Somewhere in the somewhat sleepy, desolate town of Desert Hot Springs is a hidden gem called Two Bunch Palms Spa Resort. An adults-only oasis and refuge from the maddening crowd of the city. In contrast, the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa, a hot spot for sophisticated sports fans and family fun, is situated in the heart of all the posh resorts, restaurants and shopping. What they both have in common is a focus on wellness. Plus both were the perfect respite from cities with the hustle and bustle of beach crowds flocking to coastal Southern California in record numbers this year.
Story courtesy of Marjorie Hope Rothstein
Now more than ever, wellness seekers are ready to escape from the harsh restrictions and challenges of our recent world events, to renew and revitalize their energy. Many of us are venturing out after 18-months, and feeling a renewed sense of freedom to explore our favorite wellness hideaways for a healing retreat. I chose the best of both worlds by visiting two resorts. One is Two Bunch Palms, in Desert Hot Springs, which is a remote, adult-only, mineral hot springs resort, and the other, Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa.
While a more popular mid-summer getaway to beat the heat is running to the beach, I am more inclined to explore an off-season escape to the desert for a “wellness water” adventure. One would question my sanity at going to the stifling hot desert when we have so many wonderful beach resorts here in the Greater Los Angeles area. However, that’s precisely why I chose to visit the area of Greater Palm Springs.
Editor’s note: Greater Palm Springs is one of our top regions to embrace wellness travel
Two Bunch Palms Spa Resort
Not only is Two Bunch Palms a healing retreat, with curative hot springs, but a sustainable resort set on 77 acres with walking paths lined with mineral water steams and attractions focused on nature. The resort offers a variety of wellness and enrichment classes, from yoga in the Yoga Dome to guided meditation to Juicing 101. With all of these sustainable-living themed offerings, the property became 100% carbon neutral at the end of March 2015. A new spa concept is still under construction and is scheduled to open soon.
It was so gratifying to see the upgrades to this ultra-exclusive oasis that celebs frequented for decades. Recently, this property catapulted itself into a higher level of wellness offerings that include nine newly constructed outdoor treatment rooms, communal clay mud baths, teak soaking tubs, and outdoor diverse selections of mineral-water baths nestled within the overlaying canopy of mature palm trees. You can stroll along a stone ravine that adds more richness to your nature experience while indulging in the top-rated mineral hot springs in the country. Floating in an on-site lagoon, with its touted therapeutic and mood-enhancing properties is a peak experience. Photo below courtesy of Marjorie Hope Rothstein
Unlike many other such spots, there is no sulfur smell. It is quite amazing to experience such ancient springs, that have been flowing for six hundred years under the earth, and reaching the surface to the delight of those who encounter its healing energies.
I have been visiting this natural wonder for over twenty years, and have fond memories. But this was my first return visit since the remodeling. The upgraded rooms, casitas, and landscape exceeded my expectations. Not only are the accommodations of high quality with a simple zen-like and meticulous attention to details (especially those plush pillows, the high thread-count bedding), but each room also has its own personality.
Our room had two platform beds that also served as seating, which was minimalistic but luxe in its unique style. And what a surprise, no flat-screen TV or other distractions from the outside world. The resort is truly an opportunity to unplug.
The onsite restaurant, Essense, set atop the hillside with spectacular views of the expansive landscape and beyond., offers healthy, farm-to-table cuisine, organic fine dining The folklore of this property has many stories to tell, including the restaurant once being a casino. In fact, until about a year ago Essense was called Casino Restaurant. I loved the local fare, artisanal cocktails and farm-fresh produce.
The remodel reflects the sign of the times, natural materials, modern minimalist, and open spaces with lots of light and outdoor seating. Twine is the intimate new bar experience, appealing to the sophisticated palate as well as simple, yet fresh fare for foodies as well as wine lovers. The outdoor patio deck to the Twine Bar that overlooks the “Cool Pool,” is another alternative to the warm water grotto and hot tubs. The grotto is my favorite meditation area, where one instantly finds oneself immersed in the mineral springs, floating on buoyant “noodles,” while contemplating the raison d’être, or simply reading a book.
The best is sitting under the man-made cascade while the mineral-rich hot water tumbles down your back. And if you’re lucky, it is a rare sighting of other guests, laying out on shallow stone seats with closed eyes or looking up at the canopy of mature palm trees that provide shade and solace.
The best part of the impressive upgrade to the landscape is that is truly feels like an oasis. By adding several hundred mature palms and plants, the setting now makes one feel as if you are in a rainforest. Forest bathing or simply walking and “earthing” amongst the ancient trees, that have been left untouched for decades, is a magical experience.
There is an air of romance, especially at night with the twinkly lights and bright star-lit sky. This property holds a special spot for me, and I escape to it often in my relaxation meditation, with heartfelt gratitude as it has served as my favorite respite for over two decades. It is an ideal destination wedding choice with a dramatic and private setting.
What stands out above and beyond other hot springs properties that I have visited is the attention to detail. After all, it’s the little things that count and make a property a most memorable experience and contribute more than ever to our growing concern for wellness travel as a priority in choosing one over another. I also love its peacefulness, tranquility and adults-only policy.
Of course, with strict adherence to health compliance details, the staff is focused on the highest level of commitment. More on Two Bunch Palms
Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
My next stop was the Hyatt Regency, a family-focused fun-in-the-sun resort where the new main attraction is the water park with two tandem water slides and a lazy river. The effluent water features, especially in the desert, not only appeal to families but is a delight for kids and older kids (like myself.) Immersing in the meandering lazy river in an inner tube and water slides put happy faces on parents and kids alike while bringing all generations together. For some, the key elements for wellness can be a sense of play, fun and simply feeling rejuvenated and alive.
Situated among 45 acres of lush gardens, and providing the signature Palm Springs experience, I found the resort to be truly grand. It is a total package, offering a profuse amount of options, including world-class accommodations, total wellness services, and outdoor recreation including golf.
For those seeking a respite from the crowded water park, the Agua Serena Spa provides a more peaceful, tranquil, intimate setting.
The spa menu offers a multitude of soothing and rejuvenating massages, facials and body treatments to most certainly delight all the senses. Immersing into the full spa environment, there are private men’s and women’s facilities, including a relaxation room, eucalyptus steam room, dry sauna, jetted tub and outdoor showers. A coed Reflection Patio can provide a soothing spot, especially with the sound of flowing water as a backdrop. I’ve always found it beneficial to set aside time to relax and give myself ample space to enjoy the full spa services and treatments without rushing out to the next activity.
The resort offers several dining options with many healthy menu selections, in a variety of eateries.
For my tastes, this desert resort offers a perfect balance between the soothing and calming spa experience, and the exciting array of activities offered from golf to tennis and beyond. Even seniors seeking more thrills can enjoy the combo of wellness and water features.
For special event hosting and weddings, there also are freshly revived grand ballrooms and boardrooms which provide terraces that utilize the inspiring and enchanting landscapes. For more info on Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
Bliss Chakra Spa
Tucked away behind the stylish shops of El Paseo (known as the Rodeo Drive of the desert), another highlight of my de-stressing experience was a crystal bowl Soundbath Meditation session at Bliss Chakra Spa (https://blisschakraspa.com) in Palm Desert. I highly suggest you add it to your “not-to-be-missed” list. Owner, William Cordell is dedicated to performing his unique, relaxing, organic and holistic spa treatments.
Beauty vs Wellness
A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed how people perceived the concepts of “beauty” and “wellness.”
“One finding for all ages and genders: Beauty is about being elegant and sexy at the same time, while wellness is about being both physically healthy and spiritual. Another: Older people have much more distinct concepts of “beauty” and “wellness” than younger generations, and women are more organized than men in their ideas of beauty and wellness and bridge both concepts with reference to appearance and individuality.” The study was co-led by Anjan Chatterjee, MD, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and a GWI research partner with studies on the relationship between beauty and wellness.”
As a person with a passion for both beauty and wellness, it is essential for me to experience a holistic approach to healing through the five senses and beyond. In addition to immersing myself in nature, enjoying a healing and sensational spa treatment is definitely de rigueur. And, I have found that combining the two in the desert region of Greater Palm Springs to be ideal.
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Marjorie Hope Rothstein is a life stylist who has synthesized her professional training in fine art and interior design into a unique niche which she calls “The Fine Art of Living Well.” As a spa trends specialist and columnist for outlerts including Huffington Post, ThriveGlobal, Medium, Longevity, Malibu Magazine and others for over 25 years, she has explored, researched, discovered, and refined her personal “quest for the best” and the ultimate wellness lifestyle. Marjorie loves visiting healing retreats and spas, and sharing with others the secrets of experiencing simple, sensuous pleasures, through the five senses and beyond. You can connect with her at The 5 Star Life Her trip was coordinated with the assistance of Greater Palm Springs CVB