It was my birthday weekend, and I was craving wide blue skies and sunshine. But I also wanted incomparable hiking, biking, swimming pools, massages, shopping, and fine dining. Clearly, that leaves only one place: Palm Springs. I have lived in or spent vast amounts of time in Palm Springs since 1998, but the desert in autumn never fails to thrill my senses. My best friend, Tina, also has had a life long love affair with Palm Springs, so we decided to plan the perfect Palm Springs fall escape.
We decided to try out a new (to us) boutique hotel, and booked three nights at Colt’s Lodge, due to its having one of the highest guest satisfaction ratings for boutique hotels in all of Palm Springs. New owners took over the former Alpine Gardens in 2013, and reopened in 2015 as Colt’s Lodge. They have invested over $1,000,000 in renovations and upgrades, and have completely redone all 11 rooms along with the grounds, meeting area, and kitchen. It really is a lovely property—quiet, peaceful, charming, welcoming, and cozy. Tina and I took full advantage of the pool and Jacuzzi, as well as the complimentary bike rentals, and enjoyed our continental breakfasts each morning in the pleasant, sunny courtyard. The only tip we’d give the new owners is to add a memory foam topper, or otherwise upgrade the mattresses—they were not the most comfortable.
Each morning after breakfast we’d hit the trails—North Lykken Trail, Cactus to Clouds, Araby Cove. I’ve been hiking these mountains for over 18 years now, and they never cease to lift my spirits and elevate my perspective—not to mention what they do to lift my now 42-year-old, um, self. My favorite is Lykken Trail. I love to scramble over the boulders, winding my way up the switchbacks to the first peak, then the second, then the next—incomparable views at my feet the entire time. It’s a great trail for conditioning as well. I always try to beat my last time. And, you if prefer to hike at a more relaxed pace, you’re always sure to run into the most fascinating people. I always try to stop and talk to at least one person on the trail. You never know the stories you’ll hear!
In the afternoons, Tina and I would ride bikes around the lovely Deepwell neighborhood, and into town, stopping for lunch, or to see the sights. And we usually found time for a massage and some time by the pool and Jacuzzi as well.
Here were the standouts from the long weekend (and check out the gallery of photos below):
Eight4Nine: Located in the emerging Design District, Eight4Nine is housed in a former retail space—transformed into a jewel box setting. Tina and I felt like we were in a film set: Eloise at the Plaza meets Breakfast at Tiffany’s meets a long, decadent day at Nordstrom or Sak’s. And the fun doesn’t stop with the decor. Enjoy the fabulous tasting menu, or order a la carte. Our faves were the curried cauliflower bisque, and the delectable grilled octopus. And the complimentary key lime tarte our smiling server delivered to our table for my birthday dessert was pitch perfect as well. A treat!
Monsoon: After a long day hiking, biking, massages and a Jacuzzi, we were craving a quiet evening and, inexplicably, Indian food. We showered, threw on leggings and sweaters, and bare faced, with no expectations, popped into Monsoon. Wow and wow. Delicious, delicately spiced, nuanced cuisine–dish after dish delighted our senses. Standouts: Tandoori chicken, lentil soup, garlic naan, and Channa Masala. I crave spice so requested additional hot sauce (my bestie has a more delicate palate), and that was phenomenal as well–the best I’ve ever tasted. At my raves, the manager presented me with a veritable vat of it to take home. I’m so happy I could weep. And not from the hot sauce. Go, go, go!
Enlightened Bodywork: We had several massages, but this one was my favorite. I’d had every modality of massage known to man, EXCEPT, watsu. So I booked a watsu massage with Lynne of Enlightened Bodywork, to remedy that. And remedy is the right word. Watsu is called an “exercise in surrender.” You are completely supported in a body temperature saltwater pool while receiving zen shiatsu massage, yoga-like stretching, and lymphatic drainage massage from the hydrostatic pressure of the warm water surrounding you. I felt like I was flying, floating, a trapeze artist, a ballerina, a swan—all the while cradled by Lynne’s Gaia-like energy and capable arms. I let go, and flew.
Farm: A traditional Provencal-style restaurant located in La Plaza, Farm is simply a lot of fun. From its garden-style setting (a surprise in the middle of downtown Palm Springs!), to its farm-fresh cuisine, it has quickly become one of my favorite spots for brunch with friends. On Sunday, our friend Bill joined us from LA, and the three of us were regaled by our server, J.R., with specials, charming conversation, and even a lip-synched “Happy Birthday” song. J.R., and the food, were both delightful. They are also dog friendly and my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Murphy, was made more than welcome—including loving attention and a dog bowl of ice water.
Hadley Fruit Orchards: After Farm, it was time for the three of us to hit the road, but no sojourn to Palm Springs would be complete without a stop at Hadley’s in Cabazon for a date shake on the way back to LA and Orange County. We reconvened in the Hadley’s parking lot and were soon enjoying ice cold Date Banana shakes and wandering around the attractive new retail space. We withstood further temptation and were soon back on the road—already planning our next Palm Springs escape!