The Former Camp Palm Springs Makes a Dramatic and Luxurious Rebirth as The Skylark

Posted By: Matt Link Monday, January 14, 2013

After twelve years as Camp Palm Springs, visitors will be in for the quite the shock when they come upon its new incarnation as The Skylark.

The Desert Sun newspaper recently referred to Camp Palm Springs as a “somewhat seedy dive,” and that may have been stating it mildly. It took the creative kind and resources of real estate developer Jesse Rhodes (whose high-profile resume includes San Franciso’s City Hall, The Fairmont San Francisco, and The Plaza in New York) to envision what the vintage 1955 property could actually become. Along with his partner of seventeen years, Bryan Galloyt (a former partner of Red, White and Bluezz Jazz restaurant in Pasadena), this is the first time the couple has owned a hotel, and it’s their first joint venture together.

“We weren’t even sure if we wanted to go into the hotel business,” admits Rhodes. “We peeked into it, and here we are. Like a tide pulling us in. We got a great space and just started to create. The brand started to build on itself. Midcentury Modern is a very specific aesthetic. Palm Springs, and the previous hotel space lent themselves to the creation and were the initial motivators to the design.”

In a major overhaul that took just a few short months (and estimated to have cost around $1 million), the hotel’s 29 rooms were gutted, walls torn down, furniture hauled away, and whole areas repurposed. Not to mention a complete trendy retro rebranding of the property back to its original name, The Skylark. Last December 28th, a crowd in snazzy suits and gowns were treated to a live performance by Jason Brock (a finalist on TV’s X Factor). The upscale scene was a complete 180-degree turn from the shenanigans the hotel was used to witnessing.

Gone are the rusted outdoor gym (guests have free access to a workout facility just down the street), the back room “play area” (now a luxurious steam room area with showers and locker space), and the beat-up circa-1980s furniture (replaced with reproductions of mid-century Danish walnut furnishings and 500 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets). Now there’s everything from eco-friendly snack bar stations to a silver Rolls Royce that can pick up guests from the airport. The building has been painted with whimsical ‘50s primary color accents, and the whole place has an atmosphere of fun while firmly retaining its class.

Before the hotel’s official grand opening in mid-April, The Skylark Lounge, an on-site cocktail bar with live entertainment and a “retro speak easy” vibe, will be open. There will also be a “Swim Club” monthly membership to grant access to The Skylark’s sprawling heated pool and 16-person clover-shaped Jacuzzi. The new owners have already thrown theme events, like the “Some Like It Hot” weekend with a ‘50s-themed bathing suit pool party. (Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis were both guests of The Skylark in the 1950s.)

The Skylark (located on Palm Canyon Drive north of downtown) will remain proudly gay-owned and gay-marketed. However, it will no longer be clothing-optional (as opposed to the anything-goes atmosphere of Camp Palm Springs). It will also be “straight-friendly” as a marketed as a welcoming place where gay and lesbians can bring hetero family and friends without worry about blushing.

Winter rates for The Skylark start at just $129 a night. For more information, go to or call 760-320-5984.


  • Geoff C Tuesday, March 26, 2013 7:30 AM

    I am a gay male, who visited a friend at Camp Palm Springs. It was a fright. I am so glad that the new owners have brought some class back to being gay. While I think there is a niche for the shenanigans that you refer to, I'm glad you have made it straight friendly and look forward to a peek in when I am down this summer. I own property in the desert and look forward to my trips from Canada. Good luck guys and great work!

  • Tyler Friday, July 12, 2013 14:03 PM

    There are fewer and fewer gay boutique hotels left in Palm Springs it seems. Straight people don't necessarily pay attention to the places they are staying it and therefore are in for a shock when they realize its gay too. Not cool.

  • Queen of Swords Sunday, August 10, 2014 20:35 PM

    Actually Tyler... "Straight People" DO in fact research hotels online before booking, notice nice and not so nice details and then follow up with reviews on trip advisor... just like you GAYS! Unbelievable what we all have in common! I have to say, I had to double check what the date was on your post, I thought it might have been mid century not so modern.

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