Metro Weekly

Winter escapes: Check out Palm Springs and Key West

That rodent Punxsutawney Phil says there are many more weeks of winter left in the season but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around waiting for the next polar vortex. It is plenty warm in California’s desert city of Palm Springs and Florida’s southernmost city of Key West – two of the most gay-friendly destinations in the United States.

Here are a couple hot hotel picks to help get you even more motivated to book a winter escape:

Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs

Palm Springs has had its ups and downs throughout the years, but there is no doubt that it is back in high fashion. Helping to drive the city’s most recent renaissance has been the influx of new hotels, such as the Ace Hotel, The Saguaro and the Riveria.  And joining the scene most recently is the Hard Rock Palm Springs.

The Hard Rock Palm Springs has quickly become the “it spot,” especially for fans of the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival. Formerly Hotel Zoso, the completely refurnished Hard Rock offers 163 oversized suites with custom-designed furnishings and a curated collection of contemporary artwork. The property’s amenities include an outdoor pool and hot tub, poolside cocktail lounge, lobby bar, spa, fitness center and restaurant. While too new to have a AAA rating, there are good odds – that like the Hard Rock’s in Cancun, San Diego and Chicago – that Four Diamonds are in this Palm Spring property’s future.

Current rates and special packages for the Hard Rock Palm Springs are available at  General information on visiting Palm Springs is available at

Island House Key West

While Key West’s popularity has grown well-beyond the LGBT community, who have laid claim to the bohemian city for decades, it is still plenty gay. Thousands of LGBT travelers flock to Key West throughout the year to attend one of its many fabulous events such as Key West Pride, WomenFestTropical Heat and Fantasy Fest, and or simply to enjoy the island’s many year-round attractions. In addition, for many gay male visitors — they visit for the Island House.

Find any list of top gay hotels, and the Island House Key West is probably at or near the top. This private, clothing optional compound provides guests a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, a gym and spa area, and a poolside 24-hour cafe and bar that hosts a free happy hour every evening.  Now through June 30, when guests stay four or more nights at the Island House, they quality for free three-night summer stay in a room of the same type.  The free stay can be taken subject to availability weeknights only (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) between June 9 and Oct. 18. Blackout dates are Sept. 1 to 5. 

Details on the special promotion and current rates for the Island House Key West are available at General information on visiting Key West is available at

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Troy Petenbrink is Metro Weekly's contributing writer for food and travel. He can be reached at