Photo courtesy of Descanso

Descanso is Palm Springs’ Newest Gay Resort

Descanso is the first resort for gay men to open in Palm Springs in more than 10 years, and “the response has been beyond expectations,” according to general manager Kent Taylor. Weekends are already booked through June, although some weeknights are still available during Pride month.


Taylor said the trend among the area’s gay resorts in recent years has been to go straight, and his property was one of the first to do so. Formerly called East Canyon, it lasted as a straight resort for about four years.


Now, however, the property has been completely renovated and has reopened with amenities “to create a special men’s experience,” Taylor said. Currently the resort features 14 rooms, but two more will come online once they’ve been refurbished to Descanso standards.


Rooms feature king-size beds. There is a heated saltwater pool with a spa. For relief from the heat, an outdoor misting system moderates the temperature. Breakfast and “stay and splash poolside lunch” are included in the room rates. A cantina offers complimentary snacks and beverages. For dinner, plenty of restaurants are within walking distance.


Many guests arrive by car, and those vehicles can remain parked throughout their stay in the off-street overnight parking the resort provides.


For those who prefer to mix their pool time with sightseeing, there’s plenty to see and do in Palm Springs, and the resort lies just two blocks from the beginning of the city’s commercial area.


First on the list has to be the aerial tramway. Get a fantastic view of the Coachella Valley from 8,500 feet high in the sky. When you reach the top, you can enjoy the trails and hiking as well as a restaurant, bar and cafeteria.


For zoo lovers, the 1,200-acre Living Desert is ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. Visiting in summer when the temperature in Palm Springs often soars above 100 Fahrenheit during the day? Visit the Living Desert at night for a nocturnal zoo experience.


Palm Springs is known for its midcentury modern architecture and its variety of stores that feature furniture from that period. To tour the neighborhoods, Taylor said the best way is by bike, which Descanso offers complimentary to its guests.


Palm Springs is known as a celebrity hangout and hideaway. Stars have lived in this desert resort, and others have been frequent visitors, since the 1920s. Sonny Bono even served as the city’s mayor. To honor them, the Palm Springs Walk of Stars features blocks of sidewalk stars, including one for Dallas favorite Del Shores (Sordid Lives) at 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive.


Joshua Tree National Park is an hour’s drive from Palm Springs. This portion of the Mojave Desert ecosystem features the spiky Joshua trees, boulders, and a surprising variety of wildlife in this desert habitat.


If you’re looking for museums, Palm Springs has one of the country’s top air and space museums as well as an art museum that’s quite good.


Palm Springs recently saw the 2022 version of its biggest gay event: the White Party, the granddaddy of circuit parties. Palm Springs’ Pride weekend is held during cooler weather; this year it’s scheduled for November 3 through 6. Leather Pride Weekend is October 27 through 30, and Western Xposure’s Dadfest celebrates daddies on July 4. Descanso recommends the all-day pool party as the best way to enjoy the event.


Next year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival takes place January 4 through 15. It is one of the largest film festivals in North America, attracting 135,000 people.


Many Descanso guests just remain on property during their stay, enjoying the resort experience and walking or taking Uber or Lyft to nearby restaurants for dinner, Taylor said. On its website, staff’s picks of favorite restaurants include something for everyone.


Fisherman’s Market, downtown, is recommended as “a great place for fish and chips [and] grilled seafood” in the desert. Al Dente and Il Corso are staff picks for Italian food. Jake’s is an American bistro, and Johannes is a “local favorite” for modern European cuisine from an Austrian-born chef. The Sandwich Spot also offers “fun concept sandwiches, not your standard sub shop.”


Mexican offerings include La Bonita’s, Rio Azul Mexican Bar & Grill, home to Palm Springs’ original drag brunch, and La Tablita in neighboring Cathedral City, which is listed as “absolutely a local favorite.”