Hot-springs spas blend two of the country’s buzziest travel trends: wellness and adventure
Traditional spas may not cut it for the post-pandemic wellness traveler. Today’s health-centric jet-setters seek rejuvenation with a dose of nature, and they’re in luck: The hot-springs spa trend is sizzling.
Thermal and mineral-spring experiences, particularly those that fuse soaking in geothermally heated water with massage or skincare services, became popular well before the pandemic. Wellness advisory group Resources for Leisure Assets credits the interest bump to travelers’ increasing desire for healing through nature. “Imagine soaking in a 100-degree [Fahrenheit] pool next to a babbling brook surrounded by pine trees and seeing a bald eagle fly overhead,” says Vicky Nash, executive director of the Hot Springs Association, the country’s first trade organization for the commercial hot-springs industry.
The appeal of hot springs goes beyond relaxing soaks with jaw-dropping scenery, though. For more than two years, the pandemic put health at the center of countless conversations and decisions. It only makes sense that it would trickle down to trip planning. “More than ever, people are seeking ways to naturally boost their immune systems,” Nash says. “Soaking in thermal mineral water is an effective method to enhance well-being and promote health.”
The thermal spa is not a replacement for the traditional spa, she notes: “Hydrothermal treatments actually enhance a spa visit.” Options include massages that incorporate minerals from the property’s naturally heated waters, known to detoxify skin and ease ailments like arthritis. Or, at escapes such as Arizona’s Castle Hot Springs in the Bradshaw Mountains an hour north of Phoenix, it gets as exhilarating as paddle-board yoga atop geothermally heated pools.
“Nearly all of our amenities and activities are influenced by therapeutic water,” says Castle Hot Springs general manager Kevin Maguire, noting that each guest room has a private soaking tub connected to the thermal waters. The property also uses the toasty natural resource to irrigate an on-site farm.
And Castle Hot Springs’ pools aren’t your average swimming holes. Flanked by mountains and desert palms, the facility’s waters hover between 86 and 106 degrees Fahrenheit. They brim with therapeutic minerals such as lithium, known to boost moods and foster calmness; magnesium, great for reducing inflammation and calming nerves; and bicarbonates that aid circulation and reduce muscle soreness.
Arizona, though, is only one of many geothermal hotspots. Nash says the U.S. contains more than 250 commercial hot-springs facilities. Below are three more to consider, all within four hours of a major American city.
Manitou Springs, Colorado
At the base of Pikes Peak and roughly 75 miles from Denver, SunWater Spa directs water from Manitou Springs’ 7 Minute Spring into 10 mountain-view cedar tubs. These magnesium- and iron-rich waters run from 99 to 104 degrees. Guests can prebook private soaking tubs, or enjoy numerous other spa services from massages and facials to yoga classes.
Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
The calming waters of California’s Calistoga Spa Hot Springs are located just two hours north of San Francisco. Four heated outdoor pools hover between 80 degrees in the lap-lane pool to a cozy 104 degrees in the whirlpool. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs provides a variety of treatments that blend nature with healing, including the property’s signature volcanic ash mud baths.
Roosevelt Baths & Spa
Saratoga Springs, New York
New York State’s beloved hot-springs spa is also one of its most historic. Roosevelt Baths & Spa dates to the 1930s. The center honors President Franklin Roosevelt, who helped to preserve Saratoga Springs’ toasty waters after soaking in them himself. Today, Roosevelt Baths & Spa, three hours north of New York City, delights travelers with a variety of geothermal water experiences.