SoCal's forgotten hot springs oasis is finally reopening

Murrieta Hot Springs, a palm-shaded oasis of steaming streams and coveted mud just north of Temecula, is home to a Christian Bible school, a TV-free vegetarian community, and a popular, mostly Jewish beach resort. Now comes a new chapter that will open the grounds and waters to the public for the first time in almost 30 years.

On February 1, the property will open as a wellness resort and hotel, with spa services, all kinds of relaxation, 174 hotel rooms and several buildings dating back to the early 20th century. Room rates start at $399, day passes for $89 per adult.

From 1995 to 2022, the property housed the Calvary Chapel Bible College and Conference Center, which was closed to the public and made only limited use of the water bubbling up from below. (The bathhouse was converted into a library.)

About two years ago, Texas-based Olympus Real Estate Group committed $50 million to the property, then spent another $50 million to restore and rethink the campus.

Now the 46-hectare site, which includes several historic buildings, is all about water again. The resort features more than 50 swimming pools, bathtubs and other water features, including a lake that serves as the centerpiece of the complex.

Sunlit waters of a hot tub at the Murrieta Hot Springs Resort.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The corner of a swimming pool, with the ladder and handrails to get in or out

The Oasis Adult Pool at Murrieta Hot Springs Resort. Other family-friendly pools are located on site.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The bathhouse is again a bathhouse. It is adjacent to the resort's Spanish Revival Stone Lodge, which dates to 1926, and the Spanish-style Monterrey Building, which was incrementally expanded between 1915 and 1925. Most rooms date from the 1960s and have been renovated in a minimalist style with muted tones.

The property also includes the casual Cafe Azuli, the Brew 1902 coffee bar, a dynamic fitness center, a gazebo and lounge bars, a mud loft (with clay brought in from the Mojave Desert) and a sauna with panoramic views. A signature upscale restaurant, Talia Kitchen, will open in the spring, followed by a wine bar, Novel, later this year.

Steam rises from the geothermal water flowing between large boulders

Steam rises from the geothermal water that flows through the Murrieta Hot Springs Resort.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The resort's waters – which visitors drank in the early years – are said to contain sulfate, chloride, boron, calcium, lithium, potassium, sodium, silica and bicarbonate.

“Our water comes out of the ground at about 125 to 130 degrees depending on the temperature,” says Dr. Marcus Coplin, the resort's medical director, notes that the water is cooled to 104 degrees or less before guests bathe. The property also has several cold plunge pools where the water is 54 degrees or less. According to the resort's promotional materials, the waters “improve circulation, reduce inflammation, improve mood and support cellular health.”

“Without being clinical,” Coplin said during a pre-opening tour, “we want to create a data-informed, evidence-based approach to health and wellness.”

A decorative column with a carved person, the chest of which is hidden by an acanthus leaf

A decorative pillar outside what will become the Murrieta Hot Springs Resort bathhouse. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A single palm tree towers over a white Spanish-style building

Murrieta Hot Springs Resort is a geothermal spa that is more than a century old. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

From a sauna under construction you look out onto a swimming pool with a row of palm trees behind it.

A view of the largest pool at Murietta Hot Springs Resort.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The springs first became popular as a commercial venture in 1902 under the ownership of German immigrant Fritz Guenther. In 1911, the minor league Los Angeles Angels held their spring training in the Hot Springs.

Over time, a hotel and other amenities grew, including live music and miniature golf. In a video produced by members of Calvary Chapel, Guenther relatives and other longtime locals recalled that the resort was especially popular among Jewish families, perhaps because they were familiar with European traditions of communal bathing.

The Jewish Museum of the American West called Murrieta “the Catskills of Southern California,” describes it as a favorite spot of Jewish families in the first half of the 20th century, when many of the Spanish Revival buildings were decorated with six-pointed stars.

An arched doorway leads to a bedroom with a simply made double bed.

A Hillside suite at the Murrieta Hot Springs Resort has a private pool. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The view through a patterned glass window looks out onto red tiled roofs and palm trees

The view through patterned glass from the bathhouse under construction at Murrieta Hot Springs Resort. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

In the late 1960s, the Guenther family sold the resort (then 500 acres) to San Diego attorney Irving Kahn, a transaction that led to an era of widely varied and sometimes controversial uses, including a cancer clinic whose alternative therapies were publicly discredited.

In the 1980s, a New Age health group called Alive Polarity purchased the resort and operated it for several years as a vegetarian community, free of alcohol, tobacco, television and telephones. Later there was a bar called Shakespeare's Pub.

When Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa purchased it in the 1990s, its core property had been reduced to less than 50 acres, much of which had fallen into disrepair.

The church renovated the building as a lecture and conference center for other megachurches, a formula that has worked well so far registration fell and the outbreak of the pandemic saw public gatherings suspended. The Bible college has moved to Twin Peaks in the San Bernardino Mountains.

For Olympus Real Estate Group Managing Director David Dronet, Murrieta is the second step in a strategic campaign that began with the 2018 purchase of the Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, another geothermally active hospitality company that emphasizes wellness. To manage Murrieta, Olympus has hired Remington Hospitality, which manages numerous properties and restaurants across the country.

A semi-circular market with the words Stone Lodge

The Stone Lodge Suites at the Murrieta Hot Springs Resort.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A view through an arch at a pool of water surrounded by trees, under a blue sky

Murrieta Hot Springs Resort is a geothermal spa that is more than a century old.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Whatever promotions the new management pursues, it will be difficult to top the hot springs song that entertainer Mickey Katz sang in the 1950s. Rich in Yiddish phrases, written by Grace Eppy and Nat Farber, and rediscovered by curator Jonathan Friedmann of the Jewish Museum of the American West, including these texts:

In Murietta Hot Springs / Like cowboys without ferd [horses] / They lie [they lie] in the mud baths / My head is in shit [with their head in the earth].

Related Posts

  • Travel
  • May 25, 2024
  • 3 views
  • 2 minutes Read
Friday's pre-holiday trip breaks the record for most air travelers screened at U.S. airports

ATLANTA– Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, a record was broken for the number of air travelers screened at U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration said Saturday. More than 2.9 million…

  • Travel
  • May 25, 2024
  • 6 views
  • 6 minutes Read
Key West, Florida, Santorini, Greece and more locations around the world known for their sunsets

There are so many places around the world where you can enjoy the beautiful view of a colorful sunset. Santorini, Greece, and Key West, Florida, are just a few places…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Missed

Virginia-based tech company settles allegations over whites-only job openings

  • May 29, 2024
Virginia-based tech company settles allegations over whites-only job openings

Texas Rep. Tony Gonzalez narrowly wins the Republican election against the gun rights activist in a closely watched contest

  • May 29, 2024
Texas Rep.  Tony Gonzalez narrowly wins the Republican election against the gun rights activist in a closely watched contest

Why Cellular SASE Defines the Future of Distributed Enterprises

  • May 29, 2024
Why Cellular SASE Defines the Future of Distributed Enterprises

'We Are Lady Parts' rocks with bracing honesty and nuance

  • May 29, 2024
'We Are Lady Parts' rocks with bracing honesty and nuance

Trump's strategy: entering blue areas, courting minorities and an unfriendly public

  • May 29, 2024
Trump's strategy: entering blue areas, courting minorities and an unfriendly public

More than half of boardroom executives fear AI is the biggest threat to their business

  • May 29, 2024
More than half of boardroom executives fear AI is the biggest threat to their business

Inter Miami vs. Atlanta United live stream: MLS prediction, odds, how to watch online, will Lionel Messi play?

  • May 29, 2024
Inter Miami vs.  Atlanta United live stream: MLS prediction, odds, how to watch online, will Lionel Messi play?

Even anti-Trumper Karl Rove attacks the Biden campaign over Robert De Niro's stunt: 'A stupid mistake' (VIDEO) | The Gateway expert

  • May 29, 2024
Even anti-Trumper Karl Rove attacks the Biden campaign over Robert De Niro's stunt: 'A stupid mistake' (VIDEO) |  The Gateway expert

New Jersey and wind farm developer Orsted settle claims for $125 million over scrapped offshore projects

  • May 29, 2024
New Jersey and wind farm developer Orsted settle claims for $125 million over scrapped offshore projects

The best wireless surround sound systems, tested| PopSci

  • May 29, 2024
The best wireless surround sound systems, tested| PopSci

Porsha Williams' Ex Fires Summons to Dish Nation and BOA in Divorce War

  • May 29, 2024
Porsha Williams' Ex Fires Summons to Dish Nation and BOA in Divorce War