The Parker Palm Springs
Today's guy has some seriously cool lodging choices if he wants to take a relaxing yet adventurous off-season Palm Springs weekend – and he should do it now, at the beginning of the off-season, before the hardcore heat strikes in late August. The activities are there: hiking Joshua Tree and Mount San Jacinto; getting some of those knots in your back worked out; a few holes of pristine golf; an ATV ride in the sand. But despite the aesthetic appeal of the myriad mid-century renovations in California's Coachella Valley, we are consistently drawn to the Parker Palm Springs.
Redesigned in 2004 to meet today's bohemian-modern standards, the 13 acres of the Parker were once singing-cowboy Gene Autry's desert home before Merv Griffin turned the parcel into a crazy resort in the vein of Versailles. Now it's an artsy and spacious swath of desert nature with sprawling lawns and interiors decorated with bright geometric shapes, animal skins, and wire-grid Bertoia chairs; patio rooms are spacious but you can also take over Gene Autry's former two-bedroom hideaway if you just scored a win at a desert casino.
The Parker stands out among other stylish non-Hyatts in the area, though, for more male-specific reasons. Like Don Draper, you're always given a shot of premium hard liquor as soon as you enter the building's doors; you can actually build on that buzz inside the nautical-themed 16,500-square-foot spa, ironically called "PSYC" (the "Palm Springs Yacht Club," as if a yacht club could exist in a desert and allow alcohol); and you can take Jacuzzis with a date in the spa's coed pools after getting guy-friendly treatments like the Yachtsman's Voyage, which includes a deep-tissue massage and a rugged facial before a scalp massage.
One of the witty maxims to be found on the hotel's website is: "We Believe in the American country club experience: mixed doubles, a long steam, and a stiff cocktail." But that's not just marketing, and this genius place makes good on its claims. Unlike many other PS hotels, the Parker has four red-clay tennis courts and four saline pools – along with other game-changing leisure sports: petanque, croquet, snooker, and even a life-size chess board. Stopping by the outdoor lemonade stand for a freshly squeezed sour is a classic Parker refreshment move, and the renowned Norma's restaurant, famous for its eggy breakfasts, now serves outdoor dinners in a casual style. That said, we recommend at least one meal in one of the desert's only legitimately strong dinner spots. The name of this place, right inside the Parker lobby, is, surprise, Mister Parker's, and it's a dimly lit dining room reminiscent of a great old New York Hotel, with leather banquets, unusual framed pictures, and a killer lamb shank.
If there's any stress left in your body, the spa's 24-hour gym, a rare find, may well be the best-equipped hotel gym in town. But don't necessarily sweat it: The warm staff would never judge a rested, rejuvenated guest with a little sun on his face for walking right out to his airport limo without having spent a minute on an indoor torture device.
More information: Rooms start at $289; theparkerpalmsprings.com. 4200 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264. Tel: 760-770-5000