The outdoor hot springs at the Hacienda

Desert Hot Springs, California is famous for being a “positive energy vortex.” But does it really live up to the spiritual hype?

WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY arose for me to visit Hacienda Hot Springs in Desert Hot Springs, California, the first thing I did was check it out online.

I saw the beautiful pictures, read about the hot springs and how they are supposed to bring “a sense of deep relaxation, rejuvenation, and well being.” It looked like a lovely resort in the middle of the desert, and I had high expectations.

After the long drive out in the famous California rush hour traffic, I arrived in the city of Desert Hot Springs, and it was – you guessed it – hot, dry, and dusty. There were shopping centers and chain restaurants lining the streets.

‘It’ll be nice to get out of this town and to the resort,’ I thought to myself as I turned and passed a Carl’s Jr. I drove down the road a bit and even though my odometer told me I was getting closer, I was still in a residential area.

After a couple of more turns, I pulled into Hacienda Hot Springs, walked up to a wall with a wooden door and pressed an intercom to be let in. So far, I wasn’t quite sure I’d gotten away.

Energy Vortex

Sipping a beverage by the tub

Desert Hot Springs has been considered a “positive energy vortex” (which Roger Sunpath defines as a “power spot where a great concentration of energy emits from the planet”) for thousands of years.

It is a location where several Earth powers converge – earthquake faults (from the San Andreas fault), geothermal underground water, the alignment of the mountain peaks of the Little San Bernadino Mountains, wind, and sun.

Pilgrimages were made by ancient and native peoples to positive energy vortexes, as they believed them to be sacred sites, ripe for intense healing rituals and ceremonies. These particular hot springs are also one of very few in the world that have no sulfuric smell, and are pure and clean right out of the ground.

With that in mind, I decided to test out the Jacuzzi not long after I got there. Fifteen minutes in the 90 degree Fahrenheit water, I felt more dizzy then relaxed. Native Americans went there to heal, so maybe I just didn’t get it – maybe I was missing something.

Or maybe the energy vortex doesn’t have the effect that it once did since modernization has occurred in the area. Maybe the strip malls and fast food joints have jammed up the positive energy?

Hot Springs History

Outdoor breakfast nook

The next day, I had the opportunity to talk to the owner, rare book dealer William Dailey, to find out what his motivation was behind the landscaping and the room décor, which had old postcards and maps on the walls and a collection of out of print books on the bookshelf.

It turns out that Dailey has always been fascinated and interested in books about the desert and the hot springs, so when the property was up for sale, he combined the two and started working to complete his vision of a hotel with a “romantic, Old California” style. With only six rooms in the hotel, it was easy to personalize the style of each room with a few rare pieces.

While I was visiting, I only saw 3 or 4 other guests, so I was able to enjoy the Jacuzzi that morning without it being crowded. As I was sitting in the Jacuzzi, I heard cars going by outside and found it difficult to forget that I was behind four walls in a busy desert city.

Don’t get me wrong – the beautiful landscaping, the warm wind, and the pure natural waters were very relaxing and rejuvenating, but it was still a small resort in the middle of a desert city. I almost felt like the walls were there because I needed to be protected from something outside, or as if it created a physical barrier between us, the “spa-goers”, and them, the “people who live out there.”

For a spa experience, it fit the bill. For a profound spiritual experience, it left a bit to be desired.

Thanks to Laura Grover and Bill Dailey for coordinating my stay at Hacienda Hot Springs. The opinions expressed are all my own.