Castle Hot Springs: A Desert Oasis

“Listen to the silence.” It sounds like such a mindless act. Interestingly, I don’t frequently have the occasion to partake in something that sounds so simple. Relaxing in a bathtub underneath a sky full of stars, it was hard to not listen to the silence, and it was incredible. How did I get here? Nestled in the Bradshaw mountains at the end of a rocky dirt road, I found myself at a lush oasis with the name Castle Hot Springs. It was the video playing at their welcome reception that introduced this relaxing mantra of “listen to the silence” into my mind. This secluded resort allowed me to do just that and much more.

It first caught my eye on Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts for a number of reasons. As the name indicates, they do have hot springs. Immediately, it started to sound reminiscent of my trip to Dunton. They are both secluded, found at the end of a long dirt road, and have hot springs. Based upon my enjoyment for Dunton and after scouring their website, I ultimately booked a stay. First things first, the resort is located about 1 hour from the Phoenix airport. I chose to combine the trip with a stay in Scottsdale and rented a car for travel to the resort. A SUV rental may be favorable if trying to decide which car to choose. As I mentioned above, about seven miles is on a rather rough dirt road. You can arrange transportation with the hotel, but I did not explore those options any further due to our rental.

As you drive along the gravel road, you will start to realize how secluded the property really is. Just when you start to feel you will never arrive, out of nowhere, you will see a gorgeous landscape greeting you with green grounds and palm trees. You’ll use the call box to announce your arrival and, once the gate opens, it is really quite magical. Drive up to the main house on a gravel road lined by palm trees and you will be checked in. The staff will then load your bags onto a golf cart to escort you to your room and provide a tour of the property. We also received a little history lesson on our ride. Castle Hot Springs made its debut in 1896. For many years, it hosted a list of famous guests. As an example, JFK spent 5 months at Castle Hot Springs after an injury in World War II. The Roosevelts were another family that spent time here along with the Fords season after season. Unfortunately, a fire started in the original kitchen lodge in the year 1976 that ultimately burned the resort down. After trading hands for a few years, in the more recent past, the resort was purchased in 2006 and the owners began restoration in 2014. The property was complete and ready for guests in 2019.

The options for accommodations include the sky view cabins, the spring bungalows, and the historic cottage. The least expensive option is the sky view cabins, which is where we stayed. I felt the size was rather spacious. The bathroom included a shower and walk through to an enclosed outdoor area with a clawfoot tub. Even though the temperature dropped at night, I used this clawfoot tub every day of our stay. The bedroom has a coffee bar with a small fridge. We brought along wine and other drinks. Although the resort is all inclusive, alcohol is not a part of the price, so it was nice to have some wine to enjoy in the room. Also in the room were some fun books, games, and cards to enjoy. For relaxing at night, each balcony has a telescope. The outdoor space was large with two comfortable chairs and a guide on how to use the telescope. I did not master use of the telescope, but it was a fun addition. The spring bungalows looked rather amazing as well. I think probably the best feature about them is having an indoor fireplace if you are there during the winter time. There appears to be more room to sit and relax inside as compared to the sky view cabins. If you are vacationing with a large group, the historic cottage includes 1200 square feet and a total of three bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

Prior to arrival, the resort emailed a list of available activities and classes. There are a number that are no charge, but some have a small fee associated with them. We started our stay with the Farm to Bar: Mixology 101. This class is $50 per person. I really enjoyed this class and, not to mention, the different cocktails we were able to sample. They hand out a paper you can take home outlining how they created the cocktails. It was presented in such a simple way, and it is definitely something that you can recreate at home. Next, we went on the farm tour. There is so much fresh produce and herbs available at the chef’s fingertips. It also looks really beautiful growing on the property. There is even a greenhouse for tomatoes only. This is probably the reason why the food really was outstanding. Breakfast and lunch options did not change during our stay. For lunch, their appetizer with hummus and vegetables was so fresh and tasty. Dinner was definitely the standout meal. There was a small appetizer and every night warm naan with spread. What’s not to love about warm naan? Then, you had a choice for your main course after enjoying soup and salad. Every night there was the option for wine pairings. They paired all five courses including dessert. We did the wine pairings one night, and the offering was definitely generous. The third pairing was usually a cocktail instead of wine, and they are not short on alcohol. I also thought the options were well thought out, and I tried some new wines that I ended up really liking. If you have preferences, they will definitely cater to you. If wine does not interest you, the same bartender that teaches Farm to Bar has curated a fantastic list of craft cocktails. At the end of dinner, don’t skip a cup of tea. The cranberry hibiscus was my absolute favorite, and I ordered it every night.

The options of things to do on the property are plentiful. You always have bocce ball and a pickle ball court. For the most part, it was not difficult to get time to play either even though there was only one court for each. There are also golf clubs for chipping onto a nearby green. From the property, there are many hiking trails at your disposal. One short hike starts just next to the spring bungalows and allows you to easily climb to the top of a hill with fantastic views over the property. If you continue further in the other direction, there is a viewpoint for Lake Pleasant, which you will see on the drive in. Still haven’t had enough? You can continue walking even further to the nearby agave farm. The last guided activity we tried with the aerial walkway and petroglyph tour. This was $75 per person and started with a walk outside the property gates to look at petroglyphs discovered relatively recently carved into the rock formations nearby. Also part of this tour was the walkway. We were strapped into harnesses and lead across the walkway bridge. It was a fun experience and our guide took photos and videos as we walked across. Once safely to the other side, we made a short hike back to the property.

Certainly, this discussion would not be complete without mentioning the hot springs. There are three different springs available. The temperature starts in the 80s for the lowest spring, next 95, and the warmest at 105. All of the guests were focused in the top two warmest springs. I highly recommend starting out your day at the hot springs. The sunrises here are breathtaking, and I had the springs to myself every morning.

Castle Hot Springs offers a secluded feel and glamorous vibes. Hearing the history of the property makes it even more endearing. The owners did a wonderful job of keeping the history of the property alive and making you feel like you are part of it. If you are in need of some time to “listen to the silence,” this is most definitely the place to do it.

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