PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - From the looks of it, everything is normal at the Spa Resort Hotel. Guests checking in to enjoy the hotels amenities, including its world renowned spa, built on natural hot mineral springs that were first opened to the general public in a bath house that dates back to the 1880s.
"It really is an institution in the valley, and the people who come here, we have people staying here that have been staying here for over 50 years," said director of hotel operations Michael Potts.
Nonetheless, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which took control of the hotel in 1992, is closing the hotel and spa next Tuesday, citing its desire to rejuvenate the hotel, which opened in 1963.
Tom Kieley III, a former member of the tribe's development authority, is well-versed in hotel history in the city. He just happens to be the great-grandson of Palm Springs hotel pioneer Nellie Coffman.
"I think the tribe is seeing how the hotel and tourist market has changed," said Kieley. "The tribe has embraced that, particularly since their purchase of the hotel in the early '90s and their renovation of the hotel and their redevelopment of the hotel."
Demolition of the hotel is expected to take 18 months. The process will be deliberately slow to make sure no artifacts are damaged, and to also make sure the ancient hot mineral springs aren't damaged.
"Everyone has to remember that the springs have been a part of the tribe from the beginning of time. They are an incredible resource the tribe has always strived to protect," said Kieley.
What's next for the hotel property? The tribe isn't saying at this point, which is only raising the anticipation level.
"It's been a great institution. I've been in the valley for 12 years and have known the property for all that time, so it'll be a loss, but a great future," said Potts.
Tom Kieley is enjoying the suspense in not knowing exactly how the tribe plans to transform the hotel property.
"Tell you the truth, Marc, I am really excited to see what's next. I am just really excited to see what's coming."
The Spa Resort Casino across the street from the hotel will remain open during the hotel's transformation.
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is assisting hotel employees in finding jobs in the valley's hospitality industry.