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The Road to Morocco in Desert Hot Springs

Ever since watching “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart, I have dreamed of a trip to exotic and mysterious Morocco. But until I make it there, I am thankful for the El Morocco Inn and Spa, a small and luxurious slice of the North African country, located in Desert Hot Springs, just outside of Palm Springs.bears 203 web

Set against a backdrop of Joshua trees and jagged mountain ranges, the El Morocco is a charming and romantic boutique hotel and spa with 12 unique guestrooms, a full-service spa, pool and Jacuzzi, lush gardens, an Arabian tent for exercising, a gourmet breakfast room, a poolside bar, and lots of colorful Moroccan-styled architecture – all tucked into an unassuming residential neighborhood in the middle of the Palm Springs desert.

My getaway to the El Morocco Inn & Spa began when a friend and I checked into room 103, dubbed “The Arabian Alcove.” True to its name, this enchanting den featured an alcove living room complete with a curved sofa, bistro style dining setup and a Moroccan martini bar with microwave and mini-fridge. The bedroom, separated from the living room by a beaded Moroccan archway, featured a cloud-like, four-post king bed draped with a romantic canopy net.

And like all guestrooms, the Arabian Alcove is a few steps away from the property’s natural hot mineral water swimming pool and Jacuzzi spa. The water comes from ancient hot and cold aquifers that the city of Desert Hot Springs sits atop. For thousands of years, Native Americans in the region used the waters for survival.

Today, the city’s cold water is rated among the world’s best for drinking, and its hot mineral water has propelled the town into a spa resort haven attracting celebrities and visitors from around the country – and the world.

Besides the soothing and rejuvenating mineral waters, the El Morocco Inn and Spa has a cool, relaxed Palm Springs resort vibe. It’s the kind of place for a romantic weekend or to reconnect with your inner self. And with its full-service spa, it is also perfect for a girl’s getaway.

One of the highlights of my stay was experiencing a “Morocco-tini” at the resort’s nightly happy hour, which was hosted by hotel owner Bruce Abney. Held at the poolside bar, the event was a great chance to meet fellow guests and talk with Abney, who designed the inn after his visits to Morocco and his love for its architecture and culture.

“I wanted to create something totally different for folks,” said Abney. “It needed to be an experience rather than just an overnight stay. It’s fun because this is a very different and unexpected arrival experience for guests throughout their stay. It’s not only the mineral water; it’s all of the exotic lamps and fabrics and furnishings throughout the building.”

He said guests also love the exotic and authentic sultan’s tent he imported from Morocco, where people can do yoga and work out. The tent sits in a tranquil spa garden, with desert plants and a giant chess set.

After enjoying a couple Morocco-tini’s with Abney, I relaxed on a sofa in the hotel’s Casablanca Room, where a TV plays an endless loop of the classic Bogart film, which is set in Morocco during WWII.

In the morning I hit the inn’s daily complimentary continental breakfast buffet. Featuring an array of fresh juices, avocados, pastry, crème cheese, tomatoes, bagels, cereals, yogurts coffee and teas, the feast is a perfect way to start a Moroccan morning in Desert Hot Springs.

The El Morocco Inn and Spa is located at 66810 4th Street, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240. For more information, call (888) 288-9905 or visit:



Greg Aragon is a travel writer from Glendale, California. For the past 12 years he has authored “Greg’s Getaway,” a popular travel column which has taken him to more than a 21 countries in search of exciting destinations, people, food, drink and culture. You can follow more of Greg’s travels at


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