Desert Hot Springs Travel Guide
Two Bunch Palms celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, but it’s in the last couple of years that it's got really interesting. The resort got new owners in 2012, having been in receivership. Kevin Kelly of Canyon Ranch fame became CEO in July 2013. In September they stripped out the heavy, steakhouse-style restaurant and made a fresher, more Californian area (see it after the jump).
Oh nothing, it’s just a solar farm – a solar farm which, when it was switched on last week, made Two Bunch Palms, the hotel on whose property it sits, the first carbon neutral resort in North America.
Two Bunch Palms is one of Desert Hot Springs’ historical spa resorts, using the natural hot springs for which the town is named. And Two Bunch has some history, too – it’s one of the two oldest mineral spa resorts in the country (75 this year) and has history with Hollywood and even Al Capone, who, legend has it, had it as a hide-out before it became a hotel.
But who needs celebs when you have one of the greenest resorts in America? The stats speak for themselves: 3.5 acres, 1,824 300-watt photovoltaic panels, generating enough energy to power the entire resort. The power it generates will save 375 million gallons of water and 13.5 million pounds of carbon emissions over the next 21 years, compared to normal power sources.
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Last time we heard about Hotel Lautner, it was surrendering to the Coachella Valley heat and closing down for the summer. Now, it’s open again (actually, it opened a little early for Labor Day), and with a special September deal: $199 (plus tax) per night, with no midweek minimum stay (though there’s the standard two night minimum on weekends).
You might think this looks relatively expensive for a Palm Springs hotel, since we told you before how low prices can go there. Is a two night minimum and a $200+ room really worth it?
Yes. 100 percent worth it. A million times over. And not just because it has a kitchen so you can save on eating out. Pictures speak louder than words, so here are some photos from our stay back in 2012, when it was newly open.
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It’s one of the Coachella Valley’s most unique retreats, and now you can get the midcentury classic Hotel Lautner all to yourself – for Fourth of July no less.
The John Lautner-designed hotel (though actually it’s more of a self-catering option with four self-contained rooms, each with a kitchenette and private terrace) will be closing for the hot months of July and August, but before it shuts its doors, it’s offering a special Fourth of July weekend package: buy out the entire compound, which gets you all four rooms, the saline plunge pool, fire pit and BBQ.
The package costs $1900 for the Friday to Sunday, or $2850 for Friday to Monday, including tax. Considering each room usually costs $225 plus tax – midweek, low season – that’s not too shabby.
The name John Lautner is synonymous with Californian architecture. His work in the greater Los Angeles area from the 1940s forward represents some of the best in contemporary design—often dramatic, forward-thinking, and very much relevant today, which is why both long-time Lautner devotees and newfound fans continue to applaud his work. (It could also be the Brad Pitt-effect that's getting more people to stand up and pay attention to the field.)
Interior designer Tracy Beckmann, who, as we reported last week, is also responsible for the recent overhaul of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, and husband Ryan Trowbridge (a furniture designer) recently purchased the John Lautner Desert Hot Springs Motel and plan to reopen the property in 2010. Beckmann and Trowbridge are enthusiasts of the architect and are making sure that every step of renovation process falls in line with "green technologies that Lautner himself would have approved of." Like we said yesterday, green is definitely the new black.
Funny thing about the Hope Springs Resort: Reviewers can't stop fawning over how this 10-room boutique property in Desert Hot Springs, CA, lacks pretension--but not many can make that proclamation without coming off as pretentious themselves.
"This is not Palm Springs, thank heavens, and though there are plenty of restaurants nearby ... there isn't much to do at night unless you want to drive into town, as it were, or go to bed early. The Hope Springs guest understands this; the clientele seems self-selecting that way, quieter than the party animals you will find in PS."
If you're in need of a relaxing getaway, it's probably best to be somewhere sans children. Mineral springs sound like a good idea too. For the L.A. folks, this getaway isn't far at all, just two hours away.
The Belfast Telegraph promoted the place in their line-up of hot spring hotels and described the place thoroughly:
This 10-room former 1950s motel, a 20-minute hop from Palm Springs, has been given a long-overdue makeover by the new owners, a style-savvy graphic designer and record company founder from LA. The interiors are now a triumph of cosy minimalism, with Eames and Saarinen furniture, platform beds, exposed concrete floors and a groovy suspended fire-pit in the lobby.
Although WiFi isn't available in the rooms, it is up and running in the lobby and pool area. As for the service, unfortunately it is the one place that doesn't pass with flying colors. Apparently the concierge is a little "stand offish". But maybe in a hotel of 10 rooms, you don't exactly want them breathing down your neck either.
Blogger PiñaBlog recently spent the night in Desert Hot Springs (near Palm Springs) where he had a blog worthy hotel experience. When he checked into La Toscana, he was greeted with more disdain than joy--never a good start.
Searching for answers to his unpleasant greeting, he checked into his room, glanced out his window, through a net, at the view, and was becoming more unsure about his hotel choice. Next, he unpacked his bags, got online, and read plenty of terrible reviews about his new hotel. Ouch.
The next day, he woke up and tried to make the best of it by heading to the hotel pool. He spent his day poolside with some sort of "tropical model girlfriend" who suffered from what can only be described as a mild case of desert Tourette's. Here is part of his hotel review, the rest is on his blog:
The La Toscana Resort and Spa features some lovely faux rock decorations and the lobby resembles the beginning of a Disneyland ride. The folks behind the desk weren't exactly rude, but they weren't exactly helpful or excited to see us either. When we told the woman we had reservations, she typed some things into the computer and said, "Ok... you get... what's left." She then attempted to give us the impression that she was only joking.
We found our room, showered, got unpacked, read terrible reviews of our hotel on the Internet, and headed out for dinner.
The pool area was inhabited by a classy group of people, including many of our foreign friends. Among them was also a body-builder-looking man with his tropical model girlfriend. On the other side of the pool was a couple of women who seemed to frequent the La Toscana Resort and Spa. One of them dipped into the pool while I was the only one in the water. As I turned around she was shooting backwards, straight towards me. She stopped a few feet away, caught her breath, and yelled, "I've got to stop smoking so much marijuana!" At various intervals throughout the afternoon she yelled single words, such as, "Pot!" and "Asthma!" I should also mention the phrase, "I Burnt My Boob!"
Maybe next time PiñaBlog will check the web for hotel reviews before he checks in; however, then he wouldn't have a series of once in a lifetime hotel experiences.
Yes, of course, the terms of victory stated that Womantraveler would have to endure 100+ desert heat, as her prize could only be redeemed during low season.
So when she dared to venture outside the air conditioning of her room what did she think of the place?
At a closer look, I would not normally call Miracle Springs a "resort." But clearly that's a relative term (after all, there are RV "resorts"). I would qualify it as a budget family motel (110 rooms) with 7 natural hot mineral water pools -- and a high-quality spa.
What we want to know is...what about the roaches? Sure this place has pretty brochureware photos (see above right), but we recently read a Miracle Springs Resort & Spa guest story involving roaches: