Just a few minutes from the thumping beat of the nightlife on Arenas is The Hacienda at Warm Sands, LUXlife magazine’s 2020 and 2021 Best LGBTQ Resort in North America. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know — it’s discreetly camouflaged by a perfectly manicured privacy hedge standing sentry over the Spanish villa-style artistry that waits inside. Carved into the hedge, a gorgeous wooden gate with lanterns on either side to show you the way.

Welcome to The Hacienda at Warm Sands. Photo courtesy of The Hacienda at Warm Sands

Inside, a rich tapestry of winding Saltillo tile pathways are surrounded by lush foliage and dotted with surprises along the way: an outdoor fireplace, an in-ground spa, a tranquil water feature, and the two clear blue pools that anchor the 10 suites surrounding them. And if you’re impressed with the outside of the property (if you aren’t, you’re dead inside), the rooms are gonna knock your socks off.

Before we get to that part of the tour, you should meet your hosts: Jim Moje and Maurice Minno. Jim is, as he puts it, “a frustrated architect” with a degree in finance, and Maurice has a master’s degree in hotel and restaurant administration from Cornell University. For the past 21 years, they’ve put all their hopes, dreams, and skills into turning The Hacienda at Warm Sands into the 5-star experience that it is.

The experience begins the moment you book your room — that’s when the Hacienda’s team begins to prep for your stay. Something special you’d like upon arrival? Would you like the food pantry stocked with specific items? Perhaps you’d like a private chef for a delicious dinner? If you can dream it, the team will do everything within their power to make it happen. 

It gets even better when you’re a repeat guest because it’s easier to anticipate your needs, and that’s what the resort is all about: offering “anticipated but unexpected Hacienda moments” to their guests. And they do it unobtrusively, like your guardian angel. The ratio of staff to guests is one to one with a turnover that’s nearly non-existent — even after a pandemic. That’s because Hacienda values their staff as much as they do their clientele and made provisions to take care of them while the resort was closed for about six months due to COVID-19. Now that they’re back open, every precaution is taken to keep you safe inside their hedges. 

The Deluxe Grand Suite. Photo courtesy of The Hacienda at Warm Sands

There are five styles of well-appointed suites. The smallest is just under 500 square feet, and the largest around 900 square feet — all with furniture and amenities chosen for functional elegance. Every suite has a kitchenette that is ingeniously disguised to look like an elegant wet bar, a sitting room, and a large luxurious bathroom with so many L’Occitane amenities it’ll make your body giddy with anticipation. 

The Deluxe Junior Suite bathroom. Photo courtesy of The Hacienda at Warm Sands

Multiple heads and horizontal water sprays turn each shower into a spa, with large plush towels waiting to dry you quickly once you’re done. In your closet, there are two robe options available: a waffle weave for daytime and a heavier-weight robe to provide extra warmth and comfort on cooler evenings by the fire.

The beds are fit for a king (or queen): thick comfy mattresses dressed in crisp linens with a variety of luxury pillows available from the resort’s “Pillow Menu.” It’s a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears — keep trying them until you find one that’s just right.

The continental breakfast spread. Photo courtesy of The Hacienda at Warm Sands

An expanded, seemingly endless continental breakfast and a restaurant-crafted catered lunch of wraps, sandwiches, and salads are served daily, along with your favorite beverage (red or white wine, fresh-brewed iced tea, or lemonade). You can enjoy your meals while languishing in the outdoor spa, by one of the pools, or next to the outdoor fireplace. Above you, only palm trees, breathtaking mountains, and blue skies frame this extraordinary 5-star oasis in Palm Springs.

It’s no surprise that no matter where you look, all the reviews of The Hacienda at Warm Sands are five stars. Jim and Maurice have spent 21 years cultivating the best staff and service known to mankind, as well as perfecting a luscious landscape of earth, water, and fire surrounding their spacious and exquisite suites, providing so much worldly comfort and pampering you’ll feel like a royal.

Night falls on the hotel. Photo courtesy of The Hacienda at Warm Sands

 

You made a wise choice to visit Palm Springs, where the sun shines 360 days a year. As you pull up in front of the Avanti Hotel, the contemporary exquisite stone entrance affirms that you also made the right decision for your home away from home…especially if you brought your pup.

The secure hotel requires newcomers to ring the doorbell. Suddenly, Jim Rutledge, the owner, and manager opens the door, for he lives on site. His huge smile and very welcoming greeting immediately help you understand you are about to have a memorable experience.

Pets are always welcome at the Avanti Hotel in Palm Springs.

Dogs are very welcome at Avanti. Next to the registration area is a knee-high dog constructed of real looking plants sitting beside a chalkboard welcoming your dog with their name and a water dish. When is the last time your dog has been welcomed in such a gracious manner?

Avanti View as you enter into the complex.

When you look around the space, you see the spacious pool surrounded by the ten rooms identified by bright sunshine-yellow doors. Framing the doors are full-length beige drapes, which help define each space.

Lucky room 88 at Avanti Hotel in Palm Springs.

If you are fortunate, you will be checked into the lucky room, Room 88. Why the number 88 when there are only ten rooms, you ask?  The number four is considered unlucky by those with traditional Chinese beliefs. When management learned about the number four, they had already numbered all the rooms. Since eight is deemed lucky, they decided to make room number four twice as lucky by labeling it 88.

The hot tub is open 24/7 at the Avanti Hotel.

It is not often you will find a spacious hot tub separated from the main pool. In this case, it is not only separated from the main pool, but it also has its own private walled space. Comfy benches are strategically placed around the perimeter, and artwork adorns the walls. Once again, the long beige drapes make an appearance adding to the elegance of space.

The jacuzzi holds 12 people. Can you imagine having a retreat here and saying, Let’s meet at the hot tub for a brainstorming session? By the way, the hot tub and pool are open 24 hours a day. However, there are rules, and they will be enforced.

Avanti Hotel patios offers refuge from the world.

 

Four rooms have kitchenettes and one a full kitchen. So even though snacks are freely available, it is good to know you can prepare your own romantic dinner if you so choose.  Or order from a Palm Springs restaurant that will deliver meals complete with cocktails. Some of the rooms have large patios with a dining table. These patios are an excellent place to hang out if you want to do some quiet reading.

Breakfast is Served Poolside at the Avant Hotel in Palm Springs.

Breakfast is served around the pool. As Jim was quick to point out, it is a cold breakfast. However, there is more than enough to get you on your way for the day.

After a day of sightseeing, you will want to get back for Happy Hour, which will be the perfect time to mingle with other guests, often from other countries. For example, the Avanti has the same visitor from Iceland come back a year and after year.

Avanti owner and Manager Jim Rutledge with doggy diva Maya

Jim Rutledge is the owner and has been watching over the development of the space for ten years. Here he is pictured with his companion, Maya, who is the diva of the Avanti.

He keeps a close pulse on the community. Thus, guests have access to a wealth of information to decide how they spend their time exploring the Coachella Valley.

When asked what brings him joy about living here and managing the Avanti, his reply was with a large smile, “It’s the people I meet from all over the world.”

Palm Springs, California, is a tourist destination, welcoming millions of visitors every year from around the world. There are dozens of boutique hotels catering to all types of travelers — architectural aficionados, party animals, wellness-minded yogis — but what really stands out are the hoteliers. 

How to Travel Safely by Car

Not since the days of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez’ road trip to California and when the Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe traveled to Palm Springs have road trips been so popular. This is the time to nostalgically take a road trip and reflect on those bygone days.

Pack your car and head to Palm Springs to enjoy one of the elegantly restored boutique mid-century hotels in the group known as the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. With almost 80 hotels from which to choose, you can be revitalized a poolside environment and snuggle in a cozy bungalow.

Before you head out, though, there are some safety precautions you should know during these times of Covid-19.

What to Bring in the Car

Even if you are traveling a short distance, bring all your travel documents—your auto insurance card, your driver’s license, auto registration, and your health insurance card.

Try to bring as much as possible of what you may need to be self-sufficient and cut down on trips to stores once you arrive. Bring water, snacks, lunch (to eat on the way or once you reach your destination), disinfectant wipes, masks, gloves, phone chargers, medications, and Ziploc bags. If you want to have some wine and spirits, pack those bottles under the car seat so you don’t have to journey to a liquor store.

Stopping for Gas and a Restroom

Like it or not, that gas stop and restroom is sometimes necessary. When you are pumping gas, disposable gloves are a great idea. Once you have finished pumping, use sanitizing wipes on anything you have touched– door handle, steering wheel, knobs for air conditioning or the radio, and your credit card.

As far as public toilets at gas stations, prepare for the worst. Bring toilet paper and soap. Make sure you really scrub your hands for at least those 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose before washing. Grab a clean paper towel to grab that door handle.

Staying at a Hotel

Here comes the beauty of staying at a Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel. With all hotels being less than 50 rooms, your room will be on the ground level or one flight upstairs. There will be no elevator rides or long hallways to negotiate. That’s because most of the small hotels were designed to face open-air courtyards.

While all of the Palm Springs Preferred Hotels have undergone deep cleaning and as a group have in place a set of baseline of safety sanitation standards, it is still a good idea to practice safety cleaning of your room. Once you are inside, use sanitary wipes to clean areas where people touch like door knobs, tables, faucets, toilets, sinks, light switches, phones, remotes, and curtain handles. Wipe down anywhere you will rest your belongings.

Eating and Drinking During Your Stay

Palm Springs is currently not open to indoor dining. But the wonderful part about visiting Palm Springs is that the weather is conducive to dining outdoors, a much safer option. Many of the finer restaurants provide food and cocktail delivery so that you can just sit back and dine comfortably in your room or by the pool. A list of some of those options are: The Tropicale, Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, El Mirasol Restaurant, Jakes’ Palm Springs, and 533 Viet Fusion.

Note that the City of Palm Springs mandates the use of face masks in public, whether you are indoors or out.

So, grab your swimsuit and a slice of nostalgia on a well-deserved road trip to Palm Springs where unsurpassed blissfulness, hospitality, and tranquility await.

Michael Green, owner of The Triangle Inn and president of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, recently chatted with Big Blend Radio to spill on what it’s like to run a hotel in one of the most exciting cities in California.

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.

It’s the property that launched the solo career of one of Palm Springs’ most influential and innovative architects.

The Del Marcos Hotel was designed by the famed William F. Cody in 1947, his first independent commission in Palm Springs. This 17-room hotel boasts cutting-edge architecture from the height of the mid-century modern movement, using native stone and redwood. The Del Marcos became an official historic landmark in 2012, decades after it earned Cody a design award from the American Institute of Architects.

The hotel retains the spirit of the 1950s and 1960s, with retro furnishings and decor welcoming guests as they enter the lobby. The restored rooms with remodeled showers are clean and spacious, surrounding the property’s inviting saltwater pool and fire pits. It is an adults only hotel, with complimentary breakfast, beach cruisers, and happy hour. Dogs are allowed in some of the rooms, and pets are treated to bones and toys upon check in.

The Orbit In embraces its mid-century modern roots, wowing guests with its retro furnishings, lively pool area, and — of course — those irresistible Orbitinis, served every night during happy hour.

During their second stay at the Orbit In, husband and wife Kevin Miller and Jinny Park had the place all to themselves, and as they sat outside, looking up at the sky, they started talking about their dream of selling everything in order to buy and run the hotel.

Orbit In owners, Kevin Miller and Jinny Park

“Right then, a huge shooting star went across, and we made a wish,” Kevin said. “Three years later, we bought it. We are guests who ended up buying the hotel, and we try to run it from a guest perspective.”

The Orbit In is a mid-century modern hotel built in 1957, purchased by Kevin and Jinny in October 2007. Guests spend their days gathering around the Boomerang Bar, beating the heat in the pool and under the misters, enjoying Orbitinis during happy hour, and taking advantage of cruisers they can take around the neighborhood.

“It kind of feels like a hotel, but it also feels like you’re coming to someone’s house,” Kevin said. “It splits the difference there. We see a lot of repeat guests, and that’s just terrific.”

Although he is always improving the hotel, Kevin listens to his guests who like the retro vibe and want things to stay exactly the way they are.

“They always say, ‘Don’t change anything,'” he said. “They love it the way it is. They really like the staff. Everyone is personable and knows them by name, and they feel at home here.”

Old Ranch Inn in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan
Contributed by: Brittany Ryan

Nestled between Indian Canyon and bustling downtown Palm Springs, sits the historic Old Ranch Inn. Here, in this intimate eight-room boutique hotel catering to adults and their pet dogs, is where travelers come to find a home away from home. Although Old Ranch Inn has been offering guests a peaceful escape since the 1930’s, it has recently come under new ownership. Old Ranch Inn is now being looked after by Troy and Jason, and they have big plans for the Inn’s future including an extensive renovation of the guestrooms and public spaces.

Troy, who is a retired partner from the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young, has 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, loved the idea of customers being able to feel like they were staying at a close friend’s guesthouse.

“Old Ranch Inn is designed to offer privacy and intimacy.” Troy explained to me. “Because the property accommodates 16 people total, we are able to provide a completely customer-centric experience for our guests from the time they check in to the time they check out, which is reflected in our Expedia rating of 4.7 out of 5 and a 9.6 rating out of 10 on hotels.com” And since the hotel is located in a residential neighborhood, it’s a peaceful setting.

This customer-centric experience is made apparent in all of the details of the property. When you arrive at this slice of paradise, you’re welcomed by the trickling sound of fountains and birds singing in the trees. Western lanterns line the property offering a peaceful amber glow in the evenings.

Old Ranch Inn Courtyard in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Courtyard in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

The pool is surrounded by bright teal lounge chairs, each with their own pillow. It’s easy to see why some guests spend their entire trip just relaxing by the pool. Jason and Troy see to it that all of your poolside needs are taken care of – cold water, sunscreen, pool noodles, and floaties. The patio offers a variety of umbrella-covered seating areas. This is a favorite spot for guests to enjoy cocktail hour and dine al fresco under the string lights as the sun begins to set.

Old Ranch Inn Pool in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Pool in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn is set in the Historic Tennis Club area – one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, founded in 1937. Just minutes from the famous Palm Springs Walk of Stars, Palm Springs Art Museum, the bars/restaurants on Arenas, the Tennis Club was once an under-the-radar destination for Hollywood celebrities, politicians, statesmen, and infamous world travelers. Today, the desert community is considered one of the premiere locations for upscale boutique hotels.

The eight pristine guest rooms at Old Ranch Inn create an instant feeling of coziness. Tasteful western design elements, like Tiffany-style lamps and white quilted linens, are seamlessly blended with modern amenities, like a kitchenette, walk-in shower, and a private patio.

“We wanted to pay homage to the western desert roots that the Old Ranch Inn is known, while still providing a contemporary, relaxing experience for our guests,” says Jason.

Old Ranch Inn Bedroom in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Bedroom in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Troy and Jason’s vision for a comfortable home away from home is quickly coming to life. The guesthouse caters to both short and long-term travelers. Old Ranch Inn is set in a very walkable location, just a few blocks from local favorites like FARM, a charming, French-inspired eatery, and Wilma & Frieda Palm Springs, a brunch spot with reinvented comfort food. Head in the opposite direction toward the mountains, using one of the Inn’s free bike rentals, to hike one of the popular Tahquitz Canyon hiking trails and get some grand views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. If you’re lucky, you might even see some big horn sheep.

“We have active guests that love the ease of access to hiking, golfing, shopping, and local dining, and we also have guests that come simply to enjoy the quiet pleasures of relaxing poolside for the majority of their stay,” says Jason.

Old Ranch Inn at Dusk in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn at Dusk in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

In short, Troy and Jason’s vision for Old Ranch Inn is to provide a luxury level experience in an intimate setting. The fact that this boutique hotel is perfectly located between the San Jacinto Mountains and Downtown Palm Springs is icing on the cake!

For years, the Coyote Inn was where Chris and Barb Miller would go when they needed an escape. Now, it’s home.

The Millers have owned the Coyote Inn since 2008. They fell in love with it as guests, when they would leave their donut business in Utah for a few days of relaxation in Palm Springs. It was “a grind,” Chris says, and when the opportunity to purchase the Coyote Inn came up, they jumped. “The previous owners were looking for a different lifestyle, and we were looking for something different,” Chris says.

Chris and Barb live on the property, and work seven days a week. They do everything and anything that needs to be done, and always have their “game faces on,” Chris says. They love forging relationships with guests, greeting new faces and welcoming back regulars.

“We meet a lot of interesting people,” Chris says. “When people find us, they’re hooked.”

Guests come from all over the world, and enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes along with a property that is adults only. They also love the saltwater pool and hot tub, which is good for the skin. Snowbirds flock to the Coyote Inn during the spring, and book for the next year before their visit is even over.

“People come here to relax,” Chris says. “Our location is ideal; you can walk downtown, but you’re far enough away where you can’t hear it. Some guests don’t even rent a car.”

There’s something about walking through the gate and entering the Coyote Inn’s courtyard that instantly puts guests at ease.

“Once people hit the fountain, they forget about everything,” Chris says. “It’s a great place to unwind.”