The Monkey Tree Hotel: A true 1960s time capsule

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Kathy and Gary Friedle left the hustle and bustle of New York City for the laid-back ambiance of Palm Springs, and never looked back.

Kathy is an architect and worked as a studio director at Gensler, while Gary was the chief operating officer at a private wealth management firm on Wall Street, but when their older son announced he wanted to go to college on the west coast, it got them thinking about their family’s future and the possibility of a move and a dramatic change.

“We lived on the east coast our entire lives, but it was starting to wear us down,” Kathy said. “We could have kept chugging along, but we kept thinking, ‘Let’s try something different.’ We had always dreamed about owning a little B&B when we retired, but an opportunity came up earlier than we expected and once the seed was planted, we started to actively look for a hotel to buy on the west coast and decided to give new careers a try.”

They liked the idea of moving to Palm Springs, which is already a tourist destination, and were both fans of mid-century modern architecture. In 2015, the Monkey Tree Hotel property became available for purchase, and the Friedles jumped at the opportunity to reinvigorate the historic, 1960 Albert Frey-designed hotel.

They refreshed the 16 rooms and suites, purchased vintage decor from local Palm Springs sources, and installed the desert’s first Scandinavian spa with a sauna, hot tub, and cold plunge. Gary is also now in charge of the breakfast served every morning to guests, and he has come up with a delicious rotating menu that incorporates some suggestions from diners while also using the freshest local ingredients.

“It’s a true 1960s time capsule,” Kathy said. “We haven’t made a lot of changes to it, intentionally. We want it to remain true to that period.”