Cool Desert Getaways Booked in Blazing Summer

Restored vintage resorts in and around Palm Springs are booked up despite scorching heat.

The seasonal exodus to and from Palm Springs is grinding to a near halt this time of year, as temperatures climb to 110 and even beyond.

Things have never looked brighter in summer. Sure, it can be hard to move vigorously at peak heat hours but visitors are getting around the intense rays and seizing good room and travel rates at highly desirable hot spots. Booking rooms well after the spring break deluge are singles and families who are finding the air can be therapeutic and the golf and swimming spectacular if you play by the rules.

“You have to get up very early, like by 6 am to play golf or walk or else it can be pretty uncomfortable,” says Andy Pritikin, a restaurant supply salesman who has been entertaining friends on the weekends at his second home in the Duna La Quinta.

The early-to-rise, early-to-take-cover approach, is routine for desert dwellers during the high season in spring. But with the season extending through June, tourists are enjoying soaking up the lush landscapes of bougainvillea and palms. Here’s some great getaways they’re choosing to stay at:

La Quinta Resort and Club, La Quinta

Among places reporting weekend bookings through the month – La Quinta Resort and Club – part of the Waldorf Astoria chain. It was built in the early 1930s by San Francisco businessman Walter Morgan using renown architect Gordon Kaufman and scores of artisan craftsman. Basically, the city of La Quinta sprang up around this attraction molded from more than 100,000 hand-formed adobe bricks and 60,000 locally fired roof tiles.

Perhaps the most family oriented of desert resorts, it was bustling on Memorial Day weekend with couples sipping wine on the patios and packs of kids cruising on scooters and bikes. The good news is that the resort is self contained with bike paths for tourists who can avoid cars and find what they need on site, including upscale organic fare in the restaurants, golf and tennis on the property. While golf is a big drain, first class resorts here and elsewhere are using reclaimed water when possible. The resort, however, has yet to replace  lush, manicured lawns with the xeriscaping associated with the desert landscape.

“Occupancy is at its peak for the beginning of the summer – as we have about a 40% average for confirmed stay each months so far which definitely places us on the upside of almost being sold out for each weekend throughout the summer,” says Norma Martinez, a resort agent. “Lately we have availability early week and by Wednesday, the weekends are either close to being booked or completely sold out.”

She says the variety of activities from spa treatments to rounds of golf, tennis, shopping and dining is the draw, along with attractive rates. You can also get available room upgrades and free breakfast for two when you book with certain credit cards.

In terms of the rooms (owned either privately or by the hotel) a five night stay from June 24-28 in a deluxe poolside casita with two queens in early California decor goes for only $100 a night. Sometimes, you have to pay in the upper $300’s a night at these kinds of resorts.

Hotel Lautner, Desert Hot Springs

“We opened in September and there has been no lull yet – this is our first summer and so far it has been wonderful with all of the people in town,” shares LA. designer, Tracy Beckmann, co-owner of the acclaimed Hotel Lautner. The four-unit compound in Desert Hot Springs was designed in 1947 by famed architect John Lautner for Hollywood producer Lucien Hubbard. Beckmann and Ryan Trowbridge restored and reopened the mid-century charmer and won an award for Best Commericial Renovation by the Palm Springs Modern committee.

Featured as the backdrop of a fashion spread in the May issue of Town & Country -it has been called a hybrid between a vacation home rental and boutique hotel.

Its lure has been the fully equipped units with the luxuries of post-modern living and a shared  common pool and patio space. “We only book two weeks in advance so it has been pretty full,” shares Beckmann. “We get some Angelinos but really it has been New Yorkers and people from San Francisco because of the great deals on Virgin American. It costs like $700 to fly from L.A. to Palm Springs but the flight deals elsewhere are really cheap.”

She has kept the rooms at the introductory rate of $225 per night during the week and $275 on weekends with a two night minimum but might lower rates to entice mid-century dwelling seekers if rates if the bookings dry up.

Orbit In, Palm Springs

It seems one of the late season draws for singles and couples is the chance to occupy spaces of architectural significance, such as the Orbit In Hotel designed by Herbert  Burns in 1947 as an ultramodern motor court.

Two hotels in one, the nine-room Hideaway is billed as a private complex for groups only (three night minimum) while the Oasis is a nine room retro-futuristic hotel with a saltwater pool and lava-lamp Boomerang bar.

For those who can break away from the work week when the best deals and most space is to be had, the Orbit is dangling weekday specials. Like other mid-century architecture of the Frank Sinatra era being revived in the Springs, it has small but chic reductionist chic allure reflecting the modernist sensibility that less  is more.

Since weekends are booking up pretty fast in the desert, you can always ask to be put on a waiting list at the popular retro hideaways. For some visitors, the heat proves too intense and space can open up for the fierce Bedouin in desperate need of an Orbitini, dip in solar heated salt water or hit some balls with recycled tees for the aggravating yet rewarding endeavor of making par.

Image: Hotel Lautner

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.