Arizona History Restored at Castle Hot Springs
Writer Shoshana Leon
An hour north of Phoenix in the rugged Bradshaw Mountains, Castle Hot Springs, one of Arizona’s first luxury resorts, was destroyed in a fire 42 years ago. Much to the delight of guests, it will be reopening its doors, and with its opening will come historical charm, modern amenities, fresh culinary options and relaxing activities in a peaceful setting.
“Castle Hot Springs is ideal for adventure and wellness seekers, as well as people who appreciate the rich history,” said Castle Hot Springs’ Steve Sampson. “We see many Arizonans being frequent guests, as well as affluent travelers.”
Castle Hot Springs gets its name from the natural hot springs that produce over 200,000 gallons of pure, odorless 120-degree mineral water a day. It has an interesting history and some very famous guests, including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and several United States presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. In 1945, a young John F. Kennedy spent a few months at Castle Hot Springs recovering from his wartime injury.
In 1867, U.S. Army Colonel Charles Craig and his soldiers came upon the hot springs after they captured a gang of robbers in the Bradshaw Mountains.
Frank Morrill Murphy, a self-made millionaire from Wisconsin, opened Castle Hot Springs as a luxury healing retreat in 1896. Murphy’s brother, who became territorial governor of Arizona in 1898, moved his Arizona office from Prescott to Castle Hot Springs during the winter months.
After Frank Murphy died in 1917, Castle Hot Springs had a few more owners before being sold to the Talley family, who owned the Arizona Biltmore. In 1976, a spark from a fireplace burned the main hotel building to the ground. Following the fire, the Talleys donated the property to Arizona State University, which used it as a conference center until selling it in 1987.
The property exchanged hands a few more times before being purchased in 2014 by a partnership of local investors and managed by Westroc Hospitality, which has restored and revived some of Arizona’s most cherished properties including Hotel Valley Ho, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, and Mountain Shadows.
“The ownership and management group consist of Arizona natives who are doing this for the legacy and history of Castle Hot Springs and Arizona,” said Sampson. “The vision is for Castle Hot Springs to be reborn as a luxury wellness and adventure retreat, and to once again become a premier resort destination.”
The revamped Castle Hot Springs will have 32 luxury cabins and bungalows, some of which will have piping directly from the hot springs into oversized tubs with an open ceiling, offering a relaxing soak under the stars. Resort guests have many options to recharge, including soaking in the hot springs, taking a hike, resting by the pool or enjoying a massage.
Castle Hot Springs’ culinary operations will be led by Executive Chef Chris Brugman, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu who was formerly with Mountain Shadows and Fox Restaurant Concepts. The resort’s culinary offering is described as “Harvest of the Day,” utilizing fresh ingredients grown on site. Varieties of heirloom tomatoes and an array of citrus will be used for creative mixology.
“Adjacent to the resort’s main lodge is an organic farm and greenhouse, which will provide over 150 types of rare fruits and vegetables to the restaurant,” said Sampson. “Chef Brugman and our resident agronomist Ian Beger will select what produce is perfect for each day’s menu.
“The pure mineral water from the hot springs will be funneled into an old laundry building, which is being renovated into the Castle Hot Springs Brewery.
We also have an outdoor grill, smoker and pizza oven. The resort will feature Western-style barbecues and cookouts.”
Although there are modern amenities and upscale accommodations, Castle Hot Springs will provide a respite from today’s busy and connected world.
“We have restored five of the property’s original buildings,” said Sampson. “The mood, music and aura of the property will be directly from the early 20th century. It will be a step back in time. We will also have horses and stables on property as Castle Hot Springs was always a Western destination.”
Castle Hot Springs will provide guests with a taste of history as they enjoy the tranquil surroundings and soothing hot springs that have brought people to the resort in search of relaxation and healing since 1896.
Castle Hot Springs
5050 E. Castle Hot Springs Rd., Morristown, AZ