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Spring 2007 | P.S. Where to Stay

Spring 2007 | P.S. Where to Stay

Casitas Laquita (450 E. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-416-9999 fax 760-416-5415, $135-$250)
Lesbian-owned Casitas Laquita has 15 units (studios to two-bedroom suites, all with full kitchen) on 1.2 private acres with full-on mountain views. Rooms are beautifully and colorfully furnished, in many cases with the owners' artwork, and include down comforters, original tile floors, irons and boards, TV/DVDs and eat-in kitchens; some have fireplaces. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed with a food-and-beverage gift basket, and the rooms are stocked with delicious home-baked breakfast goods. Bicycles are available free of charge to guests. The spacious, gorgeous grounds illicit a Southwestern vibe and feature a misting system. The basement "Wine Cellar" is a charming, Bohemian space with occasional live entertainment; it is also available for rent to private parties. (Rooms: 15; Nude sunbathing: no; Sexual temperature: low; Clientele: lesbians and lesbian-friendly straight women; Meals: CB, afternoon cocktails and tapas)

The Hacienda at Warm Sands (586 Warm Sands Drive, 760-327-8111 or 800-359-2007, fax 760-778-7890, $149-$359)
The Hacienda offers spacious grounds featuring two pools and a Jacuzzi; attentive, professional hosts and staff and a country-house atmosphere that make this a most welcoming place. The elegant grounds are well-tended, pleasantly simple, and wide open. Luxurious room décor includes Indonesian teak and fine artwork and photography, kilim rugs, saltillo-tile floors and Berber carpets, huge two-man showers with double shower heads, incredibly comfortable chenille and matelasse bedding, phones with private lines, a pillow menu for that perfect night's rest and two flat screen TVs with VCR/DVD/CDs. In addition to a breakfast buffet, gourmet luncheon sandwiches and salads are included in room rates. Guests are extremely well taken care of--the staff-to-guest ratio is a remarkable 1 to 1. Smoking is restricted to patios. Quiet and private, the Hacienda tends to attract a professional, gay male clientele. (Rooms: ten suites, one room; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: low; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB/L)

Las Palmas Hotel (1404 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-327-6883 or 866-552-7272, fax 760-327-6881, $139-$249)
On the north side of downtown, Las Palmas Hotel, opened in 2002 by experienced hotelier, Thom Thompson and his partner, Tony Spleen, but was purchased by new owners in summer of 2006. The plans were to turn it into a classy, gay-focused drug rehab center, but that has yet to be seen. For the meantime, Las Palms continues its upscale though laid-back vibe, with eye-popping views of the mountains. The super-luxurious beds are the same brand as those used at many). The 17 rooms are packed with luxurious and welcome amenities (Italian linens and waffle-weave cotton robes, Aveda bath products, TV/VCR or DVD combos, fridge and coffeemakers). The large renovated pool is surrounded by huge Queen Palm trees. One guest room was sacrificed to create the enticing Tuscan-inspired semi-outdoor Jacuzzi room, perfect after a day out on the trail. There's free WiFi throughout as well as a small computer room. Service is top-notch. Pets welcome. (Rooms: 17; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB, Sunday brunch, Friday and Saturday evening cocktails)

Santiago (650 San Lorenzo Rd, 760-322-1300 or 800/710-7729, fax 760-416-0347, $139-$169)
This choice, large Spanish-style property on San Lorenzo closed down for part of 2006 for an expensive renovation by a new owner, and it shows. It remains a real winner, boasting immaculate rooms, nothing out of place and a no-pressure, relaxed atmosphere yet quite reasonable rates. The resort features sophisticated if rather "beige" décor and modern, high-quality amenities. Units are spacious and contain numerous thoughtful touches, including refrigerators and microwave ovens, massage showerheads, feather duvets and big-screen TVs with both VCRs and DVD/CD players. The southern exposure offers all-day sun and some of the finest unobstructed mountain views, especially from the second-floor rooms. The pool is one of the largest (50') and best landscaped in the area, with mature palms and cacti. Santiago caters to a professional 20- to 40-year-old crowd with friendly, low-keyed service. An expanded continental breakfast and lunch are included along with discount passes to Gold's Gym. (Rooms: 23; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB/L)

Chestnutz (641 San Lorenzo Rd., 760-325-5269 or 800/621-6973, fax 760-320-9535, $109-$289)
This all-men resort boasts a nicely heated pool, a misting system and personalized services, such as pre-printed guest-in-residence cards. Energetic management is attentive and focused on guests' needs, offering complementary beverages and goody baskets on arrival, and they're constantly upgrading and improving the property. Margarita sorbets, made with limes from the property's trees, are served, and the breakfast is one of the better ones in town, served wherever you'd like to enjoy it, in bed or out by the pool, for instance. Towels are Egyptian cotton. Air-conditioning and heating are remote controlled. The superior rooms have both semiprivate patios in front and private ones in back. Guests are typically in their 40s and older, and many regulars come from the Midwest. Clothing is "tolerated" and the 15-man Jacuzzi heats up at night. The Jacuzzi features an actual gently swirling whirlpool, and the pool warms up nicely with its black bottom – Chestnutz is the only gay guesthouse to feature both. (Rooms: 12; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med; Clientele: men; Meals: B, evening cocktails)

El Mirasol Villas (525 Warm Sands Drive, 760-327-5913 or 800/327-2985, fax: 760-325-1149, $119-$179)
The spacious Southwestern-themed rooms at this tasteful guesthouse sport custom-designed furnishings with a sunflower motif and plush linens, though the overall décor feels a bit Spartan. The lushly landscaped grounds, with dense and beautiful foliage and charming garden paths, feature outdoor misting, two pools, an outdoor fireplace on the lanai, a hot tub, an outdoor shower and a eucalyptus-scented steam room; many of the rooms have French doors leading onto their own private patios. Built in the '40s by Howard Hughes, the hotel continues its tradition as a secluded retreat. Rooms include ceiling fans, TV/VCR and direct-dial phones with data ports; some have kitchens. There's high-speed wireless Internet throughout the property. The clientele tends to be over 40 and quite professional. (Rooms: 15; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med-low; Clientele: men; Meals: CB/L, Saturday BBQs)

Helios (formerly La Posada East; new Web site coming soon:; 280 E. Mel Ave, 760-323-2868 or 877-435-4677, $129-$229)
An impressive gay guesthouse since it opened in 2002, Helios is run by the same caring staff as at nearby La Posada West (see below), who alternate cocktail soirees between the two properties. Its name changed in 2007 to reflect its "playful side." Surrounding a large and well-landscaped courtyard--one of the most beautiful among the gay guesthouses--with bronze sculptures, spectacular murals and padded chaise lounges around a sizable pool, as well a 20-man covered Jacuzzi, the individually themed rooms (French Provincial, Asian, Native American) are spacious, painted in bold, cheery colors and furnished in attractive patterns. Rooms feature TV/VCR, CD/radios, fridges and microwaves, and the two-bedroom suite has a fully stocked kitchen. The property is just north of downtown, near a handful of other gay resorts. The whole property has WiFi. (Rooms: 11; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: high; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB, weekend C)

La Dolce Vita Resort (1491 S. Via Soledad, 760-325-2686 or 877-644-4111, $119-189)
In February 2005, friendly new owners Ken Stabins and Tim Phillips took over the former Citadel and renamed it La Dolce Vita Resort, making dramatic improvements to the overall appearance and condition of the resort, too. Tim and Ken painted, landscaped, fixed electrical wiring, redid the pools, added new linens and bedding, and refurbished bathrooms, as well as added draped casita entrances to some suites. The resort's theme is Tuscan Italian, with each room type named after a region of Italy. Rooms are thoughtfully equipped with 25-inch TV, VCR, CD player/radio, down duvets, ironing board, safe, comfy robes, courtesy toothbrush and razor; the Dolce Vita also has WiFi throughout. Grounds have been spruced up in recent years and include two heated pools and two Jacuzzis; guests can also use the outdoor gym and cozy steam room (with outside window), which is perfect simply for post-workout relaxation or meeting and greeting fellow guests. With secluded, landscaped walkways and plenty of room to kick around, this clothing-optional hideaway can be get frisky, depending on the crowd, but is still laid-back enough to qualify as a romantic retreat. (Rooms: 20; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med-high; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB, C)

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

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