Thursday, April 16, 2009

One of the best spa experiences you'll ever have--even if you're on a budget!

I've been kicking around a post idea for awhile about my favorite spa, and after getting a couple of impossible-to-pass-up specials via their email list this week, decided that time is of the essence.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona, California, is my happy place. I know I'm not the only person who feels this way, and after you visit the first time, you'll probably agree. This is of special interest to those of you in southern California, as it's just 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, but if you've been thinking about a visit to our beautiful west coast, Glen Ivy should definitely be on your list of activities.

Glen Ivy isn't just a full service spa, but an honest-to-goodness hot springs and true day spa and resort. We humans have been dipping our toes in the geothermally heated, mineral-rich waters there for thousands of years--first the native Americans, then Spanish settlers, all the way up to current day. The hot springs as a resort has seen many incarnations over the years, first catering to weary travelers almost 150 years ago. It still beckons to those of us who need an "aaahhhhh" day, and does so at a remarkabe price (more on that in a moment). They were the winner of Spa Magazine's 2008 Readers' Choice Award for Favorite Hot Springs and Most Affordable Spa in America.

In addition to a full menu of spa services that can be purchased a la carte, Glen Ivy in Corona features mineral baths (contained in a large pool and several smaller satellite pools that will accommodate two people each) fed by those wonderful hot springs, a therapeutic red clay mud bath, a large lounge pool, saunas, steam rooms, roman baths and large shower and locker areas for men and women, complete with towel service, the use of all of which are included in the resort's very reasonable entrance price of $48 per person on weekends, and just $35 per person Monday through Friday, and is open to all visitors age 16 or older (age 18 minimum for the spa's massage services).

A co-worker of mine had raved about Glen Ivy for about a year before I finally went my first time. My sister was in town for a visit, and we're both spa fanatics, so we decided a visit to Glen Ivy should be on our itinerary during her stay. We went on a Tuesday to take advantage of the lower weekday prices, and each scheduled a pedicure in addition. We were delighted to discover that driving from Los Angeles to Glen Ivy took us against--instead of in--rush-hour traffic coming and going, so that was a bonus. We arrived around 10 a.m., and had no trouble finding a spot to park (also included in the price). The resort resembles a desert oasis, welcoming and lushly landscaped. We were checked in quickly and amiably at the front desk, given an informative brochure to help us find our way around, and made our way to the large shower and locker facilities to change into our swimsuits. We'd heeded the advice on the website to bring a dark-colored swimsuit (alternatively, just bring along an old one that won't mind a few stains) because the red clay mud can leave stains on fabric. The women's shower and locker area is expansive, clean and beautifully designed; we felt relaxed already!

We hit the mud bath first, because both of us were dying to try it--we read the brochure more closely later, and realized that's recommended AFTER the mineral baths (oops!) so we'll know better next time--and took turns coating each other head to toe with the slippery stuff. You'll love the mud--it smells wonderful--and can purchase some to take home with you at the bargain price of $18 for a 14.5 oz. jar.

We settled into lounge chairs to bask in the sun while the mud dried, then helped each other rinse off in the outdoor shower nearby. It was a warm day, so we were delighted to see a table with complimentary ice-cold water to keep us hydrated; they have a couple of these stationed around the resort, and also offer a smoothie bar as well as a cafe with light and reasonably priced fare.

After the mud bath, you can take advantage of the Grotto (for an additional $25), which is an underground cavern--literally, a quick elevator ride down--where you'll be misted with cool mineral water and "painted" with an all-over green moisturizing masque containing sea kelp and aloe vera, which smells even better than the mud masque (amazing, but true). Then move into the hydrating chamber to let the masque do its magic, and enjoy a cup of green tea or a crisp green apple in the cool mist chamber. No appointment is necessary for the Grotto, but there may be a waiting list on very busy days. Here are the other areas of interest (all included in the price of admission):
  • Lap Pool—the perfect pool for swimming laps or performing aerobics.
  • Vista Spa—relax while taking in majestic views of the valley.
  • Saline Pool—heal aching muscles and joints with an epsom salt soak.
  • Terrace Pools—a designated quiet area shaded by surrounding trees.
Once all the mud was washed away, we headed for the mineral baths, which were warm and wonderfully soothing. We spent the rest of the day (before AND after our pedicures) lazing about the lounge pool, chatting and reading magazines, and were both sad to see the day come to an end. We left with lovely pink toes, and refreshed and lifted spirits, and vowed we'd be back.

I was smitten with Glen Ivy, and immediately signed up for their email list when I returned home. If you do so, you'll receive frequent discount offers. I'll be back on my birthday next month to take advantage of their free admission (must be on your actual birthday, and you must show ID for verification), and also have my eye on their current specials:

  • On April 21, 22, 28 and 30, Glen Ivy is offering 2-for-1 admission for their President's Special stress relief package. This is an email-only offer, but if you sign up for their email list any time before April 30, you'll receive the email with the President's Special offer.

  • Now through April 20, you can purchase $100 Glen Ivy gift cards--which may be used for admission to the resort as well as spa services--for just $75 each, and if you purchase two gift cards, you'll get a free Glen Ivy admission pass. That's a fantastic deal! The gift cards must be purchased online to get the special sale price.
You can (and should) sign up for their email list here, and be the first to find out about upcoming promotions. I can think of no better way to treat yourself to some serious stress relief than to spend a day at Glen Ivy. Even if you forego the separate spa services, you still get a day of incredible pampering (and that wonderful mud bath!) and lounging in and by the pools for that low admission price. It's a beautiful place, it's relaxing, and after you experience it for the first time, you'll promise yourself you'll come back often.

A quick p.s. to those of you outside of southern California: check out Spa Finder, and sign up for their email list. There are many great spa specials out there to be found, especially as spas try to stay competitive in such a tough economy. You can search for the deals on Spa Finder, and keep up with the latest offers via their email news letter.


  1. Hi Budget Girl!

    An update for your readers: anyone who signs up for Glen Ivy email news before April 30 using the link above) will automatically receive the Presidents 2 for 1 email.

    Also, Glen Ivy's current gift card sale is an online only sale, not available in stores. Visit to take advantage of this great deal!

    To your health & happiness!

  2. Thanks, Jennifer--I'll edit my post to reflect that.

  3. Sounds awesome!!! Definitely need the time to relax and I'm pretty sure Glen Ivy is just the right place. Ah, it absolutely looks wonderful! Can't wait to visit! Thanks for sharing this! Just what I needed!