Posts

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

Twin Palms Resort is Palm Springs’ newest kid on the block. 

An upscale boutique hotel, Twin Palms is a brother property to the Santiago and Descanso. This trio of remarkable resorts offer gay men a gorgeous selection of naturally chic, swimsuit-optional retreats right in the heart of Palm Springs, and having now experienced all three properties myself, I can happily say “the third time’s a charm” with Twin Palms Resort.

Welcome to Twin Palms Resort. Photo by Gregory Douglass

Santiago was my first experience at a men’s resort in Palm Springs, back in 2018. As a 40-year-old gay man living in Los Angeles at the time, I’d never felt such freedom and restoration from a long weekend away from my big-city life. It was a game-changing experience for me.

I was curious how the other men-only resorts here in the Coachella Valley compared to the distinguishable Santiago experience. “How different can they all be?” I wondered. Having now experienced the majority of gay hotels here, it’s a privilege to be writing about what a spectrum of enticing options we have — each with its own flavor, vibe, and healing benefits.

The modern clubhouse. Photo courtesy of Twin Palms Resort

Twin Palms Resort is no different from its brother properties when it comes to top-notch luxury and leisure. The “casually extravagant” experience is what many have come to expect from a Resorts Palm Springs property, and yet Twin Palms already has a distinct personality of its own. Santiago has a modern Spanish aesthetic, while Descanso boasts a “California garden patio” motif. Twin Palms is the first to celebrate a true mid-century modern concept inside and out.

Nested in Palm Springs’ first modernist neighborhood, Twin Palms Estates, the resort looks as timeless as it does fresh in style, with its pops of yellows, blues, and greens. These colors accent that classic, clean white modernism style that makes Palm Springs architecture so iconic. It might even rival the hotel’s historic start — opened in 1959 as the Brentwood Apartments, the property was originally developed to blend in with the neighborhood’s 90 modernist tract homes, designed by one of the founding fathers of Palm Springs modernism, William Krisel.

Hotel guests can use these bikes to tool around town. Photo courtesy of Twin Palms Resort

What really makes Twin Palms Resort unique is its communal layout. The perfectly heated saltwater swimming pool acts as a centerpiece to its 20 single-story guest rooms, yellow umbrellas, and chaise lounges that all wrap around the pool like a rainbow. The 12-man spa is just as welcoming as the luxurious patio space, which faces a breathtaking view of the San Jacinto Mountains.

You have to love those mountain views. Photo courtesy of Twin Palms Resort

Like Santiago and Descanso, the Twin Palms experience also includes a hip clubhouse guest lounge, a communal fire pit, an outdoor mist cooling system, a 24-hour canteen with complimentary beverages, a daily complimentary continental breakfast, and complimentary poolside lunch.

You can expect the same level of guest service as well from Twin Palms’ friendly staff, and in-room welcome amenities too. Some highlights include beautiful modern gay artwork, a resort texting hotline for direct communication with the staff, lamps with charging stations, luxurious heavy-weight bathrobes, some fun “adult goodies” in the drawer of each bedside table, and even a personalized welcome note upon your arrival.

A plush king room at Twin Palms. Photo courtesy of Twin Palms Resort

In addition to an outdoor shower and pool bathroom communal showers, every room features grand marble bathrooms with spacious walk-in glass showers, sporting both rain and handheld shower heads – lending even more community appeal to the place.

The outdoor shower is one perk of staying at Twin Palms. Photo by Gregory Douglass

Twin Palms Resort is also as earth-friendly as it is gay-friendly, offering off-street guest parking with four electric vehicle chargers, sustainable bath products from Public Goods, and even bicycles you can borrow to explore the neighborhood.

It’s easy enough to retreat from the community as well. Every room features remote lighting and window shades, as well as private rear patios. Even the mini-fridge is tucked away in the bathroom vanity, which I thought was a clever decision.

The author enjoying his room at the Twin Palms. Photo by Gregory Douglass

What makes the communal aspect of Twin Palms Resort so special is its potential for new friends and new connections to be made. In an environment somehow as nonchalant as it is enveloping, it was seamless to connect with fellow guests and then naturally go our separate ways. 

I’ve learned that every resort has a “scene” of its own. Time will tell what the Twin Palms scene is — but the stage is set for all sorts of possibilities. I suspect it will help spark a long line of lasting friendships that will all begin at the charming little gay hotel in Twin Palms Estates.

Unwind in the resort’s pool and spa. Photo courtesy of Twin Palms Resort

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 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.”