The Monkey Tree

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

The Terra Cotta Inn was a clothing optional resort for over 30 years in Palm Springs. During this time, the owners Tom and Mary Claire had a great time running the nudist resort. As they got older, they felt it was time to sell the property.

When Gary and Kathy Friedle were getting ready to retire from their New York City Wall Street and Architectural firms they had a realtor show a handful of  boutique hotels for sale. When they toured the Terra Cotta Inn with a taupe and mauve exterior and painted sunset in every room, the Friedle’s appreciated its good bones and location.

They purchased the property with the intension to bring it back to its 1960’s beauty. This talented couple researched the history of the property, and looked at photos of when it was designed by architect Albert Frey with 16 rooms on a private one acre. It was originally an overflow hotel for extra guests at the famous Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club. Grey designed two other hotels in the Movie Colony area of Palm Springs.

The Friedle’s changed the color scheme to yellow, blue and white with rolling green lawns. There are plenty of yellow and white lounge chairs with yellow umbrellas for guests to relax by the pool. A whimsical element is the two large inflatable swans floating around the pool.

They gave the resort a coat of fresh paint inside and out and spent three months renovating the property. Daily trips to consignment and mid-century modern stores in Palm Springs inspired the Friedles to purchase 1960 period pieces to offer an authentic uniqueness in each room.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

When they learned that Marilyn Monroe used to stay in one of the rooms at the hotel (at least once with JFK), they made this the Presidential Suite.

While renovating the property, a woman visited the property and shared with the Friedle’s that she used to babysit Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s children when they all stayed at the resort. It has history and a celebrity element.

Some of the rooms have a kitchenette for those who want to entertain in their room or out near the pool. Instead of giving guests plastic bottles of water, the owners put in a filtration system and offer a glass bottle in each rom that can be refilled. If you stay longer than two days, the staff will provide you with a mesh bag and wash your clothes.

Just minutes from downtown and uptown Palm Spring and close to the airport, one side of the resort has majestic views of the San Jacinto Mountains. This property is a destination for active and health-minded travelers that want a quiet getaway.  Gary is happy to share the best running, biking and hiking trails in Palm Springs. He put in a cold plunge pool (55 degrees) near a small hot pool (102 degrees) for therapy to his active guest’s muscles. There is also a wonderful large lap and swim pool. You won’t find children screaming and doing cannonballs here. Each room is limited to two guests. It’s a respectful and quiet place that is more ‘Chill’. No yappy dogs or ruckus pool parties here.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

For those not so active, sit by the pool or lounge on one of the enormous pink inflatable swans.

There is no bar or restaurant, but there is a “living room” next to the office where Gary cooks in his new restaurant-grade kitchen a complimentary healthy breakfast with fresh fruit, granola and scones in the mornings for guests. In the evening Kathy whips up a pitcher of sunset sangria for guests to sip with one of Gary’s caramelized onion and Gruyère cheese handmade tarts.

(Owner Gary near the therapy pools - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Owner Gary near the therapy pools – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

For lunch and dinner there are a multitude of restaurants less than five-minutes away. Some of my favorite go-to dining spots are all on Palm Canyon Drive – Try the poolside restaurant Reservoir at the Arrive Hotel, Kaiser Grille, LuLu’s and Las Casuelas Terrace for blood orange margaritas and So Cal Mexican cuisine.

If the weather is too hot for you during the summer, drive 10 minutes away to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to enjoy temperatures 30 degrees less than the Palm Springs desert floor and spend the day looking out at the breathtaking views or hike among vanilla smelling Jeffrey pine trees.

Another cool spot is the Palm Springs Art Museum with 28 modern art galleries, theater and museum store. This architecturally interesting building, designed by E. Stewart Williams is air-conditioned and offers a cafe.

Take advantage of the summer deals in Palm Springs by going to

The Monkey Tree Hotel is located at 2388 E. Racquet Club Road, Palm Springs, 760-322-6059 –


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s