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Missed Part 1? Read it here.

Welcome to summer in Palm Springs! This is long — lots to share! — so without further ado, the smaller resorts with restaurants:

Night falls on Arrive Palm Springs. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Arrive Palm Springs — This resort is built to be social, and the poolside restaurant serves snacks and libations including “Poptails” — icy alcoholic popsicles. They used to have another restaurant, but sadly, the local favorite for lunch closed. However, you’ll barely notice the temps when you walk a few storefronts away to the hotel’s coffee shop, Cartel Coffee Lab, and ice cream parlor, Ice Cream & Shop(pe). Just a titch further is 1501 Gastropub by local restaurateurs Chad Gardner and Willie Rhine. Directly across the street from the resort is Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey Bar, which is as trendy as it sounds.

The view from above Fleur Noire. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Fleur Noire Hotel — Initially called Burket’s Trade Winds Hotel, the new owners have reimagined the 1940s hotel and brought its original (heated) pool back to life. Surrounded by lush desert landscaping, the Spanish-style property has 21 casitas, studios, and standard rooms — all eclectic and all designed by Chris Pardo and wallpaper designer Ellie Cashman.

The clubhouse is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a communal pantry, lounge seating, and working and dining areas. They don’t actually have a restaurant, but Rick’s Desert Grill is its next door neighbor. They do, however, have a rosé and champagne speakeasy called La Boisson that will also bring your chilled libation poolside. You can literally have rosé all day.

Welcome to Holiday House. Photo credit: Holiday House

Holiday House — Smack in the middle of downtown and just a bit west of Palm Canyon is Holiday House. This is the sister property of Sparrows Lodge, which is located on the south end of Palm Springs.

Named one of Travel + Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels of 2022, Holiday House is a 21+ property. Please note there are no TVs in the rooms, but honestly, you can do that at home. Your time is best spent poolside, in a very swimmable pool.

The 28-room hipster hideaway has a little restaurant called The Pantry. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner is from 5 to 9 p.m., and they’ve even got a poolside menu. There aren’t a lot of choices for dinner, but what they do have is pretty scrumptious, which means they’re pretty busy. Locals try to go, but you guys generally have eaten all that deliciousness by the time we get there.

L’Horizon’s cabanas. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

L’Horizon Palm Springs — Originally designed in 1952 by William F. Cody as a retreat for television producer and oil tycoon Jack Wrather and his actress wife, Bonita “Bunny” Granville (yeah, no idea either), L’Horizon has been restored to its original grandeur and is 100 percent squee-worthy.

Located on three acres, the 21+ resort has 25 private bungalows, and the original 2,000 square foot home is available for bookings as well. The living room and yard of the house have unobstructed views of the mountains, and there is a sunken seating area, wood-burning fireplace, dining room, wet bar, kitchen, marble bathrooms with rainforest showers, and an outdoor shower.

When you’re done lazing by the pool, The Spa offers massages, body treatments, facials, and add-ons like peppermint foot therapy and wild lime scalp treatments. Once you’re fully relaxed, stop by Le Shop, a boutique featuring Naturopathica’s skin care and body products, resort wear, swimsuits, jewelry, sunglasses, and home accessories.

And…drumroll…L’Horizon also has a gourmet restaurant called SO•PA that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (feel free to order poolside as well). Dramatic, refined, and intimate, SO•PA offers a unique alfresco dining experience, and is on everyone in Palm Springs’ bucket list for dining.

The patio at El Mirasol at Los Arboles. Photo credit: Los Arboles Hotel

Los Arboles — The Casteñada family would like to welcome you to their 21-room “home” featuring a rooftop deck, a courtyard pool, hot tub, and home cooked authentic Mexican meals at El Mirasol at Los Arboles. 

I am not kidding you about the authentic food. Mama Casteñeda oversees the kitchen, and all of the dishes are from her recipe box (the box actually lived in her head, and she had no need to write them down until she opened a restaurant).

The restaurant is in a courtyard, and is a local favorite. They also have a sister location on the south end of town, the original El Mirasol. Pair the jalapeño margarita with any dish and you’ll be a very happy camper.

Pull up a chair at Sparrows Lodge. Photo credit: Sparrows Lodge

Sparrows Lodge — The bohemian sister resort to Holiday House also has zero TVs, but man do they have a great swimmable pool and misters all throughout the courtyard. The interiors have a modernist, beachy, farmhouse feel to them. If I’m any indication, you’ll feel a sense of serenity the moment you enter.

Their restaurant is called The Barn and like The Pantry at Holiday House, it’s on everyone’s bucket list. I cannot stress to you enough that you need a reservation, and generally well in advance. Executive Chef Sebastian Lowrey and Sous Chef Daniella Lara have created some wonderful offerings for lunch and dinner, and everyone wants in.

One of Villa Royale’s sparkling pools. Photo credit: Villa Royale

Villa Royale — Gorgeous old bones have been renovated to an even more glorious and contemporary retreat, well off the beaten path in the Deepwell neighborhood. The 21+, 38-suite property has three pools, mountain views, and folks, it is pet-friendly.

With over 50 original pieces of artwork on site, it’s like being immersed in a museum. All of the work was commissioned exclusively for the resort, and artists Sara Radovanovich, Lou Kregal, and Juan Casas lived at the Villa Royale while creating their oil paintings, which feature everything from pop culture icons to desert scenes.

Focusing on Spanish and Mediterranean flavors and led by Chef Louis Martinez, the Del Rey is Villa Royale’s small-plate restaurant. It boasts a beautiful 12-seat oak and marble bar, as well as booths and an outdoor patio with firepit. The cocktail menu is very creative — drink ingredients include black tea ice cubes, saffron syrup, and olive oil — so  get ready to imbibe. 

Coming next Tuesday: resorts with breakfast and lunch served on premise for guests only. Not a local in sight.

The spirit of optimism is alive and well in Palm Springs. 

“While the sunshine, heated pools, and stellar attractions make the city a destination for people looking for relaxation and adventure alike, the pandemic has changed Palm Springs’ visitor profile considerably,” Michael Green, chair of the Desert Gay Tourism Guild and Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, said. “Visitors from Europe are not coming as frequently as in previous years, and Canadians, who typically help boost the Coachella Valley’s economy, didn’t start returning until November.”

That said, the number of visitors overall exceed those of pre-covid days, and since June 2020, the vast majority of travelers have been domestic. Let’s dive into the reasons why.

Beautiful flowers in bloom. Photo credit: Kathy Condon

Feeling Safe on the Road

With the pandemic ongoing, many people feel safer planning a road trip with their family instead of getting on an airplane or cruise ship. San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix are no more than a 3.5-hour road trip away from Palm Springs, and even people from the San Francisco Bay Area can drive here within a day. For those in the northwest, they can turn Palm Springs into a road trip destination, making leisurely stops to see sights along the way. Road trippers not only pack their comfort items, but pets are welcome in Palm Springs, so Fifi and Brutus can come along for the ride, too.

Art at the Palm Springs International Airport. Photo credit: Kathy Condon

Direct Flights to Palm Springs

For travelers who do choose to fly, the Palm Springs International Airport is easy to navigate, just five minutes from downtown Palm Springs, and welcomes direct flights from many U.S. cities. Major airlines are always adding direct routes to Palm Springs, and new carriers are building the city into their business plans. According to Daniel Meier, Palm Springs International Airport’s deputy director of aviation, marketing, and air service, arrivals are up nearly 25 percent at the airport. 

Professional Mobility

When people first couldn’t go into the office to work, they came up with innovative ways to get their jobs done. Zoom allowed them to connect with colleagues and customers from anywhere with WiFi, and Palm Springs became a choice workcation destination. “With the ability to work remotely, we noticed a trend that people were taking advantage of the opportunity to stay longer,” Joyce Kiehl, director of communications for Visit Greater Palm Springs, said.

A Change of Residence

Palm Springs was one of the epicenters of the 2021 summer real estate boom, as harsh northeastern winters and being stuck inside brought to mind visions of sitting under a palm tree near the pool, conducting business meetings on Zoom. Robert Hunt, manager of Alcazar Palm Springs, said he has noticed that “many of our guests are staying here while looking for property.” Bob Deck, an agent with Town Real Estate, has found that people interested in buying homes in Palm Springs are “tired of the traffic in the bigger cities. They are looking for ways to take their commute time and turn it into family time.” 

A couple explores Palm Springs by bike. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

What Does the Data Show?

Things are looking up in Palm Springs, with hoteliers and retailers seeing a 23 to 25 percent increase in business in November, compared to the same month a year earlier. Jeff Witthuhn, owner of downtown gift shop Peepa’s, said he’s seeing “many more customers are coming from the East Coast,” while Kim Galland, owner of the women’s accessory store Kimbals, attributes her growth to previous customers who are delighted to be out in the world shopping.

In October, the city reported that transit occupancy tax collection increased almost 45 percent over 2020. Randy Garner, marketing manager for the Palm Springs Board of Tourism, noted that most events and conferences were canceled in the fall and winter of 2020, and the recent success of the 2021 Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade illustrates people are ready to get out there and enjoy the many aspects of our welcoming community, including new public art and restaurants.

Inside Gigi’s Restaurant. Photo credit: Kathy Condon

Thriving is a word that best describes Palm Springs. Remodeling of stores, the upgrading and restoration of our hotels, and additional direct flights are making our ever-changing desert community a destination that encourages visitors to come back again and again. What are you waiting for? Make a reservation through Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels to see this fabulous city for yourself.

?We’re having a heatwave. A tropical heatwave. The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising, we’re having a heatwave.?— Irving Berlin

Factoring in heat and humidity, Palm Springs is like…everywhere else in the world right now: hot and muggy. But we’re still Palm Springs — relaxed and groovy, a respite from traffic congestion, smog, and overworked, underpaid, crabby people. The sky remains blue, the stars continue to show off in the night sky, and as long as there is A/C (and there is) and a pool (so many pools), it remains paradise.

Splash House. Photo by Jose Negrete, courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Many of the small boutique hotels are having specials, which is great because this month, for two weekends, Palm Springs hosts Splash House (August 12-14 and August 19-21), the DJ equivalent of the Coachella Music Festival minus the dust, grime, and the conundrum of how to get to the venue without sitting in traffic for hours and hours. And then there’s the parking. Oy!

As the name Splash House indicates, the parties are held mostly in and around the pool, but at night, after parties are held at Palm Springs Air Museum — a very cool venue. You should check it out during the daytime, too. There’s lots of flying memorabilia, including old planes, and you can actually book a joy ride on a warbird.

You’ll still want to ride share to these events in case you’d like to partake in alcohol or cannabis, because safety first. Plus, no parking hassles. (Check out this article for info on Palm Springs’ cannabis stores.)

Splash House is held at three large resorts, but you don’t have to stay in them. In fact, I would suggest that you enjoy the best of two worlds — a boutique hotel for quiet times and tranquil moments, and a big-ass party at the large resorts during the day.

So, check out the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel specials here, and find your bliss for a little less wear-and-tear on the bank account. Because the boutique hotels have fewer rooms than the big boys, you’re not just a random face or room number. Many people develop lifelong friendships with hoteliers and other guests, and they meet up  year after year.

The tram on its way to cooler temperatures. Photo courtesy of Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

If you’re skipping the big pool parties, and opting just for the night events, there’s still plenty to do (keep reading). Everything is inside (please don’t hike) with the exception of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which is both inside and outside. And it is 30 to 40 degrees cooler at the top. Definitely worth the price of the ticket.

Splash House also isn’t the only music you’ll find this month. There’s Turn My Music Up Fest August 5, 6, and 7. Again, I’d encourage you to look at your options for small boutique hotels, not only because they each have their own personality, but because most are locally owned and operated, so you’re contributing to the welfare of the city itself.

Here’s all the rest of the action:

Thursdays: Street Fair and free admission to Palm Springs Art Museum, 5 to 7 p.m. The Art Museum has a bunch of programs, too, including a free Sunday on August 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. Check the link above for movies and more events.

Marilyn at the Downtown Park. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

August 17: Movies in the Park — Across from the Art Museum and next to Marilyn. This month they’re showing Some Like It Hot. It’s free and starts just after sundown (around 8 p.m.).

PS Underground — Expect the unexpected at this terrific dinner “theater.” Food and entertainment are exceptional and both are wildly creative. Dates and prices on the website. Some upcoming offerings include:

Gospel — Sunday brunch

Liquid Grooves — whatever that sounds like to you. Just know it will be scads of fun.

Ovation — Sunday brunch

Sound of Music singalong

PS Cultural Center

August 9 and 23: CV Philharmonic Society Chamber Series 

August 25: Bad Movie Bashing — In honor of National Bee Month: The Bees (1978). Described as “a giant creature feature of minuscule proportions that sees the late, great John Saxon fighting against a deadly swarm of killer bees that have invaded the United States, all in the name of honey and vengeance!”

August 5: MasterPiece Mash Up by artist and filmmaker Tyson Knight, featuring an exhibition of his art and his documentary about the homeless. Knight is a fascinating artist who has done many murals here in Palm Springs, and is an all-around cool dude.

Weekly live music: Sundays — Keisha D; Mondays — Mon Petit Salon (look into it); Tuesdays: Leanna + Jazz Collective; Saturdays: Farmers’ Market.

The Cultural Center is also home to Camelot Theaters, which plays new releases, indie films, and LGTQ+ films. In August, their series Palm Springs Unwinds focuses on Wes Anderson:

August 6: Rushmore

August 13: The Royal Tenenbaums

August 20: Moonrise Kingdom

August 27: The Grand Budapest Hotel

DJ Mod Girl — One of the best local DJs around. She’s so much fun, and ramps up the party by her presence alone — this girl gets down, people. You’ll be up and dancing in a nano.

The Alibi is back!  They’re adding dates and seeking out cool indie bands for their calendar, so keep checking. So far:

August 4: Thursday Throwdown — no info available at this time, check link above.

August 7: Rostam with Sam Buck — Rostam is a founding member of Vampire Weekend. This concert will run from 8 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. Swear to Cher that’s what it says on the website.

August 15: The Soul Rebels

August 18: Syence (pronounced Science)

New place alert! Pretty Faces Nightclub at Hotel Zoso. Open Thursday through (and including) Saturday, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Heist Escape Room. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Palm Springs Escape Room — If you haven’t been to an escape room, this is a great time to try it. I went here for my birthday a few years ago and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. If you’re a fan of puzzles, or get your adrenalines from beating the clock, this is for you. BTW, it’s privately owned, not part of any other escape room, so it’s another way to support local businesses.

420 Bank and Lounge has old-timey games like Operation (which is a riot when you’re stoned) as well as a life-size chess set, pinball, and billiards. You can also purchase cannabis and consume it in the lounge. There are some very fun and Instagram-worthy shots to be had here. You’ll need to check their calendar, as they often have bands and comedians onstage. These lounges are popping up all over the valley, and are the cannabis equivalent to a bar.

Oscar’s. Courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Oscar’s

August 4: Eve Holmes puts on a great show featuring standards, jazz, Latin, dance, country, and Broadway.

August 5: Gennine Francis performing R&B, pop, soul, jazz, standards, and more.

August 11 and 25: Hotwyre provides danceable rock.

August 24 and 31: Mark and Tony Show — no cover, live taping of the TV show every Wednesday.

Saturdays: Bitchiest Brunch, Mimosa Men, and Oscar’s Cabaret

Cascade Lounge (inside Agua Caliente Casino in downtown Palm Springs)

Mondays: Mimosas, Martinis & Music with Don Wardell

Wednesdays: Desert Blues Revival

Fridays: Caliente Comedy

Thursdays: Jazzville

Sundays: Latin Nights

On Arenas Road:

Hunter’s is open daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

August 4: National IPA Day

August 16: National Rum Day

August 18: National Pinot Noir Day

August 28: National Red Wine Day

Where’s the love for an old vine Zinfandel?

Streetbar — the oldest gay bar in Palm Springs (that’s years open, not the required age of patrons). There’s karaoke, a smoking patio, extended Happy Hour, daily top shelf specials. Streetbar is a desert tradition since 1991.

Chill Bar

August 6: Dirty Disco Takeover with Matt Consola

August 6: Varsity – Boy’s Night Out

Small businesses suffered during the pandemic, and I’m sorry to report Dead or Alive, one of my favorite little beer and wine spots, as well as Desert Rose Playhouse, one of my favorite theaters, have closed. Dead or Alive is permanently deceased, but we’re holding out hope someone will resurrect Desert Rose. It was the only LGBTQ+ theater in the Coachella Valley.

So please stay and shop local, hydrate more than you think is necessary and then drink some more, wear sunscreen, and don’t be surprised if someone says hello to you on the street. That would be a local. We’re friendly like that.

I’ll be back in September — hope you will, too!

Missed Parts 1 and 2? Read them here and here.

Now, we’re delving into boutique hotels that have food and beverages available for guests only — but I’ve also got a few surprises tucked in here as well. 

With these resorts, breakfasts are almost always included, and the afternoons have other delectable amenities. It’s all about shutting out the rest of the world. These hotels really do provide everything you’ve ever wanted in a luxurious getaway — and more.

The beautiful grounds at Dive. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Dive — This funky and stylish 21+, 11-room resort is a visit to the south of France (on the southern end of Palm Springs). Be on the look out for their neon 1940s, bathing suit-clad young lady in mid-dive, and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

That diving lady is one of the Lulus, and there are two more behind the stucco privacy walls that hide the soul-quenching slice of Saint Tropez waiting inside. The grounds are nook-filled, with a historic and very swimmable pool, and each room is a work of art. The place is truly unique.

When you’re ready for food, you can either pop by and place an order at the window, or text them from your phone and someone will bring it to you, because you’re on vacation and you’re posh. I can’t wait to tell you all about Dive, which I will do soon. Just know that you are going to lose your ish over it. Seriously.

The Marley’s spacious pool. Photo courtesy of The Marley

The Marley — Bring your besties, because this nine bedroom, nine bath property only books one group at a time (it can accommodate up to 22 guests!).

There is a gorgeous Viking catering kitchen so you can hire a chef and not have to worry about a meal. There is also a spacious pool and a fire pit. It’s the perfect place for a bachelorette weekend, a milestone birthday, a corporate workshop, or a yoga retreat. How about a college reunion with your old chums?

This place is equal parts sassy and dreamy. I encourage you to check out the photos on their website — I had trouble trying to figure out what part of it to show you!

Poolside at The Willows. Photo courtesy of The Willows

The Willows Historic Palm Springs Innn — I used to deliver rack cards for the Purple Room to this eight room resort, and I was never allowed past the gate, that’s how exclusive it is. It has a delightful history — this boutique hotel was once an old mansion, and Albert Einstein had a favorite bench here.

Guests are served a three-course gourmet breakfast in front of a 50-foot waterfall, and in the afternoon, wine and hors d’oeuvres are served in the lounge. Fresh fruit is available all day, and guests not wanting to leave for lunch or dinner can order room service from Le Vallauris, the French restaurant across the street.

One of the pools at Korakia Pensione. Photo courtesy of Korakia Pensione

Korakia Pensione — Downtown, but tucked away from any distractions, is Korakia Pensione, described by The New York Times as “one of the sexiest hotels in America.” 

Korakia is housed in two lovingly restored historic villas, and rests on 1.5 lush acres. There are bungalows, guesthouses, gardens, and pools. It positions itself as more of a retreat than a resort, although it’s not lacking in amenities. Expect a full breakfast, lunch options by the pool or in your room, yoga, meditation and afternoon Moroccan tea. They even have a bazaar for shopping (guests only). 

Truly an escape from the rest of the world.

The Orbit In at dusk. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Orbit In — One of the cutest retro hotels around, even the staff gets into the ’60s vibe. Breakfast consists of gourmet yogurts and granola, there are pool snacks at lunch time, and Orbitinis are served during the cocktail hour. Nice pool, nice people, on a quiet street near Spencer’s (yum!).

The Santiago Resort’s pool and spa. Photo courtesy of The Santiago Resort

Men’s resorts

Santiago Resort — Gorgeous resort, with tropical plants and exotic flowers. Not only do they feed you breakfast and lunch, but there are spa services and a pool that is such perfection it’s nearly hard to describe.

Descanso Resort – Hipster hotel that’s as cool as you are. Breakfast and lunch are served at the resort, and massage services are available as well. You can read all about it here.

Hacienda at Warm Sands — It’s lush and tropical with a wonderful pool and spa. Breakfast is continental and lunches are ordered in: salads and sandwiches. You can read more here.

INNdulge — One of the larger resorts, it has a magnificent pool, and amenities include daily continental breakfast and evening social hour. The owner is a huge art fan, and there are fun and funky pieces throughout the property. More info here.

Triangle Inn – Built in the 1960s as The Impala Lodge, Triangle Inn has a help yourself continental breakfast, and on special occasions you can find Michael (one of the owners) outside cooking up a southern feast. This is the only resort I am mentioning that has kitchens/kitchenettes because they have a houseman that does your dishes for you. You get all of the fun of cooking, but none of the drudgery of cleanup.

Many of our resorts have full kitchens and kitchenettes but that’s not what this is about. This is about you doing nothing. And loving every second of it.

Of course, you can turn any hotel into a restaurant by using Postmates, UberEats, or Grubhub, but there’s comfort in knowing there is delicious sustenance readily available should you experience a food or drink 911.

Joking aside, it’s a very serious world right now, and I think we all need to take a break from the news and regroup. These small resorts offer unforgettable experiences, and each one strives to make their property uniquely their own. All are wildly different, but one thing they have in common is unparalleled hospitality — and you deserve a pampered and luxurious getaway.

Palm Springs in the summer is a bit of a scorcher, and because some people are extra precious, there are deals to be had. I encourage you to check those out.

As we say in Palm Springs, stay cool by the pool! No, we don’t say that. Not out loud. That would be a little cringe. We just go ahead and do it without talking about it because it’s a great way to beat the heat.

Not gonna lie, the A/C is super helpful, too.

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.