Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort
Sycamore Mineral Springs resort, which rivals as one of the central coast’s premier upscale retreats, now celebrates over 100 years of history dating back to the Spanish-and-Mexican era, early American California, and the Old West. This serenely beautiful resort, spanning more than 100 acres of forest, hills, and meadows and resting atop hot mineral springs in San Luis Obispo, beckons to those seeking to refresh, renew, and restore one’s mind, body, and spirit.
The history of Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort dates back to 1886 when two men began drilling for oil in what is now the Avila Valley. Instead of finding oil, they found hot sulfur mineral water springs. This white sulfur spring water, naturally hot, appeared to possess therapeutic effects and "The Oil Wells," as the popular resort was then called, quickly became a popular hotel spa. In the early 1900’s, the resort was renamed San Luis Hot Sulfur Springs, during which time W.C. Fields and other celebrities were among its visitors on their way to Hearst Castle from Los Angeles. Approximately thirty-five years later, the resort became known by the name it now bears, and gained acclaim as a therapeutic center staffed by doctors and nurses. Its visitors came from afar, seeking mineral water treatments to cure their aches, pains, arthritis, and other ailments. By the mid-1970s, the focus again shifted and has since remained as a spa resort whose spa offerings keep competitive with some of the country’s most cutting-edge resorts.
Sycamore Mineral Springs maintains a San Luis Obispo address, but is nestled within the trees along Avila Beach Drive exit, eight miles south of downtown SLO. Understated sophistication defines this quiet resort, which is surrounded by lush and colorful gardens and whispers its elegance, offering everything that overworked adults need to unwind: full massages, facials, an upscale gift shop with diverse assortments of clothing, perfumes, bath items, and interesting books mostly by local writers. Notable features, elucidated below, include the Labyrinth and meditation gardens, the Sycamore Crest Trail, the award-winning Gardens Restaurant, the Healing Arts Institute, and the mineral springs hot tubs nestled in the wooded hillside which are in addition to the private hot tubs found in every suite.
Charles Crellan, the Director of Marketing, says that families like to make this resort a home-base to enjoy the surrounding activities of this relaxing coastal area. From Sycamore Mineral Springs, families rent bikes, visit the nearby Avila Barn, Avila Beach, and enjoy the Avila Hot Springs. Certainly my two-bedroom suite, Eloquence, comfortably accommodated my large family of four kids, offering two bedrooms with queen-sized beds, a kitchenette with full refrigerator, microwave, sink, and plenty of cabinet space; a dining room with table and chairs, and a living room with a queen-size sofa sleeper and wood burning fireplace. Eloquence also provided a very large, private patio with a fresh water hot tub and completely private, adjacent parking. Pricing varies, but during the time of my stay in March, the weekday rate for this suite ran $349.00 and the weekend rate is $449.00. Each of sycamore’s guest accommodations has a name as well as a private balcony with a redwood hot tub mineral spa. The luxury suites, as they are called, are divided into various categories such as "Endeavor Suites" with individual names such as Aspire, Quest, Journey, Illustrious, Pursuit, and Yearning ($189-$209 on weekdays and $269-$289 on weekends) as well as the "Mystical Suites," Of Mystical, Fantasy, Imagine, Fanciful, and our suite Legendary ($209.00 per night on weekdays and $289 per night on weekends).
It had been eight years since I last visited Sycamore Mineral Springs and I discovered so many new and improved features that it felt like a different place than my original destination. Some of the resorts most outstanding features include the following:
--An updated spa, staffed by both massage therapists and aestheticians. This spa offers standard massages such as Deep Tissue ($110.00 for an hour; $140.00 for 90 minutes), Prenatal, and Hot Stone as well as general facials such as Signature Skin Care ($95.00 for 60 minutes), Naturopathic, Express Skin Care, Signature Skin Care for Men.
Beyond these offerings, the spa also provides for true spa aficionados, some cutting-edge, trendy treatment collections such as the Chardonnay Wine Therapy which utilizes chardonnay grape seed extracts and enzyme exfoliations. Some of the treatments from this collection include the Chardonnay Antioxidant Sugar Scrub ($75.00 for 30 minutes) and Chardonnay Anti-Aging Wrap, priced the same. At the time of my stay, Sycamore’s exclusive Marine Skin Care Collection by Thalgo was also available. This treatment line (not recommended for clients with iodine or shell fish allergies) draws on the treasures of marine cosmetology, using marine plants which are rich in minerals and proteins in their purest forms and marine-algae treatments. When combined with state of the art technology, the marine products purportedly provide more calcium and more magnesium and copper than a terrestrial plant.
--The Arts Healing Institute/Yoga Dome: This institute offers a variety of classes as well as private instruction in yoga, Pilates, meditation, Tai Chi, and many are complimentary mind-body classes are offered to guests. The institute continually updates their offerings, and some of the latest classes include Qi Gong, an ancient Chinese martial art practiced for five thousand years, made up of a series of movement and breathing exercises and also Chi Ball, which is a fusion of multiple gentle healing activities including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Feldenkrais.
--Hillside hot tubs: Private outdoor redwood tubs are tucked along forest paths and guests climb up stairs to reach them. The hot tubs can be rented hourly and, because the resort itself actually rests on hot sulphur mineral springs, the tubs are sourced by these springs. The waters at Sycamore Mineral Springs are rich in sulfur compounds and trace minerals. Hydrogen sulfide gas, an antibacterial agent, is thought to alleviate congestion, and inhalation of the sulfur is calming to the respiratory system and the skin. Soaking in this special water has offered a relief to many from joint-related aches and pains.
--Labyrinth and meditation gardens: Sycamore Mineral Springs believes that labyrinths are a tool used to calm the mind and relax the body. My kids were delighted to weave around the beautiful and unique labyrinth and walk through the relaxing gardens.
--The Sycamore Crest Trail: The resort is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountain range and a mile to the Pacific Ocean. The resort offers hiking guides for three different trails available on the property, which range different fitness levels and distances (1.5 miles to 6 miles in length). My family walked the Sycamore Crest trail and enjoyed the central coast flora as we worked our way down to the lovely Avila Beach.
--The Gardens Restaurant: This award-winning restaurant serves fresh, gourmet cuisine distinguished by pronounced rustic flavors, created by a new executive chef, David McWilliam. Guests can experience a variety of healthy options, in keeping with the resort’s overall health theme, that are without processed ingredients or trans fats.
At the time of my stay, the resort had many fun packages available, notably the New Girlfriends’ Getaway Retreat Package, offering women a unique opportunity to relax and reconnect with friends. The package runs $1,560.00 for Sunday through Thursday and $1,960 for Friday and Saturday night stays for up to six ladies. This package includes a two night stay, champagne, a $200.00 voucher for the Gardens of Avila Restaurant, flowers, chocolate truffles, and complimentary mind-body classes.
Sycamore Mineral Springs is a true destination resort where a family can be as active or as still as they desire. As this resorts rightly claims, "Relaxation is an art. We have just the spot for the artist in you."
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:Hearst Castle (See our full review)
750 Hearst Castle Road
San Simeon, CA 93452
Phone: (805) 927-2020
San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce
1039 Chorro Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401