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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!

The Hacienda at Warm Sands is a gay resort for men-only that invites every guest to “Enter Quiet Luxury.” That’s exactly what I got to experience upon my arrival, from the moment I was greeted at the front entrance by The Hacienda’s devoted staff. In fact, there was no checking in at any front desk. I was immediately accompanied to my spacious private suite, then given a fresh Arnold Palmer and tour of the beautiful, peaceful grounds The Hacienda has come to be appreciated for by its faithful repeat guests.

Total relaxation awaits at The Hacienda at Warm Sands. Photo by Gregory Douglass

The Hacienda at Warm Sands has been a staple in the Palm Springs gay resort community since the 1970s. It’s draped in lush foliage, Southwestern plantings, Saltillo-tiled patios and walkways, and breathtaking vistas of the San Jacinto Mountains. It’s an intimate resort that features only 10 luxurious private suites, each equipped with its own dedicated WiFi as well.

There are two large swimming pools men can enjoy day and night, as well as a jetted in-ground spa and adjacent fireplace. Each pool area is surrounded with cush, ultra-comfy chaise lounges that even sport their own fitted towels to lounge on.

The Hacienda at Warm Sands is a swimsuit-optional resort, which is different from a clothing-optional resort. Guests are welcome to wear their clothing (or not) in their suite, in the pools, or on the grounds, but it’s appropriate to be clothed while walking throughout the grounds. This is what differentiates The Hacienda the most from other gay, men-only resorts here in Palm Springs, in my opinion. It’s a place for relaxation more than it is a place for recreation.

Spa time at The Hacienda at Warm Sands. Photo by Gregory Douglass

Another Hacienda motto is “Expect the Uncommon.” My expectations were surpassed when the house manager offered me some vintage “welcome” documents from when The Hacienda at Warm Sands first opened and operated as Hacienda En Sueño (“The House of Reverie”) in the late ’70s. The documents were prepared on a typewriter, and provided a fascinating read and an uncommon glimpse into the covert nature of our LGBTQ+ past here in Palm Springs.

Back then, there was no mention of male guests. It was simply described as a “unique and secluded” special oasis that is a “carefully guarded” and “meticulously groomed retreat.” The hotel used to be monitored by armed, uniformed police protecting the property at least four times each evening. While The Hacienda may no longer offer grocery deliveries and a selection of sun tan oils (ranging from 0-15 SSP), it still honors the same pampered philosophy of “intimate privacy and guest compatibility” that it has since the beginning.

The Hacienda En Sueño’s guests were usually by referral as they did not advertise in those days. They also described the resort as being “particularly attractive to the literate, sensitive, and well bred” — and that also still rings true today from what I observed.

During my stay, I witnessed several guests buried in a book, enjoying extended reading time by the pool. I didn’t experience much social time with my temporary neighbors beyond daily pleasantries like “Good morning.” People were quiet, independent, and very respectful of one another’s personal space and shared need for rest and relaxation.

There were plenty of perks to assist with the restoration process too, including a complete pillow menu in the suite bedroom and personalized pillows with guest names embroidered in them. In addition to the custom pillows, every note was personalized as well. The bedroom closet was equipped with a selection of bathrobes, slippers, and yoga mats, and the bathroom featured two showerheads (should you want some company). In the kitchen, there was a welcome basket with various treats and a binder with menus for a daily complimentary lunch (catered by Manhattan In The Desert).

Custom pillows are a fun touch. Photo by Gregory Douglass

The common area breezeway housed their daily complimentary breakfast selection as well as water coolers (hot, cold, and room temp), guest laundry access, and a daily calendar of local events featured on a bulletin board.

In the spirit of “expecting the uncommon,” there were also intriguing dog paws cemented in the tiles in various spots throughout the property. I asked the manager about them, and while there was no real story or deeper meaning behind the paws, it made for a fun scavenger hunt one afternoon.

What really defines the true Hacienda experience is their five-star hospitality services. I spoke with a manager named Victor and he described their approach as “striving to anticipate guests’ expectations.” They encourage feedback and take it seriously, and have more than 500 Tripadvisor reviews. 

Fun fact: the final episode of Logo TV’s Finding Prince Charming was filmed at The Hacienda at Warm Sands. And who knows — perhaps you’ll find Prince Charming during your next Hacienda stay!

The welcome basket provided to guests at The Hacienda at Warm Sands. Photo by Gregory Douglass

While on assignment for BBC News, Tayfun King was interviewing the owner of a boutique hotel in Buenos Aires when it hit him — he wanted to be the one running an inn.

As a travel reporter, Tayfun was immersed in the hospitality industry, crisscrossing the globe to learn more about the world’s most fabulous hotels. This wasn’t his original career choice — while studying mathematics and management at Cambridge University, he made a promise to himself: if he graduated with a first class honors degree, he would turn down the financial job offers he had received to follow his passion and become a professional Latin American dancer. Tayfun graduated with honors, and embarked on a dancing career, which led to him becoming a television journalist and host with the BBC, presenting programs on technology and travel.

“The travel show is where I developed my passion for boutique hotels,” Tayfun says. “I traveled to over 70 countries and 200 cities, and more than anything, staying at these amazing boutique hotels around the world stood out.”

Tayfun was fascinated by how these properties were able to forge their own identities, with each room connected despite their individual distinct themes. The owners he spoke with had “a passion that was coming through so clearly,” Tayfun says. “It was hard work for them, but they loved it and being able to express their creativity.”

In 2014, Tayfun launched a hospitality company in Los Angeles. He opened a property in Venice Beach, and then turned his attention east to Palm Springs. He was interested in a particular hotel for sale, but when his realtor showed him 641 E. San Lorenzo Road — the resort formerly known as Escape — Tayfun knew this was the place.

An aerial view of BelleVue Oasis

An aerial view of BelleVue Oasis. Courtesy of BelleVue Oasis

“I didn’t expect that,” Tayfun says. “I was there to have a matter-of-fact look around, but once I walked in and saw the entrance, I had an emotional reaction. The feeling you get when you’re there is so welcoming. It’s so natural, and there’s so much greenery with the grass, the trees, and the flowers. If I were coming to Palm Springs for a stay, I would love to stay here.”

A lot has changed at the mid-century modern property, starting with the name. Tayfun chose BelleVue Oasis because “belle vue” means “beautiful view” in French and “was what I was experiencing in the moment,” he says. The 13-room hotel has a new pool, pool deck, and interiors, plus recently installed turf and two putting greens. The mature palms and tropical landscaping are still in place, and guests rave about being able to enjoy the serene setting from their private patios.

“A common reaction is this is a hidden gem in Palm Springs — it’s beautiful, it’s lovely, it’s an oasis,” Tayfun says. “We have a high number of guests who keep returning to the property, and people who say their friends told them to stay here.”

Tayfun plans on developing a boutique hotel brand that will first grow in California before expanding, and is excited to get it started in Palm Springs. For him, it’s important that hotels tap into the history and true essence of the cities they are in, and he wants to make sure that people know as soon as they arrive at BelleVue Oasis that they are in Palm Springs.

“I love Palm Springs,” he says. “I love the energy, the people are friendly, it’s spread out, and it’s so well groomed.

From the time they book to the time they check out, Tayfun aims to make it so guests enjoy every part of the BelleVue Oasis experience. He wants them to look forward to their stay, building it up ahead of time and then having their expectations surpassed once they arrive, and to leave with lasting memories of their visit.

“It’s so fulfilling and exciting hearing what guests have to say,” Tayfun says. “That has been so rewarding and greater than what I thought it would be.”

BelleVue Oasis spa at night

Night falls on BelleVue Oasis. Courtesy of BelleVue Oasis

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.