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Two Bunch Palms
A Desert Oasis in Southern California

by Joe Lalaina

ome hotels never leave your consciousness. You find yourself revisiting the place in your mind again and again. Two Bunch Palms is just such a place.

Located outside Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs, California, in the valley between the San Bernardino National Forest and Joshua Tree National Park, Two Bunch Palms was built by mobster Al Capone in 1923 as a base for his West Coast operation. Capone enjoyed partying with motion-picture stars of the day, and the place became a second home for guests including Charlie Chaplin and Rudolf Valentino, who enjoyed a desert oasis away from Hollywood’s bright lights. While A-list stars continue to visit, the majority of the resort’s guests comprise people seeking rejuvenation, serenity, and an opportunity to commune with nature.

Quiet please…no cell phones...no talking above a whisper

“Quiet please…no cell phones...no talking above a whisper,” says the sign at the entrance of the grotto, the centerpiece of the hotel and the place you’ll most likely return to in your mind when daydreaming about Two Bunch Palms. Trust me: you’re not going to want to leave the water once you go in. Like most guests, I spent a few hours a day luxuriating in it. The San Andreas Fault runs through Desert Hot Springs, one of the few places on earth that have natural hot mineral springs with no sulfurous odor. The water emerges from the ground at a scalding 148ºF, but is temperature controlled to 98ºF in the grotto. People with arthritis and other ailments come to Two Bunch Palms specifically for the grotto’s healing properties.

Two Bunch Palms was purchased by King Ventures in 2005. The 45-room property has received extensive renovations yet maintains its rustic step-back-in-time allure. “It’s tough to come in and do too many improvements because people don’t want to see any change,” says general manager Brian Bescoby. “[CEO] John King has been good about getting feedback from the repeat guests and has been careful not to do too much. The property’s funky charm is something people enjoy. You don’t want to lose that.

“I’ve spent 12 years in the high-end luxury market,” adds Bescoby, who previously managed two Ritz-Carlton hotels in California. “I can honestly say this is my favorite property. People are blown away by the nature and the solitude. Guests tell me they’ve looked at websites of other hotels in the Palms Springs area, and they look amazing and say the right things. But once you get there, you’re disappointed. Two Bunch Palms exceeds what you hear and read about it.”

I can attest to that. This past July I booked a three-night stay; I stayed for six. Once I settled in, I simply didn’t want to leave this heavenly sanctuary where time stands still. You become enveloped in the serenity and all you want to do is relax.
Two Bunch Palms offers everything one could ask for in a resort — a beautiful natural setting, tranquility, swimming, historical relevance, fine food, spa treatments, healing arts classes, and well-appointed accommodations (many with private Jacuzzis and large plasma TVs).

Rest assured, no matter where your future travels take you, Two Bunch Palms will be etched in your memory forever.

Tel. 800/472-4334; www.twobunchpalms.com

Joe Lalaina is a New York-based journalist who is always searching for idyllic hideaways.

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Two Bunch Palms Grotto
Joe Lalaina photo

Al Capone cottage
Joe Lalaina photo

Private spa
Joe Lalaina photo