kobuta [Courtesy/Ten Thousand Waves]

Another reason is the vision of one man, Duke Klauck.  Klauck was originally offered the property where the spa is by a marijuana dealer “who found out the authorities were after him,” Johnson recalls, “[the guy] offered the property to Duke for a price he couldn’t refuse.”  As a lover of everything Japanese, “Ten Thousand Waves became his vision and passion.”  Originally a place for Klauck to practice calligraphy and a small place to soak, Santa Fe’s concentration of great massage schools caused an expansion into massage therapy which led to the 25 acre resort that now exists for the public for both overnight guests and day use.  Ten Thousand Waves utilizes a Japanese master that visits several times a year to train therapists in proper Japanese massage techniques such as Ashi Anma foot massage, Yasuragi head & neck treatments, and Shiatsu massage.

Beyond the obvious appeal of serenity and contentment, is the waves’ (as the locals call it) dedication to inclusion.  When one thinks of a spa in the United States, generally there is an air of exclusion that follows.  This is not the case with Ten Thousand Waves, where all are welcome.  Adults, children, and pets are allowed on the grounds of Ten Thousand Waves (pets are welcome to the private baths, but not the communal ones).  The spa is available both to people staying overnight and to people who just come for a day trip or evening relaxation.  

Hot Stone Massage [Courtesy/Ten Thousand Waves]
Shoji Tub At Ten Thousand Waves [Courtesy/Ten Thousand Waves]
Izanami Restaurant At Ten Thousand Waves [Courtesy/Ten Thousand Waves]

When walking into the spa, after passing the zen-like fountain and wood carvings, a guest is greeted with the Japanese greeting of Irasshaimase, an honorific phrase of greeting.  “We want to educate people in the Japanese ways.  We have been educating our staff in Japanese words to use as we greet our guests,” explains Johnson.  It is being noticed, not only by the guests of the spa but across the world in Japan.  Several years ago, NHK, the national television network of Japan, did a feature on the spa for Japanese to see and potentially visit the onsen in the desert.  In awe and excitement, the Japanese announcers detailed Ten Thousand Waves to the Japanese public in tones that suggest to buy a plane ticket as quick as possible and head to this oasis in the middle of the southwestern desert of America.

From the communal baths as a place of relaxation and peaceful socialization to the Japanese master trained massage therapy available to overnight and day spa guests, alike. Being the closest lodge to the Santa Fe Ski Basin and surrounded by National Forest, it is a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts, too.  After a long day up on the slopes or hiking the beautiful forests of Northern New Mexico, soaking in an outdoor mountain spa for the evening, surrounded by Juniper and Pinon with picturesque fountains echoing the waves of history, is the perfect way to be complete.

Andrew Malo

A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Education, Andrew has taught for the past decade in Chicago, New Mexico, and Japan.  He  enjoys tinkering with trucks and motorcycles, woodworking, reading and computer programming. 

Ten Thousand Waves

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Ten Thousand Waves, offering a unique 'Japanese-adobe' esthetic, while combining the traditional with state-of-the-art technology. Wind down from the day, meet friends, take time off with the family, and relax.

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