Are All Hot Springs Hotels Funky?
What is is about hot springs hotels and springs in general
that makes them immune to normal business practices? Okay, maybe
this isn't true of all of them, but so far every resort or lodge
we have been to which is based on hot water activities is odd
in some way. This is true even when the prices are reasonably
I am not going to name names here, by the way, because I'm
not sure if I want to either encourage or discourage visits
to some of the places we have been. I'm not quite sure what to
think in fact, because it seems that for all the oddities and
substandard practices at the places we have stayed, in the end
we enjoy them.
For example, on a recent trip to a hot springs hotel in New
Mexico we were ready to turn around and get back in the car when
we arrived. Were it not for the non-refundable reservation we
would have. The rooms surrounded a dusty dirt courtyard that
had some dead palm trees and a few old plastic chairs. The door
to our room - which we booked because it was the best and most
expensive - was an old screen door that stuck and had to be pulled
The key was in the door, and we had been informed when we
booked online that we did not need to check in, but could go
straight to the room. Upon entering the room we had to stop to
truly look at everything. The red-painted plywood floors were
perhaps a way to save the environment by not using carpet or
other coverings? The floor lamp on one side leaned out precariously
toward the center of the room, next to the couch that was at
least twenty years old and practically threw us onto the floor
when we tried to use it.
Ours was a suite, and the bedroom was just as... creative.
An bookcase held dozens of dusty old books that had not been
straightened up in a while. The lamp next to the bed was broken,
with the top hanging sideways from the wiring. The thick old
blankets were probably more than is necessary in this desert
climate, although we realized later that there was no heater
in the room (unless it was hidden somehow). At least the television
In the bathroom there was a hole in the counter, through which
an electrical cord protruded. This could be plugged in to run
the air conditioner that sat behind the toilet. A paper plate
was stapled to the ceiling to cover a hole there, although it
probably wasn't worth the effort, since the walls had more than
enough other holes to allow critters in. The toilet was a bit
unstable, but it worked.
In the kitchen the refrigerator leaned back toward the wall
- a convenient way to keep beer cans from rolling out the front
perhaps. There was coffee in a plastic tub if we wanted it, and
a table with a couple mismatched chairs that were shaky and fifty
years old. An old rug or two covered parts of the plywood floor
and all of the four or five curtains in the suite were unique
and different from each other.
Out the back door we had our own hot spring basin - one of
the few things that was truly built well and was clean. It was
about eight-by-four feet wide, with two sitting ledges. In the
patio near it there was an old metal table painted three different
colors, with an ashtray on it. There were three cigarette butts
in it. There were two chairs - one of them with broken webbing.
A broken-down old metal lamp sat next to an outdoor outlet -
lighting for the evening. A half-burnt candle sat next to the
hot spring basin as well.
We laughed (it beats crying) and we eventually turned the
big valve to fill the basin with the natural spring water, which
was clean and hot and wonderful. We set up our "office"
on the rickety old kitchen table, put a folded napkin under one
leg to stabilize it, and did some work. We laid back in the big
old bed and read, then later watched an episode of "Monk."
By the second day, after our morning hot spring soak, we were
actually talking about the possibility of returning.
Yes, it was a funky place, but it was quiet and relaxing.
We could walk to the cafe next door for a delicious breakfast
(and the owner of the hot springs hotel even gave us gift certificates
for it. There were other places within easy walking distance
as well. We had privacy in our own patio with our own hot spring.
A cat came to the edge of the roof above to keep us company.
Yes, hot springs hotels are usually funky odd places. The
last one we went to in this same town has mobile homes for rooms,
and at the hot springs near our home we used to have to walk
on rugs laid over a muddy trail to get to the shower room. But
they have their charm. Of course, if we discover any hot springs
hotels run like a Hyatt, we will probably pay the price to try
those out too.