There is a whole lot of new going on around North America’s hot springs industry. Check out this round-up of both practical and innovative solutions to make the hot springs experience enjoyable and memorable for guests in the United States and Canada.
Chena Hot Springs, located 60 miles from Fairbanks, has recently expanded the entrance to its hot springs, added a new outdoor hot tub, renovated the sun deck so it can be used year-round thanks to heated concrete floors, and installed better signage around the hot springs to make it easier for guests to navigate.
Castle Hot Springs welcomed the addition of General Manager Ryan Tomm and Director of Sales and Marketing Tina Newman this summer and continues its debut through the 2019-2020 season with a focused emphasis on its clear and mineral rich hot springs and high-touch service for guests. The on-site farm that is nourished by natural spring water is being enlarged, a designated space for yoga added, paddle-board yoga introduced in one of the three pools, and hiking and biking trails improved. Also, on-property employee housing is being expanded.
Mount View Hotel & Spa in downtown Calistoga is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2019 with a total renovation of the hotel that was completed in July. Soaring nine-foot, Art Deco design iron front doors welcome guests and ensure a grand entrance to the property and the lobby that showcases original crown moldings and architectural details that are crowned by an exquisite 1920s Art Nouveau-Art Deco chandelier. Outside, the pool and natural hot springs mineral water spa have been resurfaced and updated and have a classic 1920s look that is complete with private cabanas.
Calistoga’s landmark Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort is under new ownership, The Chartres Lodging Group. This popular mud bath destination will be undergoing a renovation in 2020 adding more thermal pools, an outdoor game area, a restaurant and bar on the adjacent lot.
Surprise Valley Hot Springs in Cedarville (pop. 500) is the closest attraction to the “Massacre Rim Dark Sky Sanctuary” in northwest Nevada. It is one of only four designated dark sky sanctuaries in the United States and only 10 in the entire world. In tandem with this coveted designation, Surprise Valley Hot Springs is hoping to install concrete stargazing pads that are geothermally heated. “Night sky watching can get chilly and these will allow guests to set their telescopes up, grab a chair, wrap up in a blanket and capture the heat coming up from the slab,” says Manager Curt Rose. In addition, a 3,605-feet-deep geothermal exploration well was dug with the support of a California Energy Commission Grant and Modoc County that turned out successful so options for electricity generation, greenhouses, aquaculture and heating a nearby subdivision are being considered.
In Desert Springs Hot Springs, Desert Hot Springs Inn has been purchased by the owners of Aqua Soleil and continues to be among the most pet-friendly hot springs properties in the U.S.
Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel and Miracle Springs are sister properties located next door to each other and keep their hot springs open 24/7. Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel is now offering weekly water yoga classes, and Miracle Springs has opened at cannabis delivery and buddery retail store.
Also in Desert Hot Springs, El Morocco Inn & Day Spa has undergone a major remodel over the past two years to better accommodate disabled guests. “Despite being an older property, we are working toward 100 percent compliance with current California ADA standards (which are stricter than federal requirements),” says Managing Director Robert Griffith. “This year, we have added a ramp to our Spa Garden and are currently working on installing paving stones on the paths to make it easier for those with mobility issues.”
Established in the early 1970s, Sky Valley and sister property Caliente Springs are only five miles apart on Dillon Road in Desert Hot Springs and continue to be family owned and operated. With 891 homes, rentals and RV sites at Sky Valley and 680 at Caliente Springs, the resorts are in the process of modernizing and enhancing amenities and programming to better showcase the properties and mineral hot springs as active lifestyles continue to grow and develop for the aging population. For example, Sky Valley installed a pickleball facility with eight courts to support its growing pickleball community and demands of the Margaritaville USA Pickleball Championships at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
After several months of planning, construction and testing, the new aquatic features at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort opened for adventurers of all ages this summer. Sopris Splash Zone is the family-friendly resort’s newest addition to the hot springs, spa and lodge property in Glenwood Springs. Sopris Splash Zone is located on the west end of the pool and has three distinct areas: a fast-moving adventure river ride that older kids and adults can ride on one- or two-person tubes, a wade-in pool with waterfalls and small slides, and a fountain designed for play during the day and show at night. The aquatic park is located at the west end of the pool and replaced two fiberglass water slides and a miniature golf course. The on-site lodge and athletic club received upgrades as well.
Also in Glenwood Springs, Iron Mountain Hot Springs has added a VIP lane for pass holders as well as prepaid tickets that can be purchased online to speed up the entry process. In addition, guests now receive RFID wristbands that open and lock available lockers.
Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort near Buena Vista celebrated its 140th anniversary by debuting a new Family Relaxation Pool in July that is adjacent to the upper pool and 400-foot water slide area. The new pool features an infinity-edge design with a zero-entry point on one end, built-in seating and a sunbathing deck. The pool is available for private parties and events.
Lava Hot Springs & Waterpark Resort in Lava Hot Springs has been making improvements over the past few years with the latest being new restrooms that replaced porta potties in the parks just west of the hot springs. In addition, the lobby and gift shop have been remodeled and larger lockers added.
Helena’s Broadwater Hot Springs has been under new ownership since 2015. Since then, there have been a number of major upgrades such as a renovated fitness floor, locker rooms, sauna and steam room, and taproom and grill, along with a new pool, hot tub and cold plunge. “We are currently reconstructing our original pool into a beautiful new area similar to our newer springs pool, but it will be even more incredible. It is opening later this fall,” says Operations Manager Billie Perry. “We also have new indoor and outdoor event space for corporate meetings, reunions, parties, etc.”
Located in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Riverbend Hot Springs now has a guest room with a dedicated hot springs pool on its private patio for 24/7 soaking. Due to the popularity of this addition at La Casita Cottage, the Riverbend Hot Springs plans to add more of these ultra-private pools to future hotel rooms and cabins as the property expands.
“We’re always practicing ‘kaizen,’ the Japanese concept of constant, thoughtful improvement,” says Duke Klauck, owner of Ten Thousand Waves in Sante Fe. Within the last year, the property has added and remodeled several lodging rooms, doubled the size of its footbath, added a fire pit and other outdoor relaxation options surrounding the koi pond, created three new facial rooms, completed a new women’s changing room that tripled the original size, added more convenient parking, and started building an elevator that is modeled after a three-story pagoda. In addition, Ten Thousand Waves is now serving fish imported directly from Tokyo and added A5 Wagyu beef imported from Miyazaki, Japan to its menu.
Carson Hot Springs in Carson City is adding two new pools that are scheduled for completion in November 2019. Unique highlights are an on-site Shoe Tree Brewing Co., which can produce 600 barrels of finished beer annually and features a tasting room, and Sassafras Restaurant that works closely with local vendors, farms, breweries, wineries, bakeries and coffee roasters and features a stage and dance floor.
The owners and developers of The Baker Hotel and Spa have purchased, taken ownership and commenced a three-year, $65 million renovation and restoration of the Spanish Colonial Revival hotel located in Mineral Wells. The Baker will be transformed into a luxury resort hotel, spa and conference center designed for modern-day travelers and event-goers with plans for a grand opening in 2022. The 14-story property opened in 1929 as a health resort frequented by celebrities such as Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, The Three Stooges and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Despite numerous renovation plans that never came to fruition, the structure has sat abandoned since 1972. Upon completion, the historic property will feature 157 guest rooms, Baker and Presidential Suites, a natural springs-based wellness spa with indoor and outdoor natural springs and more than 20,000-square-feet of meeting and event space, as well as a restaurant, lounge, coffee shop and retail shops.
Saratoga Hot Springs Resort in Saratoga has expanded its brewery and new beer garden. “We also coined the phrase ‘Drink and Drown,’ but on the t-shirts had to add the disclaimer: Use of the word drown is meant in jest and not intended for literal interpretation,” notes General Manager Scott Randall.
One of the unique things about Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis is that the State of Wyoming owns the facility, and concessionaires manage two out of the three pools. The state operates a free bathhouse that sits between the two private pools and will be requesting RFPS in the near future to lease one of the private pools as the current lease has expired.
Takhini Hot Springs is located approximately 18 miles from downtown Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory in Canada. The pools have been operating since after WWII when the U.S. Army used it as a base during the construction of the Alaska Highway. A new hot springs complex is currently under construction and expected to be completed in 2020, replacing the existing facility. The new pool facility features Onsen pools, saunas, steam rooms, relax rooms and spa retail and will be followed by construction of a lodge with spa services, a restaurant, convention facilities and up to 80 guest rooms built over several phases. Currently, several vacation homes are under construction at Takhini, which already has a 60-site campground and RV park, a 20-bed hostel, an event tent for rentals, and two escape rooms and a 4-mile trail for additional recreation options.