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Tamaya Mist Spa
Even with all its accolades, the Tamaya Mist Spa and Salon still surprises people who don't expect to find such a facility in New Mexico. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Destination Well-Known: Albuquerque's world-class spas

PGA.com's John Kim is convinced that Albuquerque is a great place for a golf vacation. Now, how to convince his wife to come along? PGA Professional Derek Gutierrez knows how – fill her in on the quality and diversity of the area's fine spas.

By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. -- So I find Derek Gutierrez, the PGA Head Professional here at Twin Warriors Golf Club, and tell him that he’s batting two-for-two on the “things to do” in Albuquerque list. He isn’t surprised. But now I have a new challenge for him.

“Derek, from what I’ve seen already, I can justify a golf trip out here -- great golf during the day, casinos and great restaurants at night,” I explain “but how do I convince my wife that this is a good spot for her, too?”

Derek waits less than a nanosecond to answer. “Well, for one thing, we have some of the best spas in the world,” he replies. Does he know my wife?

Well, he certainly knows how to make an argument, but Albuquerque -- best spas in the world? Come on.  Really? 

Well, as it turns out, it seems he’s right … again. From high-end resort spas to scores of the free variety -- natural hot spring pools that dot the entire state -- New Mexico offers some of the most enjoyable and luxurious ways to relax and get pampered that you could find anywhere.

[Sidenote: The town of Truth or Consequences (a little south of Albuquerque) used to be called Hot Springs -- an ode to the many hot spring pools in the area. It changed its name after a 1950 radio program offered to broadcast from the first city to change its name to the name of the program. They “won?”]

Well, I took Derek’s word on the natural spas in the area -- really, I couldn’t tell you what makes a good spa or what doesn’t out in the woods. Besides, it’s kind of hot outside. A few locals that are here watching the golf tournament tell me that visiting the local hot spring pools is THE thing to do in the late fall/early spring time. However, I know that the term “luxury spa” carries a fairly high bar of expectation at any time of year. 

Dare I find out for myself if the local luxury spas can clear that bar? I dare.

Okay, not really -- though I’d like to see the look on my boss’ face when I tried to justify that expense report. I do decide to take a tour of one of the top-ranked spas in the world. Yes, in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s right here on property -- the Tamaya Mist Spa and Salon at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya.

I walk in – unannounced, of course -- and ask to talk to anyone who can give me the scoop on this highly-touted spa. Wouldn’t you know it, Stephanie Martinez, the Spa Director, happens to be in the lobby. She’s a wonderful lady who obviously has a great amount of patience for boneheads like me who come in and start asking all kinds of strange questions. She even arranges for a tour of the facility for me. I don’t recommend this tact for most people, but it did get me in the door.

So Stephanie tells me that the name Tamaya comes from the Pueblo language and means “quiet and special place” while the mist in Tamaya Mist refers to the soft morning mist that floats over the cottonwood trees and nearby Rio Grande each morning. Located on the Santa Ana Pueblo region, the spa uses these scenic vistas and its Native American heritage and culture as a special differentiator from other top-tier resorts and spas -- a plan that has obviously paid great dividends. The spa is designed as an homage to the story of the Native American tribes from New Mexico and their various journeys to settle on the land.

Spa customers can buy such signature treatments such “Ancient Drumming” -- an application of mud from the Jemez mountains infused with New Mexico’s red chile that is used to detoxify the body -- and “Spirit Path,” another exfoliation technique using Tamaya Blue Corn Flour. (Both are 90 minutes/$190 according to the menu booklet.) All of the spas signature treatments are unique and exclusive to Tamaya Mist Spa and Salon, using elements from various areas of the state that follow the storylines of the tribes.

The spa itself is huge, 16,000 square feet, but is arranged in a way to maximize comfort, privacy and serenity for the customers. The Southwestern and Native American influence is evident in every area, but not in a distracting way. It has a dozen private treatment rooms, separate areas for men and women including different steam rooms, saunas and hot tubs as well as an area for coed pampering. Huge locker rooms and newly renovated shower areas complete the impressive setup.

Stephanie says that though the majority of clientele is women, many men (visitors and locals) come in to use the facilities and receive various treatments. In fact, a number of players from this week’s championship have come in to address various ailments, and that the highly acclaimed golf resort on the grounds means that their custom massages for golfers is a popular and growing treatment.

She agrees that the spa -- even with all of the accolades and awards it has received -- still catches people by surprise who don’t expect to find such a facility in New Mexico. (I admit my guilt here.) But the secret is getting out. The spa’s greatest marketing thus far has been word-of-mouth referral and the locals who visit regularly take great pride in having discovered it first. But as the reputation catches up to the honors, the secret may not be so discrete soon. 

I walk out upset that I don’t have the time to go through a treatment. I’m not really a spa kind of guy, but this place did just exude luxury and rejuvenation. Hmmm, wonder if I can sneak that onto the expense report. Might be worth finding out.

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