Luxury Spas: Ojo Caliente was chosen in the Reader’s Choice Award as one of the “Top 10 Best Hot Springs Spas in the World, in the 2009 September issue of SpaFinder. There were 70,000 spas worldwide to choose from. This should tell you a little something about this amazing spa that has undergone some drastic improvements over the past few years, and which has a rich history dating back to prehistoric civilizations.
Ancient people, believed to be the ancestors of today’s Native American Tewa tribes built large pueblos and terraced gardens overlooking the springs. Posi or Poseuinge, “village at the place of the green bubbling hot springs” was home to thousands of people.
In the 1500s the Spaniards, in their quest for gold and the Fountain of Youth, also discovered the Springs, naming it Ojo Caliente” (literally translated means “warm eye,” but more commonly known as “hot spring”). Explorer Zebulon Pike of Pike’s Peak fame passed through Ojo Caliente in 1807, but it was Antonio Joseph, prominent in the history of New Mexico, who opened Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs in 1868, as the first natural health spa in the country.
The oldest building on record is the Co-ed Bathhouse built in the 1860s; later followed by the Historic Hotel, built in 1916, and the Adobe Round Barn in 1924. All three buildings have been artfully restored and are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The remarkable combination of four different types of mineral waters: lithium, iron, soda and arsenic, over 100,000 gallons a day, still come steaming to the surface, while utilizing the modern filtration techniques such as ozone and UV light to maintain the natural integrity of the healing waters without adding any chlorine or other chemicals.
Over the last five years, this heritage has been artfully restored to meet the needs of the discerning health seeker and world traveler. There are several levels of enjoyment at this great spa. You can come and spend the day, bath in the unique natural hot springs ranging from 80 to 109 degrees that are rich in minerals including Lithia, Iron, Soda and Arsenic, each with their distinctive healing properties. Or spend a week in one of the beautifully decorated rooms and Pueblo Suites. Each 500 SF suite features a kiva fireplace and native style New Mexico viga ceiling. Six Cliffside Suites have their own private, outdoor, 2-person soaking tub, making for a wonderful getaway or honeymoon experience.
Their world class spa treatments include indigenous cures such as their signature American Blue Corn & Prickly Pear Salt Scrub. Or enjoy the Ojo Private Ritual Herbal Bath.
While the grounds are beautiful, the treatments spectacular and the water healing, it is the food that is astounding. Chef, Neil Perlow, thought he was going to retire to Taos after a sterling 30 year career, but in 2008 was hired out of retirement by the owners of Ojo. He was first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America, went on to work at the world renowned Quilted Giraffe in New York City, but none of that matters once you dip into his “Green Chili “Fries,” potato crusted Poblano chiles with Hot ‘n Sweet Chile Vinegar. That alone is worth the short drive from Santa Fe or Taos to Ojo Caliente!
Green Chile Fries with Hot ‘n Sweet Vinegar
Poblano Chiles - Cut in half, lengthwise, seed, and cut into ½ inch wide strips lengthwise.
Breading Procedure - In succession, coat chile strips with
Wondra Flour, Egg Wash (Whole eggs whipped with a little water),
Potato Flakes (Instant Mashed Potato Flakes)
Be sure to really press the chiles into the potato flakes to coat well.
Cooking - In a deep pot heat canola oil to 350 degrees, and fry in small batches, being careful not to overcrowd, for about 45 seconds or until you see the breading turn a light brown.
Drain on paper towels and serve with dipping sauce.
Hot ‘n Sweet Vinegar
1 Cup - Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1/3 Cup - Granulated Sugar
2 Tbls. - Sambal Oelek (Oriental Chile Paste)
Place ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a simmer so that sugar will dissolve. Remove from heat and chill before serving.
Sugar and chile paste may be adjusted to personal taste.