Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort is the success story of a young chiropractor and a San Francisco native who came to Calistoga in 1946. Known by everyone in the area as the most traditional and “original” mud baths, Dr Wilkinson’s also offers hotel rooms in case you’d like to stay on the premises after your treatment. Let’s start with the mud bath experience. Fancy an experience where you’re submerged into near boiling mud that is made up of peet and other natural healing ingredients followed by a massage? If not, why not? Go on a journey with me.
The original owners “Doc” and Edy Wilkinson combined their talents and vision to offer simple healthful relaxation through mud baths and body treatments including massages. Their daughter and son have since taken over running the business and it was Mark Wilkinson who greeted me after my treatment to see what I thought of the experience.
Before my treatment, I decided to duck into all three of their mineral pools, my favorite being the inside mineral pool, which is also the “hottest” in temperature. You can either paddle around without the jets turned on or blast them on high and take in a jacuzzi like experience in a tub that is large enough to comfortably fit 20 or so people.
After I was warmed up, in I went into the mud.
I have to admit that while I was supposed to lie back and relax in the mud with cucumbers over my eyes, I turned into a bit of a ten year old once I submerged. I felt the need to splash about for some reason, and dabble a bit on my face for good measure. After all, how often do you get to play in mud that is good for you?
After about 10-15 minutes, you shower it all off and then take a soak in a bubbling mineral bath. There’s a small steam room you can spend time in afterwards if you wish, followed by a short “rest” in a nearby area to “cool down” before your massage. During this process, you are wrapped in a cotton blanket that envelopes you like a cocoon for a peaceful interlude. You can opt just for the mud bath or just a massage or both or you can sign up “The Works.”
When I heard the term “The Works,” I immediately thought of my hometown lunch diner where they served “The Works” on their hot dogs, which included ketshup, mustard, onions and meat sauce. Hot dots and meat sauce is obviously not what they mean by “The Works” at Wilkinsons.
“The Works” was originally coined by the original Dr. Wilkinson and for $3.50, a guest was treated to everything the spa could offer —mud bath, mineral bath, steam room, blanket wrap and massage. Today, only the price has changed. Finally….the massage by one of their seasoned practitioners completes “The Works”, and oh btw, major brownie point for them is that their massage treatments are one full hour, as in 60 minutes, not the lame 50 minutes that so many spas are now doing. Their varied spa treatments include: Mud Baths, Mineral Water Whirlpool Tubs, Mineral Steam Rooms, Blanket Wraps and Massages. Services are provided in adjacent men’s and woman’s bathing areas.
One thing to note: if you sign up for “The Works” or the mud baths alone, be sure to drink plenty of water. The mud treatment alone is a detoxifying one, meaning that the combination of the hot volcanic ash and peat moss brings out your impurities. It can also dehydrate you in the same way you can feel dehydrated after any body treatment. Do yourself a favor: drink a liter of water before you start the treatment and another liter afterwards and drink plenty of water the following day as well. And, oh yeah….go easy on the wine since there’s plenty to be found at the nearby Calistoga restaurants – remember that it is wine country after all.
Below is a standard room in the hotel, which you can ask for on the top or bottom floor.
For more on spas and retreats, check out our Spas Section. You can also view Spas by region of the world including the major cities. For more on Lodging and Hotels in California, visit our California Hotels and Lodging section. (Top California hotels)
Top photo credit: tripadvisor, inside room and pool from Dr. Wilkinsons and others from Renee Blodgett.