It’s not often we get to take our best friend on a hotel visit, even in open-minded Southern California. But on a recent visit to Desert Hot Springs, known around the world for its therapeutic mineral waters, Monkey Doodle, our four-legged travel companion, found his new favorite stay: DogSpa Resort & Wellness Center, one of a growing breed of properties that truly embrace four-legged visitors without a ton of hidden fees or catches.
“In my travels with my pit mix, Brad Pit, I found ‘pet friendly’ properties to be more of a joke than the real deal,” explains DogSpa co-owner and veterinarian Dr. Paula Terifaj. “First of all, there are the size restrictions. Many have size limits; I would not be allowed to bring my dog since he is not a little dog.
“Add-on pet fees can cost you $20 or more per day; I have seen it go as high as $100—also not my idea of ‘pet friendly,’” she adds. “You can be restricted to stay in rooms put aside for pet owners, which are often the least desirable in terms of views, noise and not yet remodeled.” “Pet friendly” in other properties does not mean that other guests will welcome your dog in public areas, she concludes.
At DogSpa, pups are free to nap on their bed or yours while you’re out, run around in the property’s pretty Dog Park or hang out with you by the mineral-rich pool or spa tub or cozy up for an evening movie at the Dog House Lounge. Bright, happy rooms welcome two- and four-legged guests with thick, comfy beds and treats, respectively; some come with a small, practical kitchen and two of them are adjoining, with a shared kitchen, for families’ comfort.
Besides the benefit of being able to bring your BFF with you, the hotel also provides guests with an array of wellness products in some of its accommodations. “Lots of people are curious about products that make up a ‘wellness home’: purified water, filtered air, magnetic sleep system and natural full spectrum lights. They are offered an opportunity to experience these products in two of our rooms,” explains Terifaj.
Both two- and four-legged guests will love the surrounding area as well; a burrowing owl was the main attraction for our pup during our morning trek. The Coachella Valley and the San Bernardino Mountains, which provide a scenic, romantic backdrop, make for a weekend or a week full of desert hikes and other all-natural activities. Desert Hot Springs is about a 30-minute ride to Joshua Tree National Park, one of California’s most beautiful. Summer rates at DogSpa start at $99 for a studio and $129 for a connecting kitchen.
While Spot hangs out with his dog nanny at DogSpa, clients will want to explore their surroundings and visit area spas. The city’s hot, healing mineral waters originate from the Desert Hot Springs aquifer, which is heated by geothermal forces thousands of feet below the surface of the earth. The waters come from their origin at a much higher temperature than we can stand, so as they come up they are put through a cooling process that allows us to take advantage of its curative powers in the many facilities of “California’s Spa City.” Desert Hot Springs’ cold-water aquifers are also renowned and have garnered international awards for its taste and quality. First discovered and enjoyed by the Cahuilla Indians, the waters were made famous by pioneer Cabot Yerxa, who “rediscovered” them in 1914. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs, located in adobe structures built by Yerxa, offers a good look into the area’s early history.
Spa hotels and resorts in the area come in all sizes and styles—Tuscany-inspired, Moroccan-flavored, clothing optional—and offer an array of treatments as well as easy access to the city’s famous waters. We love the grotto at Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa, as it’s like the one we imagine at Hugh Hefner’s place; big names, including Al Capone himself, have come here to soak and decompress. Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, meanwhile, has several spa suites with their own jacuzzi pools that pump up mineral water.
Each year, Desert Hot Springs puts together a very popular Spa Tour of the mineral springs resorts in the area; tour dates and additional information will be announced in November via the Visit Desert Hot Springs website.
Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) welcomes nonstop flights from the likes of Alaska Air, Delta Air Lines, Sun Country, United and more, arriving from Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, San Francisco and other destinations. Desert Hot Springs is 20 minutes away from Palm Springs and less than a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles.
DogSpa Resort & Wellness Center: (760) 600-0246; dogsparesort.com
Visit Desert Hot Springs: visitdeserthotsprings.com