And I am in the desert, the Southern California desert. And I am at an oasis, an oasis from too much—too much noise, too much to do and too much muchness. With mountains on two sides and the Coachella Valley on a third, Two Bunch Palms sits apart from the Desert Hot Springs-Palm Springs brouhaha. Only guests—and only guests over 18 at that—may enter this haven. Cell phones are seriously frowned upon and so is the party-hardy crowd—at least when they're partying.
Two Bunch Palm's 56 developed acres spread from stately desert to yummy citrus grove to verdant oasis. In 1907, the hot springs and its two bunches of palms were mapped by the US Army Camel Corps—who knew the US ever had a camel corps? Now the green-green center, the spring waters flow through two ponds, several fountains and along stone gullies on their way back to their subterranean aquifer. This circuit also filters the water, so no chlorine is needed or used in the pools.
All manner of quiet spots tempt one to tarry. There are chaises in the sun and remote areas for nude sun bathing. Date palms, citrus and piney tamarisk trees shade benches and loungers. The lap pool and tennis courts get some use, but the main activity at Two Bunch is taking the waters punctuated by a mud bath, Ayurvedic massage or a nap.
The rumors are the 'gansta,' big Al Capone, built the oldest structures here for a desert hideaway. They are of thick gray stone with small, stained glass windows. This rather medieval look was, I expect, a ploy to keep the intense summer heat at bay in the days before air conditioning. The Casino restaurant is on the top floor of the main stone building with the main spa treatment rooms below. The guest rooms range from motel-like rooms in the old stone structures to two bedroom villas with their own patios and spas.
Our comfortable two-bedroom villa had a big living room, a dining room and two baths. Plenty of room, but think Aunt Susie suburban subdivision rather than vineyard estate.
Out back, the
small Jacuzzi was no substitute for the divine mineral springs. So even at
night—especially at night—when the romantic fairyland lighting has Two
Bunch Palms at its dreamiest, we'd put on our robes—the round-the-clock
de rigueur uniform—and wander along under the stars for a soak.
By Kate Crawford January 2006
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