Jacumba Hot Springs Resort: Reimagining a Desert Oasis

Imagine stumbling upon a temporarily closed hotel in the middle of the desert. The sight sparks a vision of transformation, of creating something bigger and more sustainable. This is exactly what happened to Melissa Strukel, a former event planner, during an early pandemic drive. Little did she know that this hotel would become her future.

Together with her business partner, Corbin Winters, Strukel embarked on a journey to make this vision a reality. They soon discovered that the hotel was not the only thing up for grabs; it came with most of the main-street shops, a defunct gas station, an old bathhouse, a dried-up lake, and about 80 percent of the land. It was an opportunity to become stewards of not just a hotel but an entire town.

Despite initial reservations, Jeff Osborne, a real-estate expert, saw the potential in Jacumba Hot Springs. He camped in the wash, soaking in the atmosphere, and by morning, he was ready to join Strukel and Winters in their venture. They founded a hospitality group called We Are Human Kind, and together, they set out to transform Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel into a desert oasis.

Located just over an hour east of downtown San Diego, Jacumba Hot Springs is a hidden gem with a fascinating history. In the 1930s, it was a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its hot springs and natural beauty. Celebrities like Clark Gable and Marlene Dietrich were regulars. However, the construction of Interstate 8 in the 1960s caused a decline in visitors, and the town faded from the city dwellers’ radar.

Before focusing on the hotel, Strukel, Winters, and Osborne made it their mission to revitalize Jacumba as a whole. They started a monthly flea market, providing locals with a platform to sell their goods for free. They also rehabilitated the lake, transforming it into a stunning oasis complete with kayaks, a rope swing, and candlelit concerts held in the repurposed bathhouse ruins.

Their commitment to the community and the town’s history is evident in every aspect of the hotel’s design. Strukel and Winters, drawing from their experience in event planning, have ensured that every detail contributes to the overall magic. From the shifting shadows cast by eucalyptus posts to the hand-carved doors imported from Morocco, India, and China, they have created an atmosphere that transports guests to another time and place.

The hotel’s design is a blend of materials from different eras and cultures, creating a sense of timelessness. The bar, adorned with Turkish chandeliers, oil paintings, and a DJ stand fashioned from an Indian dowry chest, invites guests to lose themselves in the experience. Even the fencing is made from native ocotillo stems, and lava rock collected from the surrounding land pays homage to the area’s volcanic origins.

As Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel prepares to open its doors to guests, Strukel, Winters, and Osborne hope to not only provide a unique and magical experience but also to reignite interest in this long-forgotten border town. Their grand opening is set for August 5, with bookings available starting in early July. They believe that once people experience the beauty and charm of Jacumba, they will be captivated by its undeniable magic.

So, whether you’re seeking an escape from the city or an adventure into a hidden oasis, make sure to mark your calendars for the grand opening of Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel. Rediscover the wonders of Jacumba and let the magic of this desert paradise enchant you.

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