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Insider: Palm Springs, Oasis Once Again

Get Naked

Clothing isn't an option—except on the chilliest days—at Desert Shadows Inn Resort & Villas, a nudist retreat built on the site of Errol Flynn's old hotel and Doris Day's former estate. Anyone can check in, try out the nude yoga and nude spa treatments, and dine alfresco (in every sense of the term). Visit the gift shop as you leave and pick up a nude world order T-shirt to ease your reentry into the land of the clothed and the inhibited. 1533 Chaparral Rd.; 760/325-6410; doubles from $135.

Spa Du Jour

A year after Palm Springs' Givenchy Spa opened, it placed third in the Robb Report's spa ranking—possibly because of an in-house seaweed product harvested off the Brittany coast, or the 450 varieties of roses blooming in the garden. Merv Griffin, the game-show king, had already purchased it and changed the property's name (it's now Merv Griffin's Resort Hotel & Givenchy Spa). You can still enjoy the marine mud wraps, sudation gels, and hydro-jet massages, all in Francophile splendor. 4200 E. Palm Canyon Dr.; 800/276-5000; two-night spa packages from $775.

Architecture Drive

Much of Palm Springs' current popularity is based on the trove of classic buildings dating from the late forties through the sixties, the golden era of California Modernism. Here's a short tour of some of the highlights, recommended by John Hall of John's Mid-Century Modern: Start at the Tramway Gas Station, at the corner of North Palm Canyon Drive and Tramway Road—a perfect melding of high design and consumer efficiency, by architect Albert Frey. Continue south on North Palm Canyon Drive, turn right on Vista Chino Drive, and head west toward the mountains to see Richard Neutra's famous Kaufmann House, whose granite façade rises out of a garden of boulders. Next door, you'll catch a glimpse of the home Frey fashioned for industrial designer Raymond Loewy—creator of the Coca-Cola bottle and the Greyhound bus. Return to Palm Canyon and turn on Alejo Road to find Twin Palms, the house Stewart Williams designed for Frank Sinatra. Finally, from Palm Canyon, turn onto Tahquitz Canyon Way and look west into the mountains to see the aerie Frey built for himself—a glass and aluminum beacon at sunset.


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