Update: What’s going on with the Thermal Beach wave pool

The Thermal Beach Club by WhiteStar Development was approved by Riverside County, California recently, however we’ve not heard any further announcements regarding the advancement of the project. This wave pool when completed will be the fourth in the Coachella Valley. Here is what we know as of July, 2021

150 miles from the Pacific Ocean, in the Californian desert town of Coachella, this billion-dollar project will cover 240 acres, house a private residential community with up to 326 homes and sport a twenty-acre lagoon. Two acres of which will host a wave pool.

The luxury residences, priced from 1 to 3 million dollars, will be set around the lagoon along with six acres of white sand beach, a spa and fitness center, sports courts, retail, pool and swim-up bar, dining facilities and more.

Residents and members will have the ability to use the private airport that’s five minutes away, to fly in, hanger their jets, and be in the water in around 30 minutes. For those who don’t have a residence on the property, they can get a membership for the private club and wave pool with prices starting at $175,000 annually.

Press materials say the wave pool will be the same size as the Waco facility – powered by Perfect Swell tech – and is expected to produce lefts and rights for around 30-60 yards/meters, semi-hollow to hollow and be performance-oriented. 120 -160 waves per hour come in three-wave sets between 1:10-1:30 apart, with waist to head-high waves.

“We’re thrilled to work with AWM and offer perfect conditions in an ocean-like environment with continuous days of desert sunshine and a safe beach experience,” said Brian Grantham of Whitestar Development. “We’re proud that Thermal Beach Club will bring jobs, tax revenue, and the ability to create a robust infrastructure for the area.”

wave pool for thermal beach club location
The location of the Thermal Beach Club development


WhiteStar Development (WSD) stated the lagoon will use up to 50% less water than a typical private golf club in the desert communities.

How this is to be achieved hasn’t been outlined. But with 30 golf courses already in the area, water usage is understandably a hot topic. We contacted the Thermal Beach Club for more info on their water plans and usage, but they hadn’t gotten back to us about this by publishing time.

Writing to the Desert Sun, concerned local Stephen Spurgeon stated “We live in a desert. Water is vital to our lives. To squander a dwindling resource for all to benefit the financial gain of a few is myopic and dangerous.”

But as reported by the Desert Sun newspaper; Katie Evans, communications and conservation director at the Coachella Valley Water District, said that [water] is not the issue.

“The Coachella Valley Water District is not a land-use agency, and doesn’t have the authority to approve or deny any type of development,” Evans said. “Instead, our role is to evaluate the water supply assessment and then provide the information to the land agency about our findings. Whenever a development comes in, they are required to evaluate the amount of water they are going to be using through formulas, and (by studying) past demand, building practices and plumbing codes, and provide that information to CVWD. … We analyzed (the information from Thermal Beach Club), and we do have the water supply to meet that demand.”

wave pool Thermal beach club
Artist rendering of the beach front surrounding the 20-acre lagoon at Thermal Beach Club


Some residents of the local Thermal and nearby Oasis communities are disconcerted with the luxury development and criticize it as only is catering to wealthy tourists and not current residents’ needs.

A representative of the grassroots east valley activist organization No Se Vende (Not For Sale) who requested anonymity said in the Coachella Valley Independent; “Obviously, this Thermal Beach Club project viewed our community as an afterthought. And with such a high membership fee, the people of Thermal, especially many who are undocumented and part of the farmworker community, will never be able to access this.”

In order to support the regional community, WSD state they will be putting forth a community benefit payment of $2,300 per home, totaling $749,800.

“The money may go towards community needs, such as improving access to clean drinking water or the building of a new park; plus we will invest around $4 million to extend infrastructure in the surrounding area, including paved roads and gas lines,” said Patrick Belous, co-founder of Thermal Beach Club.

In exchange for approval of the resort, Kohl Ranch [where the project is to be established] agreed to donate some of its undeveloped land for affordable housing, or pay for its development elsewhere.

Board of Supervisors Chairman V. Manuel Perez, who represents the Fourth District which includes the Coachella area, said before voting in favor that the project has “come a long way” since it was first presented to the board last fall amid a swarm of opposition, reported the Desert Sun.

Perez went on to say; “This has never been done before . . . I appreciate the advocacy that occurred over the course of the year, because it got us all to this point. We are bringing a good faith approach to ensure that our communities in the east end also have the same amenities that others have in [the more affluent] west end.”

The median household income in the census tract where the club will be located is about $29,500, according to the latest American Community Survey, compared to $53,539 for the Coachella Valley and $75,000 in California.

Some residents are upset at the disparity of wealth between the locals and the new influx of well-to-do residents.

Coachella Valley local Karina Andalon said the project is not being built for residents. She pointed to an existing development, the nearby Thermal Club racetrack, that is just a few minutes from a trailer park. For neighbors who live across the street in trailers, the luxury club is an “ironic” sight, Andalon told the Desert Sun. She expressed concern that more plans like this will be approved and added that those who want them are outsiders. *

Also in Thermal is the Desert International Horse Park. One of the largest equestrian centers in North America with over a million square feet of competition and riding space.

The Desert Sun article said that since two community meetings, held pre coronavirus pandemic, the project has received 55 letters of support from property owners and community members. About two dozen other people spoke up in support, mostly calling in by phone reported the Desert Sun.

Dion Lewis, who said he’s in the property management business and has lived in the Coachella Valley for about 20 years, noted it will bring jobs to the region. Developers cited at least 1,000 to 2,000 construction jobs and 200 to 400 permanent jobs as a result of the project. The Thermal Beach Club has also given promises to the local Desert Mirage High School to enable students access to the pool facilities and surfing lessons. *

WhiteStar Development plans to break ground in the next 12-18 months.