advertisement

White, black, and lemon yellow—that's the palate of the Avalon, which until mid-2015 was known as the Viceroy. It reaches for a bygone era of elegant exclusivity with Deco-style furniture and whitewashed decorative fireplaces. The Avalon keeps changing hands—once the Estrella, then the Viceroy, and although it is lovely in spots, the quality is not always up to the grade of the price. The lobby, though outfitted with a bar and a restaurant area, is tiny. You're not supposed to be seen there; instead you're meant to fan out into various enclaves and vanish behind the hedges for a suntan or a sundowner. Expect neatly trimmed gardens and mountain views from the entire property, which combines a few once-separated resorts, one dating to the 1930s (which makes the quality of the rooms uneven). The cheaper Chi Chi Courtyard is a '70s-era, two-story build of standard-size rooms, and it crowds around a smallish pool that can make swimmers feel like they're on display—and during dinner, with diners at tables by the lip of the water, they are. That may be the point for some people, who want to sip smooth poolside cocktails at a swank-ish desert resort within walking distance of downtown. The Presidio Courtyard is a little more airy but can be subject to the noise of wedding parties. The best area, the Regency Courtyard, is more wide open, manicured, and the sizable pool is adults-only. The one- and two-bedroom free-standing bungalows there have the best charm, and have romantic nooks, fireplaces, and nicer furniture in what's termed as a Hollywood Regency style, which is an elongated '30s pastiche. Naturally, that's the most expensive. We had some issues with our stay, including finding an old Q-Tip on our balcony, a soiled couch, and Wi-Fi that, although free, couldn't even handle YouTube. But we still had fun. The pan-Latin food at Chi Chis was accomplished and delicious and the staff, though sometimes stretched (our waiter was also our bartender), did its best to keep up. When a hotel is clad in sleek whites and the sheen of exclusivity, it's sometimes hard to keep that crispness aloft, so as long as you're not expecting obsessive attention to detail to match its look, it's an acceptable example of Palm Springs style. Resort fee warning: $35/night