Another Look at a Spectacular Sunrise

Sunrise Springs, just twenty minutes from the heart of Santa Fe, N.M. is a terrific spot to rest, relax, and unwind. We’ve covered the resort before but take another look at this spectacular spot – Spring break doesn’t have to be all about beer and bikinis although there’s nothing wrong with that, either!

Take a walk on the quiet side at this very Zen resort.



Pet a Silkie chicken


Or pet a service pup in training.


Enjoy exquisite dining in a pristine setting…






Relax in a beautiful courtyard right outside your room. Warning, once you step through the gate into your casita you may not want to leave.



In the evening relax by the fire…


Then do it all again, One caveat – you’ll never want to leave.

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– Genie Davie; photos by Jack Burke


Here Comes the Sunrise – Sunrise Springs

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Medicine wheel fire night

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs grounds

You get off I-25 and you drive down a country road. You reach tall wooden gates, announce yourself through an intercom, the gates peal back, and there you are – in a private, 70-acre oasis of spring fed pond and water pavilion, home to a spa, yoga, meditation, and experiential programs as unusual as they are glorious.

It’s all just 20 minutes from the art and shopping of downtown Santa Fe, but it is its own oasis, a spa for 25 years before the owners of Ojo Caliente Spa an hour away purchased and repurposed it a year ago.

Renew your body, sure thing – but you’ll also be renewing your soul.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Medicine wheel fire night

There’s a blissful, peaceful, wild aspect to the property itself, which strives, according to marketing director Wendi Gelfound, to bring the outdoors in. Rooms and casitas are simply gorgeous, austere yet welcoming, a neutral palette the perfect backdrop to a private patio with rock garden, burbling fountains, spring fed ponds, and wild flowers. What a pleasure to stroll the grounds, cross a serene wooden bridge, sit in an Adirondak chair overlooking water, watch butterflies, catch the scent of pinion smoke from the fire burning in the center of the Native American Medicine Wheel that forms the heart and soul of the place.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs outdoor soaking tub

Or, take a soak in the new Ojitos Pavilion with private outdoor pools, take part in yoga, meditation, art classes, and therapeutic massages.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs casita bedroom

The 20 casitas and 32 guest rooms are pristine and peaceful, with a serene almost Scandinavian style that fuses with the Southwestern surrounding with a surprising intimacy.  Our casita included a gas fireplace, a writing nook – would love to have a writing residency here, and wet bar; a beautiful private courtyard made a great spot for stargazing.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs tea

Thoughtful touches such as a book of meditation exercises and organic teas were left for us. You could easily stay in this self-contained space and be content to never leave. But that would be a loss with so many wonderful experiences to enjoy.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs spa

We began our stay with the Earth Keepers’ Hot Stone Massage, a blissful and very therapeutic 80 minute experience. Stones are warm, oiled, and meticulously applied to soothe muscles and relieve tension, placed on chakra points. Not your thing? Other massage options abound as do alternatives such as Reiki, skin care facials, nutrition and sleep consultation, and Ayurvedic therapies.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Blue Heron dining room

At the resort’s Blue Heron restaurant, the meals are well worth attending. None of the anemic spa fare that frequently plagues “renewing” destinations. Rather, here you’ll find elegant lunches and dinner served in a restored, historic building beside a natural spring-fed pond. The food is every bit as good as that served in top drawer LA restaurants, and there is a surprisingly varied menu that invites lingering.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Salad

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Divers Scallops starter Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Chocolate decadence Santa Fe Sunrise Springs fruit

Dinner includes choices of starters, entrees, and desserts, featuring courses such as Pan-Seared Diver Scallops, a red kale Caesar salad, a Poblano relleno made with quinoa, sauteed autumn vegetables, and mild red chile sauce, and grilled salmon with vegetable gallet and lemon butter. For lunch there were choices such as the incredibly fresh Ojo Farm Mixed Green Salad with dried apricots, candied walnuts and blue cheese vinaigrette, the Roasted Vegetable Tamale, or the Vegetable Fajitas. Desserts such as the rich Flour-less Chocolate Decadence with crème anglaise are worth every calorie. The menu changes seasonally.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs puppies

After dining, join the exuberant puppies in the All About Assistance Dogs program. These sweet pups are assistance dogs in training, selected for temperment to be of service. The nationally renowned Assistance Dogs of the West runs the program, working with dogs trained to care for individuals with a particular disability such as Diabetes or PTSD. Supervised playful visits help train the dogs, and are rewarding fun.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs chickens

My favorite animal interaction was with the resort’s Silkie chickens. Inside a large chicken coup, guests hold these soft chickens which actually purr when contented, feed them, learn their habits, and collect eggs. A calming reminder of the serenity in other living beings, and a great way to rest one’s own over-active “monkey brain.”

Another way to calm and renew is with a dance-oriented yoga class, or a restful meditation; both were morning classes and were followed by breakfast served in the sunny Sages building.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs breakfast buffet

The program that serves as the heart of everything the resort offers, however, is “Finding Your Place on the Medicine Wheel”  both a discussion group and a spiritual therapy. The wheel is divided into east, west, north, and south quadrants which represent different times, spiritual interests, and stages in each guest’s life. The rings of the wheel correspond to the activities guests would like to invite into their lives, the traits, and the understanding guests wish to invite in. Repeatable daily, the beautifully curated experience lasts about 90 minutes.

Resort marketing manager Wendi Gelfound says the property was a former retreat center for 25 years. The owners of Ojo Caliente Minteral Resort took over Sunrise Springs in 2013, and spent years carefully crafting it into a space which is “visually appealing, with a conscious effort to bring the outdoors indoors, and create a beautiful, holistic space.” According to Gelfound, the beds and lamps in the rooms are designed and created by a Taos-based artist, shampoos, soaps and oils in the rooms and spa use locally harvested herbs and plants. A new spa apothecary line just launched, featuring massage oils and other products for guests to take home.

“The idea here is to hit the pause button. A Japanese study recently noted that five minutes in nature can calm you down,” Gelfound relates. “We are passionate about expanding on that, and on showing people things here that they can incorporate into their lives at home.” She adds that the resort has moved successfully from a “clinical health approach to one of inclusive spiritual health. Our experience leaders are licensed counselors, and have helped us design our program and our physical area.”

Along with overnight, weekend, and longer stays, the resort offers a day program that includes spa services as well. But why would you want to limit yourself?

Here, the wide open New Mexico sky is the perfect accompaniment to the wide range of classes, experiences, and pure pleasure this resort and spa offers. We defy you to not return – we certainly plan to do so!



Feeling the Heat: Summer Bliss in the Desert 2017

Palm Springs Casa Del Zorro

Palm Springs Casa del Z 2

It may be spring break season, but the planning has already begun for a summer vacation that embraces the heat, rather than avoids it. Why head to the sea when you can head to the desert – at a time of year when the crowds will be low and beautiful bargains abound.

Palm Springs Saguaro

At the Saguaro Palm Springs the Joie De Vivre chain  has changed a former Holiday Inn on East Palm Canyon into a fun and funky hot spot from the bright yellow umbrellas and loungers around the pool to handcrafted Mexican style tables and chairs and tech features like an iPod docking station and HDTV. Note the bright chartreuse and purple walls, old fashioned Brownie cameras in the rooms, and dioramas featuring retro-Barbie dolls in the lobby. Hip, colorful, and fun sums up this spot – and mountain view rooms make it all the sweeter.

Palm Springs Casa Del Zorro

In Borrego Springs, the Casa Del Zorro hacienda-style resort first opened in 1933, and after a three-year hiatus, it re-opened in 2013. Surrounded by the peaceful, vast Anza Borrego state park, the resort’s 42 acres are studded with sparkling pools and hot tubs, dotted with beautiful metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda, and citrus trees. Over-sized luxurious rooms feature walk-in marble showers, wood-burning fireplaces and balconies, casitas even have private pools. Summer time visitors shouldn’t miss the 80-thousand-gallon lap pool and six tennis courts with night lighting, as well as the privately operated Balance spa and salon, a yoga studio and exercise classes.

Palm Springs Casa Del Z

Enjoy star gazing, or the quiet, dark-wood ambiance of the hotel’s Butterfield dining room, named for the stage coaches that once brought people to the area. The wood-beamed Fox Den Bar and Cantina is a fine spot to settle in for a drink.

Palm Springs Casa chess board

And whatever you do, don’t miss the life-size chess board on the grounds.

Palm Springs Alcazar


Back in Palm Springs, two other fine options are the Alcazar on North Palm Canyon and the Hard Rock in the heart of downtown. The Alcazar cools the eyes with white walls and white floors, shady private courtyards in some rooms, and a pool space with calming white loungers and umbrellas.

Palm Springs Alcazar 2

Enjoy the wall fountains, artistic architectural touches, and at night, the beautiful gas fireplaces around the pool are pleasant even in the summer.

Palm Springs Hard Rock

At The Hard Rock, unique furnishings and an edgy rock vibe – think cool outdoor murals – compliment lush linens and a cool pool scene that often has a D.J. spinning. Purple walls, yes, but the vibe is as elegant as it is fun. Craft cocktails and fine dining on-site add to the ambiance – and if you’re really into rocking, the hotel even offers guitar lessons.

So hit the heat – and bask in the warmth with full reviews of these properties plus our summer heat-lover’s trips to Phoenix and Death Valley, soon.


Get Enchanted



Running through January 8th, Enchanted: Forest of Light turns Descanso Garden’s into a wildly wonderful fantasy land. Not specifically holiday themed, eight illuminated installations lead visitors through the dark, into a garden blossoming with light.

Timed entry keeps the event from getting too crowded; there are spots where visitors can simply stand for a moment and breathe in the chilly night air and the almost palpable sense of wonder. Kids love the colors and lights, adults are quietly mesmerized. The interactive nature of some exhibits adds to the visual poetry and the fun.


Entering the exhibition, viewers first meet up with fields of multi-colored, ever changing beds of tulips, which dance with light as they color-shift.


Next up: like a miniature version of the light columns at LAX,ccolor-changing columns in the Rainbow Sycamores section respond to touch; place a hand on the five blue columns and watch the colors shift into vibrant purple or pink.

Next, head toward the lake beneath arches of stars.


At Lightwave Lake, push a button and change the spotlights shifting in ribbons of color across the water. When we visited a spooky mist blanketed the lake, creating a truly other-worldly experience.


Thin streaks of light pulsate, part art, part alien.


The Ancient Forest, all ferns and firs, dazzles with soft multi-colored light, an emergence into a fecund land that could be home to a myriad of alien creatures. Anyone remember the charming 90s era animated feature Ferngully? Or maybe Avatar? Both fit.

It’s fun to literally hop on wooden platforms in the Symphony of Oaks section, too, where the ancient oaks become the guardians of guests’ ability to sound chimes.


On the Luminous Lawn, kids and adults alike hop again – onto lily pads which change colors and patterns in a touch-sensitive pond.


A Japanese garden vibrates with red light, creating a surreal and beautiful finish to the show.

We took a leisurely just-under-two-hour stroll through the exhibition. The unlighted areas of the gardens that hover just out of sight add to the magical feeling – we are privy to a secret world, with perhaps other secrets tantalizingly just out of sight.

While a festive event for the season, Enchanted could easily run year ‘round; there are no overtly holiday themes here, just a link to the magic, wonder, and sweetness of the season.


For now, make the drive to La Canada/Flintridge and have an enchanted experience through January 8th. For ticket info see

  • Genie Davis