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Visit Palm Springs

According to R&C Travel Editor Elizabeth Hansen, the sunny SoCal desert is the cure for the bad weather blues

The Rowan is home to the only rooftop pool in the Coachella Valley
Image Credits The Rowan: Laure Joliet; The Spa at Sèc-he: Art & Design Gallery, Forever Marilyn:Photography courtesy of Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; Courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs; Love Letters Courtesy of Adams / Hansen Photography

A traveler can only stay home for so long, and I reached my limit during a particularly intense atmospheric river in late March. I was tired of being cold and wet and stuck inside, so I didn’t dillydally when I heard about a new mega spa opening in Palm Springs in early April. Located in the heart of downtown on land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, The Spa at Séc-he utilizes the hot mineral water that collects in an ancient spring more than a mile underground. Rich in calcium, magnesium, and sodium, the water is renowned for its healing properties. 

The drive to Palm Springs passes through agricultural areas made verdant by the record-breaking rain. In just over two hours I was in downtown PS, except it didn’t look or feel anything like what I remembered. There is a new vibrant energy along the main street, where many of the ubiquitous t-shirt shops and souvenir vendors have been replaced by chic boutiques and sidewalk cafes. I knew I wanted to stay near the spa, so I opted for a room at The Rowan. This five-year-old Kimpton property is often credited with launching Palm Springs’ renaissance. 

Like most Kimptons, The Rowan is pet-friendly and guests are invited to a Sunset Social Hour daily that includes complimentary beer and wine. The hotel is also home to the only rooftop swimming pool and restaurant in the Coachella Valley. Both of these places offer panoramic views over the tops of palm trees all the way to the San Jacinto Mountains. A friend joined me for dinner at Four Saints on the roof, and over several hours we worked our way through the creative menu of modern American fare. The butternut squash soup with cayenne and pepitas was very good, but I thought the most memorable dish was the wild mushrooms with peach vinegar, anchovy butter, pecorino, and herbs. Four Saints is open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday and offers indoor and outdoor seating.  

The Rowan is home to the only rooftop pool in the Coachella Valley
The Rowan is home to the only rooftop pool in the Coachella Valley

My Dream Day at the Spa

For centuries, Séc-he has been the center of Tribal life for the Agua Caliente people, and now at the Spa at Séc-he, they are sharing the sacred waters and the healing they provide. Twenty-two private mineral baths are available for guests to experience the power of the water. The facilities, spread over 73,000 square feet, are designated for men, women, or co-ed. I also really appreciated the relaxation areas that include vibrational loungers for “acoustic wellness” and the “grounded tranquility” rooms with zero-gravity chairs. In addition, there are two halotherapy salt caves and a place for cryotherapy.

Salt caves are the perfect place for halotherapy
Salt caves are the perfect place for halotherapy

Among more than a dozen different hands-on treatments, I chose the 90-minute Therapeutic Arnica Massage with the optional extra Moroccan oil scalp treatment, and it was positively divine. I was so relaxed that I couldn’t find the way to my next destination and had to be re-directed by one of the exceptionally kind attendants. The spa menu can be browsed online at thespaatseche.com.

More Fun in Palm Springs

Beyond the spa, I also had fun discovering contemporary sculptures around town. Forever Marilyn, on the walkway behind The Rowan, is a 26-foot-tall likeness of Ms. Monroe with her billowing skirt — a larger-than-life depiction of the iconic scene from The Seven Year Itch. Farther along, just in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum, I came upon a 1970s car balanced as if about to plunge hood-first into a puddle of water. Speaking of the Art Museum, its exhibit of 22 works of art in glass is stunning. 

The 26-foot-tall Forever Marilyn lives on Museum Way in Palm Springs
The 26-foot-tall Forever Marilyn lives on Museum Way in Palm Springs

Fans of midcentury style will enjoy the Palm Springs Art & Design Gallery on North Palm Canyon — not to be confused with the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center in the former Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan building on Palm Canyon Drive. The 1960 gem is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Finally, I will always be grateful to the friend who introduced me to Farm restaurant in Palm Springs. It’s an adorable flower-filled café just a couple of blocks from The Rowan, and my roasted pear salad was wonderful. In fact, just thinking about Farm will lift my spirits if we encounter May gray and June gloom along the coast.



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