It’s hard for me to believe it’s already been four months since I spent two splendid days in Palm Springs. Like many other destinations close to home, I’d visited there often, but hadn’t really seen it. I certainly hadn’t experienced it. My home away from home was the magnificent Santiago Resort. A clothing-optional resort catering primarily to gay men, manager Kent Taylor assured me they are all-welcoming and all-inclusive.
After an incredible day and a half, I woke up the second morning and decided to experience the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The world’s largest rotating tram-car takes you two and a half miles to an elevation of just over 8,500 feet. The tram rotates slowly as you climb, offering ever-changing views of the canyon as you ascend. Once you get to the top, several options await you, including observation posts, restaurants, hiking trails and much more. The tram is closed for maintenance but is scheduled to reopen September 30.
Later that afternoon I visited The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn. This ultra-exclusive eight-room inn was built in the 1920s, making it one of the ten oldest homes in Palm Springs. It is stunningly beautiful. Featuring spacious living areas, lush gardens and waterfalls, it was home to many luminaries in the early 20th century, most notably Albert Einstein. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were frequent visitors, as were many prominent Washington politicians. I consider myself quite fortunate to have been presented the opportunity to explore it.
Every Thursday evening of the summer, downtown Palm Springs is home to VillageFest, when Palm Canyon Drive is closed to vehicular traffic and turned into a pedestrian thoroughfare. Hundreds turn out to sample street food, listen to live music, browse the several farm-fresh produce booths and enjoy the works of artisans and vendors. I enjoyed the stroll on a warm May evening, and nibbled on a few goodies before calling it a day.
The next morning I joined a group of fellow writers for a walking tour of Palm Springs, focusing on the Tennis Club neighborhood. A volunteer provided us with umbrellas to protect against the sun and gave us a history of architecture in this storied town. For two hours we passed by Palm Springs landmarks and marveled at the architecture. We visited hotels and inns frequented by the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Cameron Diaz.
Before bidding farewell to this charming city, I made two more stops. I had met Alcazar Hotel Director Robert Hunt, and he invited me to tour his property. The 34-room boutique hotel is pristine and charming. Guests have use of a gorgeous swimming pool and a business center. Cheekies and Birba restaurants are right around the corner and are under the same ownership. There are “townie” bikes available for hotel guests.
Cornelia Smith and her husband Richard Slosky asked me to stop by and see their place, La Maison Hotel. Richard greeted me and we sat down for a chat. Cornelia brought me a slice of her incredible lavender lemon cake. The couple had spent 10 years running a four-room bed and breakfast in Canada before opening La Maison in 2012. The rooms are cozy and immaculate and I can assure you they make their guests feel right at home in this 14-room hotel. Each room has its own unique charm.