By H. Simmons –
On the north side of Interstate 10, the nearly 24 square miles of Desert Hot Springs sits on the valley’s west end. The city’s back is set against the vast Joshua Tree National Park. It has its own water supply, both hot and cold. The city’s hillside views include the sparkling towns and spectacular mountains of the entire CV. Sitting pretty, Desert Hot Springs is a community that has a lot to celebrate.
The population of year-round residents is over 27,000. There is a dichotomy about this community. While it houses the poor and the working class it also has world-class resorts and million dollar views. On the hills, in between single-family homes tucked into neighborhoods behind ornate gates and finished walls, are the amazing boutique spas of Desert Hot Springs.
There are 24 spas and hotels that have between six and 110 rooms. The owners are educated, sophisticated and committed to providing a place of wellness and relaxation, all with loads of style and character. Most spas have treatment rooms and massage therapists on site. The springs come directly from the city’s hot aquifer. It is odor free mineral water with temperatures between 85 and 185 degrees.
Whether you stay for the day or overnight, there is something for everybody. DogSpa is a small resort where you can vacation with your beloved pet dog. El Morocco Inn & Spa has round beds and Egyptian cotton sheets with 5000 thread count. Anahata Springs Spa and Retreat is clothing optional and operates with a Zen philosophy designed to “expand your heart.” Tuscan Springs Hotel & Spa provides Italian hospitality. The Springs is a chic award-winning destination. Living Water Spa has a unique flow through water system. For 18 hours the hot mineral water fills its pools using pressure and the water leaves under gravity.
The Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa has rooms with large private spas. Newly redone, it is beautifully appointed and also has full spa treatments available. The Aqua Soleil, Miracle Springs Resort and Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel all have restaurants. Every year there is a spa tour that shows off the outstanding resorts.
Water is certainly an important component to any community. But it plays a significant role in the character of Desert Hot Springs. The community takes great pride in the Mission Springs Water District. The citizens formed the district as a publicly owned water company in 1953. This year it celebrates 60 years of providing some of the best water in the world.
Desert Hot Springs sits on two deep aquifers. Divided by an earthquake fault, one side is hot and the other is cold. The district has 14 wells and 24 reservoirs and serves 135 square miles.
It is widely believed that Desert Hot Springs’ location is situated in a vortex that promotes health and wellness. The natural elements of mineral water, unspoiled desert expanse, mountain elevation, earthquake faults, wind and sunshine create a significant energy field. Some think vortexes are negative ion generators influenced by unusual magnetic forces.
The city has taken this important feature to heart. Recently completed, the Health and Wellness Center houses a 22,000 square foot Boy’s and Girl’s Club, an 8,200 square foot Health Center and a 2,000 square foot Aquatic Center with a competition-sized pool.
The beautiful building is located across from the high school and provides a teen center, learning and computer center, gymnasium and outdoor patio. The Health Center has a cardio gym, dental exam stations, medical exam rooms and an outdoor patio community room.
The city is working on providing more medical facilities to serve the uninsured and under insured. UCR has a new facility on Palm Drive just south of Von’s and is nearly ready to provide additional care for the community.
The Desert Hot Springs Women’s Club will celebrate 50 years as a community service organization. Raising funds for scholarships, schools and local sports, they have given away nearly $350,000. According to Josie Rizzio, First Vice President of the organization, the women will revive a past tradition and celebrate with an old-fashioned pig roast and picnic in March.
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is a Hopi-style pueblo on 160-acre property. The builder, Cabot Yerxa, is credited for discovering the city’s hot water. This funky 5,000 square foot building has 35 rooms, 150 windows and 65 doors and is a real step back in time. Homesteaded in 1913, it celebrates100 years.
The City of Desert Hot Springs has seen some hard times and faced difficult challenges, but it has turned a corner. According to Heather Coladonato, Desert Hot Springs’ Chamber of Commerce CEO, there are over 225 Chamber members. That’s up from 165 since May 2012. It has 97 percent retention of members and is growing. “Our strongest chamber and city attribute is opportunity!” reports Coladonato. “Desert Hot springs is a city on the move in all the right directions.”
The Chamber runs the Visitor Center, which had over 4,000 walk-ins and 708 calls about the city and gave nearly 5,000 referrals in its last quarter. Desert Hot Springs residents spend over $220 million in retail revenue in other valley cities. But new businesses are on the horizon for the town. In 2010, the city annexed the land from I-10 to Dillon Road and from Indian Trail to Palm Drive. Only 20 percent of Desert Hot Springs is developed, making it a city ready for growth.
City Manager Rick Daniels has been on the job since 2007 and credits the City Council for setting priorities that put the city first. Public safety, fiscal stability, economic development and quality of life have been the task at hand.
With 45 officers, Desert Hot Springs’ Police Department reports all types of crime are down by 46 percent. There is a 24/7 hot line for graffiti removal: 760 288 0609. Roads are 90 percent in good and very good condition. There is a renewed and remodeled downtown. The city maintains a balanced budget and has appropriate reserves.
“Now it’s finding the money to continue the progress that’s been made. We need to sustain what we’ve done. We need to continue to expand and to increase police protection,” said Daniels “The next step of evolution in the city is parks and recreation. That will enhance the fabric of the community and quality of life. We need to make the community kid friendly and kid active.”
Desert Hot Springs has six elementary schools (one under construction), two middle schools and a high school. The population’s median age is 33 and the majority of residents are families. Desert Hot Springs is a multi-generational, multi-racial community with strong character and independence. The majority of the city’s workforce travels across the freeway everyday.
Mayor Yvonne Parks was on city council in 2005 and was elected Mayor in 2007. “We have made mistakes. But we’ve learned from them. A lot of things fell through the cracks. But we’ve cleaned up and sealed the cracks,” said Parks. “We have it together today. We have our doors open and we are ready for business.”
The city was incorporated in 1963 and will celebrate its 50-year anniversary in October. Cabot’s Pueblo is 100; the Mission Springs’ Water District is 60; and the Women’s Club is 50. But it is the city’s bright future that is real cause to celebrate.