Castle Hot Springs in Arizona Adds Japanese Watsu Pool – Robb Report
In 1896, Castle Hot Springs’ first guests braved a five-hour stagecoach ride to reach this isolated strip of the Sonoran Desert at the foot of the Bradshaw Mountains. Since then, the resort has continued to host Golden Age vacationers like the Vanderbilts, Astors, Pews and Rockefellers, and has hosted everything from a Purple Heart-decorated JFK’s World War II convalescent to the post-lockdown anniversary celebration of a triple Grammy-decorated Ludacris. Although much has changed since the days of the stagecoach – the ability to arrive by helicopter, to begin with – one essential element has passed through all phases of the station’s existence.
This element, of course, is water. The spring, long prized by local indigenous communities for its healing and life-saving properties, is a network of mineral-rich, geothermally heated underwater streams that emerge in a succession of pools flanked by palm trees. And thanks to a new Watsu pool, the latest season of Castle Hot Springs promises the most sublime soaking operations yet.
For the uninitiated: Watsu is both a linguistic and therapeutic mixture of water and shiatsu, a Japanese form of body work. In theory, rhythmic treatment directed by the therapist unblocks and balances energy flows. In practice, however, the state of blissful oblivion you will reach as you swirl and float in the enveloping heat beneath palm fronds, rock faces and desert skies will leave you utterly oblivious to the energy that has out of place where (and totally indifferent on most things, to be fair).
“It was a natural progression for the resort,” says owner Mike Watts, who bought the largely fire-destroyed property in 2014. He unveiled its dazzling reincarnation in 2019 and won every hospitality award imaginable since. “Our wellness program is firmly rooted in the beautiful nature around us, and the new Watsu Pool is also outdoors in our geothermal spring canyon, which enhances the experience.”
For example, the new Wellbeing by Water package, which includes a one-hour session of Watsu – among other water-related experiences – during a minimum stay of three nights. You don’t need to book the package to experience the spa’s new springs-focused menu: Many à la carte treatments, from a mineral-rich scrub to a stream-side reiki session, draw in local waters.
Incidentally, the same goes for the resort’s expansive garden, where a tasting tour is a must, if only to discover just how (and, for salt-lovers, divinely) the mineral blend particular sources can affect the flavor of certain plants. These pair perfectly with Lithium Lager, the home brew made by the Wren House Brewing Company with Castle Hot Springs water.
Of course, while the springs are the undisputed star of the show, there’s plenty more to discover here. A few other offerings to consider: the Crater Canyon Exploration, which takes you on a guided tour through a private slot canyon; an assortment of adventure, western and zen-focused packages; a partnership with the JSX hop-on hop-off semi-private jet service; and sleep retreats next January and May with Dr. Rebecca Robbins, renowned researcher, author, and teacher at Harvard Medical School. Then again, you may find that in such an inherently dreamy place, you won’t need any extra help.
Rates start at $1,250 per night.