Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort, Calistoga
By Kathy Chin Leong
Back in 1946, Dr. John Wilkinson, a young chiropractor, purchased property and developed a resort, taking advantage of the natural resources that lay beneath the ground- authentic hot springs of water. Today, that resort is one of the oldest in Calistoga and continues to serve tourists year round with accommodations and mud bath & massage spa treatments.
Priced at $109 to $199 per night, the 2-story property is motel-style, and the owners have slowly refurbished the aging rooms. In the room we stayed in, Number 33, there was new wallpaper, new ceiling beams, a new Shaker-style king bed with white bedding, new blue and red floral drapes.
The cinder block walls are gray and drab, however. The armoir houses a small Zenith color TV, and the bathroom is clean, but uninspiring. It features your typical motel soap, basic amentieis and a shower stall enclosure atop cream colored lineoleum flooring.
Additional features include a small round table for reading or eating, magazines, and an iron with ironing board. Refrigerator makes it good for kids, no microwave, however. Yes, it’s simple, clean, and a good place to lay your head at night. All the basic services are here.
The resort also features a Victorian house with five bedrooms. These run at $119 to $199 per night, and it’s a good fit for a group of couples who want to spend the weekend together under one roof.
Cement patios and flower boxes flank the two outdoor mineral swimming pools. Outside, you’ll also find umbrella tables with benches, great for snacking or sharing a meal together. A domino array of lounge chairs makes for comfortable lounging and reading between pool laps.
The indoor pool is, like the others, actually the tap to the hot springs itself, and supposed to be extremely therapeutic with constant jets creating the essential bubbly hot tub experience.
Since the hotel is on Calistoga’s main street, Lincoln Avenue, you are at a comfortable walking distance to everything from the local market and video store, to unique shops, bookstores, clothing and art galleries.
Food is plentiful here- delis, pizza joints, cafes, bakeries, Mexican food, California cuisine. If you go hungry, it’s your own fault.
Dr. Wilkinson has a long history here in Calistoga, and the mud baths and spa services are both relaxing and professional. Treated to The Works, I experienced the $109 mud bath, mineral bath, cocooning blanket wrap, and a half-hour massage.
As an experienced spa-goer, I’d say that the experience was very good. When I was through, I felt refreshed and renewed. The Works is a great way to unwind after a long day, and the sequence of therapies is well ordered. The massage, although only 30 minutes, was excellent, something that I cannot always say when I get a massage. Carlos, the masseuse, was an expert in getting those knotty kinks out of my shoulder which comes from too much computer time.
The Wilkinson staff was professional and friendly, from the front staff to the back room attendants. The spa itself is a basic no-frills building with a separate men’s and women’s locker room, mud and massage area.
The front desk reception area reminded me of a boring doctor’s office. You check in, you sit on one of the bland conference room chairs, you wait your turn until you are called by name.
Upon reception, you go to a locker room area where you get a robe and slippers. You wait for a few minutes and one of the friendly attendants escorts you to the mud bath. Stripping naked, you lay your body atop the coffin of hot mud, being careful not to step directly into the bottom. The workers lap mud all over your body and put cucumbers on your eyes. Make sure you go to the bathroom first because once you are in the mud, that’s it!
After the mud bath, shower, shower shower. You’d be surprised where those chunks of mud can lodge within your body cavities.
There is stiff competition on this street, however. Across the way is the comprable Calistoga Spa Hot Springs . It also has motel rooms and a few more niceties such as 4 pools, kitchenettes with microwaves and refrigerators, and an on-site, full service spa and a gym with modern, well-maintained treadmills, weights, and other gym equipment. Prices there start in the low $100s.
The Comfort Inn on the same street boasts 54 rooms and offers guests a continental breakfast. Priced at $116 to $189, the place includes one natural springs pool and whirlpool.
Dr. Wilkinson Hot Springs Resort
Phone: (707) 942-4102
Address: 1507 Lincoln Ave. Calistoga, CA 94515
Hours: Open Daily
Spa Treatments: 8:30 am - 3:45 p.m.
Massage: 9:00 am - 4:45 pm
Skin Care: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
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