While Palm Springs offers some great gay resorts, it also has a wealth of great straight resorts, and those who are looking for extensive resort facilities (and those traveling with their mothers-in-law) may prefer to stay in one of them. A favorite is the Hyatt Grand Champions (44-600 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, 760-341-1000 or 800-223-1234; $116+), with exceptional golf and tennis facilities.
In downtown Palm Springs, just a short walk from East Arenas nightlife, the Wyndham Palm Springs (888 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way; 760-322-6000 or 877-999-3223; $99+) has often been a host hotel for gay parties and events and is very gay-friendly and next door to the renovated convention center. It's a large property, not especially personal but ideal if you want to be close to dining and gay nightlife and to stay some place where you can blend in.
The Spa Resort Casino (100 N. Indian Canyon Drive; 760-325-1411 or 888-999-1995; $89+), with 228 chic rooms modeled on the hotel's cool '50s architecture, actually has hot springs on premises and a magnificent new casino across the street. The spa here is first-rate, as is the resort's Steakhouse Restaurant (See Dining).
If you're seriously into the spa thing, stay farther out of town at Two Bunch Palms (67425 Two Bunch Palm Trail, Desert Hot Springs; 760-329-8791 or 800-472-4334; $225+), the fabulously exclusive retreat of Hollywood's rich, famous and strung out.
Parker Palm Springs (4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-770-5000 or 800-543-4300; $199+), which has changed hands several times in recent years, underwent a huge makeover in 2004. This 14-acre resort (formerly owned by gay-about-town Merv Griffin) with a design copied from Versailles' Trianon Palace Spa. Elegant, pampering, and jet-set, with 104 rooms and plenty of staff attitude, the snob appeal is evident everywhere, particularly in the chichi Palm Springs Yacht Club spa. The bar sports racy pictures through the ages from Renoir-esque bathing beauties to '40s pinups. Mister Parker's restaurant serves a staggering array of mouthwatering dishes. Brunch at Norma's is an epicure's wet dream; try the waffles. To die!
GAY-FRIENDLY BOUTIQUE HOTELS AND INNS
Some of the region's finest, fanciest, and most creatively designed and decorated accommodations are found at the following small hotels and inns.
Back in the 1930s, the Viceroy Hotel (415 S. Belardo Road; 760-320-4117; $185+) was a hideaway for Hollywood royalty. Today, the 74-room hotel maintains a Hollywood ambience with shiny black lacquer furniture, black and white wallpaper, crystal chandeliers, and mirrored walls and tables. The Viceroy also offers romantic and elaborate spa treatments. Be sure to check out the Ice Haus, which offers several sensual ways to play with clay before you refresh with a rain-shower rinse, lemongrass-sage lavender lotion, and spearmint mist. At night, check out the on-site Citron restaurant (see Where to Eat); the romantic candlelit area next to the poolside lounge delivers one of the most luxurious dining experiences in town.
The Willows (412 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way; 760-320-0771 or 800-966-9597; $275+), a meticulously restored historic inn that has hosted the likes of Albert Einstein, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, offers full, formal gourmet breakfast, afternoon refreshments and evening reception in an elegant setting.
For those who take their modernist design seriously, the Orbit In (562 W. Arenas Rd.; 760-323-3585 or 877-996-7248; $169+) offers nine rooms beautifully furnished with period pieces on a meticulously restored property. The poolside boomerang bar, the spa with an elegant firepit and the original '50s movie posters and album covers are sure to satisfy your inner Rat Packer. Their sister property, The Hideaway (866-370-5343), is similarly fabulous with nine rooms, and they also rent out the stunning Wexler House, which sleeps up to eight guests, and a '70s Modern Townhouse, which can accommodate four.
Built as a private residence in 1925, Ingleside Inn (200 W. Ramon Rd.; 760-325-0046 or 800-772-6655; $120+; units: from $375) has hosted celebrities (Liza, Cher, Dinah) and politicos since its conversion to an inn in 1935. Secluded and charming, the inn offers rooms, suites, and poolside villas equipped with private whirlpool, terrace, refrigerator and complimentary refreshments. The onsite Melvyn's Restaurant is one of the great classics of Palm Springs, and there's also a lounge with live music.
An elegant, intimate boutique hotel just a block off of Palm Canyon Drive, the Calla Lily Inn (350 S. Belardo Rd.; 760-323-3654 or 888-888-5787; $129+) is run by friendly couple Rod and Charlotte Callahan and markets as much to the gay community as any mainstream property in town. The nine rooms are smartly furnished with WiFi, TVs with DVD/VCRs, irons and boards, evening cocktails, and refrigerators. There's a small but beautifully decorated heated pool and hot tub, and nice mountain views from the patio. This is a terrific option if you're seeking a romantic downtown retreat that's not gay-exclusive.
The no-smoking Caliente Tropics (411 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-327-1391 or 888-277-0999; $66+) has been lovingly restored (to the tune of $2 million) to its original Polynesian-style Tiki decor by two hotel-savvy gay owners. This 90-room property markets to both gay and straight travelers and boasts high-end beds and custom-made Thai linens, a 65-foot pool (the third largest in Palm Springs) and a clover-shaped, 12-person Jacuzzi. Full massage, facial and spa treatments are available in your room, in the Tropics Retreat or in a poolside palapa. It's great if Tiki is your thing, but the sometimes steep in-season prices are a bit much, considering the motel-y atmosphere.
Part Seven | Part Eight