Traveler's Tales

The Dog Digs the Spa

by Christine Gillow

Now that's one well-mannered pooch.

Reader Christine Gillow sent us this Postcard about traveling with her pooch. It's the first reader story we're publishing. We can't wait to get more. 

SANTA FE, New Mexico – As a kid growing up on Long Island, New York, traveling west meant "the City" and south was a day at Jones Beach. Then twenty years ago, I made my first real trip southwest to New Mexico. I fell in love with the culture and the light, the beauty of a land that's at once breathtaking and subtle, as well as its traditions. I learned a new word on that first trip to New Mexico, "kiva." And indeed our 13-year-old dog, Kiva, is our hearth, the warmth and center of our home.

My husband and I have visited northern New Mexico a few times with Kiva, taking her for long, solitary hikes on gorgeous red trails, but this year her old bones just weren't up for anything strenuous. Really, neither were ours. What to do on a Santa Fe road trip then? Well, hey, we booked a little spa time. And guess who came with us?

Ten Thousand Waves is a Japanese spa hidden in the hills of Santa Fe. All these years and we'd never visited...I'm kicking myself that we hadn't done it before. Ten Thousand Waves' policy is to be "inclusive, not exclusive," which means that almost all lodging — and all private baths — are pet-friendly. We weren't staying at the resort, but I called to reserve a private bath area and was assured that Kiva was welcome.

And welcomed she was. We've traveled extensively with Kiva, so I felt confident that she's the kind of calm, self-assured dog I could bring to a public place. She was the only dog there, and I was touched by the kindness of staff and patrons who smiled and asked to pet her.

We relaxed in the waiting area, sipping cups of cucumber water and peppermint tea, and in just a few minutes our bath was ready. Boy, did we luck out.

When I called the day before, I had no idea which bath to book. There are descriptions online, and all the private baths look fantastic. But I was concerned that if the day was sunny and hot, the area should have plenty of shade for Kiva. Ten Thousand Waves' friendly reservation agent described all the available baths and suggested the indoor/outdoor ichiban might work well for us.

So, for $49 per person for 90 minutes, we went for the super-premium-private ichiban. I swear it's the second-best 50 bucks I've ever spent. (The best 50 bucks I ever spent was at the ASPCA all those years ago — the cost of a little black and tan puppy, her spay, and a red collar.)

Ah, ichiban. Two soaking tubs, two! No sharing necessary. The day turned out to be mostly overcast — perfect hot tub and cool dog weather. Ichiban also has its own little pavilion with changing area, indoor and outdoor showers, and sauna. Wanna know what else it has? I'll just go right ahead and borrow the description from the site: "An amazing Japanese toilet that does almost everything for you!" No photos of that necessary. You have to experience it for yourself.

Next to the tubs is a screened relaxation room. The whole area is surrounded by piñon and pine. The sights, scents, and sounds of this spa are truly wonderful. We had our soak; and Kiva had her treats, water bowl, and her happily marinating parents a snoutlength away. My totally zen old dog felt right at home.

I was in no way compensated by Ten Thousand Waves to write this post, unless you count the utter thrill I got from the experience of relaxing at a beautiful spa with my dog. It's so rare to be able to enjoy a uniquely "human" activity with a pet. As a long-time traveler, always with a dog at my side, I'm grateful to Ten Thousand Waves for their respect and acceptance of well-behaved pets.

If you're sitting there thinking, "this reminds me of the time on that great trip that this awesome thing happened," then you should totally tell us about it. Christina sent us this Postcard through our Tell Us Your Story page, and we loved it. We want FATHOM to be a place where people find travel inspiration, then come back and share their experiences.   


Ten Thousand Waves
3451 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.