OK so I feel like I need to preface this review with the disclaimer that nothing will ever live up to Ten Thousand Waves in terms of their attention to detail. It’s like how do you find love after the best that you’ve ever had? It’s on you to not constantly compare your current lover to an idealized past, you know? I think Ojo Caliente puts forth a good effort, but there are some details that could be improved.
My first realization is that this is a SUMMER SPA. Yes, I didn’t know either that there’s a difference between summer spas and winter spas, but here we are (n.b. Ten Thousand Waves: WINTER SPA). Ojo Caliente is known for its different baths with different properties, which are honestly super fun. My picks are: the Lithia bath, the Soda Bath, and the Mud Bath. The Mud Bath is what makes Ojo Caliente a summer spa; the signs instruct you to cover yourself in mud and bake in the sun before washing it off, which obviously was not as relaxing when I was trying to do it on a 40 degree day in February! I can imagine this feeling so good in the summer and in the winter it’s more like a ritual that you endure for curiosity’s sake. Cast aside all fantasies of you rising out of a swamp of mud like a vengeful mud wrestler for Instagram clout points, the mud here is rather thin; my companion described it like champurrado and now I will never not think about bathing in champurrado and receiving a hearty cornmeal exfoliation.
The robes are also SUMMER ROBES and by that I mean they have no water absorption quality to them so you just kind of walk around wet and shivering underneath your robe on a 40 degree day in February. The robe and locker rental is a separate fee from the entrance fee and honestly when you add it all up, it’s more expensive than Ten Thousand Waves and other comparable spas (there I go again, bringing up my old lover). My friend wisely advised me to BYO robe and BYO sandals and to be honest what kind of spa expert am I to not own a calf-length Turkish waffle cotton robe with deep pockets, ahem, ahem, ahem to all millionaires reading this. Shoutout to the dude with the holographic aviators who brought his own red terry cloth robe, you’re the real spa MVP and at least that part of your grasp on masculinity is healthy.
One quirk of this spa is that they heavily enforce a Whisper Zone policy, which staff members enforce by carrying around wooden signs with chimes attached that say “Please Whisper” and aggressively shushing pool users. And you know what, I’m into it, because I think I was on the brink of overhearing a potentially racist conversation between three white women about their non-English speaking students (oh, the New Mexican spa demographic!) and a good spa shuts that shit down, Whisper Zone style.
If you go at night it’s $35. The entire spa is lit up in farolitos, and it looks like an illuminated oasis with hot steaming water. I like to think of Ojo Caliente as the People’s Spa. They’re the only place with that variety of mineral baths. It makes me think of being a small 10 year old in a public pool wanting to be a mermaid and now you’re literally in a grotto. Ojo Caliente is a spa for lovers. You go at night, it’s under the stars, it’s quiet, you cuddle. There’s a pool that’s clearly the couples pool. It’s sexy even though you’re not supposed to get sexy in the spa. And the health benefits are astounding. The Iron pool with rocks on the bottom is an unexpected sensory discovery. You feel the bubbles tingling against your skin so that when you emerge your blood is flowing. The pool results in better circulation, and is good for your skin. You get to ask yourself “Oooh do I like this?” with each different pool.
—Spa Thought Partner Rachel