"One of the best massages I’ve ever had.” That’s my description of the Desert Essence Poultice Massage, the signature service of the Saguaro Spa at the trendy Saguaro, a Joie de Vivre Hotel, in Palm Springs. Bright colors, a fun attitude and personalized treatments using certified organic botanicals and ilike products from Hungary make it everything you expect from this hip hotel chain. Plus, the spa is open to all – you don’t have to be a resort guest. If you book on a Thursday, you get the “Tranquil Thursday” 20 percent discount off any full massage.
“We offer a different spa experience,” Theron Puccinelli, the spa manager, who left the likes of the St. Regis Kauai to manage this six-room comfort zone, told me recently. “We want our guests to be happy, relaxed and have fun.”
Bold colors shout fun the moment you enter. The carpet is purple. The walls are bright orange and vivid chartreuse. Black-and-white photos from the golden years – think 1950’s Palm Springs High School cheerleaders, parades and parties – decorate the walls. “Guests love it. They look for familiar landmarks in the photos and chuckle with pleasure,” Theron said. As a boutique spa, the Saguaro has a combo lobby/relaxation room, six treatment rooms including one for couples, and two huge unisex bathrooms with showers and changing areas. He encourages spa-goers to enjoy the two whirlpools by the pool before or after treatments. “It’s very comforting.”
Theron likes the intimacy. “It gives us the opportunity to engage with the guests. You receive a one-on-one experience, not just in the treatment room, but throughout the entire time you’re here. No one stresses out over treatment decisions,” he continued. The spa menu is simple: eight 60- to 120-minute services and three enrichments (mini treatments). Examples include the Date Shake Detox ($120/$175), Limeade Aloe Wrap ($120/$175), The Saguaro Man facial ($120) and the popular Saguaro Massage ($115/$165), custom-tailored to whatever you need at the moment from the most relaxing to the most therapeutic experience.
I couldn’t believe how potent two herb-filled muslin sacks could be for my 90-minute Desert Essence Poultice Massage ($175), designed to promote physical and mental well-being. Even in the lobby the strong, fragrant scent alerted me to the delights to come. My treatment room was way down the hall, yet the tantalizing aroma wafted through the entire spa. The fragrance intensified inside the simple, cheery room, where the poultices – two muslin sacks filled with a mixture of 12 wild herbs – peppermint, lemon grass, red chili flakes and sage among them – were being heated. The poultices are hand-crafted exclusively for the Saguaro and this treatment, Heidi Gerner, my masseuse, said.
Heidi’s nimble fingers kneaded my body to perfection. Working the pressure points and stretching my limbs with a combination of ayurvedic and Thai techniques, she rubbed the poultices along my skin infusing the herbal goodness into my being.
Afterward, I felt newly energized and light on my feet. I’ll be back, I told Theron – on a Tranquil Thursday.