Gay Desert Hot Springs

Hidden Gems of Desert Hot Springs

Posted on August 1, 2023


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Juice cleanse at The Good House Hotel & Spa

Did you know that some of the world’s most therapeutic natural resources are right in our own backyard? For centuries, people worldwide have turned to mineral hot springs to heal what ails them. These unique waters contain a deep concentration of earth’s elements, essential to the human body and to life.

Special insert appears in our July/Aug 2023 magazine

All the more, the composition of minerals found in the waters of Desert Hot Springs (DHS) are of the best in the world. While this fact is commonly known in Europe, where doctors often prescribe bathing in mineral springs (balneotherapy), few in our region regard this treasure. Soaking in the temperature-controlled waters transdermally delivers lithium (the “happy mineral”), magnesium, potassium, calcium, sulfur (odorless) and more, replenishing our need and enhancing both mental and physical well-being. 

Another fact you may not know: no other municipality can match the number of awards DHS’s drinking water has received including “best water in the world” at the 30th Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting (2020).

Beyond the waters is the unique convergence of five energy vortexes – sun, wind, mountains, faults and geothermal water – where earth’s energy is stronger and can be felt more easily. Vortexes are said to generate feelings of peace and have long been used to promote self-reflection or physical and emotional rejuvenation. In Native American culture, such lands were in the care of medicine men who knew that communion with these powerful elements could bring forth healing. Spend time on Miracle Hill and it’s hard not to feel it.

Today, there is a renaissance taking place in DHS as savvy investors, recognizing these earthly assets, are turning historic retreats into modern resorts welcoming all. Beautification of the “Spa Zone” is also underway including an $8.4 million grant to refurbish Hacienda Avenue. 

Thermal therapies are emerging as a global wellness trend, and while guests hail from all over the world, few in the Coachella Valley have experienced these magical springs. This special feature presents a few of our favorites, encouraging valley residents and tourists alike to visit time and again. Whether for a day of rejuvenation, a staycation escape or a complete reset, we invite you to come and explore.

What’s in the water? The therapeutic benefits of DHS’s mineral springs were first assessed in 1937. Immersing in the high concentration of earth’s essential minerals creates a hydrostatic pressure inducing blood flow and nourishing joints, organs and every body part. Minerals are absorbed through skin, replenishing magnesium (nourishing brain, nervous system, heart and bones), calcium (healthy bones and teeth), sulfate (natural pain reliever; healthy skin, hair and nails), lithium (elevates mood and a sense of calm), potassium (vital for heart and kidney health), silica (hastens healing, promotes digestion) and more.

Hot springs in desert heat? With fewer people in town, summer is an ideal time to visit. At over 1,000 feet elevation, DHS is usually 10 degrees cooler than the valley floor with a slight warm breeze that enlivens wet skin. Many resorts offer multiple pools with different temperatures along with cold plunges or showers. Azure Palm even has an ice room available to overnight guests. 

What to bring? A bathing suit, sunglasses, hat, moisturizer and good book (sunblock can block absorption). Each resort featured offers towels for day use and many provide robes; all offer spa services available to book in advance. Azure Palm, The Good House and Miracle Manor offer food and beverages along with beer and wine, while We Care Spa offers liquid nutrition in the form of vegetable juices and supplements for the ultimate reset. Ask about individual policies when making reservations.

While there, we encourage you to live in the moment. Feel the healing energy that surrounds you and let all else go. We hope you enjoy, and please share your experiences in comments below.

Sources: 1); 2); 3) Excerpt from John J. Hunt’s Waters of Comfort, 1993; 4)

One-acre oasis offers a variety of mineral water features to explore.

Walking through the doors of Azure Palm, the tone is set for the natural elegance you have come to enjoy. Sophisticated, earthly décor dons the walls and forms the furniture. Soft, neutral colors invite calm while glass windows before you display an outdoor courtyard overlooking southern California’s largest mineral pool and the resort’s one-acre natural oasis. Relax. You are here.

Hotel guests can enjoy the Himalayan salt and ice rooms.

Azure is the latest creation by Managing Partner Maria Lease, who has been investing in DHS for over 20 years. She renovated and ran The Spring before setting her sites on this larger property to offer more people greater wellness. Her impeccable taste, attention to detail and knowledge of true health are on display. The natural décor extends to the 40 guest rooms, some with in-room mineral soaking tubs, the Himalayan salt and ice rooms, and the Azure Palm Café open to the public (7a-7p) offering a variety of healthy cuisine. Spa services including a complete line of wraps, scrubs and facials are also available.

Azure Palm Café presents healthy offerings.

Wander down to the beautiful oasis to explore an array of niches to rest, relax and immerse in the waters. Enjoy an outdoor sauna followed by a cool bucket plunge or a stroll through the reflexology walk. Through September 15, overnight guests will enjoy “Midnight at the Oasis” featuring extended hours with events and activities planned (seasonal rates start at $189 and include access to the soothing salt and refreshing ice rooms).

Finely appointed rooms contain many natural elements.

Lease also created a program to give back to the city of DHS. Each guest volunteers $1 towards  “Inspiring Young Minds”  which will create cultural experiences for area youth. “Many children in this community don’t get exposure to the arts and experiences outside of DHS,” she says with hopes that other resorts will take part in the new program. She believes this can change a child’s perspective and help enhance the future of DHS.

LOCALS WILL LOVE: The Oasis Day Pass (8a – 8p) offering access to all pools and mineral baths, the one-acre oasis, two saunas, cold bucket plunge and reflexology walk: $62 weekend/$56 weekday; full experience including robe and slippers: $74 weekend/$68 weekday. Locals Card offers a greater discount with each visit and the sixth visit free. Special summer rates on accommodations. 

(760) 251.2000 •

On the top of Miracle Hill, you’ll find Miracle Manor, one the first mineral spring spas built in 1949. The boutique property was recently purchased and beautifully renovated, retaining classic features while adding cozy comforts to present today’s intimate wellness retreat.

Nine modern rooms are simply appointed and inspired by nature. They come together at the communal breakfast table and living room which offers coffee and fresh brewed teas, a snack bar, drinks in a cold case and even vegan date shakes. Healthy meals are available for breakfast (included with accommodations) and lunch at your leisure.

Simply appointed rooms are inspired by nature and mineral soaking tubs are available to all guests. (Photos by Michelle Steadman)

The property boasts some of the most spectacular views in the area along with a flow through mineral pool and hot tub, lounging areas with misters, concrete soaking tubs with twinkle lights, a yoga lawn, full list of spa services and Danielle, their delightful manager and attentive host. Day passes and overnight accommodations are offered along with buyouts for retreats, weddings and events. Sunset dinners under the misters are also planned for summer.

LOCALS WILL LOVE: $45 Day Pass (summer hours are 8a until sunset) includes $10 towards spa services or meal. Summer specials include up to 40% off weekday accommodations.

(760) 329.6641 •

We Care is the crown jewel of our hidden gems. This stunning retreat offers guests the ultimate reset in a natural setting with the largest variety of amenities to “detoxify, revitalize and restore.” 

Juice bar, salt hut and cupping aid in detoxification.

The resort grew from founder Susana Belen’s own self-exploration and earned her the name “Gandhi of Good Health.” Through liquid nutrition, mind, body and spiritual classes, spa treatments and hydro colon therapy, We Care has transformed the lives of thousands from all over the world for over 37 years. The lush property has recently gone through its own transformation with 20 acres of wandering trails, quiet spaces, floating beds, a Himalayan salt hut, saunas, steam room, two non-mineral spring pools, a labyrinth, indoor and outdoor yoga/class spaces and more (two mineral spring pools will be completed next year). At 86, Susana still leads some classes.

The 20-acre resort is designed for relaxation and contemplation.

Luxurious guest rooms (28) emulate nature with circadian lighting to help reset sleep cycles and improve sleep, soaking tubs with dry brushes and signature mineral scrubs and a fridge filled with liquid nutrition to enjoy during your stay. 

Luxurious guest rooms meld with nature.
All guests receive a gift bag upon arrival.

We Care is now offering day passes which graciously include all amenities beyond accommodations, but it is important to note that whether you are there for a day or a week, everyone is doing a liquid fast; no food is permitted. A variety of 12-14 different shakes, teas, vegetable and supplement juices, along with flavored water, are available at your discretion. Juice bar servers educate you on each drink which is purposely designed to be beneficial for specific body parts. The philosophy is to transfer the 30% of energy standardly used for digestion to cellular repair. Classes on meal prep, gut health, breathwork, yoga, sound healing and more are included, along with a 60-minute massage or facial. Additional services may be added; if you wish to have a colonic, preparation instructions are sent in advance.

LOCALS WILL LOVE: $375 day pass (summer hours 7a-9p) includes a 60-minute aromatherapy massage or 60-minute Body Deli facial, access to all facilities, all liquid nutrition and a welcome gift bag. Locals can also take part in multi-day or weekly programs without overnight accommodations. 

(855) 396.6244 •

The Spring is a lovely little resort with European flare. The French doors of the 11 white-curtained guest rooms line the crystal blue mineral pool. Bougainvillea adorns wooden posts, and lounge chairs take center stage in this whisper-tone property that renders relaxation.

The additional hot tub and cold plunge shower offer a rotating thermal experience. Guests can enjoy a vast array of services from their serene spa which boasts the Phytomer line of all-natural skin care products containing farmed minerals from the sea of France. The spa also features both a Finnish and infrared sauna with chromo therapy.  

This whisper-tone property offers a full spa and European flare that renders relaxation.

The resort offers two larger off-property villas which sleep 4-6 and include access to all facilities. Day passes are available or come for a spa service which includes two hours of soak time. Overnight guests receive breakfast. Complimentary cheese and fruit platters are found in the relaxation room along with wine and champagne for purchase. Keep in mind that guests must adhere to the whisper-tone policy. 

LOCALS WILL LOVE: $100 Day Pass (Sunday through Thursday) includes four hours of soak time plus use of saunas. Overnight stays are discounted 25% in July and
30% in August.

(760) 251.6700 •

Welcome home to The Good House. This quaint, rustic modern retreat offers seven stylish rooms, a mineral spring pool and hot tub, dry sauna, full spa, peaceful grounds with a fire pit and yoga lawn, and an in-house chef serving farm-to-table style meals.

Colorful rooms inspire positive vibes.

You don’t need to enter the waters to feel the magic of The Good House. A special sense sets in as soon as you stop and absorb the serene surroundings of this boutique property. Maybe it’s the historic feel of mature shade trees that transcend you from desolate desert to plush oasis, or the peaceful faces of relaxing guests, inviting staff and the occasional wagging tail. It’s as if you’ve walked into someone’s home and can feel the love and care they are extending.

Mineral spring waters and organic cuisine welcome wellness.

Formerly Hacienda Hot Springs, this beautifully renovated resort is all about inclusion, diversity and community. Co-founder Brian Edson is one of southern California’s only Black resort property owners, while Wolfgang Puck-trained Van Stevens is one of the country’s few LGBTQ chefs. And yes, well-behaved four-legged friends are welcome.

Lush grounds transcend and transform. (Photo by Michelle Steadman)

“All of our guests become part of The Good House family,” says Stevens who prepares both healthy and indulgent dishes made to order, with much of their organic produce coming from Coachella’s Temalpakh Farm. Sip on a fresh juice with medicinal spices and herbs, or relish in a glass of their house rosé. Overnight guests have 24-hour access to facilities and may cook their own meals on the outdoor stove to enjoy in-room or at the communal table. The property is available for buyouts (perfect for weddings!) and events as well.

LOCALS WILL LOVE: $60 Day Pass (11a – 5p) including access to pools, sauna, facilities and food, or $40 Soak Pass offering 2-hours of soaking and a $10 credit towards food and beverages. 

(760) 251.2885 •

Something for everyone, so go explore!

These are just a few of the many mineral spring retreats found in DHS. Each has its own unique personality, and while we’ve previewed our favorites here, there is something for everyone – with more on the way. 

The important thing is to take in the waters, feel the energy and let the healing begin, so go explore…

Midcentury minimalist Hope Springs Resort is a whisper-tone property.

For those on a budget, day passes as low as $10 can be found at the midcentury landmark, Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel, built in 1950, and Miracle Springs Resort & Spa, home to local favorite Capri Italian Restaurant.  

Desert Hot Springs Inn is dog and cannabis friendly.

Hope Springs Resort, originally built in 1963, is another midcentury marvel beautifully maintained and recently transformed into a minimalist utopia. With 10 rooms and three pools, this whisper-tone resort welcomes overnight guests and buyouts (no day passes) and attracts a common clientele of “artists and creative people from the entertainment industry.”

For a close escape to Casablanca, check out El Morocco Inn & Spa, where much of the décor was flown in from the North African mecca. A colorful Palm Springs vibe resides at The Aqua Soleil Hotel and Mineral Water Spa whose owners have begun renovations on additional properties in the area and are close to completing the new camper resort on Park Lane.

If you prefer to smoke cannabis, consider Desert Hot Springs Inn which has a large outdoor area and is both dog and cannabis friendly. There are those that cater to families, and of course, the beautiful and historic Two Bunch Palms which is only open to overnight guests.

It’s all about discovery and finding your perfect escape. 

“I’ve lived in the Coachella Valley my entire life and never knew about these boutique resorts and how they cater to healing,” said Desert Health’s Social Media Manager Michelle Steadman on our latest visit. She spent much of her childhood in DHS and recalls playing in local mineral pools, but has just recently rediscovered the waters for wellness.

Please bookmark this page, our pick up our printed edition, so you can explore again and again. A group of entrepreneurs has recently formed the Hoteliers Association of Desert Hot Springs, so we are sure to hear more as the area continues to grow.

Let us know what you discover along the way! Leave your comments.