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WEEKEND ESCAPE: DESERT HOT SPRINGS

A Mind-Emptying Kind of Place

Five minutes from tony Two Bunch Palms, it's a 1940s motel on the outside but inside, a cool, spare, calming retreat

November 08, 1998|LUCRETIA BINGHAM | Bingham is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer

The next day we drove to Two Bunch Palms, our more upscale neighbor. I had made reservations that morning for spa treatments and dinner at Two Bunch--only possible "the day of" if spaces aren't all taken by regular guests. We treated ourselves to hot mud baths and body wraps. After my attendant finished wrapping and steaming me, she leaned over and whispered, "As you go into your inward journey, don't go too far, your dinner reservation is soon." The restaurant was lovely, the waitress was great, but the food was kind of crunchy and not as good as it should have been given the price. (The next day, we had lunch at a fabulous Mexican restaurant, La Michoacana, on Palm Drive just south of town, where the fresh shrimp came in a big bowl of cool broth with lime and cilantro and onions and avocado and was one-fifth the price.)

By Sunday morning, several young couples had joined the Miracle Manor group. One couple was bicoastal, here for a romantic rendezvous. Another beautiful pair from Europe were both designers. "I like it. It's so simple," she said. Her husband murmured that it was the ultimate in "techno postmodern simplicity."

Lovely doe-eyed Sheila from Iran arrived to give us massages in the healing room just off the entrance. At the very end, as she cupped her hands over my face and forehead, I thought nothing.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

GUIDEBOOK

Budget for Two

Gas: $21.96

Groceries: 56.83

Dinner, Palm Korea: 25.27

Miracle Manor: 275.50

Spa treatments: 190.00

Dinner, Two Bunch: 96.19

Michoacana lunch: 27.00

Massages: 150.00

FINAL TAB: $842.75

Miracle Manor, 12589 Reposa Way, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240; tel. (760) 329-6641.

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