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The Spa at Sec-he Wellness Experience


By Barbara Beckley

LED chromatic lights and a water bed built into the massage table – relaxing and energizing my body – as I’m getting a facial! (The most effective facial I’ve ever had, by the way.) What spa does this!? The new Spa at Sec-he Palm Springs.

These deluxe extras – included for free – are just one example of the state-of-the-art nurturing, soothing, and healing pleasures – many exclusive to this spa – that make The Spa at Sec-he truly one of the world’s best new day spas. Built atop the sacred hot mineral springs of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians – the springs for which the City of Palm Springs is named – the Tribe has spared no expense to give us a world class experience. “Culture before commerce,” enthused Tribal Chairman Reid D. Milanovich at the April 4, 2023, opening of their landmark spa. “We are honored to share some of our most precious rituals with the world. It’s a milestone our Tribe will not soon forget.”

agua-caliente-hot-springs first bathhouse 1910 pshs
First bathhouse, 1910. Credit: Palm Springs Historical Society.

Spa at Sec-he Arrival

It’s recommended you arrive at least one hour prior to your first scheduled appointment. This will ensure adequate time to check in, relax, and fully enjoy the amenities. It’s also recommended you remove all jewelry and other valuable prior to visiting. I checked in at the two-story, sunlight-filled lobby that was just beautiful.

Spa at Sec-he entrance

Private Spa Suite

After I checked in, I followed an attendant past glassed-in mineral pool gardens – into the posh Private Spa Suite. Measuring 3,588 square feet, it features a spacious lounge, with a double-faced fireplace, wrap-around couches, and flat-screen TV.  Glass walls open to a private patio deck and hot mineral water whirlpool. There are separate women’s and men’s locker rooms with private showers and spacious toiletry areas. A perfect choice for a girls’ spa day – like I and my six colleagues were enjoying. Also pre-wedding spa parties and because the suite is coed, it’s ideal for family gatherings and business/client incentive pampering. For up to 18 guests.

Sec-he Spa_private spa suite

A Spa Lovers Dream Come True

Opening the tall glass doors, I entered an oasis of restorative pampering – spanning more than 73,000 square feet of stunning décor and incredible treatments and services. All – as Chairman Milanovich explained – with an emphasis on the unique healing powers and connection to body, mind and spirit that has helped the Agua Caliente thrive throughout the years.

Spacious lobbies and hallways lead to stylish indoor/outdoor relaxation areas landscaped with natural rock, California Washingtonian palm trees (native to the Coachella Valley’s natural oases) and commissioned art and sculpture. Earthy tones and custom décor utilizing the Agua Caliente’s cultural symbols evoke a desert serenity throughout.

My favorite Tribal design was the Snake, inlayed into the floor beneath a basket-style chandelier, in an alcove fronting the Sec-he Private Spa Suite. The snake signifies protection, I was told, a shape often woven into baskets to protect the contents.

spa at sec he lounge

The Signature Collagen Facial – Oh my!

I changed into the Spa at Sec-he signature robe – cozy, earth toned, light weight and environmentally friendly. “We looked for fabric that would take less time to launder and thus use less water,” Daniel Spencer, Spa Director, explained.  I retraced my steps to the lobby, then followed an attendant though airy spaces to one of the 15 posh treatment rooms for the signature Collagen Facial. It’s described as an “intensely rejuvenating treatment that minimizes visible lines and wrinkles, tightens and hydrates the skin for a firmer more radiant complexion.”

Boy, is it ever! My body rocked gently on the water relaxed by the LED color light therapy as the esthetician prepped my complexion. She covered my face with sheets of GM Collin brand collagen-infused fiber paper. “Paper is a better carrier than a cream,” Spencer explained later, “allowing the collagen to penetrate deeper and more evenly into the skin.” Next, my esthetician smoothed an aloe gel over the paper to “activate” the collagen, she said, helping it to penetrate my skin faster, and “boost” the collagen’s effectiveness. “The Collagen Facial has long results. It can last for weeks and weeks,” I was happy to hear Spencer say.

TAL-treatment room at spa at sec-he

“Your face is glowing!” “You look radiant!” “Younger!” My colleagues exclaimed without my even asking. All good, I decided.

My colleagues had all enjoyed massages. “The best massage of my life,” one said of the treatment she’d experienced on the crazy cool Gharieni Quartz massage table. Made with heated finely ground quartz and amber grains that gently contour the body, and a rolling air cushion to stretch the back. The table also tilts back and forth to shift the body as the masseuse works his/her magic. Wow! And I thought my LED color light therapy table was amazing. The quartz bed is also used with water cells to create the feeling of a water bed during The Spa at Sec-he’s signature Cupping Water Massage.

sec he spa quartz bed

From Facial Bliss to Healing Heaven

Next, I indulged in the exclusive “Taking of the Waters” ritual. The Cahuilla word “Séc-he” translates to “the sound of boiling water” and as stewards of these ancient hot mineral springs, the Tribe has shared the waters’ healing power via this ritual for more than 130 years.
Easing into the 105-degree, thousand-year-old waters in one of the spa’s 22 Private Mineral Baths. I let my feet and legs gently float, as the water – direct from 8,000 feet under the ground in its most pure form.  It infused my body with calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfate, carbonate and other naturally healing minerals. In world class style – while each bath chamber is private – you don’t feel enclosed because sunlight shines through the window-wall from a private garden. Akin to soaking in a natural palm oasis.

The water is powerful. Proven to increase circulation, soothe skin conditions, reduce inflammation, ease tight muscles, and provide an overall sense of wellbeing, according to Spencer. A soft knock on my door told me my 15 minutes of hot mineral water rejuvenation was up.


A Spa Journey to the Next Level

Now I was free to journey through all the wellness offerings – an uncommonly large number compared to your average day spa. Best of all – you don’t have to book a massage, facial or other special service to enjoy it. The “Spa at Sec-he Taking the Waters Day Pass” incudes the hot mineral water ritual and state-of-the-art spa amenities.

Included in the Day Pass is the amazing Acoustic Wellness vibrational loungers which instantly soothes your busy mind and relaxes your entire body, and Acoustic Zero-gravity vibration chairs. It also includes a Salt Cave to help relieve skin conditions, stress, allergies and respiratory infections, a state-of-the-art Fitness Center, a Menthol inhalation sauna with a cold experience shower, and Eucalyptus steam room.


“We wanted to go beyond the norm and provide an all-inclusive experience you wouldn’t find at most spas,” Spencer explained. “If you find these amenities at other spas at all, they’re often add-ons for extra money.” Not here. “We purposefully included extras so you can experience “no-touch therapy for deeper states of relaxation and goal-oriented wellness.”

“Emotional Reset.” “Power Nap.” “Awareness.” “Journey of the Mind.” Swinging my legs up onto a wave-shaped vibrational lounger in the Acoustic Wellness room, I donned head phones and chose among the musical beats to promote whatever mood I desired. I enjoyed several settings: “Touch,” “Energy,” “Deep” and “Gentle.” Then to the advanced “Power Nap” and “Awareness.” There’s no time limit to how long you can enjoy these incredible Gharieni wellness chairs.

Moving to the acoustic zero-gravity vibration chair, I zoned out to vibrations massaging up and down my back. The latest and greatest in “binaural (sound wave) therapy,” Spencer said. Soon, the Halotherapy Salt Cave was calling my name. Its salt-block walls glowed a soothing ruddy color as I inhaled tiny cleansing salt particles to rejuvenate my respiratory system and skin.

Spa at Sec-he Pool Party!

All this wellness gave us an appetite. No worries. We relaxed over drinks and goodies under one of the four luxury cabanas at the sunny Main Pool. With nearly 17,000 square feet of pool deck, there’s plenty of first-come first-serve lounge chairs. But the cabanas, with sumptuous teak furnishings, day beds, misters, and a fridge, are a wonderful added touch for a girls’ getaway, pre-bridal party, families. Any excuse, really, for luxe lounging. Each cabana holds up to six people, so together groups of up to 24 can enjoy the cabana comforts. More than a swimming/sunning area, the Main Pool is a relaxation destination, anchored by the large free-form freshwater Main Pool with a rock waterfall and grotto, plus a separate zero-edge hot mineral pool, a whirlpool and the poolside Pál Bar and café.

I ordered a white wine (the Pál Bar also has cocktails, loads of health-forward smoothies and locally sourced entrees and snacks) and the delicious Ahi Poke Bowl. Clinking our glasses, my colleagues and I toasted to an incredible day at an incredible spa. And to our return!

Sec he Spa_outdoor pool

Because – There’s More

After all, we’d only experienced one of the spa’s ultra-special treatments. Next time, perhaps we’ll take the Floatation Experience to destress and reset. Floating in a tank with minimal gravity, sensory stimulation, and temperature, buoyed by huge concentrations of Epsom Salts. Or the whole-body Cryotherapy, immersed for three minutes (or less) in a tank of minus 230-degree water! Enthusiasts say it’s wonderful for circulation, muscle recovery, full range motion and reduced inflammation. Maybe hit the Life Fitness treadmills or Hammer Strength weight machines in the Fitness Center. Indulge in a body scrub or wrap.

Or enjoy a mani/pedi, hair re-style and other out-of-the-ordinary services at The Spa at Sec-he Hair and Wellness Salon. The unique Yume scalp-treatment lounger and five-step Yume Spa Mist II technology provides a “Full Head Spa Experience” – to encourage mental relaxation, and deliver “unparalleled results to your hair,” Spencer enthused.

How did I feel after my Spa at Sec-he spa day? Relaxed. Refreshed. And unexpectedly Focused – for several days afterward.

Sec he Spa_

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Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Springs – A Story of Healing

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