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In need of a respite from daily life, we recently decided to visit Palm Springs with our dog, Fender. Not only did we want to stay at a dog-friendly hotel, but we were looking for a secluded setting with a nostalgic vibe, a wonderful pool for dipping and lounging, and a top-notch restaurant and bar. We found all this and more at Villa Royale, a beautiful hideaway — perfect for getting away in stylish comfort. 

Villa Royale, one of the first small hotels in Palm Springs, was built in 1947 with the Hollywood elite in mind. For many years, it was a sanctuary for celebrities who wanted to escape their hectic lives in Los Angeles, only two hours away. Several years ago, the hotel underwent a complete renovation, which fortunately retained the historic, mid-century charm of the original hotel. Today it is still an appealing popular retreat, not just for the rich and famous but for anyone seeking peace and tranquility in a lovely setting, highlighted by a stunning mountain backdrop.

In the cozy lobby, we checked in and were happy to be welcomed with a delightful cocktail. As we walked to our villa, we were thrilled to see not just one inviting pool surrounded by lounge chairs, but three. There are 38 villas at Villa Royale, each with its own unique mid-century modern character and design. We learned that the property has more than 50 pieces of original art commissioned for the hotel, with one in each room.

Our inviting room at the Villa Royale. Photo by Todd Montgomery

Our very nicely furnished room facing the serene pool was a haven for us and our dog, with a private landscaped back patio, luxurious bedding, and a wonderful walk-in shower. We were happy to learn that we could enjoy fresh coffee and a continental buffet in the morning. 

Welcome to the Del Rey. Photo by Todd Montgomery

In the evening, we were excited to be dining at Villa Royale’s upscale, popular restaurant, Del Rey, which specializes in tapas and small plates with a Spanish/Mediterranean flair. The menu is overseen by much celebrated Chef Louis Martinez. Since our dog was with us, we sat outside on the restaurant’s pleasant, inviting patio. It was a lovely but chilly night; however, we were warm and comfortable because of the very effective heating lamps strategically placed by our table. There was a wedding party dining nearby and, like us, they seemed happy and relaxed. We also checked out the inside of the restaurant which is romantic and intimate, with dim lighting and cozy tables. The restaurant features an inviting oak and marble bar where I would like to while away a few convivial hours someday. 

The inviting fireplace inside the Del Rey. Photo by Todd Montgomery

Del Rey offers a variety of enticing cocktails. We enjoyed a unique and surprisingly delicious Del Rey Martini made with touches of sherry, orange bitters, and olive oil (yes, olive oil). We also relished the El Ultimo cocktail made with strawberry tequila, absinthe, and orgeat syrup, served with lime and mint. In addition, Del Rey offers a full wine list, featuring Spanish wines. Fender was happy with his drink, too, when the helpful staff brought him a bowl of fresh water.

Then, in the Spanish tradition, we ordered a variety of tapas for our dinner. I love this kind of meal because you can sample small bites of a variety of dishes.  We really enjoyed the Basque asparagus, topped with romesco sauce and manchego, and also savored albondigas — beef and pork meatballs covered with a sweet and sour glaze. 

We loved the Chuleta de Cordero, rosemary and lemon marinated lamb chops, which were tender and full of flavor.  Another superb dish was a grilled flatbread called Pan Con Setas that was topped with mushrooms, manchego, red onion, and an herbed olive oil drizzle. For dessert, we savored the delectable walnut bread pudding. The friendly service at Del Rey was impeccable and added to the ambiance of the evening. Satiated, we sauntered back to our villa through the lushly landscaped courtyards with flowing fountains and pools that shimmered invitingly in the moonlight.

The delicious walnut bread pudding. Photo by Todd Montgomery

It was truly a special night and we felt very far away from our busy daily lives. It is surprising how relaxed you can become with just a night away in such a peaceful, glorious retreat. We may not be celebrities, but we felt like royalty at Villa Royale. 

The Villa Royale lights up at night. Photo by Todd Montgomery

The late 1940s and ’50s was the start of modernism in Palm Springs, but it wasn’t until 2006 that Modernism Week first cast its spell on the world. Since then, the number of people attending has risen each year, with 2023 bringing in over 100,000 visitors, creating a revenue stream of $55 million.

They have over 350 things to do, and this post will help you navigate the event, but I’m gonna tell you about some of our preferred small hotels that are on the Modernism Week bus tour. You can make the event an exceptionally authentic one by also booking one of these boutique hotels. And this year, one of them is actually featured as a Modernism Week event. 

A Palm Springs classic: Casa Cody

Casa Cody, the city’s oldest operating hotel, isn’t from the modernism era — it was built in the late 1910s — but the property has been well maintained and has a fantastic history. Harold and Harriet Cody left Hollywood and came to Palm Springs (by wagon) in 1916, as Harold’s frequent tribulations with pneumonia were worsening and the dry desert air was considered a health benefit for anyone with lung ailments. Harold was a Los Angeles architect, and purportedly the cousin of the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody. 

Initially, Casa Cody was just their home, but in 1920 Harriet hung up a hotelier’s shingle, and the rest is Palm Springs history. Some of their more famous guests included Charlie Chaplin, American opera singer Lawrence Tibbett, and AnaÏs Nin. Harriet is said to be a direct descendant of Sir Thomas Moore and from one of the wealthiest families in Philadelphia.

Today, Casa Cody has 31 guest rooms and private rooms, two swimming pools, a jacuzzi, a spa treatment room, and a marketplace, and you can see it all on Feb. 19, 2024, during the hotel’s special Modernism Week event. You’ll get to go on a behind-the-scenes tour and hang out poolside, with cocktails and brunch items available. All of this can be yours for the low, low price of $50.

Even when it’s not Modernism Week, Casa Cody has movies by the pool and art events available to guests. This party is a great opportunity to roam the grounds and check out all of that history!

That’s not all…

The other boutique hotels you’ll see on the Modernism Week bus tour are:

Korakia Pensione — Originally called Dar Marroc and styled after Tangier, Morocco, Korakia was built in 1924. It’s the former hideaway of Scottish painter Gordon Coutts, and the rumor is that Winston Churchill painted (not the walls, canvases) in the Artist’s Studio. Forbes Traveler named it one of their sexiest hotels in America.  

Ingleside Inn — Home of the popular Melvyn’s Restaurant and Lounge, this estate began as a private home built in 1924 for Ethel Richards Birge and sold to Ruth Hardy in 1935 (you may have heard of her park, located on Caballeros). Even if you don’t stay here, go for a cocktail at Melvyn’s to check it out. Très cool. 

The Orbit In's retro pool surrounded by loungers and vintage umbrellas

The Orbit In is a spectacular mid-century modern classic. Photo courtesy of Orbit In

Orbit In — Designed in 1948 by Herbert W. Burns, a builder and innkeeper behind a number of small inns and private homes in Palm Springs during the 1940s and ’50s. His Town and Desert Apartments live on as The Hideaway, one of the Orbit In’s two boutique hotels. From Orbit you can see Swiss architect Albert Frey’s masterpiece builds (Frey I & II) in the mountains above you. Burns designed many of the buildings on Baristo, just west of Belardo.

Movie Colony Hotel — This property was designed by Frey, who left his mark all over Palm Springs. Built in 1935, its original name was the San Jacinto Hotel, a three-unit townhouse. Currently, the Bauhaus-inspired property is a 17-room boutique hotel (they expanded, they did not cut up three townhouses to make 17 rooms). If you can, book Unit 29 — it is considered the least changed from Frey’s original design.

A pink flamingo float in the pool at Skylark Hotel Palm Springs with the mountains in the background

The views are fantastic from the Skylark Hotel pool. Photo courtesy of Skylark Hotel

Skylark Hotel — Recently updated, the mid-century modern property was built in 1955 and was the backdrop for the movie Palm Swings. 

Willows — Located a stone’s throw south of the Art Museum, Albert Einstein used to stay here when he’d visit Palm Springs (and would “take the sun” in the buff). This is one of the 10 oldest structures in Palm Springs, and its eight guest rooms each have modern amenities while retaining their historic charm. You are right on the mountain, so you know you’re going to have a spectacular view.

Amin Casa — Formerly the home of Gloria Swanson, this beautiful estate dates back to the 1920s and accommodates 14 guests, adults only. For a unique experience, you can book Swanson’s original residence, a swanky two bedroom, two bath cottage with a grand living space.

That’s all we’ve got time for today, Modernettes. Hope to see you on the streets during Modernism Week!  

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.

The Kirkwood Collection is expanding, with the luxury boutique hotel group adding La Serena Villas, The Del Marcos Hotel, and The Three Fifty Hotel to its portfolio.

Built in 1933, La Serena Villas is a dream destination for guests who want everything in one place. This Spanish hacienda-style property has 18 bungalows, with private patios boasting outdoor tubs and fire pits. Whispers Spa provides a variety of treatments, including facials and massages, and is open to guests of La Serena Villas, The Del Marcos Hotel, and The Three Fifty Hotel. The hotel’s restaurant, Azúcar, serves contemporary food with a focus on fresh local ingredients. For an after-dinner drink, head up to Sugar High, one of only two rooftop bars in Palm Springs.

A patio swing

Guests can relax outside on their private patios. Photo courtesy of La Serena Villas

The Del Marcos Hotel is a mid-century modern treasure, designed by William F. Cody in 1947. This 17-room boutique hotel was named a historic site in 2012, and retains its original redwood and native stone. The rooms are all named after acclaimed architects and artists who left their mark in Palm Springs, including Nat Reed and Donald Wexler, whose family provided original prints and photos for his suite. The two-story hotel surrounds a large courtyard pool that has plenty of comfortable loungers.

The stone front of Del Marcos Hotel

Welcome to The Del Marcos Hotel. Photo courtesy of The Del Marcos Hotel

The pet-friendly Three Fifty Hotel is also a mid-century modern property, built in 1950 and fully renovated in 2017. Designed by Herbert W. Burns, the 10-room hotel features stunning, unobstructed views of the San Jacinto Mountains and a spacious heated pool and spa. The rooms are all poolside, and come with comfortable king-sized beds.

A pool with loungers and palm trees in the background

It’s always pool time at The Three Fifty Hotel. Photo courtesy of The Three Fifty Hotel

With the acquisition of La Serena Villas, The Del Marcos Hotel, and The Three Fifty Hotel, The Kirkwood Collection now has five properties in Greater Palm Springs and 10 boutique hotels and residences in California.

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.

?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!

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.

When I recently returned from the Pacific Northwest and entered the atrium of the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), it wasn’t long before I broke into a big smile. Through the canopies covering the walkway, I could see our brilliant sun shining through, warming me after a chilly flight.

The Sonny Bono Concourse at the Palm Springs International Airport

There’s plenty of shade at the Palm Springs International Airport. Photo by Kathy Condon

What makes Palm Springs International Airport so special?

The flight into the airport treats passengers to breathtaking views of the mountains surrounding the Coachella Valley. PSP is located in the west end of Palm Springs, and depending on the direction of the wind, you may have a bird’s eye view of the entire length of the Valley as your aircraft approaches the landing field.

For those who frequently use PSP for commuting, it’s impossible not to compare it to the bustling and often confusing airports scattered throughout the United States. Yes, we are indeed spoiled and fully acknowledge it, as the ease and comfort provided by this airport continue to be appreciated by residents and visitors alike.

International art adorns the premises

As you descend the escalator, gaze across the expansive courtyard. A life-size, artistically-decorated bighorn sheep greets you on the left, and in front of you is a large circular sculpture that leads your eye to the baggage claim area.

A suggestion: since there is no rush to get to baggage claim, stop and take some time to look at art tucked in spots around the airport.

A sculpture of a big horned sheep at Palm Springs International Airport by Joe Wertheimer and Mark Junge

There are several works of art on display across Palm Springs International Airport. Photo by Nadine Conger

A testament to historic modernism design

Donald Wexler was renowned for his outstanding mid-century designs. He created many public and residential buildings; however, the commission for the airport terminal was considered his most significant project.

Wexler’s design encapsulated the quintessential mid-century elements: clean lines, steel and glass materials, graceful contours, and spacious interiors. Today, the terminal still boasts a 30-foot overhanging roof, floor-to-ceiling glass entryways, and an unobstructed view of the mountains.

Due to the popularity of our destination, PSP is planning for the future, and with help from Wexler’s son and input from the community, the airport is looking for ways to expand the bays for docking aircraft. In the meantime, there is construction within the terminal to create new retail and restaurants. Happily, I can report that these additions will be establishments owned by local vendors. 

A red and blue metal sculpture by Tom Holland at the Palm Springs International Airport

This metal sculpture was created by Tom Holland. Photo by Nadine Conger

Airlines serving Palm Springs International Airport with direct flights

A caveat: It is essential to check each airline’s direct flight schedules, since they change their schedules often and some routes are seasonal.

Air Canada: Toronto and Vancouver

Alaska: New York City (JFK); Boise; Portland; Seattle; San Francisco; and Everett, Washington

Allegiant Air: Des Moines and Bellingham, Washington

American Airlines: Chicago; Dallas; Phoenix; and Austin, Texas

Avelo Air: Bend/Redmond, Oregon; Eugene, Oregon; and Santa Rosa, California

Delta: Atlanta; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; and Seattle

Flair Airlines: Vancouver

Jet Blue: New York City (JFK)

Sun Country: Minneapolis

United: Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; and San Francisco

WestJet: Calgary; Edmonton; Vancouver; and Winnipeg

Transportation to and from PSP

Rarely is an international airport so close to downtown as ours is in Palm Springs, with it taking about 10 minutes to drive there. If you reserve a rental car, you’ll find the vendors directly across from baggage claim. 

You can have a stress-free vacation, which includes no driving, by hailing a taxi lined up in front of the baggage exit area. If you would rather take Lyft or Uber, we have drivers eager to help you reach your destination. Town car services are also available; be sure to reserve before your arrival. They are willing to take you to any place in the Valley or even to the always fascinating Joshua Tree area.

The pride of Palm Springs

I trust I have illustrated why we residents take immense pride in our Palm Springs International Airport. Yes, it is going through a transition period, so if you see construction going on, be assured care is being taken to ensure it doesn’t impact your experience. Meanwhile, we know you will step off that plane and break into a smile as you see our beautiful sunshine.

After catching a ride to your Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel, you’ll want to quickly unpack and then plunge into the pool. Oh, and it is alright if you post your picture poolside — after all, you were smart enough to plan your visit to Palm Springs.

A metal sculpture at the Palm Springs International Airport

See if you can spot this metal piece of art at the Palm Springs International Airport. Photo by Nadine Conger

Dive into savings with Palm Springs Summer Splash 2023, a free pass offering deals at locally-owned and operated boutique hotels, attractions, and stores across Palm Springs, California.

The Palm Springs Summer Splash pass is digital, and there is no app to download. After registering, a pass will be delivered to your phone via text and email once it’s ready to use. The pass is available from June 1 through Sept. 15, 2023, and to redeem a discount, just show the pass on your phone while at one of the participating businesses. A companion Summer Eats pass, offering discounts at various restaurants, is also available.

More than two dozen Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels are taking part in Summer Splash 2023, offering a variety of specials, including free nights, lower rates, early check-in and late check-out, and daily dining credits.

This year’s boutique hotel participants are: Alcazar Palm Springs; Aloha Hotel; A Place in the Sun Hotel; ARRIVE Palm Springs; Azure Sky Hotel; Blackhaus; Casa Cody; Dive Palm Springs; Descanso Resort; Desert Hills; El Mirasol Villas; The Hacienda at Warm Sands; The Hideaway; Hotel California; Hotel El Cid; Inn at Palm Springs; Mahala; The Marley; The Monkey Tree Hotel; Old Ranch Inn; Orbit In; Santiago Resort; Skylark Hotel; Triangle Inn Palm Springs; Twin Palms Resort; and The Wesley.

“The Palm Springs Summer Splash pass is a great way to discover Palm Springs during the Summer,” Michael C. Green, co-owner of Triangle Inn Palm Springs and chair of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels said. “These deals and discounts make it easier to do more things around town, try new businesses, and even extend a vacation. There’s nothing better than having an extra day or two in Palm Springs, and the money saved on lodging can be used for a fabulous dinner downtown, tickets for a show, or to purchase souvenirs at a favorite boutique.”

Palm Springs Summer Splash 2023 is a joint collaboration between Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, VisitPalmSprings.com, Desert Gay Tourism Guild, and Small Hotels of Palm Springs. 

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.