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Recently we took our sweet cocker spaniel, Fender, on a short trip to Palm Springs. It was a beautiful afternoon when we arrived at the so aptly named Azure Sky, one of the most recently renovated Palm Springs Small Preferred Hotels. Yes, the sky and enticing pool were both sparkling azure when we arrived at this stunning boutique hotel. 

The grounds are lushly landscaped with blooming native plants and palm trees that help create a tranquil getaway in the middle of the desert, but Azure Sky is also still ideally located in the heart of Palm Springs. Here you can have it all — a peaceful hideaway that is still close to the activities and restaurants that attract so many visitors to Palm Springs.

As we entered the hotel grounds, we were especially impressed by the striking, steel entryway gate, which introduces guests to the innovative contemporary design of the hotel.

The pool area of Azure Sky. Photo courtesy of Azure Sky

This hotel was originally built in 1959 and was a timeshare and then apartments for many years. In June, an extensive two-year renovation was completed, resulting in a stylish retreat featuring wood and stone with an emphasis on natural light. The hotel has a modern vibe while still retaining its original mid-century charm that is so characteristic of Palm Springs. There are only 14 rooms so you almost feel as if you are staying in your own personal, private retreat — and since this property caters to adults, you can expect peace and quiet.

We were warmly welcomed in the chic, inviting lobby with a refreshing cocktail, and Fender was even greeted with a little doggie bag holding a special healthy treat, which he eagerly devoured. It is so nice to be able to visit such a wonderful hotel that is also dog friendly.  

We were then shown to the Agave Suite, which was spacious and comfortable. Our room included a lovely living room with a kitchenette and a separate comfy bedroom with a unique floating wooden bed featuring linens that were as soft as clouds — just like the clouds in the azure sky. We also enjoyed the outdoor private patio connected to our room. There are four different room configurations at different price points.

An Azure Sky bedroom. Photo courtesy of Azure Sky

This suite included almost every amenity possible except a TV, which we did not miss at all. It was nice to tune out the news of the day and enjoy our quiet retreat. The soothing palate of subdued colors enhanced the serenity of our room; even our dog was ready to curl up and take a snooze. There were bottles of cocktail mixes to purchase in our room so we enjoyed drinks as we embraced the restful atmosphere. My husband and I agreed that Azure Sky provided a much-welcomed escape from our busy, daily lives.

The luxurious courtyard with spectacular views of the dramatic San Jacinto Mountains offers guests ample outdoor areas for relaxing and contemplating life. Guests can gather around one of the two fire pits for pleasant conversation or quiet reflection. The expansive terrace surrounding the pool had plenty of lounge chairs and is another ideal place to relax after a refreshing swim or dip in the warm waters of the jacuzzi. Azure Sky is truly an enchanting getaway designed with the comfort of guests in mind. 

The inviting pool at Azure Sky. Photo by Todd Montgomery

After relaxing in our room, our only decision was where to go for dinner. So we adjourned to the comfortable Azure Sky lobby lounge and warmed ourselves in front of the fire crackling in the fireplace while we savored a cocktail and considered our dinner options. Of course Palm Springs offers many superb restaurants, but we found ourselves enjoying the ambiance of Azure Sky so much that we were reluctant to venture out for dinner. Instead, we ordered a pizza (which was delivered right to the lobby) and talked with a few of the other friendly Azure Sky guests while we nibbled and sipped. We met two pleasant young women from Paris who had been traveling around Southern California on business and they were also genuinely impressed with the upscale charm of Azure Sky.

Susan Montgomery and Fender enjoy Azure Sky. Photo by Todd Montgomery

Azure Sky offers a complimentary continental breakfast and freshly brewed coffee every morning, which helped us launch our day ahead in Palm Springs. We learned that the hotel is also the perfect venue for weddings and other special occasions. Sometimes all the rooms are sold out for events so that guests can have the entire property to themselves.

By the way, while we were in Palm Springs we had a delightful lunch with a friend at another PSPSH property, La Serena Villas, where the much celebrated restaurant, Azúcar, is located. We dined on delicious swordfish tacos, scrumptious chicken lettuce wraps, and a shrimp cocktail while we sipped the restaurant’s special margarita called the Rosearita, which is made with tequila, rose liqueur, and agave nectar. Azúcar’s outdoor patio setting around the La Serena Villas pool captures the quintessential relaxing spirit of Palm Springs. Our friendly restaurant server even brought Fender a bowl of water. We’ve learned that dogs are generally very welcome in Palm Springs.

The Rosearita. Photo by Todd Montgomery

We could not have had a more perfect day and of course we ended it at Azure Sky, which truly is over the top and quickly became our home away from home. We will be back — and so will Fender who loved Azure Sky as much as we did!

Is your daily life starting to wear you down? Are you experiencing symptoms of undue stress — constant worrying, sleepless nights, feelings of anxiety? Or, maybe you’re just looking for a change of scene.

It may be time for a true getaway, and Palm Springs is your perfect destination. Not only is the weather beautiful, but there are lots of “get-away-from-it-all” activities and a plethora of charming, peaceful boutique hotels in the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels group that provide the ideal places to relax and regroup.

Here are some tips that may help you plan a real getaway in Palm Springs:

First, decide if you are going to get away alone or with another person, like a partner or friend. Sometimes another person can just add to your stress or distract you from focusing on relaxation — in that case, a solo getaway may be your best option. On the other hand, a traveling companion may enhance your getaway experience. It all depends on the person and what you are seeking in a getaway.

 The inviting pool at Azure Sky. Photo courtesy of Azure Sky

If you do decide to visit Palm Springs with someone else, make sure that the two of you either have similar ideas for your trip or that the other person respects your desire to experience a true getaway. If you just want to relax at your hotel and lounge around the pool, and your companion wants to hop around to museums and entertainment venues, then you need to respect each other’s wishes. You don’t have to do everything together. 

Set your getaway goals before you arrive in Palm Springs — do your research and make a list of activities that interest you, keeping in mind that trying something new is a wonderful way to get away from your daily routine. Consider going to  a spa or booking a massage, or how about that long-overdue pedicure? But please don’t over-plan. Doing too much in one day can be stressful. Allow plenty of time for naps! 

A bedroom at Sparrows Lodge. Photo courtesy of Sparrows Lodge

Choose a hotel that meets your relaxation goals. I have probably stayed at about 10 PSPSH boutique hotels in Palm Springs and I must say that they were all wonderful places to relax, but some are busier than others. They all have a relatively small number of rooms, so you will not be inundated by the distractions of lots of other guests. Many of these hotels are for adults only, and this is important if you don’t want cute but noisy little kids jumping over your lounge chair while you’re trying to lose yourself in a good book or take a serene snooze. Do you want a vibrant music scene around the pool or a more soothing atmosphere? Read the hotel reviews or call and ask about the atmosphere.

Consider a getaway where you can escape technology and the media for awhile. Several PSPSH hotels have no televisions or in-room phones, such as Azure Sky, Sparrows Lodge, and Korakia Pensione. (But of course, even if you stay in a hotel with a TV, you don’t have to turn it on.) You can also put your mobile phone and laptop away for a few days and just enjoy the sun, the sky, the pool, and a few friendly exchanges with other hotel guests. Be sure to bring some good books for relaxed reading.

The Artist Studio at Korakia Pensione. Photo courtesy of Korakia Pensione

Think about keeping a daily journal. Jot down random thoughts that come into your head. Record goals for maintaining a stress-free life when you return home. Or write about the many positive aspects of your life, and what you appreciate right now. Don’t focus on your problems — focus on what is good.

Meditation and mindful exercise or stretching routines like yoga can also be helpful in finding tranquility. Maybe you can start each day with a meditation on what you love about your life and how you hope to find peace in the future. There are also many wonderful hiking options in the Palm Springs area. Investigate those ahead of time and perhaps plan to take a daily walk or hike. There is nothing like nature to soothe your soul.

A hike in Indian Canyon is always a good idea. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

During your getaway, emphasize healthy eating and keeping alcohol to a minimum. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and fiber, which contribute to a healthy digestive system. A glass of wine occasionally is fine, but don’t overdo the cocktails. Many PSPSH hotels have small kitchens in their rooms so you can bring these healthy foods with you. Or you can order out from local restaurants if you don’t want to leave the hotel. 

Plan to stay long enough to really decompress. A week’s stay is ideal if possible.

I guarantee if you follow some or all of these suggestions you will leave refreshed and ready to embark on your daily challenges with renewed vigor. Remember the three Rs — relax, renew, refresh. Savor every moment.

From the boldly chic Cheetah Hotel to the artsy Fleur Noire, visitors to Palm Springs now have even more options for boutique hotels.

“We are delighted to welcome these new hotels and their owners to Palm Springs,” Michael Green, owner of the Triangle Inn and chair of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, said. “They bring such creative vision and energy. And now visitors will have even more fabulous places to stay.” 

A room at the Tiki Hotel. Photo courtesy of Tiki Hotel

Husband and wife team Tracy Turco and Jerry Turco have revamped and renewed three mid-century modern Palm Springs properties, all within a few blocks of each other. Their first project, the 8-room Art Hotel at 1339 N. Indian Canyon Dr., is vibrant and colorful, with the works of local artists on display across the grounds and a large outdoor mural by Damon Johnson greeting guests. Next, they transformed the former Carlton Hotel at 1333 N. Indian Canyon Dr. into the 11-room Tiki Hotel, a Polynesian paradise with ukuleles in every suite and a gift shop with necessities for every Palm Springs vacation. 

A Cheetah Hotel bedroom. Photo courtesy of The Cheetah Hotel.

Their latest property is the 12-room Cheetah Hotel at 354 E. Stevens Rd., featuring a black and yellow color scheme and cheetah icons designed by Tracy (she picks out or creates all of the wallpaper, linens, and furniture for the Turco hotels). All of the rooms are just steps away from the courtyard pool and separate spa, and $10 from each booking goes to the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

“What I love most about Palm Springs is nature’s beauty,” Tracy said. “I love the sunsets, love the mountains with the palm trees, and all of the fruited trees.” While walking around town, Tracy loves to stop and take in the “gorgeous flowers in full bloom all year round,” she added. “The beautiful bougainvillea makes it like you’re living in technicolor. It’s just magical.”

A room at the Descanso Resort. Photo courtesy of Descanso Resort.

At the new Descanso Resort, it’s all about that indoor/outdoor living. This men’s resort, formerly the East Canyon Resort & Spa, is the brother property to the Santiago, and provides the same luxe accommodations. Located at 288 E. Camino Monte Vista, the hotel underwent a total transformation, with all guest rooms and areas undergoing renovations. The rooms are equipped with new furniture, high-end linens and bedding, and Gilchrest & Soames luxury bath products. The pampering starts as soon as guests arrive — at check in, a snack bag is provided, and complimentary food and beverages are available in the cantina; a continental breakfast and poolside lunch is also offered. The private grounds feature native plants, a heated pool and spa, day beds, and a garden shower.

A beautiful mural at Fleure Noire. Photo courtesy of Fleur Noire

The Fleur Noire at 1555 N. Indian Canyon Dr. offers an eclectic mix of 21 casitas, bungalows, and suites, each one with its own distinct design — and a refrigerator that is stocked daily with complimentary water. There are stunning floral wall murals by artist Louise Jones (a.k.a. Ouize) on display across the property, and guests can lounge by the heated pool and multiple fire pits or in the club house, which has a communal pantry and working and dining areas. La Boisson, a speakeasy champagne and rosé bar, is opening later this spring.

An Azure Sky bedroom. Photo courtesy of Azure Sky

Azure Sky, a 14-room luxury hotel at 1661 S. Calle Palo Fierro, is set to open in the early spring, and is already causing a stir. Originally built in 1959, new owners Acme Hospitality and Eastern Real Estate have lovingly restored the property, bringing in vintage lighting and custom woodwork to dazzle guests. Most of the rooms have private patios with hammocks and kitchenettes, with built-in beds, stone tile flooring, and mid-century modern inspired design accents. The lounge boasts a premium cocktail bar, and outside, there’s a sparkling pool, fire pits, two courtyards, and a large hot tub that can hold up to 25 people. 

Whether it’s for a weekend getaway, a romantic retreat, or a long much-needed workcation that’s not too far from home, there’s a small boutique hotel waiting for you in Palm Springs with just the vibe you crave.

About Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels

Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels is an association 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. Subscribe to our Monthly e-Newsletter, Boutiquely Palm Springs. From tips on what to do, see and eat in Palm Springs, to interviews with hoteliers, it’s the insider’s guide to everything great about Palm Springs and its iconic boutique hotels. Follow the fun on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

If you’re obsessed with going behind the scenes, look no further! We’ve created a series of insider videos that take you behind the gates and into the mindset of Palm Springs’ savviest hoteliers. From high-end retreats to budget-friendly getaways, you’ll discover how each boutique hotel has a distinctly different vibe.

   

  • Discover the lush grounds of Azure Sky hotel in Palm Springs. Owner Henry Courtemanche shares his vision for this freshly remodeled mid-century modern hotel and luxurious pool in the Deep Well neighborhood.
  • Visit Dive Palm Springs with Operations Manager and Events Coordinator Steven Janji. Explore this charming retro French Riviera inspired hotel and discover all of the amenities that will help you to disconnect from your busy world.
  • This classic (and surprisingly affordable) bohemian/mid-century styled hotel, the Inn at Palm Springs, is located near the Uptown Design District in Palm Springs.

A new video is released every few weeks, so be sure to follow us on You Tube for notifications.

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.