The heat-seeking wanderer for Palm Springs Pride Weekend might ask: Is Palm Springs’ reputation as a gay resort par excellence uniformly embraced?
Everyone knows some rainbows shine brighter than others, and the whopping 25 or so gay resorts in the desert cover that spectrum. The sheer diversity of the getaway menu became clear when I tried with limited success to explain to a friend the difference between classy and cheesy on the pink hospitality scale.
Gay innkeepers in Palm Springs do a better job than I of distinguishing between resorts with what they term a “high sexual energy” and those that by design or by default are more chill. The hotels that rock the raunch are also the ones that almost always come up short in the design and upkeep departments. Consequently, none of them is on my highly subjective list of Palm Springs inns that get the gay factor just about right.
Inndulge is the understated mainstay of the well-known Warm Sands neighborhood. It started out in 1958 as a family-style hotel, situated on a full, secluded acre with impressive mountain views. There are 23 guest rooms, some with kitchenettes, all agreeably decorated, but the scene-stealer here is the large pool and 24-hour, 12-man Jacuzzi. Both are nicely set back by well-kept lawns. Inndulge is clothing-optional, but its sexual temperature is more or less normal.
PHOTO COURTESY OF INNDULGE
This is a fine place to relax and power down poolside, in any season.
Some like it small, and there’s a lot to like at charming little Century Palm Springs, where, according to a popular T shirt, “Warm Sands just got cooler.”
This was a roomy Alexander-design home from the mid-1950s that was renovated most recently in 2004, with just nine rooms, all with bright Palm Springs colors, super comfy beds, and some with private little terraces. Like the pool area, they’re all spotlessly clean and refreshingly contemporary.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CENTURY PALM SPRINGS
The owners are friendly and know the hot spots around town, and it’s hard not to get behind the daily complimentary poolside cocktail hour.
Clothing-optional yes, but the vibe here is more sexy than cruise-y. The full continental breakfast is stocked locally by Aspen Mills and Koffi.
In terms of setting and style, Santiago Resort is today’s gay place to beat. It’s not really a part of the Warm Sands pack, as it’s situated in the becalmed San Lorenzo area. Unlike many gay inns and resorts, this one has a resolutely contemporary Southwestern look. The 23 guestrooms are spacious, feel brand new, and wrap around the pool in two stories.
The pool itself is a beauty, said to be the largest of any gay resort in Palm Springs. It’s a clothing-optional, low-key setting with lush landscaping adding to the hideaway flavor. In addition to complimentary continental breakfast, you can also dig into a complimentary “Stay n Splash” poolside lunch with specialty sandwiches and such. All in all, a great place to laze and graze.
PHOTO COURTESY OF V PALM SPRINGS
Hip beats waft in at a decibel level that’s just right. The whole place is kinda addictive.
V Palm Springs is not, strictly speaking, a gay hotel but hey, this is Palm Springs. This big, renovated motel is like the (much) cooler gay cousin to the raucous Ace Hotel down the street. Location-wise, it doesn’t get much better: the V is in a quiet pocket off of South Palm Canyon Drive, about a five-minute drive from Warm Sands and a two-minute walk from the original and perennially popular, gay-friendly Mexican restaurant/cantina, El Mirasol.
Décor is minimalist chic and the pool area, framed by stark desert peaks, is stunning. And V has something that no strictly gay resort has: an absolutely fabulous poolside bar and grill called, appropriately enough, Elixir. You can indulge in an array of craft cocktails and artisanal nibbles, from bacon-fried rice to kick-ass fish tacos, wearing nothing more than your bathing suit. Hip beats waft in at a decibel level that’s just right. The whole place is kinda addictive.
Tortuga del Sol is another largely unsung gem of the San Lorenzo area. More than even laid-back Warm Sands, this area is all about seclusion, even though it’s spitting distance from downtown Palm Springs.
Only a dozen guestrooms at this clothing-optional inn keep things low-key, as exemplified by the little sunbathing turtles in the koi pond. Nice pool, cozy rooms that eschew kitsch in favor of Southwestern flair; overall, a very down-to-earth, very Palm Springs kind of place.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TORTUGA DEL SOL
A free continental breakfast and pet accommodations are available.
Inndulge, 601 S. Grenfall Road, Palm Springs, 760-327-1408;
Century Hotel, 598 S. Grenfall Road, Palm Springs, 760-323-9966; www.centurypalmsprings.com
Santiago Resort, 650 E. San Lorenzo Road, Palm Springs, 760-322-1300; www.santiagoresort.com
V Palm Springs, 333 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-327-1211; http://vpalmsprings.com
Tortuga Del Sol, 715 E. Sam Lorenzo Road, Palm Springs, 760-416-3111; http://tortugadelsol.com