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Terra Cotta Inn, Palm Springs, Report.

February 2004

The rest of the grounds of the Terra Cotta Inn, including a peak at the heated pool.

My wife Kelly & I recently returned from an 11 day getaway at the Terra Cotta Inn, a couples-only 17 room inn located in a residential area in the northern part of Palm Springs, California. The Terra Cotta Inn is one of several nudist resorts in Palm Springs. The others are Morningside Inn (smaller and, apparently, more oriented to weekend visitors) and Desert Shadows (much larger with the now-famous nude bridge). There are also several other clothing-optional spots in Desert Hot Springs, a city just north of Palm Springs. This was our first visit to Terra Cotta and to Palm Springs. Somewhat oddly, there is a daycare center right next door to the inn, something that confused one first-time visitor that we talked to who drove right past the place not believing that a nudist resort and a daycare could be so close together.

The inn includes a nice hot tub and a decent-sized heated pool. Most rooms have a patio, many of them heated as well as mist-cooled. Apparently, the pool area is also mist-cooled when the temperatures soar in the summer. Other amenities include complimentary continental breakfast and afternoon wine & hors'derves, an amazing video library to borrow from, as well as massage, manicure and pedicure services. The owners Tom and Mary Claire as well as the other staff were extremely helpful and went out of their way to make our stay as enjoyable as possible. While there is no onsite restaurant, each day they offered to bring in lunch for those that were not going out. They also have a binder containing menus for many of the restaurants in town so that you can plan your dining out or ordering in. Last, some rooms, like ours, contained a small kitchen allowing you to prepare your own meals if that's your thing.

The weather was a bit iffy during our stay as southern California experienced near record rainfalls and below-normal temps. Of course, in the week prior and after our visit the weather was just wonderful. But weather aside, we still managed to have a good, relaxing vacation. When the sun came out it was really nice to lie by the pool even though the temps were only mid 60's. We even managed to get some tan and even a bit of sunburn under the warm sun. When there was a chill in the air we relaxed under the heated patio or in the hot tub.

This is a place that we will definitely be returning to. During our stay there was a good mix of people, from first timers to those like us that belong to landed clubs, and couples in their 20's through to retirees. We were struck by how friendly everybody was. We got to know most of the other couples staying there and will be keeping in touch with many of the friends we made. Several couples were also surprised by this as their previous experiences were with larger resorts where people didn't tend to talk to one another. I think the small size of the inn certainly helped bring people together. The 4pm wine and munchies (served by the owner in black-tie) were also particularly popular.

Several things to note: Terra Cotta may not be the place for you if you need to have lots of activities. As a small inn it doesn't have the tennis courts or other facilities that you get in a bigger resort. Also, while our room was very comfortable and very clean, don't be expecting a 5-star room (or 5-star prices). But do expect to stay in a place with lots of charm and some interesting history (ask Tom about JFK and Marilyn Monroe...). For us and, judging by their occupancy rate, many others, Terra Cotta is just right. We are looking forward to our next visit. If you're interested, be sure it book as early as possible as aside from the weeks just before and after Christmas, they are usually pretty full.

A few pictures of the Terra Cotta Inn as well as some of the sights around Palm Springs can be found on our web site in the travel section.

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