FOUR PALMS -- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Bacchanal (589 Grenfall Rd.; 760-323-0760 or 800-806-9059; $99+) New owners have worked hard to upgrade this small Warm Sands resort, giving the rooms new carpets, bedspreads and other upgrades. The place has an elegant, slightly Asian-inspired theme -- rooms have such decorative touches as Oriental rugs, boldly colored fabrics, ceiling fans, and black and white leather sofas. Rooms have phone, huge flat-screen TVs with two adult channels, VCR and CD player, and microwaves and refrigerators (except in one unit); all open onto the well-landscaped courtyard with its pool and nine-man hot tub; six rooms have kitchenettes and all have patios. Guests are free to borrow bikes to pedal around town. This is a good choice for a group of friends looking for a low-key getaway -- the owners will work out a nice deal if you're interested in renting the entire place.
Rooms: eight; Nude sunbathing: yes; Sexual temperature: med; Clientele: men; Meals: ECB/snacks and sodas
Chestnutz (641 San Lorenzo Rd.; 760-325-5269 or 800-621-6973; $109+) 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. Private and pretty, the property features laundry facilities and a communal kitchen, as well as a small gym with free weights, Stairmaster machines and weight machines. Gym and shower facilities are at the disposal of those checking out later in the day. Several rooms have been recently renovated and also given new bathrooms with marble floors and beautiful custom cabinets and vanities. Many rooms can combine to become suites; these "buddy rooms" are decorated consistently with one another, but each set of rooms is decorated differently though tastefully. Beds are adorned with pillow-top mattresses and high-thread count sheets. 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.
Desert Paradise Resort Hotel (615 S. Warm Sands Drive; 760-320-5650 or 800-342-7635; $109+) 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. Rooms have complimentary snacks and refrigerators stocked with drinks. Rooms are named after and decorated with individual kitsch paintings of gay icons (Barbra, Marilyn, Joan, Cher), giving accommodations their themes. The grounds are manicured amid lush foliage and cacti with numerous nooks, distinctive metalworks and water features, especially charming at night under the gold chandelier strung high between two palms that can be seen from nearly every resort in Warm Sands. 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.
El Mirasol Villas (525 Warm Sands Drive; 760-327-5913 or 800-327-2985; $99+) The spacious Southwestern-themed rooms at this tasteful guesthouse sport custom-designed furnishings with a sunflower motif and plush linens, though the overall decor 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.