"Oh look, honey, a Groupon for a "Romantic Getaway With Natural Mineral-Water Pools", said Gretchen, "it's just what we need. And it's so cheap!"
"Sounds good to me," said Jimmy, "let's book it!"
And so our adventure began. It was the week after school let out, and we thought this would be a great way to relax and get all summery. Despite the Groupon describing it as "romantic", we decided it should be a family getaway. Jude was all excited about two days of swimming and soaking. And it was so cheap.
The resort sounded great - "...soak in the mineral-rich waters...a relaxing oasis just 12 miles outside of downtown Palm Springs...a Mediterranean-influenced hotel, topped by a terra-cotta stucco roof and surrounded by lush gardens, pumps the 140-degree water straight from the earth before cooling it down to 90–105 degrees. The water then fills eight pools and hot tubs, which stay open 24 hours a day." Yes! It was in Desert Hot Springs, not actually in Palm Springs, but with all that mineral-rich water and soaking, how bad could it be? Jimmy and I had gone to Desert Hot Springs about 20 years before, and had good memories of it. Less fancy than PS, but also less touristy. The reviews on Yelp were mostly positive - they place had recently been renovated. And it was so cheap.
Well... little did we know...
It turns out that Desert Hot Springs went bankrupt several years ago, and since then has an impressively high crime rate and has become one of the top meth producing cities in California. Quite a distinction! The whole place has this creepy "desert people" vibe. All of the locals, I mean ALL of the locals, including the entire hotel staff, look like they are characters on Orange is the New Black. I kid you not. The local joke is that everybody who lives there is either on pension or on parole. The place is desert ghetto.
I must admit that despite having Pennsatucky and Big Boo on the housekeeping staff, the hotel itself was just fine. They really have upgraded things quite a bit lately. New beds and bedding, new smart tvs, new bathroom tiles and fixtures, decent towel situation. Felt clean. And the pool and hot tubs were very nice and relaxing.
Very snazzy, except for...the winds...
...we're talking 35 - 40 mph winds! Apparently, it's a big problem in the area. Everything has to be tied down. It seems like a nice breeze would be a positive thing when it's 104 degrees, but it's actually just nasty - sand blowing in your hair and eyes, sticking to your skin. Every time we laid down in the sun to do some reading, the book would get filled with dust and sand. Freaky.
And the food situation was horrible. The hotel restaurant, which according the the website had been voted "Best Steaks in the Desert", was utterly awful. Just awful. We're talking salads with canned green beans and carrots on top. The balsamic vinaigrette which the waitress boasted that they "made in the kitchen" was a bowl of oil. For breakfast the first morning, I found a local breakfast joint that sounded really great - I always try to go to the little Ma and Pa places where that the locals frequent instead of a Denny's or something. But oh dear God, this was nasty. Actually dirty. And the locals were very frightening. We ended up driving into Palm Springs for our last three meals.
The other hotel guests were a peculiar mix, mostly young families with kids, European tourists and Hollywood hipster types looking for a kitchy, off-the-grid spa situation. I'm guessing we all got the same Groupon.
But despite all of this horror, Jude had a fantastic time! He swam and soaked and read two books. He even liked the food at the hotel restaurant, and didn't notice that the lady at the front desk was missing several teeth. He thought the place was "fancy". Which you've gotta love.
I think the next time I'm tempted by a Groupon getaway I'll do a teensy bit more research.
But then...it was so cheap.