Castle Hot Springs Resort, tucked into the desert hills surrounding three natural hot springs in Arizona, was one of those bucket list dreams we travel writers conjure up when planning our year. I had heard that this historical place at the end of a dusty road just northwest of Phoenix was recently developed into a luxury destination and I wanted to go explore and write about it!
Travel During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
But just as I was reaching out to tourism representatives to see if I could put my dreams onto my calendar in ink, our entire world changed. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) rocked our sense of safety and freedom. Our entire world changed and travel, even visits to places like nearby Castle Hot Springs, became a fleeting memory…and went back onto my bucket list for future travel plans.
Castle Hot Springs Gives Back
While there are no guests at this luxury resort, there is quite a bit of activity. Through an Instagram post, I learned that Castle Hot Springs includes a large organic farm and greenhouse. The farm produces more than 150 varieties of rare fruits and vegetables (including more than 30 varieties of heirloom tomatoes), and the produce is used by the resort chefs in creating healthy, creative cuisine for guests.
So, what to do with all these luscious organic produce? During the coronavirus pandemic, it has become difficult for individuals to find local produce for healthy meals. So, the farm at Castle Hot Springs began offering farm-fresh produce subscriptions with all profit being donated to the local St. Vincent de Paul. For those who sign up for the CSA, the pick-up point is in Scottsdale or at the resort.
Payment is collected over the phone and social distancing is maintained. This is a rare chance to enjoy quality fruits and veggies while giving back to charity. Subscriptions are limited and it’s not known how long the program will have their organic produce available.
The Dream and the Decline
My fascination with Castle Hot Springs began when, many years ago, I found out that there were hot springs to the east of Morristown, Arizona off U.S. Route 60. Once a natural springs where the Native people bathed to gain the medicinal benefit of the waters, the area was purchased in 1896 by an early entrepreneur and became Arizona’s first wellness resort.
In its early days, it was a rugged trip to get to Castle Hot Springs. Guests had to endure a dusty, five-hour stagecoach ride. With the establishment of a train station and bus route just to the north, guests had a much easier journey. Through the years, the resort—touted as a lush Garden of Eden—attracted the rich and famous like the Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Astor families. Even President Theodore Roosevelt stayed at the resort during the dedication of the Roosevelt Dam. It had the feeling of a secluded, private club.
During World War II the resort was re-purposed as a rehabilitation center for wounded veterans. In 1976 a fire destroyed the iconic Palm House, a symbol of the resort. Ultimately, other buildings were torn down and the area was donated to the Arizona State University Foundation.
The New Castle Hot Springs Resort
Like the area’s namesake, the resort has recently risen like a Phoenix after years of neglect. Thanks to an Arizona couple who purchased it in 2014 and completed the reconstruction of the resort property in 2019, the resort recently opened to guests. While the natural beauty of the area is the main draw, the resort, with a range of accommodations from bungalows with spring-fed private tubs to lodge rooms, is beautifully-appointed and includes sought-after modern amenities. The resort website will draw you into the beauty and relaxation we can only dream about right now.
Yes, you still have to travel eight miles up a dirt road to get there, but isn’t that part of the charm? When this pandemic and its devastating effects on travel becomes a thing of the past, I’ll definitely have Castle Hot Springs Resort on my list of places to explore and write about.
There's so much to see and do in Arizona. As I reluctantly remain part of the “Stay Home – Stay Safe” community, I yearn for travel and discovering fascinating new places, even close to home.