Desert Hot Springs was first homesteaded by Hilda Maude Gray in 1908. Five years later, adventurer and human rights activist Cabot Yerxa settled on 160 acres (now Cabot’s Pueblo Museum) and discovered a 600-year-old sub-basin aquifer while digging a well. A decade later, Al Capone built Fortress West, a playground for mob bosses and Hollywood stars who were looking for a hideway — as well as a place to soak in the hot springs.
These minteral-rich waters received rave reviews when Australian geologist and chemist Dr. Augustus Broue, who traveled the globe analyzing hot springs, visited in 1938 and declared that it had qualities “far superior” to any waters known to him. In 1941, the first public spa, called Coffee’s Bath House, opened. Thought to increase blood flow and circulation, boost metabolism, and aid the absorption of essential minerals in the body, natural hot springs have become the most popular spa treatments in the world. DHS is home to more than 20, each with its own special appeal.
Two Bunch Palms
This adults-only resort and spa is the former location of Fortress West and remains an immensely popular retreat. Guests can soak in the shaded grotto, where water cascades into two separate pools, cooled to 104° and 99° F. While you’re here, pamper yourself from a list of spa treatments, including sound healing, in which Tibetan singing bowls induce an even deeper state of relaxation.
67425 Two Bunch Palms Trail. 760-329-8791; www.twobunchpalms.com
El Morocco Inn and Spa
Bringing a touch of Casablanca to the Coachella Valley, this exotic inn aims to help your “cares float away” with two thermal pools, comfortable lounges decked in cheerful threads, and a whimsical garden. Intensify the experience with a sugar scrub or massage and a free Morocco-tini.
66810 4th Street. 760-288-2527; www.elmoroccoinn.com
Tuscan Springs Hotel and Spa
Enjoy an Italian-inspired getaway at this 16-room boutique hotel, which offers two natural springs baths, as well as a large hot mineral water pool, heated at various temperatures to appeal to every spa-goer. Luxurious poolside lounging (complete with queen-size beds) and couples massages make this a prime destination for a romantic retreat.
68187 Club Circle Drive. 760-251-0189; www.tuscansprings.com
Miracle Springs Resort and Spa
This laid-back, family-friendly resort boasts eight pools and spas, ideal for soaking and swimming. Mineral waters are cooled to 90° and 104° F to suit every comfort level. An array of spa treatments, including massage, reflexology, and acupuncture, make a day at the springs the ultimate medicine for the soul.
10625 Palm Drive. 760-251-6000; www.miraclesprings.com
Living Waters Spa
This European-style spa encourages guests to unwind in the waters au naturel and enjoy “a total immersion in nature.” It also offers a menu of massage treatments, some in combination with life coaching or couples counseling. The best takeaway, second to feeling stress-free: no tan lines!
13340 Mountain View Road. 760-329-9988; www.livingwatersspa.com