Hotel Crashing: The Parker Palm Springs

The staff over at ThePoeLog have been overworked and undercompensated (not sure how) but I, the infamous XFE, have decided to pitch in and lend a hand with this guest post.  Not sure why, but since I had something to share, I am.

I must state up front that I did pay for my stay at The Parker but it was a reduced rate arranged by the manager as the result of a prior service deficiency when I stayed at the property last year.

Overall, this stay at The Parker Palm Springs was better than my first stay, but still questions about quality linger.  Additionally, this will most likely be my last stay as I expect the hotel will no longer be n Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) member in the near future due to a series of ongoing lawsuits regarding my beloved SPG Points.  You can read about the lawsuits here

Ever since that genius Andy Cohen over at Bravo delivered us one season of “Welcome to the Parker” back in 2007, I have always wanted to visit and enjoy “the estate.” I don’t remember much about the show today, but there was always some “overbooking drama,” and a visit from design guru Jonathan Adler, who has left a fairly heavy imprint on the design and style of the property.

(Speaking of Mr. Cohen, I would like to interrupt Hotel Crashing to pitch a reality series based on the life of DJ Speckle Cat; she is fluffy, overweight, spits mad dance tracks and is loved by all the ladies. And believe me when I tell you being loved by the ladies in the club can only lead to unnecessary plastic surgery, drink throwing, and all the dress, handbag and cuff lines necessary to earn the kibble to impress DJ Speckled Cat. Oh. and by the way, DJ Speckled Cat likes to both bully and be bullied if it leads to a little RHOC cross promotion….we’re looking at you, Alexis.)

I first stayed at The Parker Palm springs in August 2012, and while my stay was fine, several service errors combined for a less than pleasant experience.  I wrote a letter highlighting the issues and the manager responded offering to personally handle my next reservation should I choose to return to the Parker.

While I thought the chances of returning were limited I found myself in Palm Springs last week for a business trip and reached out to the manager. The manager found us (traveling with two colleagues) a great rate (better than anything on the website) and waived the $30 resort charge before having his assistant make our reservations.

I am a SPG Platinum member, which entitles you to room upgrades (space available), free Internet and points or a continental breakfast for your welcome amenity. We arrived at 6pm on Wednesday evening, the valet quickly greeted us and we proceeded to the front desk to check in. Check in was a little slow but we had just been in the car for 2 hours and we were admittedly anxious to lose the suits in the 90 degree heat outside.

Parker Front Doors, fairly iconic in Southern California
Parker Front Doors, fairly iconic in Southern California

I was upgraded and given a Junior Suite in the South building which is just upstairs from the lobby, bar and two restaurants, Norma’s and Mister Parkers.  The room had a small balcony with a limited view of the grounds.

View from room
View from room

The website describes the suite as being 600 square feet and “separate shower room with mosaic tiles” which is also described on the website as a “Party Shower.”

I dropped the bags and took a look around the room.

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Jonathan Adler table lamp
Jonathan Adler table lamp
A little light reading.  Funny enough this book was featured in “Behind the Candelabra”
A little light reading. Funny enough this book was featured in “Behind the Candelabra”
Bathroom number 1
Bathroom number 1

 

Bathroom 1
Bathroom 1
The Party Shower
The Party Shower

The Party Shower, really this is the only distinguishing feature in this room.  The Shower itself is probably about 50 square feet, 7×7.

I am still not sure how I felt about the “Party Shower.” It would have been great in my college dorm room, but for me flying solo, it really was just a big shower.  Even if ThePoeLog had been with me, there was one small shower head and not much in the way of creature comforts, like a teak bench to sit on. Admittedly,I did use the Party Shower but I think that was driven by novelty and the fact that the other option in the room was a fairly non-Party cramped shower/tub combo.

Real highlights of the room included:

Where do I get one? And….
Where do I get one? And….

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Talk about your upgraded toiletries!  I have to say this is a new addition since my stay last August and was a welcome surprise.  Since I had the Party Shower, I had duplicates on the shower amenities.  This little tray included.

  • Hermes soap
  • L’Occitane soap
  • Bulgari hand lotion 3oz.
  • Molton & Brown shower gel 3oz.
  • Quercus shampoo and sonditioner 3oz each
  • Lip Medic and Q-Tips.

Since I had just come from the US Grant in San Diego where I had already acquired a few bars of soap, I busted out one of those to use while hoping to take the good stuff home.

Now before the hate mail starts, let me say that I have been a very frugal user of hotel products, typically only taking stuff when I need some at home. As a consequence, I have not bought soap in seven years, a streak I continue to keep intact.  Additionally, while on the plane to California I was keeping up with my Travel & Leisure reading and they had a short article that said hotels actually budget and expect each patron to consume a complete set of toiletries per evening of each stay. With that new information in hand, I repacked my backs and loaded up the loot.

Why? Because a.) Who wants to make Travel & Leisure a liar, b.) Who wants to disappoint the hotels by not taking their stuff, c.) Who wants to let the hotels (THE MAN) win by keeping the revenue from not having to replace the soap in my room? And finally, d.) I am really good at rationalizing my actions.

One of the exceptional aspects that I enjoy at the Parker are the grounds—brown gravel trails cover the estate winding between dense foliage revealing alcoves of chairs and fountains, croquet fields, tennis courts, two pools, giant chess sets, etc, etc. etc. There are also 12 villas and the “Gene Autry Suite scattered on the property. As we arrived and walked around, the temperate (for that time of year) 90 degree temps meant lots of people were out enjoying the property.

One of the highlights for me is that each evening before bed I can take a short walk down to one of the pools for a quick dip. Stars in the sky, the moon shining through 30ft tall palm trees and a swim alone in silence is high on my list of preferred activities. I actually think it ties back to growing up with a pool in Southern California; it is just a sense of being alone and free.

Since it was work travel and we were all fairly run down by a long week, we ate at both Norma’s and Mister Parkers on the hotel property and had a few cocktails at the hotel bar.  The service and food were both fine if a bit overpriced. I could spend another three pages on meals but I figure most have abandoned reading at this point.

In total the grounds, setting and facilities are 1960s chic and right in line with the “playground” image Palm Springs has always had. The hipster crowd is looking to kick back by the pool, sip beverages all day before relaxing into the wee hours. However, the service is inconsistent in the restaurants and other areas, including cigarette butts on my balcony for two days, dirty towels by the pool, waiters who disappeared once the food was dropped off. With service inconsistencies and overpriced food, it is more of an “experience” and not a value play for travelers.

I have been twice, but maybe I am still hoping to have an experience worthy of being on Bravo.

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