The Santiago Resort celebrated its 20th anniversary by undergoing a complete transformation, but its mission remains the same — to provide guests with outstanding service in a serene environment.

The Santiago first opened its doors in the 1990s, and came under new ownership in March 2015, when three partners purchased the hotel and set out to “redefine what a premier gay resort can be,” general manager Kent Taylor said. All 23 rooms have been completely upgraded in the Modern Ranchero style, with custom-designed furniture, luxurious linens, Saltillo tile, and FLOR carpet.

Outside, guests can lounge around the pool, which is the largest of any of the men’s gay resorts in Palm Springs, make their way through the tranquil gardens, and stop by the 24-hour cantina with complimentary beverages and snacks. As the resort is swimsuit-optional, there is a large hedge surrounding it, ensuring privacy for all guests.

The staff goes out of its way to make sure guests are comfortable and feel welcome, and they enjoy getting to meet a variety of people. “We have world travelers who have so much to say and so many interesting stories to tell,” Kent said. “I love that every single day is different. One would think it is the same thing over and over, but it’s quite the opposite — every day is a new experience, a new challenge, and new faces.”

Enjoy this video tour of the men’s clothing optional Triangle Inn Palm Springs with hotelier, Michael Green. This historical mid-century modern resort was originally the Impala Lodge designed by the legendary Hugh Kaptor.

Chaps Inn caters to the gay leather and bear communities

Chaps Inn caters to the gay leather and bear communities

The Chaps Inn offers comfort and relaxation in a secluded environment.

Stuart and Ian have owned the resort for almost 20 years, coming to Palm Springs from the UK.

“We had nothing to do with the hotel business at all, we just went straight in cold turkey,” Ian said. “We woke up one morning and thought, ‘Now what?’ It’s been a very good experience.”

The Chaps Inn is a 10-room clothing-optional gay resort, with a saltwater pool and spa. Most rooms have kitchens or kitchenettes, some have private patios, and the hotel is within walking distance of downtown Palm Springs. It caters to the leather and bear communities, and sees a lot of return guests.

“They always tell us what a wonderful time they’ve had, and that they will be back,” Ian said.

When they purchased the property, it was a straight resort and not clothing optional, but Stuart and Ian quickly picked up a client base through word of mouth. The couple enjoys getting to meet their new guests and greet return ones, and they don’t mind when the temperature soars.

“The weather is fabulous,” Ian said. “We’re both from England, so we absolutely love the heat.”

Big changes at work had me feeling stressed and I needed some relaxation. While gossiping around the water cooler, a co-worker suggested doing something I’d never considered before: staying at a gay, all-male, clothing-optional resort in Palm Springs. I, being a guy who likes putting on pants in the morning, wasn’t sure about the idea. I didn’t really know much about Palm Springs—from the freeway, it looked like a wind farm. But the idea lingered and doing something wildly out of character was exactly what I needed for perspective.

Palm Springs’ newest boutique resort for men exceeded all of my expectations. 

Descanso Resort is a fully refurbished and thoughtfully reimagined Palm Springs paradise with a “California garden patio” motif that somehow manages to weave its way through every detail of your experience. And after my recent three-day staycation there, I’m almost giddy to report that it’s brimming with pleasant surprises.

Spoiler alert: if you want to first experience these surprises in person, you should stop reading here.

Gregory Douglass and Glen Nadeau at Descanso Resort. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Much like its brother Palm Springs property Santiago Resort, there is an immediate sense of familiarity as soon as you arrive. The property’s 16 charming suites wrap around you like a much-needed hug from a friend you haven’t seen in ages. The Descanso website proclaims General Manager Kent Taylor and his team “hold advanced degrees in pampering,” so you know you’re in for a treat.

If you check in before your room is ready, you’re actually in luck. Go ahead and lounge by (or in) their saltwater swimming pool, heated to a perfect 90 degrees at all times. You can also enjoy their saltwater spa, rinse down in the outdoor shower, or just retreat under the light mist of their outdoor cooling system. There’s even a communal fire pit to enjoy if the desert heat (or your fellow gaycationers) aren’t hot enough for you already.

The Descanso Resort’s pool area. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Every poolside guest lounger has a fresh beach towel, rolled up like a bright green tube pillow. You won’t need a swimsuit either, because clothing is optional here. The 24-hour cantina is always stocked with snacks and beverages — picture a perfect Arnold Palmer and various coffee options, depending on your taste. It’s a Type A personality’s paradise.

The Pamper Patrol (aka the Descanso team) will happily hold your bags while you are busy melting into your favorite new desert oasis. Once your room is ready, you’ll have forgotten you were even waiting for it.

As you might have guessed, my husband Glen Nadeau and I arrived an hour before our room was ready. As we lingered by the pool, I sensed an unpretentious sophistication that made me feel like I could finally take a breath. In English, the Spanish word “Descanso” means “break,” as in “you deserve a break,” so I’ve since learned that was exactly how I was supposed to feel.

Descanso guests can enjoy iced tea or lemonade throughout the day. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

When we checked into our Balcony Suite, we were met with flush views of the majestic San Jacinto mountains and the Descanso’s magnificent landscaping, consisting of Mexican flame bushes, birds-of-paradise, lime trees, and vines that envelop the hotel’s exterior. Every detail of Descanso is old Hollywood architecture meets mid-century modern decor, but the landscaping is truly the focal point, serving you lush greenery that looks like it is painting an elegant white canvas. Various shades of green are the only “pop” colors that accent Descanso’s interior motif, echoing the symphony of greenery like a standing ovation.

The suite amenities include all you would expect of a place this deliberate — each room has a king-sized bed, Gilchrest & Soames luxury bath products, a mini portable fan, complimentary snacks and water, and a couch you can sleep on (should you have any expected — or unexpected — guests). There was even a “book” by the bed that opened to reveal a small treasure box containing some fun adult amenities for your (or his) pleasure.

The treasure box. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

After settling into our room, it was time for a complimentary “stay & splash” poolside lunch, provided by Aspen Mills Bakery. We could have then meandered around the neighborhood on Descanso’s complimentary bicycles, exploring the many restaurants and shops in the Palm Springs Uptown District, but we decided to stay poolside to see what else we had in store.

It wasn’t long before someone from the Pamper Patrol circled around the pool, offering each guest a popsicle from a silver platter (literally and figuratively speaking) to accompany their retreat. Soon after, the same rotation served a tray of rolled up frozen washcloths that had been dipped in eucalyptus, and I spent 10 blissful minutes breathing in the cool arctic vapors.

Descanso Resort General Manager Kent Taylor. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

As the sun changed position, so did the shade. But since Descanso’s lily-white umbrellas are also on wheels, the shade was always in reach. There’s even a bathroom within steps of the pool, with framed swimwear hanging on the walls (you can find this signature look in every bathroom at the resort). All of the property’s artwork is stunning, but the swimwear upstages its company because of its unexpected uniqueness, almost implying that bathing suits should remain a relic here.

When I finally dipped in the pool, it was difficult to get out. The salt water absolutely blankets you with minerals, acting like a natural moisturizer as opposed to the skin-drying effects of its evil stepsister (a.k.a. chlorinated water).

Once I retired to the outdoor saltwater spa, I had a simmering feeling that there were still subtle surprises around every corner. Sure enough, I looked down at the small rocks surrounding the tub and caught a glimpse of this one lone stone wearing a pair of painted underwear.

An unexpected rock at Descanso Resort. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

As potential new friends began to get friendlier throughout the evening, I couldn’t wait for what other pleasant surprises the night would reveal. But that’s a story for another time.

INNdulge Hotel

The name says it all.

At INNdulge, guests take full advantage of being on vacation, relaxing in the saltwater pool and 12-man jacuzzi and reveling in the property’s gardens. This clothing optional gay men’s resort in the Warm Sands neighborhood is a mid-century modern hotel built in 1958, with 24 rooms. Jon Jackson has owned INNdulge for 10 years, becoming a hotelier after retiring as an attorney.

“My hospitality experience is in restaurants, but those skills easily converted,” he said.

An expanded continental breakfast is served in the morning, and an evening social hour and weekend pool parties bring guests together. Visitors often tell Jon they enjoy “the social aspect of staying with other like-minded gay men,” and in turn, he’s thrilled to provide “a great product and service.”

INNdulge, he added, “is a property that caters to gay men, who appreciate the pride of ownership we take in maintaining our property, and who in turn treat it with the type of respect deserving of a home away from home.”

The Vista Grande Resort isn’t just a men’s clothing-optional boutique hotel in the heart of Warm Sands. It’s a philosophy and an opportunity for gay men from all over the world to gather and simply be who they are. “The Art of Being” is their adage, and it’s embedded in the guest experience as much as it is embedded in their logo.

Established in 1984, Vista Grande was the first gay clothing-optional hotel in Palm Springs. It’s also the longest running, and their mission remains steady: “To save the world one man at a time, providing discerning gay travelers with an unforgettable blend of comfort, fun, and pleasure in our secret garden sanctuary where we celebrate life, love, and personal freedom every day.”

The moment you arrive at Vista Grande, you enter a secret garden that feels like an endless oasis of pleasurable potential. The lush landscaping envelops the labyrinth-like property and is carefully curated by one of its founding fathers, Robert Fields. It almost feels like a tropical rainforest in the center of the low desert. With an ever-breathtaking view of the San Jacinto Mountains, Vista Grande invites you to explore your vigor for being alive. It also invites quite a few hummingbirds to the party as well!

The property’s gorgeous waterfall. Photo courtesy of Vista Grande Resort

What makes Vista Grande truly unique though is a commitment to their philosophy. You can feel a visceral surge of freedom in every aspect, from their inquisitive amenities to their communal sense of hospitality. The attentive staff’s comforting approach makes you feel more like family than the average resort as well. And since Vista Grande doesn’t “specify,” it makes for a popular, unpretentious mix of men of all types, ages, shapes, and sizes that seems to make everyone feel right at home.

The Avalon seating area. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Vista Grande is one of the only men’s clothing-optional resorts that offers extended stay opportunities. Their spacious garden apartments are fully equipped with all the comforts you would expect in a home, but with additional concierge hotel services, housekeeping, swimming pools, a spa, a steam room, waterfalls, and beautiful views of the gardens (and the neighbors)! What’s more, an extended stay at Vista Grande grants anyone the liberty to experience a prolonged sense of freedom rather than just a weekend of delight.

My husband Glen and I spent a pleasurable evening in one of their four Mirage Waterfall Suites, located in the beautiful enclave just steps from the steam room, 18-man spa, blue lagoon, and waterfall. It’s the perfect fairy tale setting for just about anything, and Mirage suites are elevated by concierge services like VIP parking, welcome gifts, and breakfast trays delivered to your room daily. We even had special burgundy towels specific to the Mirage suites experience to wear like badges of honor throughout the evening. At the end of our stay, the staff proudly proclaimed to us, “You are Mirage Men now!”

Breakfast in bed. Photo courtesy of Vista Grande Resort

Get cozy on the couch in one of the Mirage suites. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Another unique aspect of Vista Grande is the layout of amenities throughout the property. There are two swimming pools on the grounds, each equipped with a floating canopy covering about a third of the pool for shade. The Vista Grande Villa art deco-style pool serves as a quieter, non-smoking and no-music pool with a vintage Palm Springs vibe. The Avalon pool is a more expansive “party” area that is ripe for male adventure.

During our stay, I had the opportunity to connect with Robert Fields himself, and it didn’t take long for me to realize how deeply invested he is in the essence of Vista Grande. He compared his sprawling garden creations throughout the property as a “canvas to paint upon.” He also hinted at the magical relationship he had with his late husband Bob, and how together they created Vista Grande to serve as an extension of their mutual celebratory spirit for all others who visit the resort to benefit from. Robert is still very much the heart and soul of the place, and it’s apparent how much his employees appreciate him and his philosophy too — most have been working there for years.

After just 24 hours, I left the Vista Grande Resort feeling inspired, rejuvenated, and much freer than I had felt before checking in. I can only imagine what a longer stay would have revealed in “The Art of Being.”

All men are welcome at Vista Grande Resort. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

By Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong, Gay Travelers Magazine

Palm Springs, California is a wonderful place for anyone to visit but it is especially significant for gay travelers. Palm Springs has an inclusive, welcoming vibe, excellent entertainment and dining options, beautiful views and a variety of quality gay resorts to choose from.

Before you book your next stay at a men’s clothing-optional hotel in Palm Springs, take a virtual tour of some of the city’s finest resorts.

These YouTubers did the legwork for you, showcasing in their videos the best of the best when it comes to gay boutique hotels and other LGBT-friendly restaurants, shops, attractions, and hot spots.

Spartacus International Gay Guide takes viewers on a journey through the city, discussing its history and showcasing the different clubs, bars, and restaurants that heat up after dark. This video puts the spotlight on several men’s clothing-optional resorts, including Hacienda at Warm Sands, INNdulge, Escape Resort, Santiago, and Triangle Inn. Host Philip Kanchana called Palm Springs “the coolest, hottest place I’ve ever been, and I will be back.”

“Palm Springs has the atmosphere of a small village, but one that’s very gay friendly. That’s a combo you won’t find in a lot of places.”

Esteven and John shared their Palm Springs couple’s escape, vlogging about the sun-filled vacation. They stayed at Escape Resort — where they loved the comfortable robes and the fact the hotel is owned by a gay couple — and INNdulge, where they appreciated the massive room, complete with a kitchen, and beautiful pool. They also visited several restaurants and got a taste of the nightlife. “I’m ready to come back,” Estevan said while lounging by INNdulge’s pool, “and we haven’t even left yet.”

Josh Rimer of Gayosphere trekked across Palm Springs for his video about fun things to do in the city. He went hiking in Indian Canyons and Palm Canyons, swung by the Palm Springs VillageFest, and lounged by several pools. Palm Springs, he said, “has the atmosphere of a small village, but one that’s very gay friendly. That’s a combo you won’t find in a lot of places.”

Finally, Who’s Hot in Palm Springs checked in to the Santiago Resort in order to show viewers the recent changes made to the property. He didn’t leave any part of the hotel out — he showed off the continental breakfast available for guests, filmed close-ups of the room, interviewed a few of his fellow guests, and even shot footage of the grounds after dark. “One of the best qualities of Santiago is the service,” he declared. “When I said the guys are the greatest, they really are.”

There’s no need to pack a big suitcase for stays at these Palm Springs resorts.

The city is home to more than 20 men’s clothing-optional boutique hotels, where guests are free to roam the property sans attire. These resorts are known for their gorgeous pools and spas, steam rooms, gardens, and comfortable accommodations. For first-time visitors, there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a clothing-optional hotel.

Small boutique hotels that cater specifically to gay men and women, or anyone who wants a clothing-optional experience, provide spaces that are “worry-free, stress-free, and nonjudgmental,” says Michael Green, owner of The Triangle Inn Palm Springs. “There are people who come from all over the world — sometimes from places, regions, or even countries where they are not accepted but also persecuted for being gay.”

It’s key to remember that not wearing clothes is optional, and if a guest doesn’t feel comfortable removing their garments right away, that’s OK — they can wait until they feel more comfortable, or remain clothed during their entire stay.

“Clothing-optional resorts attract all ages of gay men seeking a safe refuge, where they can feel free from outside influences,” INNdulge owner Jon Jackson says. “Only about half of our guests enjoy nudity, but all of them love having the option. Most come for the social aspect of spending their holiday exclusively with like-minded gay men.”

Another important thing to research before booking a stay is the sexual “temperature” of a resort, as this varies from property to property.

“A lot of people choose a clothing-optional resort because there is less pretense when a person is naked,” notes Ric Gomez, owner of Tortuga del Sol. “One of the myths I believe still exists is that gay clothing-optional resorts are sexually-charged hotels with low standards and minimal amenities. In reality, the majority of gay clothing-optional resorts are owner operated and exceed the hospitality and amenities levels of larger, mainstream hotels.”

These resorts are judgment-free zones, Gomez says, and in Tortuga del Sol’s common areas, “guests are free to openly demonstrate affection for their companion, or make a new friend or friends.” There are also guests with all body types, because “Nudism is a lifestyle that embraces the human body in all its forms,” Robert Aikens, head innkeeper at La Dolce Vita Resort and Spa, says. “There are many reasons people come to clothing-optional resorts, but always be friendly while respecting other’s rights to privacy.”

Palm Springs is known internationally for welcoming members of the LGBTQ community, and they flock to these resorts because they “are able to find an experience they literally cannot find anywhere else,” Green says. “Lots of our guests get to the resort, do some shopping, then come back and pretty much never leave except to shop or hike or see the sights. We are a destination within a destination for them.”