Posts

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.

“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” — Steven Wright

The heat is on. Just walking to your car is like doing hot yoga without doing the yoga. But honestly? It’s still paradise. The skies are the bluest, the mountains remain majestic, and the nights are always blanketed with a billion stars. Pair that with a cocktail in the pool, and that’s the Palm Springs way. We’ve got that laid-back, small town feel, but I humbly submit that we are the 5-star, A+ rated, James Beard version.

July isn’t really hopping with activities because triple digits, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun things to do. (For the Independence Day celebrations, check out our blog post here). We also have some upcoming posts about places to stay in Palm Springs that will keep you well fed and full of libations without ever having to leave the pool — because if you can’t be in the A/C, you’ll want to be in the water.

In the meantime, check out these events that’ll keep you happy outside of your resort during your stay in Palm Springs:

Palm Springs POWER Baseball
Recurring weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until July 16.

Arrive Hotel

Mondays and Tuesdays: Night Swim, 7 to 10 p.m., no fee for guests. Locals can reserve a spot for $10.

Wednesdays: Dive-in Movie. Watch a flick poolside on the giant inflatable screen, with snacks and drinks available for purchase. 7 p.m. showtime.

Fridays: Poolside BBQ & Yappy Hour,  3 to 6 p.m. Enjoy Happy Hour specials, complimentary dog treats, and BBQ favorites available for purchase

Saturdays: Pool Party from noon to 6 p.m., with DJs spinning from start to finish. Limited day passes available for locals.

Sundays: Bottomless Mimosas at Brunch. $30+tax per person, with a two-hour time limit.

Palm Springs Cultural Center/Camelot Theaters

July 2: Mamma Mia! Sing-a-long 

Indoor Palm Springs Certified Farmers Market
Recurring weekly on Saturdays until Sept. 3

Agua Caliente Cascade Lounge

Jul 1: Cascade Nights Dance Party

Mondays: Mimosas, Martinis & Music with Don Wardell

Thursdays: Jazzville

Fridays: Caliente Comedy

Sundays: Latin Nights

That’s Amore! Photo courtesy of PS Underground

PS Underground

Three-course gourmet meals with a crazy good explosion of musical creativity and talent.

July 8: “That’s Amoré” — Gilmore Rizzo talks and sings about growing up Italian.

July 10: Cheese Brunch — cheesy songs, cheesy menu.

July 16: “The Sunny Side of the Street” — a tribute to Frank and Ella with Keisha D & Tod Macofsky.

July 17: Broadway Blind Brunch — one Broadway show and composer. Which one will it be?

July 22: Light — it’s the mack daddy of their shows. It’s pricey — $249 plus tax — but oh so special.

Desert Rose Playhouse

The only LGBTQ Theater in the valley. And they’re SO good.

Crimes of the Heart — through July 3.

I Dreamed a Dream Girl a two-man journey through stories and music, with the stars of Bravo’s The People’s Couch. One night only, July 9.

Grey Gardens — Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale were bright names on the social register, before becoming East Hampton’s most notorious recluses. It’s a musical! July 22 through 29.

V Wine Lounge. Courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

V Wine Lounge 

Retro wine lounge in a historic Hugh Kaptur building on Tahquitz (TAAH-quits). Don’t be fooled by the photo — that’s just the bar. There are a bunch of other set pieces as well as a very large patio.

Mondays: LeAnna and Miguel

Tuesdays: I ❤️ Taco Tuesday

Wednesdays: Karaoke

Oscar’s

Jazz, comedy, dinner, drag, and a tee dance, All are welcome.

July 1: Yve Evans — I love, love, love this woman and her music. Equal parts jazz pianist, jazz vocalist, and “jazz” comedian, she’s unique and super talented.

July 8: Nadya Ginsburg presents Anxious and Dangerous! The producer and star of the critically acclaimed Madonnalogues brings her new stand-up show, Anxious and Dangerous! to the desert. “Madonna” and “Cher” appear as special guests. Called “the woman of 1,000 voices,” she’s played New York, Los Angeles, and London stages, and has appeared in network television and feature film.

Wednesdays: Marc Antonelli’s Sultry Summer Nights, followed by The Marc & Tony Show.

Saturdays: Bitchiest Brunch (also Sundays), Mimosa Men, and Oscar’s Cabaret celebrate the great women of song. As it says in the description: “We’ve hired the best men for the job.”

An inside view of the Palm Springs Art Museum. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Palm Springs Art Museum 
Thursday evenings are free from 5 to 7 p.m.

Exhibitions: Outburst: Mr. Wash (ends July 3); Gonzalo Lebrija: Miracle of the Eternal Present, (ends October 2); Pattern Play: The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag (ends Nov. 20); Leon Polk Smith: 1945-1962 (ends August 28)

Summer Film Series: Y Tu Mama Tambien on July 28

Various events

July 6: Backstreet Art District Art Walk — held the first Wednesday of every month.

Thursdays: Village Fest — a festive, pedestrian street fair on Palm Canyon Drive. 7 to 10 p.m. Perimeters are Indian Canyon Drive to the east, Belardo Road to the west. Vendor booths are set up on both sides of the street, and visitors are able to stroll through the traffic-free event.

July 16: Comedy at the Kimpton on the rooftop — the rooftop bar is one of the best views in town.

CannaBus Express Tours — what Silicon Valley is to tech, cannabis is to the Coachella Valley. One of the best tours you’ll ever take is the CannaBUS Express Tour. Learn all about the cannabis industry as you ride in an air-conditioned Mercedes Sprinter, from growing to distilling to distribution — and finally to some local dispensaries, using the CannaBus discount. Your tour guide is sassy and you’ll have fun while you’re learning.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tram on its way to cooler temperatures. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Don’t forget about the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It’s way cooler up there.

New restaurant alert! It’s fast food, but come on, it’s freakinI ❤️ Mac & Cheese. And it’s open very late!

The Mom Factor: I’m not a mom, so I’m not yours. But I’m gonna mom you. Wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water, then repeat. A lot.

Don’t forget to shop and stay local, and if you come visit, please tag us on your Instagram posts. Our Instagram; our tag #pspsh. Thanks, you’re swell!

I’m gonna be here again next month, yacking away about all things Palm Springs. Hope to see you then! 

“I got my hands up, they’re playin’ my song, they know I’m gonna be okay. Yeah, it’s a party in the U.S.A.”Miley Cyrus 

Commemorating the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, Independence Day was declared a federal holiday in 1870.

In 1941, thanks to 32 — shorthand for the shorthand FDR, a.k.a. POTUS Franklin Delano Roosevelt (I could talk in acronyms all day, I once worked in IT) — it became a paid federal holiday.

FDR was not an author of the Declaration — he was born over a century later — but he did an awful lot for America: he brought us out of the Great Depression, saw us through World War II, established the New Deal (which included Social Security), and much, much more.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress/Unsplash

He was so popular he was elected president four consecutive times. In 1932 he won the popular vote and received 472 electoral votes, carrying 42 states. In ’36 he won 60 percent of the popular vote, with only Maine and Vermont electorates backing his opponent. The 1940 and 1944 elections held more of the same, but to a slightly lesser degree. It’s hard to imagine an America so in tune with each other. I mean, four terms equals 12 years (I did the math for you, you’re welcome), and the majority of Americans agreed that FDR was the right man for the times. Under his guidance, America prospered. Had he not come into power, as they say, the outlook for America was very bleak.

FDR never visited Palm Springs, but his son Elliot built a gorgeous mid-century home in Indian Wells before he moved to Arizona. You can peek it here. (Side note: Elliot was a writer. He wrote mystery novels based at the White House, all solved by none other than his intrepid mother, the great Eleanor Roosevelt.)

If you’re celebrating the Fourth this year, here are the fun and fabulous celebrations lighting up Palm Springs:

Courtesy of the city of Palm Springs (a.k.a. free events)

July 1: Stay cool while enjoying the family friendly dive-in movie Jungle Cruise. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Swim Center, 405 S. Pavilion Way, in the Sunrise Plaza Complex.

July 2: Celebrate with a drone show and concert featuring music from Petty and the Heartshakers. 6:30 p.m. at Downtown Park, Museum Way at Belardo Road (adjacent to the Forever Marilyn sculpture).

July 3: Watch the ’80s classic Goonies at Ruth Hardy Park, 700 Tamarisk Road. The flick starts at 7:30 p.m.

July 4: Grab your suits and attend the family-friendly pool party at the Palm Springs Swim Center. There will be water games, an inflatable slide, music, and great food. You can also watch the city’s “All American Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular” at Palm Springs Stadium from the pool. The fun will last from 3 p.m. until the fireworks are over. Palm Springs Swim Center, 405 S. Pavilion Way.

July 4: Concert in the Park: “Turn the Page, Tribute to Bob Seger” in Sunrise Park, 480 S. Sunrise Way, 5:30 p.m.

Fireworks light up the sky. Courtesy of Pixabay

Pay to play

July 4: Independence Day Celebration and Fundraiser for AAP – Food Samaritans

Perched on the mountainside above the Palm Springs Art Museum is the O’Donnell House, where they are holding a benefit for Food Samaritans from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Powerhouse singer and entertainer Keisha D will provide the entertainment while Willie Rhine and his highly regarded Eight4Nine team will cater the event. View the city of Palm Springs’ fireworks display at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $175. For more information, call 760-325-8481 or click the above link.

July 4: Palm Springs Power Baseball “All Stars Summer Collegiate Game,” Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 Baristo Road, 6 p.m. (with fireworks at 9:15 p.m.).

July 4: Palm Springs Cultural Center — There’s something for everyone on the agenda. Rock out to all your favorite ’80s hits with music provided by DJ Mod Girl (she’s a party all by herself!), and relive the campy glory of Rocky IV in an air-conditioned theater (the screening is free!). Hang outside in the cool zone in one of the petite party pools, play fun games to win prizes, and enjoy an All-American barbecue (hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato chips). Additional food and non-alcoholic drinks are available for purchase from the Camelot Cafe and Concessions stand (and alcoholic beverages are available at outside bars). The event starts at 3 p.m., with the fireworks show starting at 9:15. Purchase a seat so you can comfortably watch the show (as part of the price, you’ll also get one of those barbecue meals). 2300 E. Baristo Road.

Stay safe everyone! 

A sparkler sparkles. Photo courtesy of Pixabay