Glen Ivy Hot Springs
Anne M. Russell
If your heart soars at the sight of your girlfriends gathered for a wedding shower or you live to plunge into the crowds on Black Friday, you will love your visit to the Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona, California. The day spa, which recognizes its 155th anniversary at its location in the Santa Ana Mountains this year, is not so much a venue for quiet contemplation as it is a joyous celebration of mud-covered humanity in all its shapes and sizes. Glen Ivy draws most of its guests from other cities in Riverside County, such as Temecula and Riverside, although there are plenty of out-of-towners, too. And, since it’s just over an hour south of Los Angeles, it attracts Angelenos, as well.
Glen Ivy’s centerpiece is its Club Mud, where swimsuit-clad spa-goers of both genders gather to coat themselves and each other in therapeutic red-clay mud, relax in the sun on lounge chairs and then shower off or rinse in warm mineral pools. On the beautifully landscaped 17-acre property, there are 19 water features in total, including both swimming and lounging pools and natural mineral tubs and whirlpools, plus a cold plunge and large hot tub. Almost all of the spa’s attractions are outdoors, although the Grotto, a manmade cave system with sauna and showers, is entirely underground.
The day spa, which recognizes its 155th anniversary at its location in the Santa Ana Mountains this year, is not so much a venue for quiet contemplation as it is a joyous celebration of mud-covered humanity in all its shapes and sizes.
My day began, along with everyone else’s, at the front gate: I would advise prospective spa-goers to arrive well before the official opening hour of 9:00 a.m. to avoid ending up at the back of the line. There’s plenty of free parking, although the most convenient spaces go fast. The basic day entry fee is $46 Tuesday through Thursday and $64 Friday through Monday, but there are some extras that may be worth the money to you. For an additional $25, the Grotto provides a nice afternoon respite from the sun and an opportunity to rehydrate your skin post-mud-bath via a total-body moisturizing treatment.
You may also want to think about renting a lounge chair on the quieter, more serene upper Solé Terrace ($25) and booking some beauty or spa services in advance, which also gets you a reduced entry fee ($39, $52). The Massage Village is a small cluster of Japanese-style cabins tucked along a path beside a meandering stream. (You can also have your massage done outdoors, but I recommend the indoor setting, especially if you’re not used to Southern California’s intense heat and sunshine.)
In addition to the usual Swedish, prenatal, and hot-stone massages ($100, 50 minutes; $160, 80 minutes), you will find some unique offerings such as the Deep Tissue Massage with Turquoise Sage Mountain Arnica Oil ($100, 50 minutes; $160, 80 minutes), the Healing Herbal Compress Massage or the Honeycomb Massage and Back Treatment (both $115, 50 minutes; $175, 80 minutes). All three focus on the healing and pain-relieving properties of natural anti-inflammatory compounds and are very pleasant after a morning of swimming, exercise and mudding. There is a variety of facials ($100-$160) and waxing available in the salon, as well as manicures and pedicures ($50-$90).
My favorite activity, though, were the fitness classes, which are included in the basic admission. Depending on the day of the week, you’ll find either three or four 30- or 45-minute classes on the schedule. There is always an 11:00 a.m. AquaFit class in the Lap Pool and in warm weather (which is most of the time), it’s very popular. There’s also a 2:00 p.m. yoga class 6 days a week, held in a covered outdoor pavilion. The pleasantly shaded space can be crowded, but the participants were mellow and good-spirited when I was there. Other days of the week, you’ll see hooping and tai chi on the JoyFitness menu. As fitness instructor Meg Root said to me, “We try to give people a destination-spa experience in a day spa.”
I had brought a variety of fashion-y cover-ups and exercise clothes with me, but I ended up leaving all that in my complimentary locker in the Bath House and spent most of my time with one of the spa’s large, brick-colored towels wrapped over my swimsuit. The Glen Ivy vibe is very casual and you will feel comfortable wearing almost anything. Black bathing suits prevail, though, because the terra cotta-colored mud stains clothing and a light-colored suit can get ruined. It’s a good idea to have a couple of suits with you so you don’t have to stay in wet clothes all day. You can rent a robe at the Bath House ($10), but most guests don’t.
Glen Ivy doesn’t allow guests to bring any food or drink in with them, so you’ll be having lunch (and possibly breakfast) at the cafeteria-style Café Solé, which faces into the central courtyard of the spa and offers lots of shaded outdoor seating. The emphasis in the Café is on organic or wild-caught ingredients. I had the ahi poke salad, which was $18.
It’s a good idea to plan out your day carefully in advance, since Café Solé can get very busy at peak lunch hour. So eat either early or late. There’s a small café, Sunflower, that’s open in the morning, so you can tide yourself over with coffee and a snack after you arrive. Make sure you read the info you’re given on arrival and look at the welcome board for updates on class time changes—they happen. I missed the HoopFit class that I’d been excited to try because it had been moved to an hour earlier than it’s usually scheduled. Glen Ivy does serve alcohol at its outdoor Paradise Bar, but you’re requested to stop drinking at least an hour before beauty or spa services, so that takes a little planning, too.
Most important, remember that when you want to leave (closing time varies by season, but in the summer, it’s 6:00 p.m.), so does everyone else. Although there are dozens of showers, the women’s Bath House gets extremely busy and you may not be able to shower off without a wait. So consider cleaning up an hour early to beat the rush and then relax with a book in an oversize rocker, walk the labyrinth at the front entrance or stretch out on a chaise lounge in the Bath House’s peaceful solarium.
Or shop the Spa Lifestyle store: There’s a lot to see—and buy—here. Glen Ivy has its own affordable signature beauty line infused with the classic fragrances of California (eucalyptus, lavender) as well as other spa skin- and sun-care lines such as Coola, MoroccanOil, and Kai. The shop also has an extensive collection of caftans, sarongs, swimsuits, scarves, hats, sunglasses, jewelry, and flip flops. In the Salon Boutique, you will find Jane Iredale cosmetics and SpaRitual’s vegan nail products. Glen Ivy has just added SpaRitual’s new Gold manicure line, which I tried and found to be the most long-lasting and durable polish I’ve ever experienced—really extraordinary.
On my way out, I like to make a quick stop at the nearby Tom’s Farms for some treats for the car trip home to LA. The giant complex has fresh local produce, a gourmet deli with all kinds of fun candy, and a wine and cheese shop to keep my spa-induced good mood going for at least part of my freeway adventure.