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A History of Health Consciousness

Fit couple sitting comfortably on the pool edge

Palm Springs Has Promoted Wellness Since Its Inception

The mind, body, and soul intertwine to form a braided pillar of resilience. Our well-being is difficult to quantify, but impossible to deny. It is important to acknowledge our city’s proud history of conscientiousness in regards to public health and Palm Springs wellness.

The Hot Springs in Palm Springs

In the mid 1850’s, when the only people that were aware of the natural hot springs were the native Indians, travel was beginning to open between Arizona and Southern California. The San Gorgonio Pass was the main trail and when the early explorers discovered the hot springs, it soon became a popular traveler stop.  The first hotel called the Palm Springs Hotel was build in 1886 by Welwood Murray and he built it right next to the hot springs. He leased it from the Indians for $100 per year and built a bathhouse. The bathhouse had two rooms and was built over the hot springs. The hot springs eventually influenced the name of the city now called Palm Springs.

hot springs bathouse

Nellie Coffman’s Journey to Wellness

Nellie was living in Idyllwild and had heard of the little town of Palm Springs and it’s healing weather, so she decided to visit and stayed a Welwood Murray’s Palm Springs Hotel in 1908. She liked the area so well she purchased over an acre of property in 1909, moved out with her husband, Dr. Harry Coffman and her two boys.  The mad a down payment of $2,000 for the property that included a small stone house. It was located at the corner of Tahquitz and Palm Canyon where the Kimpton Hotel now sits.

desert inn

The dry warm air was therapeutic for those with respiratory ailments.  Tuberculosis was a particular problem at this time, so Nellie and her Dr. husband initially opened her new hotel and called in the the Dr. Harry Coffman’s Desert Inn and Sanatorium. Rates were $25 a week and included medical and ordinary nursing care.

cottage desert inn

When the cure for tuberculosis was found, Nellied decided to change the property from a Sanatorium to a more upscale hotel and she changes the name to The Desert Inn. She soon expanded from health to wellness, encouraging leisure as a cure-all for whatever visitors were trying to escape. Coffman installed the very first swimming pool in Palm Springs, immersing her guests in the good life. When Nellie first set her strong, proud foot on our landscape, it was simply known as “The Village.” By the time she passed away in 1950, it was a flourishing Mecca for Hollywood types and health enthusiasts alike. Coffman wrote a poem that illustrated her passion for hospitality and expressed her signature irreverence, simultaneously.

“We oft times pray for the heathen,
Far off in a foreign land;
We also pray for the sinner,
Who is always close at hand.

So why can’t we pray for business?
Along with the lame and sick.
Oh, Lord, please send us the tourists,
And send them damn quick.”

You took the words right out of our damn mouths, Nellie.

Calling All Serenity Seekers

Fast forward to the present tense. Speaking of tension, you can put it in the rear-view mirror with a trip to Palm Springs. Our hometown is a haven for wellness and rejuvenation. Visit one of our many yoga studios to harness your Zen, or simply guide your own soulful sojourn with an open-air session. The only barrier between you and the warming terrain is a thin yoga mat. Namaste, indeed.

Now that you have harmonized with Earth, raise your gaze to other worlds. The night sky in Palm Springs ushers forth a kaleidoscope of interstellar visions. Meteor showers and cosmic nebulae waltz in an endless display of majesty. Lose yourself in the splendor of the universe and embrace a whole new meaning to the term “space.” Palm Springs sprawls around you, never encroaching but always welcoming. As a new day dawns, explore your surroundings with a bike ride through town. Fuel up at one of our many health food enclaves, featuring the good, the raw, and the hearty. Ride on!

As your cycle subsides, soothe your pulsating muscles at one of our legendary spa resorts. Allow Nellie Coffman’s four S’s to echo through time and massage your current reality.

Simplicity – Sometimes, wellness is as easy as a deep breath, a fabulous meal, and the perfect pairing of wine.

Solitude – You can be alone without being lonely in Palm Springs.

Space – Our mountains, windmills and ravines encircle the city, carving out ample room for your signature journey.

Stillness – The hubbub of city life is conveniently close yet miles from your consciousness right now. Enjoy the placidity.

There’s your vacation checklist. Go forth and be healthy. It’s all in a day’s wellness here in Palm Springs.

Here’s To Your Health


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