After the massive Valley fire swept over Harbin Hot Springs last year, reducing most of the popular, clothing-optional resort to ashes, scores of devotees have made pilgrimages to pay tribute to the Lake County retreat. Hundreds more have emailed, phoned or visited the resort’s Facebook page, sharing in the loss of what many consider a spiritual home and community.
“People call from all over the world, ” said Eric Richardson, who manages the resort’s public relations. Supporters have offered to help rebuild and have donated more than $200, 000, which has been distributed to Harbin employees affected by the fire.
But until Harbin is rebuilt — when is not yet known — its former guests are seeking other places to soak away their stress. Two spots benefiting from that business are Orr Hot Springs in Mendocino County and Wilbur Hot Springs in Colusa County.
Tucked into a narrow, 27-acre wooded canyon 13 miles west of Ukiah, Orr Hot Springs is tiny by comparison and offers fewer amenities than Harbin, which had the capacity to host nearly 900 people and included a restaurant, cafe and market.
Orr Hot Springs has 26 rooms in rustic cabins and yurts and can accommodate up to 65 people at a time, owner Leslie Williams said. There are no stores or restaurants at the springs or nearby. But there is a well-equipped communal kitchen and dining room in the main building, built in the 1930s.
The facility normally is booked well ahead for weekends, but since Harbin has been shuttered, weekdays are now booked solid for the most part, he said.
Williams estimated up to 20 percent of weekday customers are former Harbin guests.
The clientele have expressed more interest of late in holding workshops and retreats at Orr, but its space for such events is limited, he said.