INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Long ago, before Bob Hope, Desi Arnaz and
Frank Sinatra brought golf and celebrities to the California
desert, the makings of the first spas bubbled beneath the ground
The native Indians of the area's Cahuilla tribe used the natural
springs for health and spiritual purposes. And, today, resorts are
using them to cater to the growing market of spa vacations.
The latest development is at the Miramonte Resort & Spa,
which is scheduled to open a major facility on April 1.
It is called the Well, a name chosen to reflect the ancient
history of the area. (Many of the hot springs were wells used by
the Indians of the desert.)
The grounds of the Miramonte Resort include one of the three
wells in the city limits of Indian Wells, the city named for the
The resort, built in the 1960s and known as the Erawan for
decades, was renovated in the last few years with a $28 million
investment from its owner, Milwaukee-based Marcus Hotels and
The spa will be 12,000 square feet and contain 10 outdoor and
nine indoor "relaxation suites" for massages and other
In keeping with the Tuscan theme of the rest of the hotel, the
spa will have several Italian touches.
"There's an Old-World feel, and we want people to feel the
relaxation based on the Italian way of life," said Jennifer Di
Francesco, spa manager. Examples of the Italian-themed treatments
include an olive oil scrub and a grape seed scrub.
Di Francesco has years of experience in running spas in the
California desert. She opened the spas at La Quinta and Westin
Mission Hills and is a licensed aesthetician, massage therapist and
She said the spa will offer unusual features such as the
"pittura festa," where guests are encouraged to use brushes and
paint colorful mud and clays on themselves or a partner's body.
They can then bask in the sun in their private cabana as the mud
detoxifies the body and soothes muscles as a therapist massages the
scalp and does press-point facials while the mud dries.
Two "river benches" enable couples to lie on sculpted stone
chaise lounges in a shallow stream of water.
There are also planned fitness classes, including yoga, Pilates,
tai chi and meditation.
"Spa-savvy people are always looking for unique experiences,"
said Di Francesco. "This will be intimate, a sanctuary from 21st
The spa area opens to the Miramonte's swimming pool area, which
contains several cabanas available for private relaxing.
The patio of the hotel's restaurant, Brissago, a
California-Italian restaurant, is also adjacent to the spa.
The $2 million spa is part of an ongoing expansion for the
Miramonte. In addition to building the spa, the hotel renovated its
216 guest rooms with new bedding and beds in the last year.
The owners plan to add 10,000 square feet of meetings space,
including a new free-standing ballroom, which will bring the total
meetings and events space to 20,000 square feet, said K.C. Kinsey,
director of sales and marketing.
The hotel's strongest selling points are its lush landscaped
grounds, with bougainvillea-draped balconies; herb, citrus and rose
gardens; and views of the Santa Rosa Mountains, he said.
The property's small scale is a contrast to some of the local
megaresorts and draws guests and meetings planners, Kinsey
"There are some great resorts in the area, but they don't offer
the intimacy that our grounds offer," particularly to small groups
and corporate retreats of 100 or less attendees, he added.
The hotel's Villa d'Este is designed for high-level executive
retreats or small groups.
It is a private enclave with four one-bedroom suites and a
3,000-square-foot Presidential Suite. Each suite has three
whirlpool tubs, three TVs, four telephones and Bose Wave
The spa services extend to meetings services. Meetings planners
can take advantage of such offerings as fitness breaks with tai chi
instruction and invigorating tea and fruit breaks.
Guest-room services include marble bathrooms, terry bathrobes
and slippers, a separate dressing area, cable TV, telephones with
data ports, wireless Internet access, twice-daily maid service and
24-hour room service.
The hotel offers a one-night spa package for $419 per room,
including a 60-minute massage per person.
For information, contact the hotel at (800) 237-2926 or www.miramonteresort.com.
To contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].