The Monkey Tree Hotel

Stay Fit in Midcentury Style

The Monkey Tree Hotel brings back its 1960s name and look, but with a bent toward the fitness conscious

Karen Graninger Hotels & Resorts 0 Comments

The Monkey Tree Hotel

The Monkey Tree’s resurgence as a Palm Springs hotel experience comes with a caveat for athletes looking for a place to keep their workout schedule intact while enjoying the desert playground.

Re-opened in early 2016, The Monkey Tree Hotel is a historical 16-room midcentury property designed by Nick Astrahantseff, who was a longtime draftsman for E. Stewart Williams. Husband and wife owners Gary and Kathleen Friedle bought it in 2015, and reimaged the hotel “for athletes, by athletes.”

VIDEO: Find out how The Monkey Tree Hotel can complement your exercise-oriented stay in Palm Springs.

“Right now, we cover swimming, biking, running, hiking, and pumping iron,” says Gary Friedle, a triathlete himself. “We support all of those activities here. There’s plenty of space in every room to store your bikes. In the future, we look forward to hosting yoga retreats as well.”

Gary’s triathlete experiences and the body’s need to recover led him to install Palm Springs’ only Scandinavian spa consisting of a sauna, hot tub, and cold plunge pool at the hotel. Cycle through the heat to the cold. Your body retains the heat, and then releases it during the cold portion of the cycle, which relaxes you. Toxins are also flushed from the skin’s pores.

Wake up Saturday morning to breakfast at the Monkey Tree consisting of granola, yogurt, fruit, coffee and tea. There are plenty of protein and carbs for the athletes looking for either a pre- or post-workout meal. Made-to-order protein shakes are also available upon request.


The exterior shot shows off the unique entrance designed by Albert Frey in 1960.

“We just put in a restaurant grade kitchen,” says Kathleen Friedle. “So caterers can be easily brought in for special diets for certain athletic activities, weddings, or other social gatherings.”

If the desert heat is too much, drive 13 minutes to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to reach the top of Mt. San Jacinto for some cooler air. Temperatures hover around 60 degrees at high noon in the summer, so bring layered clothing.

The hike from Mountain Station is 11.5 miles and five hours long. You need extra time to adjust to the altitude as well. Bring water, granola, and trail mix.


This 1960s postcard shows what was a desert hideaway for celebrities and even a president.

Returning late afternoon, settle in for a nap by the pool or in your room, then a shower. Emerge ready for dinner. Zin American Bistro is a nine-minute drive away. It has an excellent healthy selection of salads and meats, but a good double dare to take is the XXX Adult Macaroni and Cheese.

Returning from dinner, use the Scandinavian spa. Why now? The hot and cold will relax your muscles and lull you to soundless sleep.

Awaken Sunday and again have breakfast at the Monkey Tree. Then use one of the hotel’s guest passes at Palm Springs Fitness for a workout. Gary handpicked them “for their state-of-the-art cardio and strength training equipment. When you’re an active athlete, you need and want the best.”


The Jungle Room was a favorite of Eric Clapton’s.

After the workout, “protein up” at Woody’s Burgers, then return to the Monkey Tree for some tethered swimming and a short nap. Bring your bikes with you and ride to Indian Canyons for some easy hiking and biking in and out of desert palms.

Dinner on Sunday at the Workshop Kitchen & Bar. Try the Texas Redfish. Then return to the Monkey Tree for another Scandinavian spa treatment, and a restful sleep.

The Monkey Tree is tucked away near the famed spot of the former Palm Springs Racquet Club. In its previous lifetimes, the property has been known as The Legacy, a gay men’s resort, then the Terra Cotta Inn, a clothing optional property.


Rock n’ Roll art work by Rex Ray from the Fillmore adorns the walls of every room at the Monkey Tree Hotel.

Another point to keep in mind while at The Monkey Tree…. You walk in the footsteps of the pop cultural elite when you stay here. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Eric Clapton, the Beatles (except Paul), the late Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder, Bob Hope, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn… It was even the secret service guarded rendezvous for the one of the rumored trysts between Marilyn Monroe and JFK. Walls, please talk…

The Monkey Tree Hotel, 2388 Racquet Club Rd, Palm Springs, 760-322-6059,

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, 760-325-1449,

Hiking at The Tram:

Zin American Bistro, 198 S Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-322-6300,

Palm Springs Fitness, 170 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, 760-327-7979,

Woody’s Burgers, 317 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-230-0188,

Indian Canyons, 38500 S Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-323-6018,

Workshop Kitchen & Bar, 800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-459-3451,

Follow Karen on Twitter: @gloriousallianc

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