People always ask us for recommendations of spas close to their homes. You must realize that there's nothing quite like Ten Thousand Waves anywhere, but there are a lot of great spas in the world. To experience the inspiration for the Waves, we lead a tour each year to some of the great remote hot springs of Japan. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be apprised of details of these trips. If you want something closer to home, here are a few of our favorites:
Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon BC
An amazing European-style spa in the heart of Canada, the setting is spectacular, the bodywork is great, there are ten different steam & sauna baths, plus pools, hot tubs, and Kneipp therapy. Service is over the top, and they have the only Cold Sauna in North America--110 degrees below zero C.
Sparkling Hill Resort
Spa Natura, Los Angeles CA
Korea has a great bathing culture, much like that of the Japanese. It's no surprise that LA, with the largest population of Koreans outside Korea, has some great bathing options. One of the best is Natura Spa, in the heart of Koreatown. Located in the basement of a Wilshire Boulevard art deco building which has been reborn as a very strange Korean shopping mall, Natura has really great baths and massage at super-cheap rates.
Little Tokyo Los Angeles CA
Like going to Japan without the 11-hour plane ride. Massage, Food, Museums, Japanese Gardens, lots more. Click the link below the map for Waves faves.
Beverly Hot Springs, Los Angeles CA
In the heart of Koreatown. The closest thing to an authentic Japanese urban bathhouse. A natural hot spring. Also offers massage, acupuncture, and body scrubs. www.beverlyhotsprings.com
Glen Ivy Hot Springs, Corona, CA
A couple hours from LA. A natural hot spring with outdoor pools, a great mud bath, and spa services. www.glenivy.com
Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, CA
Three hours north of San Francisco Natural hot spring on 1700 acres near wine country. A very naked resort. Their specialty is watsu aquatic massage. www.harbin.org
Kabuki Springs, San Francisco CA
In Japan town . This is a beautiful example of an urban, Japanese-style bathhouse. Men and women allowed on separate days. Massage available. www.kabukisprings.com
Osmosis, Freestone CA
1 1/2 hours north of San Francisco. A beautiful rural environment offering massage and enzyme baths--you're covered in cedar sawdust that is soaked in natural enzymes which create their own natural heat. Smells like a combination bakery and brewery. Massage available. Don't miss the beautiful Japanese garden. www.osmosis.com
Watercourse Way, Palo Alto CA
The urban equivalent of Ten Thousand Waves. Private hot tubs and spa treatments in an exquisitely designed Japanese-style environment. www.watercourseway.com
The Springs, Pagosa Springs CO
12 or 14 outdoor hot spring pools, each a different temperature on the banks of the San Juan River. Jump into the river to cool off. www.pagosahotsprings.com
Rancho La Puerta, Tecate MX
A couple hours south of San Diego. The first modern health spa in North America. Beautiful countryside, choice of up to six physical activities every hour, homegrown organic vegetables from their own garden, swimming pools, casitas. www.rancholapuerta.com
Onsen for All, Princeton, NJ
Located in a restored 300-year-old structure, this Japanese-themed spa has cedarwood soaking tubs, a wood-fired sauna, massage, wellness workshops, yoga, and more. In New Jersey, of all places! www.onsenforall.com
Spa Castle, Queens, NY
The Koreans are as crazy about hot water as their Japanese neighbors. They are a more outgoing culture, and therefore have created bathhouses that tend to be raucous family playgrounds, rather than the reserved havens of beauty that are found in Japan. Spa Castle, overlooking the East River in Queens, is as close as you can get this side of Seoul to an authentic Korean jimjilbang: four floors of saunas, indoor and outdoor pools, waterfalls, and massage. www.nyspacastle.com
Oedo Onsen Monogatari, Tokyo
The Disneyland of hot spring resorts! Hot water was discovered by drilling 1400 meters beneath Tokyo Bay on the pleasure island of Odaiba. Oedo was created in 2005, and offers indoor and outdoor bathing, reflexology stone paths disguised as footbaths, massage, sandbaths, 'Doctor Fish' that nibble the dead skin off your feet, plus a plethora of restaurants, snooze rooms, and Edo-era games. Plan on spending no less than four hours www.ooedoonsen.jp/higaeri/english/
Tenzan Onsen, Hakone
Tenzan is the Japanese equivalent of Ten Thousand Waves. A mostly outdoor spa where you can spend the day in the scenic Hakone area on the flanks of Mount Fuji. It's an easy day trip from Tokyo, but you might want to spend some time exploring the area. www.asahi-net.or.jp/~UE3T-CB/index_e/spa_e/tenzan_e/tenzan_e.htm
Various in Northern Japan
Because people asked us so often for recommendations of places to visit in Japan, we decided to start taking them there. Every year we offer a tour to the great undiscovered hot springs in rural Japan. As you can imagine, they attract a self-selecting electic cohort of individuals. For details:
Our Favorite Santa Fe Restaurants
Santa Fe is blessed with good restaurants. Here are the ones that we always seem to return to.
Consistently good Italian food in a warm and cozy house near downtown that will leave money in your credit line to spend at the Waves. If nothing else, try the crispy polenta in gorgonzola cream sauce. The pizzas are best in Santa Fe. 505-995-9595 http://www.andiamoonline.com/
Run by chef James Caruso, formerly of El Farol, this downtown tapas place is small, cozy, and dishes up perfect small plates. There's also a good Spanish wine list. It's been so popular that they had to open a sister restaurant, Taberna La Boca, next door--the closest thing to a big city dining scene we have in Santa Fe.
Mu Du Noodles
Unprepossessing in its Cerrillos Road strip mall location, the interior is a riot of rich color and good taste. Pan-Asian done right. If you're not a vegetarian, for whom there are many choices, try the Beef Jantaboon. Chef/owner Mu Jing Lau uses only organic, walk-around-and-scratch-the-ground Pollo Real for her chicken dishes.
Chef/owner Katharine Kagel lived and cooked in Japan for six years before starting Pasqual's in 1980. The food shows influences from New Mexico, Old Mexico, and Asia. No reservations for breakfast and lunch, but worth the wait. Every wine on the list is organic.
This is a great place to go for a spendy meal. The restaurant is located in a great old building on Canyon Road. It was designed by Alexander Girard, some of whose folk art collection is built into nichos and walls of the dining room. In summer, ask for the table by the fountain in the courtyard.
Chef Mark Connell, formerly of Max's, offers an ever-changing creative take on small plates. Arroyo Vino represents one of the hottest trends in dining these days--small plates to share matched with the perfect wine--all for a reasonable price. The space is beautiful, views extraordinary, and the food is seriously good--complex but simple at the same time.
505-983-2100 Arroyo Vino
Tune Up Cafe
Tune Up is one of the most popular locals' hangouts for breakfast and lunch. Former Pasqual's employees Charlotte and Jesus Rivera have done a complete makeover of the old Dave's Not Here on Hickox (word is that a steam cleaner was required). It's now a bright, clean, and cheery place with outdoor seating, great burgers, and some interesting cuisine from Jesus' home country of El Salvador.
New Mexican Food?
If you want to know the difference between Mexican and New Mexican, try one of the three listed below. They have all been around longer than the Waves, they are all reasonably priced, and you don't have to dress up to get your chile fix. Try handmade tortillas, chips, & salsa, sopapillas, posole and find out the answer to the official New Mexico state question, "Red or Green?"
Maria's New Mexican Kitchen
They literally wrote the book on margaritas, with over 100 different kinds available. One's not enough, but two are too many!
A real local's breakfast place downtown. The menu says, "Not responsible for too hot chile." Plus, the owner, Nick, speaks Japanese!
505-983-9880 Tia Sophia's
The owner, George Gundry, is scion of the first family of New Mexican food. He's the third generation of the folks responsible for Tomasita's, Tia Sophia's, Horseman's Haven, and Diego's. They use local produce and grass-fed beef and it shows.
In the land of green chile and gourmet foodie palaces, some of the best hamburgers in the country can be found. As a lunch option, some of the priciest places in town become very affordable. Most allow you to customize with green chile, onions, mushrooms, bacon, rajas, smoky homemade ketchup, and all come with hand-cut french fries and/or onion rings. Listed below are the bastions of burgers: