I don’t think there is any other city that offers more gay-exclusive, clothing-optional gay resorts than the Southern California desert community of Palm Springs! They range in style and prices and it can be a hard choice, with so many options.
Writer Andrew Collins gives us his top 12!
Intimate, classy, and with finest personal attention of any gay resort in Palm Springs, the Hacienda at Warm Sands lies in the heart of the gay-resort district for which it is named. A well-trained, easygoing staff tends to guests every need, and the perks are many: beautiful complimentary breakfast and lunch spreads, a self-service laundry with free supplies, an extensive library with books and periodicals – there’s even a pillow menu, so that you’ll get a great night’s sleep in your cushy room. Decor is posh yet casual enough for relaxation – think French doors with plantation shutters, Asian furniture, two-man showers (in top suites). The grounds are meticulously kept, with tile walkways, two pools, and a gurgling Spanish fountain.
Off on its own in a northern downtown residential neighborhood, away from most of the other gay resorts, East Canyon also stands out because it’s the only men’s property with a full-service spa – and this is no mere massage room but a small but complete spa with the finest equipment and trained technicians. East Canyon is elegant and low-keyed, and although it’s clothing-optional, the place eschews the cruisy-steamy vibe common in Palm Springs – it’s a perfect place to quietly hide away for a weekend or come with a partner for a romantic getaway. Rooms are done in muted earth tones, with lots of space to back, and top-of-the-line amenities. It’s one of the pricier options in PS, but a steady stream of repeat guests suggests its worth it.
It’s the many little details that the management tends to that makes Desert Paradise such a hit with fans, including the loyal contingent of repeat guests. The 14-room spread in the heart of Warm Sands, close to gay bars and restaurants, has a decidedly whimsical, almost campy sensibility – rooms are named for leading divas (Barbra, Cher, Judy, et al), and immaculately kept, furnished with high-end pieces and useful amenities (wall safes, wet bars, cordless phones, and so on). The rooms open around a decent-size pool, but you’ll also find a dry sauna, steam room, fire pit, guest computer stations, fireplace hot tub, outdoor garden shower, and gurgling fountains everywhere you look. It’s the definitive gay Palm Springs resort of fun-seekers.
Extremely friendly, welcoming owners have poured plenty of effort and care into turning this moderate-to-upscale resort just off East Palm Canyon Drive (on the south side of Palm Springs) a winner. There’s just a great vibe here – the guests always appear to be having a blast, and the mood balances festive, relaxed, and playful. The 12 rooms are contemporary and unfussy, with a vaguely Southwestern look (including attractive Saltillo-tile floors); some have French doors opening to the pool area. A very good Continental breakfast is included (complete with espresso bar), and there’s a nice little gym and a quite large pool. About the only drawback is some traffic noise from the busy road, but the resort is fully walled-in for privacy.
Palm Springs has only a pair of women’s resorts, and Casitas Laquita, thanks the dedication of its competent and caring ownership, offers the best overall experience. The Southwest-themed 15-casita compound sits on more than an acre on the south side of Palm Springs, just off busy (mind the noise) but convenient East Palm Canyon Drive. Towering palms and fragrant gardens give the grounds a secluded, luxuriant feel, and Laquita has one of the largest pools of any gay resort. A plus here is the wide range of room sizes and styles – many have fireplaces, and some come with full kitchens, and even the least expensive units are quite large and well-outfitted. Entertainment and small parties are offered in the cozy “wine cellar” lounge.
6. Triangle Inn
A peaceful, contemporary compound at the end of San Lorenzo Road, the Triangle Inn nine cheery suites whose elegant, distinctive furnishings would suggest a much more expensive resort. In fact, the rates here are quite reasonable, especially when you factor in the many pluses, such as fully stocked kitchens or kitchenettes in each unit. Bathrooms are large and well-outfitted, and each units comes with games, magazines, and books – the entire property has a wonderfully personal feel about it. A sleek pool area acts as the resort’s focal point, where breakfast and afternoon refreshments are served each day. Of the under-10-room gay properties in town, the Triangle is one of the best, and it’s a terrific value.
This tasteful, up-market compound on San Lorenzo Road combines reasonble rates and a host of useful amenities to rank among one of the city’s most popular and well-liked clothing-optional resorts. Santiago isn’t a sexplex, although cruising isn’t unheard of here (especially late at night). The crowd tends to be 35 and older, appreciative of the largest pool among any gay resort in town as well as such amenities as complimentary lunch and breakfast, combo DVD-CD-VCR players in rooms, and high-quality linens, bedding, and furnishings with a Spanish-Italian-Mediterranean flare, including Judith Jackson bath amenities. The gardens and landscaping here are among the prettiest in town, and the entire resort of beautifully kept.
Although located in the Warm Springs gay resort area, this sleek, stunningly designed Mid-Century Moderne hideaway actually caters to a mixed gay/straight crowd – it’s gay-owned and tends to be mostly male during the busy winter months. Furnishings at this high-end retreat pay homage to the top designers of the mid-20th century, with pieces by Eames and Noguchi. There are just nine rooms, opening to a courtyard with a small but attractive pool, and the sun patio looks out at Palm Springs’ magnificent desert mountains. Rooms are minimalist chic, and some have full kitchens and separate private patios. The Century is peaceful and sophisticated, yet a short walk from gay bars and eateries.
With a swanky Italian theme and some of the most substantial and beautiful grounds of any Palm Springs resort, the 20-unit La Dolce Vita is one of the best destinations in town for social butterflies – there are myriad places to mingle, including two pools, two hot tubs, a well-equipped outdoor gym, a 12-man clothing-optional steam room, and a variety of landscaped paths and walkways. The resort is in a quite residential area on the south side of downtown, a short walk from a few good restaurants and shops. There are two distinct hotel “wings”, and many rooms have French doors leading directly out to a pool area. Private patios, Aveda bath products, and high-quality robes and linens are further enhancements. A terrific place, all-around.
This steamy compound in the heart of the Warm Sands neighborhoods makes no apologies about catering heavily to guys on the make (couples, singles…groups). The 24-room INNDulge is super-cruisy, but it’s also well-maintained, with a respectful and fun staff, and with a bright, clean, and sunny vibe. You could
stay here without feeling any pressure to socialize, but if it’s quiet you want, you might want to choose another property. Rooms here have rustic pine and wrought-iron furnishings, but guests tend to spend a lot of time sunning on the grounds and around the pool, working out in the gym, and making new friends among fellow guests. Rates are about average for gay PS resorts, a good value considering the above-average accommodations.
A reliable, mid-priced option along San Lorenzo Road, Chestnutz is one of the better-established gay resorts in Palm Springs, and it has a fanatically loyal following among past guests, who appreciate the warm, family-like mood and nicely furnished rooms, many which have received substantial upgrades in recent years. Chestnuts fills a nice niche by providing personal service, including a hearty full breakfast and afternoon apps and cocktails in the rates, and creating a vibe that’s equally relaxed and social – it’s a good option if you’re looking to meet other guys (most guests prefer to go without clothing around the grounds), but just as inviting for couples seeking seclusion. A 15-man hot tub and good-size pool round out the amenities.
One of the two women’s resorts in town, the Queen of Hearts is a bit smaller and simpler (and also less expensive) than Casitas Laquita, but it’s still a lovely spread set on a peaceful residential street, hidden away from noise and traffic. Rooms, which have are individually decorated with tasteful, modern pieces, open to a mid-size pool and prosaically furnished lanai – there’s also a Jacuzzi tub. Across the street, the owners also have an intimate three-suite property, the Desert Hearts Inn – perfect if you’re seeking privacy. It may be that the resort’s best attributes are its guests and staff: there’s a genial spirit of camaraderie here, and the owners do a great job advising guests on things to see and do around town.
Andrew Collins has traveled the world gathering information.
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