Palm Springs spas are intricately entwined with the history and geology of the Coachella Valley. The entire area is dotted with natural mineral hot springs that bubble up to the surface and have been the source of many of the place names. The Native Americans who lived here when settlers came with the railroad in the 1880s knew of these springs and the healing qualities of them. Land that is currently the center of downtown Palm Springs was leased by a rancher who built a hotel and bathhouse over it in 1887. This became the first of what are today scores of Palm Springs spa resorts and patients suffering from tuberculosis (a scourge at the time) flocked here to “take the cure.”
In 1909, an article in Sunset Magazine (founded in 1898) announced that "All affections of the Skin, Rheumatism, diseases of the Kidneys and Bladder yield readily to the medicinal waters of the Hot Springs," and by the late 1920s a number of Palm Springs hotel spas had sprung up and gained international fame. Even the healthy came to visit and enjoy the spas and the magnificent scenery of deserts and mountains. Hollywood stars came from nearby Los Angeles. Presidents came, beginning with Hoover and Roosevelt. Gerald Ford retired here, and died here in 2006. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz built the first hotel ever on a golf course, and today the legacy of these famous visitors remain, from events like the Dinah Shore and Bob Hope golf tournaments to street names and even the Bono Terminal at the airport (named for entertainer/politician Sonny Bono).
Palm Springs hotel spas and resorts are located throughout the Coachella Valley. They stretch from the Salton Sea in the south to the borders of Joshua Tree National Park and the San Jacinto Mountains on the east and west to the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in Cabazon to the north. Many of these Palm Springs spas take advantage of the natural springs, and there are many others that are manmade. Some of them are lovely boutique hotels, several of which are located in Desert Hot Springs, including the historic Two Bunch Palms and the El Morocco Inn.
Among the more modern Palm Springs spa resorts is the Palm Springs Marriott, actually located in neighboring Palm Desert. This lovely five-star property is surrounded by green golf courses, with sparkling swimming pools built on islands over a manmade lake, and lavishly appointed rooms and suites. The full-service spa is extensive, and the property offers vacation packages for golf, for spa treatments, and for special events like weddings. While not all of the Palm Springs hotel spas have such extensive grounds and facilities, they offer many of the same services.
More subdued and exclusive Palm Springs spa resorts might appeal to you. The El Morocco Inn and Spa in Desert Hot Springs has only a couple handfuls of opulent rooms with a decidedly “Arabian Nights” feel to them, and the exclusive spa is reserved only for guests. Here, you can imagine yourself at one of the exclusive spas of Sharm el Sheik in Egypt. If you’d rather have the excitement of readily available nightlife and gambling, you can find Palm Springs spas and resorts that are also casinos. You can try the Agua Caliente Casino and Spa Resort in Rancho Mirage. Agua Caliente means “hot water” in Spanish, and this band of Cahuilla Indians were the original owners of most of the land in this region, and it is they who first leased land with hot springs to settlers.