MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Relaxation is attraction at renovated hot springs resort
Behind Carson Hot Springs Resort off Old Hot Springs Road is a small, brick structure that usually goes unnoticed.
Inside it, however, is the source of the long-time establishment’s namesake: A pool of naturally occurring water heated by subterranean volcanic activity.
Carson Hot Springs has been an attraction in the capital city for generations, said general manager Keith Shellhamer.
Today, Carson Hot Springs is owned by Sen. Mark Begich, the Democrat from Alaska who was elected to Congress in 2008. He bought the property in 1999 and pays an occasional visit to the property – though less so nowadays given his role in Washington.
Shellhamer had been working for Begich as a property developer when he was sent to Carson City in 1999 to oversee the hot springs. He never left.
“I’ve learned a lot about working with the average customer and what they want,” Shellhamer said. “This is the coolest job I’ve ever had because most people come here to relax and have fun. It’s just a great environment to come to work in.”
Shellhamer said the property has gone through a number of improvements over the years.
“When I got here in 1999 this place was in need of a lot of work, it was dilapidated,” he said. “And a lot of the locals gave up on it. And now we’ve done so much work.”
Those improvements include two outdoor pools that were installed in 2007 as well as a renovation of nine private, indoor pools.
“It’s a whole different energy,” Shellhamer said.
The pools are directly supplied with the hot spring water – the large pool and the nine private pools have no added chemicals and are emptied, cleaned and refilled daily.
“It’s directly out of the earth and pumped into the pools everyday,” Shellhamer said.
Meanwhile, the two new pools have bromine added to them to help clean the water.
Shellhamer said many people come to the hot springs to relax while others use it for religious ceremonies such as Jewish mikvehs, used to clean the body of impurities in naturally-occuring water.
“We draw a lot of people in that are enthusiasts, people that go to as many hot springs around the country as they can,” Shellhamer said. “We rely on the locals. The senior population has been really supportive for us in Carson, and families.”
On Wednesday morning a few seniors were lounging in the large pool.
“My goal is for more locals to rediscover it,” Shellhamer said. “A lot of people that wrote it off haven’t been back, but we want them to come check it out.”
*This story has been updated since its original publication.