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Key: All rooms have televisions, phones, and VCRs unless noted specifically. Meals: B = breakfast; CB = continental breakfast; ECB= expanded continental breakfast; L= lunch; C= cocktail hour or hors d'oeuvres of some sort. All resorts are in Palm Springs, except those denoted CC in their addresses; these are in Cathedral City.
Century Palm Springs (598 Grenfall Rd., 760-323-9966 or 800-475-5188, fax 760-323-9933, $139-$259)
Although a number of the city's smaller mainstream properties have embraced Palm Springs' famed Mid-Century Modern design aesthetic, which mixes '50s retro-cool designs and materials with contemporary sensibilities, it wasn't until this exceptional resort opened in late 2004 that the city had its very own gay Mid-Century Modern resort. The former Alexander Resort, which was built in the '50s in the heart of the popular Warm Sands area, contains six rooms and three suites done in the spirit of Philippe Starck, Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and other design luminaries. Ivory, tangerine, and avocado-green color schemes and sleek, low-slung furnishings give these artful yet minimalist rooms a dashing appearance. All have flat-panel TVs with DVD players, LATHER bath amenities, and slippers and robes, and the suites have full kitchens and private patios. A helpful, down-to-earth staff headed by innkeepers Woody Shimko and Ray Nocera, substantial Continental breakfast and pool area with unimpeded views of the San Jacinto mountains complete the experience. (Rooms: nine; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB, evening cocktails).
Desert Paradise Resort Hotel (615 S. Warm Sands Drive, 760-320-5650 or 800-342-7635, $109-$259)
Desert Paradise's superb management is friendly and has instituted numerous improvements and thoughtful perks, including a full misting system, Cal-King sized beds (plus clever, armoired Murphy beds in certain suites, some of which sleep four), central air-conditioning and fans, 15 adult video channels in each room--as well as a "Desert Paradise Resort" channel!--cordless room phones, wireless Internet (throughout the property), tile floors, plantation shutters and some decorative exterior improvements, such as night lighting, a Soloflex workout gazebo, a barbecue grill, an outdoor shower, and some over-the-top statuary (note the erect-cock sculpture in one garden); there's also a guest Internet workstation. Desert Paradise is the only gay resort to feature a saltwater swimming pool, complete with changing colored lights at night and an adjoining cozy outdoor firepit with lounge seats. The extremely attentive owner is constantly working on updates to the property, with a new roof deck, steam room and sauna that have recently opened. Some pet-friendly rooms, and the clientele tends towards executives and businessmen. (Rooms: 14; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med-; clientele: men; Meals: CB)
East Canyon Hotel and Spa (288 E. Camino Monte Vista, 760-320-1928 or 877-324-6835, fax: 760-320-0599, $119-$359)
This outstanding resort has continued to make even more impressive improvements in recent years, having created a wonderful spa area with two private massage rooms. They also converted their old massage area into a guest changing room for late check-outs and early check-ins, and they tore down part of the old spa area, thereby opening up the pool area and expanding the already lush grounds. They've also added a 24-hour lounge/movie room, which has a high-speed Internet workstation and a 52-inch TV. Think Four Seasons comforts and amenities, but with even more attentive service and an all-gay environment. Since this is the only gay-marketed guesthouse in Palm Springs that does not allow nude sunbathing, couples, groups of friends, families, and women will feel comfortable here. East Canyon offers ultra-clean spa facilities and a full range of enticing body treatments, massages and facials all administered by a highly professional team of trained aestheticians. Wine, champagne and hors d'oeuvres are offered on weekends and holidays. (Rooms: 15; Nude sunbathing: no, though private tented Jacuzzi is not patrolled; Sexual temperature: low; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB)
Inn Exile (545 Warm Sands Drive, 760-327-6413 or 800/962-0186, fax 760-320-5745, $95-$122)
With spacious and modern, if bland, accommodations and good gym facilities on site, this is a fun, clothing-optional resort that's especially popular with beefy guys, gym bunnies, and other young and humpy types. The labyrinthine layout, the steam room, pool table, outdoor mattress, four pools and two hot tubs facilitate close interactions. The lack of foliage and modern, desert design of the property feels stark to some guests, as do the rooms' Spartan furnishings and slim amenities. Rooms have their own answering machines, personal safes, irons and ironing boards in addition to TV/VCR and mini-fridges. On-site Skivvies Café serves pizza, snacks and coffee drinks nightly. I would disagree – stayed here and found the staff very helpful and friendly, if young. Overall, I found Inn Exile not as bad as this previous writer, and it’s a favorite of people I know – and a lot nicer than places just right across the street. It is one of the best values in the Warm Sands area, however. (Rooms: 31; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: high-very high; Clientele: men; Meals: CB/L)
INNdulge (601 Grenfall Rd., 760-327-1408 or 800/833-5675, fax 760-327-7273, $125-$209)
This is a consistent top choice among men who like a cruisey ambience but tasteful and contemporary rooms. Other pluses include a spectacular view and very attractive pool/yard landscaping with a 12-person Jacuzzi. The hard-working, charming and professional management has spent (and continues to spend) a lot of money improving this large, well laid-out property with a spacious and inviting lobby, and it shows. Theirs is one of the better gyms among Palm Springs' guesthouses, and it features two computer workstations with high-speed Internet access. All rooms have TV/VCR, custom-made pine furniture, goose-down bedding and extra long beds, irons and ironing boards, coffeemakers, safes, hair dryers and private baths with Gilchrist & Soames bath products. Some rooms have full kitchens; others have kitchenettes. The pool is kept warmer than average, perfect for cool, winter evening dips. Although this place is a favorite of guys on the make, it's still very low-keyed and low-attitude--comfortable no matter your sexual appetite. About 40% of the clientele is from Europe, and one of the charming owners is fluent in French. (Rooms: 24; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: high; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB/C)
Mirage/Vista Grande/Avalon/Atrium (574 Warm Sands Drive, 760-322-2404 or 800-669-1069, fax 760-320-1667, $89-$209)
Basically, this is a sex club with kitchenettes, even on the slowest off-season days. The Avalon serves as the common breakfast area and features great mountain views and an inviting grassy area that attracts local friends of the management who work on their tans by the pool. The Mirage features a large rock grotto with walk-through waterfall, decorated with 20-ton boulders and a penis god, gym facilities, a huge and recently renovated steam room, and spacious, surprisingly tastefully furnished rooms with full kitchens and a barbecue area. It is connected to the Vista Grande, whose ordinary but clean rooms surround an unremarkable courtyard and pool with a view of the mountains. Guests staying at the Atrium prefer to have the action away from their windows, but some may find it an inconvenience to have to walk across the street. Three-night minimum on weekends. (Rooms: 40; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: off the charts; Clientele: men; Meals: CB)
Warm Sands Villas (555 Warm Sands Drive, 760-323-3005 or 800-357-5695, $100-$240)
This Southwestern-themed, Spanish-tiled property was vastly improved in recent years with completely renovated rooms; all feature beautiful travertine-marble floors, climate control, king-size beds, TV/VCR with adult-cable hook-ups, updated furnishings and clean and elegant, cottage-y décor. The lobby and poolside grounds have received similar TLC; the exterior grounds and expansive parking have also been extensively upgraded in recent years, as well as the large lobby. Best of all, the staff is warm and helpful, quick to answer questions and help guests feel at home. Warm Sands tends to draw more couples, especially in their 40s and 50s, and is considerably less steamy and cruisey than it was in the old days. Considering all the improvements and the still reasonable rates, it's really one of the best bargains in the Warm Sands neighborhood. About the only drawback is that there's just one pool and hot tub serving 26 rooms. (Rooms: 26; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med; Clientele: men; Meals: CB, evening wine and beer)
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