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Spa Hotel & Casino

Location: Historical


The 25,000-square foot spa facility is built directly over the springs that gave Palm Springs its name. Here, the feel-good thermal waters percolate to the earth’s surface at 106 degrees F. In 1871, the property was first operated by the tribe as a bath house for travelers, marking the beginning of the star studded travelers oasis they call Palm Springs. (Palm Springs was recently ranked fifth top hotel destination among 32 cities by a Zagat Survey.)

Copyright Spa Hotel and Casino used with permission.Claim to Fame:

The Spa Hotel & Casino is the only spa facility in the US with individual tubs fed by natural hot mineral springs. The big draw here is definitely the water -- 19 individual indoor tubs filled anew each time you bathe with the natural thermal waters. The spa facilities are now excellent and good value.

Who Went There:

From the 1930’s to the 60’s, the spa facilities and the hotel attracted names like Jack Dempsey, Mary Pickford, William Holden, David Janssen, Lorne Greene, John F. Kennedy and William Boyd. In 1935, the building had a secret staircase that led to an illicit gambling room complete with dumbwaiter.

A staff member who works at the Spa remembers Natalie Wood as quiet, serene and beautiful. Another client who came to soak in the thermal baths was Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. The same staff member recalls her as the chatty sort, just like on Gilligan’s Island. Neither the staff member nor I could remember Ginger’s real name.

Who Goes There (and an aside):

A Shirley Jones fitness video was filmed at the Spa. Guests have included Merv Griffin, Rhonda Fleming and Charlene Tilton.

While floating around in the Spa Hotel & Casino’s outdoor thermal pool (surprisingly, chlorine had been added to the water), I chatted with two guys from LA who were hanging about while having an extended holiday camping in the desert. They were both in their mid forties -- one claimed to be studying how to do nothing for a living, the other didn’t know what he did (I suspected mid-life crisis). They told me all sorts of people come to Palm Springs to enjoy what they called ‘the quiet life’ -- not just movie stars, but set designers, contract dancers, and lots of gays, straight(s) from Hollywood -- as well as folks recuperating from the perils of a high stress life. The LA guys told me clothing optional apartments are a popular alternative available for lease in the area. I guess you’d never have to worry about what to wear.

Copyright Spa Hotel and Casino used with permission.

My new acquaintances days were packed. First, relax in one of the Desert area’s day facility spa pools; then ‘girl watch’ at the exotic clothing store in downtown Palm Springs; at 5:00 p.m. head to the Hilton or Las Casuelas Terraza for cheap happy hour and yummy, free hors d’oeuvres; when the sun sets take in some great live music and shoot pool at the Village Pub, or have a flutter on the roulette wheel at the Spa Hotel & Casino.

Your intrepid writer and her own Guy spent a few sunny desert days and evenings in almost the same manner. We too hung around and took happily to the waters, we too went for cheap happy hour at the Hilton and Las Casuelas Terraza , we too listened to great live music at the Village Pub. We also discovered a trendy restaurant (Palomino Euro Bistro 73-101, Highway111, Palm Desert), and attended a church whose popular and charismatic ex-pastor had an affair with one of his female congregation (she was 14) and he got the boot. The philandering, girl-child snatching but oh so charismatic pastor now actually has his very own church -- he calls it the Church of Bliss. (Take your own conclusion).

Copyright Spa Hotel and Casino used with permission.Details:

The Spa Hotel & Casino’s ‘Spa Experience’ day pass costs US$19.55. It allows use of the sauna, steam, eucalyptus inhalation room, endless soaks in individual thermal mineral baths, tranquility room, fitness room, and use of outdoor pools. Facials, wraps, scrubs and all the other spa type treatments, pampering and packages can be booked. 100 N. Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. Telephone: (760) 325-1461.