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An Art District uptown favorite, The Alcazar Palm Springs is ideally located in walking distance to just about everything fabulous!  Enjoy this video tour with founder Tara Lazar Alcazar and General manager, Robert Hunt.

As fall arrives and with winter approaching rapidly, one’s thoughts often turn to places in the sun. With an average of 269 days of sunlight every year, Palm Springs is a sound choice.

With a perfect combination of ambiance, amenities, and location, a wise choice to stay is Alcazar Palm Springs. This quiet, 34-room, secluded hotel is one block from the central artery into downtown Palm Springs. Yet, the beautiful grounds makes you feel as if you have arrived in Paradise.

Alcazar is part of local restaurateur and hotelier Tara Lazar’s F10 Creative, which focuses on developing and upholding sustainable methods of operation, maintaining genuinely happy and inspired team members, and creating unique and memorable moments for every guest.  The F in the corporate name stands for “fun, food, festivals, family, fashion and friends.” The 10 stands for 6+2+2 — their address 622 North Palm Canyon Drive.

Once you park in the spacious lot, you will see the impressive artistic gates, which give homage to the site, which was once known as the Pepper Tree Inn. These gates are large and display a local artist’s interpretation of the pepper trees once prevalent in the Palm Springs area.

When you walk through the archway to the registration desk, you immediately feel this is an extraordinary place. At the registration desk, you are graciously welcomed, offered drinks, and pastries as you take a breath and begin your time away from home.

Like a cathedral, the palo verde trees provide a canopy over this inviting space. The water screen helps provide the sense of serenity; and quickly calms any travel anxiety. At night, this area becomes a magical, communal space to enjoy the desert sky.

After you settle in, the saltwater pool beckons you to come for a swim. Lounge chairs and towels are readily available and provide the perfect accessories for you to relax after your drive or flight. As your drinks are served in the jacuzzi, you take a deep breath and realize you are now on vacation.

Hungry? No problem, you do not have to leave the premises nor take a shower and dress up. Just take the walkway to Cheeky’s. This restaurant is part of F10 with the same owners as the hotel. Farm-fresh ingredients are used to produce an ever-changing delectable breakfast and lunch menu. On weekends, you find locals waiting in line for late breakfast. Its bacon flight is a perennial favorite of tourists and locals alike.

With your car safely parked, you have access to free bicycles to start exploring Palm Springs. Each neighborhood has distinctive architectural and landscape, which makes any direction you take on our many clearly marked bike paths an exceptional experience. After each use, bicycles are thoroughly disinfected as part of Alcazar’s Covid-19 protocol.

After your bike ride, swim, and shower, it is time for dinner. Just a few steps from Cheeky’s is Birba, where the menu is seasonal and the ingredients perfectly fresh. This outdoor restaurant has a great story. The owner’s husband’s family is from Italy. When F10 decided to add another restaurant to its portfolio, he said, “I would like a restaurant where we could use my grandmother’s recipes.

The name, Birba, in Italian means “Little Rascal.” It was the name his grandmother called him when he grew up.  Reservations are recommended.

Robert Hunt has been the manager of this hotel since it became Alcazar in 2011. He has watched over every detail of its creation. When the cleanliness of even the courtyard chairs was mentioned, he replied, “I’m a little OCD about keeping this place immaculate, sometimes to the despair of my team.”

Eleven years is a long time for a hotel manager to be in one place; the obvious question was, “What has kept you here so long?” He said, with a broad smile, “We realize we have to change with time. I am a fortunate person to make creative suggestions, and once approved, I am the one to implement them. Besides, gesturing his hands to the beautifully serene courtyard, “Can you think of a better workplace than this?”

With summer officially in full swing, hospitality staff at Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels are turning their attention to pampering visitors from all over the world. 

The pools are cool, the nights are warm, and everyone is languid. Yes, it’s hot, but hey, midday, head to the museums, the top of the mountain on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (where it’s always 30 degrees cooler and the views are breathtaking), or hit the air-conditioned stores and galleries to take advantage of their sizzling summer sales. Most Palm Springs restaurants remain open — however, they may adjust their hours, so be sure to check their websites. 

The sooner you book your stay, the better. For the past couple of summers, Palm Springs’ small boutique hotels, many with a vibe to fit your travel style, have been busy. That said, you can save some serious money and time by booking directly with a boutique hotel inside of going through a third-party travel platform. Plus, you’ll have a much better experience in general.

“Small hotels have distinct personalities. That’s one of the things that makes them special,” says Michael Green, owner of the Triangle Inn Palm Springs. “So if you want to stay at one, go direct. You’ll get the best sense of the hotel itself.”

Here are six reasons you should book directly with a boutique hotel or resort:

1. Room choice

Many of Palm Springs’ small hotels and resorts (those with no more than 50 rooms) have been remodeled, often resulting in new additions, removal of walls to make larger suites, and a carefully-curated environment to enhance the guest experience. 

Third-party booking companies are given a block of tickets to sell in a particular area of the hotel, with no knowledge of where rooms may be located or details on the hotel’s total environment. 

“Room choices are often ‘run of house’ with third parties, as opposed to the guest booking directly with the hotel and locking in their room,” explains Sarah Martinez, general manager of Azure Sky, a new luxury boutique hotel in Palm Springs. Green concurs, saying, “Booking platforms generally only get a select piece of inventory from hotels, and especially from small hotels — maybe just one room type — so for the full picture, it’s always better to talk to the hotel directly.”

Sarah Martinez, general manager of Azure Sky.

2. Accountability 

We’ve all been there. You booked a flight through one of the discount sites, and it gets delayed due to weather, there’s a schedule change, or you have a family emergency. You need to contact someone for help, and that’s when the epic nightmare of a time sink begins.

After a long wait on the phone, the airline says they can’t help because you booked through a third party, so you must call them. The person who answers does not understand the situation or doesn’t have the authority to make changes and says there is no way they can help. You push for a higher manager, and the saga continues. The same scenario can happen when you use a third party to book hotel reservations.

“Because third-party reservations lock us out of any changes or adjustments, it’s easier to adjust a reservation that has been booked directly,” says Kent Taylor, general manager at Descanso Resort.

3. Flexibility 

The text arrives: Aunt Mable decides she wants to come along on the trip after all. Great — you have a built-in babysitter! — but now there aren’t enough beds for everyone.

“If you booked directly with the hotel, it’s super easy to call it and modify your reservation … perhaps to a suite or whatever accommodation hotel management suggests. Flexibility is number one,” Martinez says. “Once a guest books a room through a third party, the hotel cannot make changes to the reservation and the guest has to deal with the third party directly. It created a middleman which can lead to frustration because it may appear the hotel is not helpful.”

Taylor agrees, saying, “We try very hard to be as flexible as possible. There are so many unforeseen situations in our world these days, the last thing anyone needs is more complications while just trying to take a vacation.”

4. Packages and special deals

Especially during the summer, when making a reservation with a hotel, ask if there are any packages available. Palm Springs is a very close-knit community, and often attractions work with hotels to offer guests special rates for the abundance of things to experience. 

“Many hotels offer perks to those who book directly, such as upgrades or cancellations without penalties,” one hotelier revealed. “But it’s usually on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll never find them on one of the third-party booking platforms.” Martinez is more blunt, declaring, “Hotels offer various deals and packages not found on third-party sites.”

5. Pricing 

Being a responsible traveler and planner, you are probably accustomed to checking out third-party websites. Always a good idea, but do not stop there. Once you have selected the hotel that appears to meet your needs, check out their website and call the number listed. Be ready with your accommodation needs and ask them for their advice and the price. If it appears the price is higher than you found online, tell them — they would rather give you the discount than pay the third party a fee. 

According to Martinez, hotels will often price match, except when the third party is directly undercutting the hotel or is packaging the room with other sales, such as airfare or car rentals.

“We prefer direct bookings to reduce the commission cost of 18 percent from the OTAs (other travel agencies),” says Robert Hunt, general manager of Alcazar Palm Springs. This alsoallows the front desk agent to discuss the type of room that best fits the guest’s needs, since we have 10 different room types available on the property.”

Plus, sometimes a “deal” from an OTA or booking platform really isn’t. Taylor shares this cautionary tale: “I had a small group call about booking a specific weekend with several rooms. After giving them the information they needed, they decided to all book themselves on the website. Everyone but one booked directly with the hotel. One member of the group booked with a specific website that offers a portion of a free hotel night, if a certain number of rooms are booked in the year. The one guest who booked with that third-party website was paying approximately $25 more a night than everyone else in his group. I was shocked to see it! He was paying in advance for his ‘free night’ … and then some.”

“Some OTAs use tricky, misleading tactics to make it appear the guest rate is lower than the hotel,” Martinez warns. “The initial average room rate can sometimes look less expensive but as the guest books, there are large fees added to the booking and the guest is not actually paying a lower rate.”

Kent Taylor, general manager of Descanso Resort

6. Book direct and make better memories

The special touch offered by front desk agents at Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels will make your stay more memorable.

“The very nature of a third-party booking website removes the personal touch,” Taylor says. “We take many reservations over the phone and people ask a variety of questions that inform their vacation on the whole. Where can we go for our special dinner? Is there a gym close by? Do you serve vegan yogurt at breakfast? Only someone helping you at the hotel will know the answers to these types of questions. It is like having a direct connect to a local for help in creating the best vacation you can have.”

Pro tips to remember:

If you book your hotel directly and need to make a change, they can help you do so with one short phone call.

A direct relationship with the hotel gives you a lot more flexibility because they are in the hospitality business, not the booking business.

When you speak to an employee at a boutique hotel, they can answer your questions about the property, unlike third-party agents who are not familiar with the offerings.

Some booking platforms make it look like you’re getting a lower price, but they tack on hefty fees at the end, increasing the final total.

Say goodbye to your home office and hello to Palm Springs

For those who have been working from home for months now, a change of scenery is in order — and the best views are in Palm Springs.

Since Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels — a collection of more than 70 boutique hotels — began reopening on June 12, some guests have been settling in for work and play. El Mirasol Villas owners Paul Pressman and Bruce Wishnefsky have had several people specifically request rooms conducive to working remotely, ensuring that they have strong WiFi and a desk available.

“As they have been self-quarantined or already work remotely, they wanted to get out of the house or home office and work in a relaxed desert environment,” Paul says. “They love taking breaks between conference calls or Zoom meetings and laying in the sun, taking a swim in the pool, or relaxing in the jacuzzi. One guest who has work that crosses time zones said he loved the desert nights on his patio or poolside where he could set up his laptop and work.”

“Monday through Friday work vacations are definitely becoming a thing,” says Robert Hunt, general manager of Alcazar Palm Springs, a 34-room boutique hotel in the uptown Palm Springs art district. “It makes perfect sense because there are fewer people around mid-week and the rates are lower than on the weekends.  People are craving a change of scenery but they want someplace quiet and safe where they can still get their work done.”

Sabrina Sakdikul is a community relations manager for a nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area, and drove down to Palm Springs to spend a few days at the Los Arboles Hotel. After spending several months working from home alongside her roommates, it was a relief to have a space of her own.

The property felt like “an oasis,” Sabrina says. She switched up her location throughout the day — sometimes working in her room, other times by the pool or on a patio — and with everyone wearing masks, she felt safe. When it was time for lunch, she would walk a few steps to the on-site restaurant, El Mirasol, and if she needed to clear her head, would take a quick dip in the pool.

“Palm Springs is a very laid-back place, and it does make me feel like I’m in paradise,” Sabrina says. “In Google and Zoom meetings, they have backgrounds that look like you’re somewhere cool and calming, and I was actually in a place that was cool and calming.”

Going on this getaway to Palm Springs left Sabrina feeling energized and refreshed, her stress melting away in the desert sun.

“I feel like I was able to really get away from all the craziness that has been going on,” Sabrina says. “It was nice being able to do something different.”

Several small hotels, like The Weekend Palm Springs, The Rossi, Casa Cody Country Inn, The Triangle Inn Palm Springs, and Les Cactus – among others – offer small suites or casitas with kitchenettes, which allow space for weeklong guests to prepare their own meals. Some hotels such as Villa Royale, Arrive Palm Springs, La Serena Villas, and Alcazar have restaurants on site. Many Palm Springs restaurants deliver meals and cocktails directly to hotels so guests can dine poolside.

 

Comfort and Safety Prioritized

Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels are legendary for their style, safety, and comfort–all of which continue to be a priority. Over the past few weeks, the owners and general managers of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels have collaboratively created a baseline of safety sanitation standards.

Most Palm Springs boutique hotels have fewer than 30 rooms, making them easier to thoroughly clean and keep sanitized. Common areas are typically outside, and a majority of rooms have their own private entrances and air conditioning units.

Each hotel will provide its own safety guidelines in addition to the requirements set forth by the City of Palm Springs and the ones they collectively developed. This information will be shared with guests when they receive their reservation confirmation.

Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels is a consortium of independently owned boutique hotels, which are an essential part of this desert resort town’s uncommon culture and economy. From quirky to charming, mid-century modern to clothing-optional, Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels has got your stay. Follow the fun on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Please visit Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels Summer Recovery Specials page for details.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced during this ongoing pandemic is gathering our families in a safe setting. So here is a great idea. When we are allowed to safely travel again, why not consider bringing your family to one of the lovely small boutique hotels in the Palm Springs?

Recently, representatives from several of these hotels shared their experiences and thoughts with me about planning gatherings of families and close friends.

Many of these hotels encourage guests to buy out the entire hotel. There are many advantages to a buyout, such as knowing you are with a familiar group (your own “bubble”) while not interacting with strangers. You can also relax with confidence knowing that the hotels have taken all kinds of protective measures so that your stay is safe. At the same time, you can enjoy the beautiful Palm Springs setting.

Since the start of the pandemic, Dive (playfully decorated in a St. Tropez style) has hosted more than a dozen gatherings of families and close friends. Like many small hotels, it is well designed to accommodate small groups. Guests can enjoy spacious outdoor gardens, pools, multiple lounging areas, and fountains spread across a half-acre lot, making socially distancing easy and comfortable. Dive, which has 11 rooms, welcomes small groups, but if you need more than five rooms, the hotel requires a full buyout, which means you would have exclusive access to the property and a dedicated staff for support.

The Weekend, a small, mid-century modern hotel, where I have stayed and which I love, has ten deluxe suites, most with two bedrooms and two baths, along with living rooms, kitchens, and patios.  During the pandemic, the owners prefer that the entire hotel be bought out so you will not encounter other guests besides your family members.

One advantage at The Weekend and most other small boutique hotels is there are no hallways or elevators and the rooms open directly to the pool so there are plenty of opportunities for social distancing.

Both Hotel El Cid and The Marley (sister hotels) are private boutique hotels that rent to only one group at a time so they are perfect for families or close friends. They are also lovingly decorated and totally luxurious. The Marley has nine bedrooms and El Cid has seven bedrooms.  Both hotels are completely walled and gated for total privacy. Each hotel has full kitchens that allow guests to cook for themselves or groups can bring in professional chefs

Dining options are varied but ample at most of the small hotels. The Weekend delivers a lavish continental breakfast to each suite every morning. Their suites have a kitchen (no stove) with a full-sized refrigerator, ice maker, and four-seat dining room table. At Dive, two amazing chefs are available to support whatever dining needs guests have. In addition, each guest receives a complimentary organic breakfast each morning. During the current Covid situation, all food and drinks are served in single-use containers to ensure guests’ safety.

The safety and well-being of guests are the top priorities at the PSPSH hotels. Each hotel has enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures in place. All staff members are equipped with proper PPE — sanitizers, gloves, and masks. At The Weekend, staff members have daily temperature checks.  At all the hotels, guests are asked to wear masks coming and going from the hotel and to socially distance while relaxing at poolside. Outside visitors are not allowed.

So many of us have been mostly confined to our own homes for the last many months and, if you are like me, you are chomping at the bit to get out and start traveling again. Staying at a small boutique hotel is an ideal way to reconnect with close family members and friends while enjoying a luxurious setting in a fabulous location. Even if you live close to Palm Springs, you will feel as if you have really gotten away. Just go to the PSPSH website to find out when hotels are open and then you can explore the many enticing options for small groups in Palm Springs.