The Romantic Gringo

Monday, January 16, 2012

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

>As soon as R.G. and her brother C.G. spotted the stained-glass spectacle of the Starlight Lodge signage, coupled with the fairy tale facade of its office, they knew their miserable drive was over for the night. (The trip was really gorgeous through the mountains right there, but they'd racked up too many miles that day to appreciate it properly. Plus, it was dark.) When they entered their room to find forest trompe l'oeil wallpaper, Ukrainian folk art, and paisley bedspreads, C.G. announced, "Hard work, paid off!" Joy, don't you know.

The Starlight is adorably weird, as you can sort of see from R.G.'s photos. (R.G.'s camera phone is inadequate to indoor light.) Glenwood Springs is also a find. A couple blocks from the lodge (technically a motel but indeed situated in lovely Alpine mountains) are ancient Indian vapor caves, in which R.G and C.G. sweated the next morning. You walk in through a spa, descend into crazy cavernous caves with multiple rooms, pick a slab of rock on which to recline, and steam yourself into bliss. Then you shower and sit in an ugly solarium until you're ready to either do it again or embrace your day. Despite their good accommodation luck, R.G. and C.G. let the driving get to them and had a blow-out fight before entering the caves, and, quick as you like, those caves melted their animosity right out of them.

Starlight Lodge, 121 West 6th Street, Glenwood Springs, CO,(970) 945-8591, $50 for a double; dog free with promise of good behavior. TV, coffee maker, no internet. Yampah Spa and Salon,

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs has been a dream destination for R.G. ever since she saw, in the mid-nineties, in The New Yorker, a photo spread of its mid-century architectural glories. So when she discovered the geographic truth that to get from Phoenix to L.A. a driver would have to gas right on through Palm Springs, she knew a night in the desert oasis would soon be hers.

Research for an inexpensive old charmer that allowed dogs turned up Caliente Tropics Resort, where, in its heyday, Elvis Presley once cavorted. These days Caliente is a cool, somewhat ironic, tiki-themed, high end motel with lovely pool and grass-hutted dog run. (When R.G. and C.G. were there, C.G.'s dog ran it by his lonesome.) The resort aspect--restaurant and bar--is awaiting a kick start. But for restauranteurs to lease it, The Congo Room (see third photo) is all set to go. If you are such a person, please make this happen. R.G. forgot to take photos of the inside, so you'll just have to take her word for its tiki magnificence.

On the other hand, a hopping Congo Room would surely up the rates, and as it is now the nearby Ace Motel provides excellent nightlife and eating. The Ace Motel also has great aesthetics, at significantly higher rates. Stay in Caliente, visit Ace is R.G.'s sage advice.

Caliente Tropics Resort, 411 E. Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs,, $73 for a double, $25 for dog. TV, internet, coffee maker, knowledgeable concierge.