When Idelle Hanna and her husband, Robert, need to take a breather fromÂ work and the stresses of city life, they head to Fountain of Youth Spa, aÂ vacation resort in a remote part of the Southern California desert near Niland that most people never see.
Originally conceived as a snowbird RV resort with healing natural hot springs, the Fountain of Youth SpaÂ has since become a diversified, year-round vacation resort with cottageÂ rentals, vacation homes, and an increasing array of health and wellnessÂ services, including onsite hair and nail salons, massage therapists, asÂ well as therapeutic exercise classes, including water aerobics, tai chiÂ and yoga.
â€œItâ€™s a great escape,â€ said Idelle Hanna, a 48-year-oldÂ registered nurse from Westminster. â€œIâ€™ve been going there with my familyÂ since I was in elementary school.â€
And from Nov. 11 to 15, the resort is offering specialÂ discount rates as a way to introduce more Southern Californians to thisÂ unique resort, which has twice been featured on Huell Howserâ€™s â€œCalifornia Goldâ€ program. The discount period coincides with the 54th annual Cattle Call Rodeo and Parade in the neighboring city of Brawley, which is located about 18 miles south of Niland.
â€œWe want to introduce this resort to people who have never experiencedÂ it before,â€ said Jolene Wade, the Fountain of Youth Spaâ€™s managingÂ partner. The discounts include seven days in a park home rental for $295Â and a third night free with two paid nights in a full-hookup RV site.
Some people even wind up buying vacation homes at the resort.Â Thatâ€™s what Idelle Hannaâ€™s family did. Her uncle bought a vacation homeÂ there many years ago and later sold it to Hannaâ€™s dad, who owned it forÂ several years.
Others simply enjoy coming out for the weekend to enjoy the Spaâ€™s scenic views and therapeutic waters.
â€œItâ€™s rejuvenating,â€ said Kim Coburn, 54, of Chino Hills, whoÂ regularly visits the resort with her husband, Rick. â€œThey have a steamÂ sauna that is wonderful. It takes care of your aches and pains. We alsoÂ love it because of the desert air and the openness,â€ she said.
During the fall and winter season, the resort also offersÂ more than 50 classes and activities, from bocce ball and cribbage toÂ group hiking, square dancing and line dancing, all of which complementÂ its walking and agility courses, bicycle trails, swimming pools, hotÂ tubs and exercise room with cardiovascular equipment. The resort alsoÂ has a theatre club that produces plays for guest entertainment.
Steve Staker, 44, who lives near Beaumont, said he frequentlyÂ visits the resort during the fall and winter months with his wife,Â Paula, in their 33-foot motorhome. â€œWe feel like weâ€™ve gone somewhereÂ out of state when we go there,â€ he said. â€œWe like the activities, theÂ friendly staff and the cleanliness of the resort.â€
The natural hot springs that lie beneath the Fountain of YouthÂ Spa also have an alluring history, having been first discovered by
workers building the All American Canal as they drilled for localÂ sources of water to mix their cement. At 137 degrees, the natural hotÂ springs proved to be too hot and too full of minerals to be of immediateÂ use for mixing cement. So they built settling ponds to cool the waterÂ and remove the excess minerals.
Another group of construction workers who were makingÂ improvements to Highway 111 rediscovered the hot springs and the pondsÂ after World War II, and became the first to recognize the therapeuticÂ and healing effects of the artesian mineral water.
Clyde Hays, a carpenter from Grants Pass, Ore., who workedÂ winters in Brawley, eventually convinced J.T. Trily, a Brawley
contractor, to build the Fountain of Youth Spa around the same well inÂ the late 1950s. The park has since grown to become a popular vacationÂ destination with park model cottage rentals as well as manufacturedÂ homes, which accommodate snowbirds as well as Southern CaliforniaÂ residents who donâ€™t have an RV and are simply seeking a weekend escape,Â away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
â€œThe growing array of activities, amenities and accommodationsÂ offered by the Fountain of Youth Spa really illustrate how RV resortsÂ are broadening their business base and increasing their appeal beyond RVÂ owners,â€ said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the CaliforniaÂ Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.