Beginning Wednesday, Ten Thousand Waves will become perhaps the first New Mexico hotel, restaurant and spa to have vaccination requirements for lodging, indoor dining and spa guests.
All lodging and hot tub guests, as well as indoor dining patrons at the spa’s Izanami restaurant, will have to show proof they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of visiting, owner Duke Klauck said.
Since early July, guests have needed to prove they were vaccinated to get massages, facials and spa treatments.
Outdoor dining guests at Izanami are the only Ten Thousand Waves visitors exempt from COVID-19 vaccination because the outdoor dining environment presents the least risk of coronavirus transmission, Klauck said.
Klauck and his executive team started considering requiring vaccinations or COVID-19 test results about three weeks ago following an announcement from influential New York restaurateur Danny Meyer that vaccinations or test results would be required at his dozen or so full-service restaurants.
“That’s what made me sit up,” Klauck said.
Other prominent restaurants across the country have started requiring proof of vaccinations for diners, but so far, Izanami appears to be the only full-service New Mexico restaurant to do so, said Carol Wight, CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association.
“He’s taking it real seriously,” Wight said of Klauck. “The only other I know of is Sister Bar in Albuquerque. They are requiring everybody to be vaccinated for concerts.”
No other New Mexico hotel or motel is known to have vaccination requirements for guests, said Kathy Komoll, CEO of New Mexico Hospitality Association.
“As far as I know, they are the first ones,” she said. “I [haven’t] heard anything as to anyone requiring vaccination from guests.”
Jeff Mahan, executive director of the Santa Fe Lodgers Association, has not heard of any other Santa Fe lodging establishment requiring COVID-19 shots from guests.
“I would tell you I could not dispute what [Klauck] has to say,” Mahan said.
Ojo Spa Resorts in Ojo Caliente and Santa Fe have stopped short of vaccine requirements.
“We are monitoring COVID closely with certain concern,” said James Walker, the company’s marketing and communications director. “Where we are concentrating is face masks for our team and guests in indoor environments. We are not currently requiring vaccinations of our guests. We are one click short of that.”
Ten Thousand Waves started mandatory COVID-19 shots for its 150 employees and contractors in early July.
Of that group, only five remain unvaccinated, Klauck said, adding two left the company and two others agreed to work 80 percent of their shifts outdoors, get weekly COVID-19 tests and not eat indoors or use a break room. Another employee recently went through surgery.
In August, Klauck and his executive team hashed out the realities of imposing vaccination requirements on guests.
“We had some people who were not sure that it would not be devastating to our business,” Klauck said. “We talked about it one day for a long time. We got everybody to reach a consensus. For the last three weeks, we spent all our time figuring out the logistics. We are calling all our reservations. We are sending out emails and newsletters.”
Klauck came to realize Ten Thousand Waves could play a bigger role than just being a spa a few miles up Hyde Park Road.
“As things started to get a little more serious with the delta variant, I saw we need to influence a greater number of people,” he said. “We are trying to make this particular place safe for guests and employees. The message is we were all thinking a couple months ago that we are back to normal. The truth of the matter is we are not.
“There is something we can do to avoid all this death and millions of cases, and that is to see as many people vaccinated as possible. We think there is going to be as many people who will applaud what we are doing and will come to see us as there will be choosing not to come here.”