Travel Thursday: A Newbie To Nudity? My First Visit To INNdulge Palm Springs, A Clothing Optional Resort
I’m not a Palm Springs newbie--far from it. My friends and I take at least one annual group vacation to Palm Springs to enjoy a long weekend of sun, fun, and frolic—generally from the comfort of our pool in one of the massive houses we rent for the occasion. Based on that, I think I have a pretty solid idea of what to expect. We’ll grab drinks at Hunter’s Video Bar or Toucan’s. I’ll inevitably grab a massive pastrami sandwich from Sherman’s Deli (with or without the knowledge of my comrades), and we’ll likely have a nice dinner out. Steak Diane at Melvyn’s, anyone??
But that’s not all Palm Springs has to offer. Palm Springs, long a haven for the gays, also happens to be the site of various clothing optional resorts that specifically attract gay male clientele. Now, I don’t consider myself to be particularly prudish or modest, but I’d never visited a clothing optional resort. That all changed with my weekend stay at INNdulge Palm Springs.
I decided to make my INNdulge weekend a solo experience. I could have brought a buddy, but I thought that my inhibitions would be lower if I wasn’t concerned about judgment from someone I knew. I also figured flying solo would encourage me to get to know my fellow guests and make a few new friends. In my particular case, it was the right call, but I met quite a few people that came with their friends and/or their partners so I’m sure you’ll have a great time either way.
When I arrived at INNdulge I met the manager Raymond, a true gem of a human, who welcomed me warmly and proceeded to show me around the property. Raymond’s exactly who you want on staff anywhere you stay. He knows everything about the property, has all the insider tips about what’s going on in town while you’re there, and he’s the perfect host—making sure that all guests feel like family and helping them get to know each other.
That’s one thing about INNdulge—even a solo experience isn’t a solo experience. Unlike most of my previous hotel stays, INNdulge really encouraged guests to mix and mingle and actively fosters a social atmosphere. Whether it’s the BYOB evening social hour--which finds guests congregating together for cocktails, snacks, and chatting--or the daily continental breakfast, it’s really easy for people to engage with each other. (It’s arguably made easier by Raymond pouring guests complimentary rum punch by the pool!) If anything, INNdulge feels like its own private community—an oasis in the sun where everyone feels welcome and comfortable with each other.
…Which brings me to the clothing optional portion of my Palm Springs sojourn: Is it weird that the nudity just wasn’t a big deal? The atmosphere at INNdulge is fun and relaxed—and I’d say not particularly sexually charged. I mean, sure, if you’ve got a healthy appreciation for the male form that’s certainly something you can take full advantage of, but the environment never felt cruisy or salacious. (FYI, it's definitely clothing optional and you'll see people in speedos.)
With a gorgeous, temperate salt water pool and a hot tub—both of which are open 24 hours a day—guests are obviously welcome to make their stay what they wish, but for those that might be hesitant to visit such a “free” space, I’d encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone.
During a late night hot tub session, I had a really interesting conversation with three guests. One couple was visiting from San Diego and though it was their first time staying at INNdulge, they were veterans of gay resort life. They made the argument that with our dating/hookup app culture negatively impacting the gay bar scene, they feared that gay spaces like these gay resorts might soon be extinct. I think the counterargument to that is that there’s always a pendulum—especially when technology is involved. As this generation becomes more disconnected (incidentally as a result of the instant connection provided by our apps and technology), I think we’ll see gay men actively seeking more tangible forms of connection. We’ll be looking for more safe spaces—especially in our current volatile political climate. Spaces like INNdulge, which offer an opportunity for gay men to gather, relax, and build new friendships in a beautiful setting could see increased popularity because there’s an urgent need for the community they provide.
Another gentleman in the hot tub is a regular; he’s been coming to INNdulge with his partner for 30 years. He noted that many people from around the world develop friendships at INNdulge and then plan their return trips together so they’ll see the same friendly faces year after year. It’s like adult summer camp—including the skinny dipping.
I get the sense that that’s the aim here at INNdulge. Beyond providing a welcome respite from our busy lives, INNdulge really wants to be a home away from home for its guests--one that they’ll want to come back to. The owners, Jon and Sandy, personally cook a Thanksgiving meal every year and they’ve clearly spared no expense when it comes to the property’s renovations. From their personal sculpture collection that decorates the property to the custom designed tables and beds in the clean and spacious rooms, it’s obvious that they take a great deal of pride in their establishment and are really going the extra mile to ensure that their guests have a great stay.
I’d encourage anyone to indulge themselves in the INNdulge experience. Frankly, I think it’s needed more than ever!
As an incentive INNdulge Palm Springs is offering a $99 Summer Special. The offer begins June 11 through September 15 and is valid for Sunday-Thursday stays in the hotel’s non-pool Superior rooms. Deep discounts are also being offered on poolside rooms and weekend stays, as well.
“We’re keeping the party going,” says INNdulge co-owner Jon Jackson. “We’re known as the social place to stay in Palm Springs and we aim to keep our hotel crowded all summer long.”
See you at INNdulge Palm Springs!