Find Your Desert Oasis Renewal at Two Bunch Palms
The grotto at Two Bunch Palms Spa Resort (Photo courtesy of Two Bunch Palms)
Afloat in a free-form lithium-rich mineral grotto pool, one languidly gazes up at a grove of fan palms standing tall and stately against a sky of startling blue clarity. This grove plus one more equals two “bunches” of palms, revealing both an oasis in an arid desert setting, and the name of a beloved healing spa resort: Two Bunch Palms.
This long-time favorite destination for in-the-know health and wellness pilgrims—especially those from L.A. and San Diego—has made a comeback following a renovation to celebrate the property’s 75th anniversary in 2015.
The oldest hot mineral springs resort in the country is now recognized as the first “Sustainable Wellness Resort” in North America and the first carbon-neutral resort with a 3.5-acre solar farm providing all electricity.
An “energy vortex,” desert oasis, once discreet hideaway for Hollywood stars, even a secret hiding place for notorious gangsters, Two Bunch Palms is nothing if not a place of healing and history, nestled in the Coachella Valley in Desert Hot Springs, California.
Just a 20-minute drive from Palm Springs International Airport, or a two-hour drive from L.A., guests invariably leave their travel stress at the gates of the resort. In no time, most will be floating in the stone-lined grotto pool—a natural aquifer whose waters are cooled to 99 degrees—perhaps reading, softly chatting, and sipping cucumber or lemon water from dawn 'till dusk. The mood-balancing lithium works its magic, as does the gentle light filtering through the trees.
Long white terry cloth robes are the uniform of choice as laid-back lounge lizards emerge from the pool to wind along flower-lined pathways back to their rooms or make the short hop to the spa for their scheduled massage, mud-bath or water treatment—still or sparkling.
The most important decision to be made at Two Bunch Palms is which wellness class to experience.
The weekly schedule of free classes (offered hourly from 8am to 6pm) includes Tai Chi Qigong at the Labyrinth Pond, Restorative Yoga at the Celestial Dome, the Power of Juicing at the Essence Lounge and Spiritual Healing at the Garden House.
Some practitioners even have star power and a loyal following. Michael E. Hamilton, Doctor of Oriental Medicine/Acupuncture Physician, guides both the Mindfulness Meditation and the Tai Chi Qigong classes, where he helps students at all levels work on balance, awareness and gratitude.
Whether you choose the Vino & Van Gogh “wine sampling and painting your life’s canvas,” join the Healing Drum Circle or sample the Gentle Water Yoga, you’ll have the chance to step out of your everyday reality and stretch your mind and muscles.
En route to your session of choice, wander the winding trails of the lush 77-acre property, walk its rock-lined labyrinth, play tennis on one of two courts, swim in one of the refreshing cool pools and swing in a hammock by a shimmering pond populated by turtles, ducks and cranes.
Trendy new restaurants beckon in Palm Springs, the neighboring art, culture and foodie mecca, but some guests decide that less is more and going nowhere is the way to go. Essence makes this easy, as the resort’s restaurant serves well-priced “conscious cuisine”—sustainable, local, seasonal, organic when possible and always healthful.
The setting is lovely and light-filled by day. Wraparound windows offer a sweeping view of the desert landscape, as you breakfast on such well-priced fare as a Seasonal Veggie and Mediterranean Omelet or Hawaiian-style French Toast, or lunch on Gazpacho with grilled shrimp or a Beet Salad with organic honey and a local goat cheese. Evenings dine overlooking the starlit desert or choose an intimate table warmed by a roaring fire.
70 newly renovated guestrooms and suites are scattered around the resort, past groves of fruit trees and gardens that provide their bounty to Essence. For lunch, pluck some sweet juicy tangerines from the patio tree outside the well-designed Soulstice King, a large room with a sense of understated luxury and custom built furniture. Beautiful barn doors separate the bathroom from the bedroom, which opens to a private patio and fire pit, making this a favorite room choice.
Guests looking for lower pricing and roll-out-of-bed access to the spa and grotto pool book the Vintage rooms in the natural stone buildings bordering the Grotto. Some find these rooms small and dark, others love their old-world charm. Make sure to study the photos and room details when booking.
Check for all-inclusive specialty packages, with the caveat that sometimes the spa is booking out weeks in advance, especially for weekends.
This just-announced Summer Bed & Breakfast Package is available for travel dates through August 20. Priced from $169, it includes one night in a Soulstice King, breakfast for two at Essense, a $50 spa credit, and the resort’s 45 weekly programming classes and unlimited mineral water soaks.
More by Carol Canter
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions