Spa Highs and Spa Lows for the New Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa
by Susie Ellis
I visited the renovated Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Palm Desert a few days ago. I remember when it was built (20 years ago I believe) – it was really quite a sensation. There were water taxis which picked you up and took you to various places on the property which made quite a splash – pardon the pun…Their spa was the first for JW Marriott and one of the largest ever built to date. Its components were integrated well: fitness, salon, and a spa bistro were all part of the facility, which was quite revolutionary at the time.
Before I went for a tour, I called to speak with Bruce Taylor who had left the Hyatt Grand Champions to open this new facility. To my surprise I was told he was no longer there…..that the “departure” happened just two weeks ago. I don’t know the details, but hope things ended amicably on both ends. Bruce had been in the spa world a long time.
Here are my thoughts about the new Spa Desert Springs:
- Sheered drapery throughout the relaxation and waiting lounge are fashion-forward and look extremely expensive. They are probably the spa’s most memorable design feature.
- The fact that they created a waiting lounge for spa services and a relaxation lounge for resting and sleeping is a big plus. Very few spas do this because it isn’t revenue-producing space. A nice luxury.
- The “Spa by Design” package seems an especially good bargain…. Two spa services for $240. Pretty good price for a resort spa these days especially considering the amenities.
- The hammam updates the spa dramatically.
- The outdoor pool is a beautiful setting and although in repair when I visited, looks as if it would be the focal place for spa goers.
- The Spa Bistro is a huge plus.
- The new gym was a disappointment. After all of the recent conversation about the need to improve gym environments, this had the same heavy, florescent-lighting and mirrored feel of any-gym-USA. Fortunately the fitness studio had more warmth, and was filled with a very nice selection of props.
- The hydrotherapy area with steam room, sauna, hammam and whirlpool were nice; however (as I see in so many other spas) the chlorine fumes from the whirlpool permeated everywhere. It reminded me of the conversation I had with the Water Scientist who spoke in Monaco at the Monaco Spa Event. I asked him if he thought the positive hydrotherapy benefits of a whirlpool outweighed the negatives of the chlorinated water you end up breathing and absorbing through your skin. His answer? No.
In general I think the spa turned out very well. For a very large resort (over 800 rooms!) the spa achieved an intimate feel. Anyone who visits the Coachella Valley and is looking to enjoy a day at the spa….this one would be a good choice.
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