Living Waters Spa
Desert Hot Springs,
By the Spa Couple
We're just back from
the deepest relaxation and the most enjoyment we can
remember finding in a single long weekend. I arrived
stressed and exhausted and left three days later rested,
relaxed, and ready to face the world.
Living Waters Spa
advertises itself as a European-style mini-resort.
That's an apt description, particularly the "mini" part.
There are only eight guest rooms, so this is definitely
a boutique among resorts. It is not possible to feel
Driving uphill from
the freeway there is no danger of missing the place: by
day the restored 1960s motel shines out from the desert
in its Mediterranean colors of white and blue; by night
the classic neon sign brightly advertises the Kismet
Lodge—the owners restored the original sign because of
its historic value in the community. A smaller panel in
the main sign advertises the current name.
Park in the freshly
paved parking lot and ring the doorbell. You will
receive a warm welcome from one of the owners, either
Jeff or Judy Bowman.
Once inside we saw
immediately that the restoration was not done on the
cheap. We were expecting to see a patched pool deck, for
instance, but found that the entire deck was resurfaced.
Everything in sight that doesn't move has been painted,
cleaned, or replaced.
The rooms are in
similar condition, nicely furnished and decorated in a
manner consistent with the 1960's building. Most are
spacious, and some have kitchens. There are no TVs, and
all rooms are smoke free. Three rooms have their beds
placed in such a way that residents can lie in bed and
enjoy the view of Mt. San Jacinto.
Hot spring spas need
to have good mineral water, and they have it in
abundance. A flow-through system is used so that
chemicals are not needed. Pure hot water comes first
into the 100° "therapy pool," a free-form gathering
place that is large enough to hold every resident at one
time. From there it flows down into the swimming pool,
which is maintained at a minimum 85°, and then it is
returned to the ground.
Mineral waters often
have an offensive odor, but not in this case. The waters
are odor free and colorless.
My wife's skin is
prone to dryness after swimming, an effect of the
chlorine commonly used as a sanitizer. Since no
chemicals are added, that is not a problem here. She
remarked several times about how good her skin felt
after soaking in the mineral water.
What do they mean by
"European style Clothing Optional"? The term refers
first to the fact that just as the spas in Europe, the
entire facility is clothing optional. Wear what you want
or nothing at all. No one cares. There is never any
During our weekend
there was a charming couple in their early 20s, very
much in love, who were trying out their first experience
in a clothing optional place. Initially both wore
bathing suits. After a while I noticed that they had
moved from the hot pool into the swimming pool, and in
the process she had shed her top. Later I went back to
the hot "therapy pool," and found that they had
returned. The bottom to her suit was lying on the deck.
A few minutes later
she was whispering discreetly in his ear, and soon they
went into their room. When they came out minutes later
on their way to the sauna he had finally lost his suit.
Usually it's the fellow who takes the initiative, but
not this time.
Living Waters Spa is
the only Spa in the area that features natural hot
mineral water in a clothing optional environment. It is
the only way to experience hot mineral water!
"European style" can
also refer to the style of decor and king beds found in
every room. The Bowmans invested in Scandinavian style
beds that use a special frame instead of box springs.
It's the exact system we have in our own bed at home,
and it's wonderfully comfortable.
Finally the term is
justified by the authentic classic Finnish sauna
installed for guest use. For those who have enjoyed a
sauna in Europe, this is a real treat. For some unknown
reason most saunas in the US seem to forbid the use of
water on the heater. Here you are invited to ladle water
on the hot rocks to create the flash of extra heat that
adds to the experience.
What it is, and what
it is not
The Bowmans have a
clear vision for Living Waters Spa, and they are
relentless in bringing that vision to reality. Jeff is
always ready to talk about his philosophy of Good Nudity
and Good Touch. They are providing a safe, non-sexual
setting in which guests can discover for themselves how
much tension drops away when the clothes are left in the
room. This, of course, is the classic way in which
mineral hot springs are traditionally enjoyed.
Good Touch refers to
their special massages. Both are Certified Massage
Therapists; they have developed their own unique style,
and offer it at rates well below those that we have seen
in other resorts in the area. As we "flowed" out of the
treatment room after our couple's massage (we were so
relaxed that you couldn't really call what we were doing
walking) my wife said, "That's the best massage I've
Their commitment to
maintain their facility as a place for quiet relaxation
and rejuvenation carries over into decisions about whom
they will admit. This is not a party place; don't plan
to bring your cooler of beer and your loud friends. You
won't get in the door.
Jeff and Judy care
about people to an extraordinary degree. They view every
guest as their friend, and they are determined that
every visitor will go away having found more than
expected. This deep interest in people often sparks
conversations that continue among the guests long after
the Bowmans have retired to their living quarters for
The hospitality is
never obtrusive, but is always there. The towels are
thicker and available in more abundance than you might
expect. Refreshments appear every afternoon at three.
During our visit there was a light white wine Sangria
loaded with fresh fruit and a non-alcoholic drink, along
with cheeses, crackers, fresh fruits, veggies, and
Judy's secret dip.
The refrigerator in
the lounge is stocked with complimentary pop, juice, and
yogurt. Guests are invited to help themselves 24 hours
available in the lounge from 8:00 to 10:00 every
morning. There are assorted breads, cold cereals,
instant oatmeal, fresh fruit, boiled eggs, and yogurt.
The centerpiece each morning is Judy's homemade coffee
cake. Yes, it's addictive.
This was a completely
unexpected bonus. Snowcapped Mt. San Jacinto towers over
the resort, along with the associated mountain range.
It's not visible from every spot, but walk toward the
south end of the pool and you will be met by an amazing
I wake up early, so
each morning I slipped out for an early soak and coffee.
The view in the early light, with the sun just touching
the snow on top of the mountain, was overwhelming. What
a spot for quiet contemplation!
Will we return?
Of course. The female
half of this couple, who has strong preferences about
which resorts deserve a second visit, made that clear
when she said to the owners, "We'll be back in the area
in June. We'll stay here again."
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