Palm Springs Spotlight: INNdulge
Owners Jon Jackson and Sandy Miller are nurturers by nature
By Kevin Perry
There are two types of family: the one into which we’re born and the one we create ourselves. In the gay community, the latter is sometimes all we have. That’s why Jon Jackson strives to make INNdulge a home away from home for the discerning LGBT traveler.
It’s been his lifelong passion… and passion is booming.
“When I came out of the closet, my friends and I would take road trips out to California, often to Palm Springs,” Jackson reminisces. “Back in the 80’s and 90’s, it was so important to have that sense of security and safety and tribalism. Routinely, gay men would be denied a king size bed, or questioned when checking into a hotel, and you didn’t have that at gay resorts or gay hotels, so I’ve always patronized them for that.”
But acceptance didn’t always yield excellence. Jackson notes that he and his fellow voyagers would often sacrifice quality for a basic sense of belonging. “It seemed like, as gay men, we were being overcharged and under-delivered for our gay dollars. So, at INNdulge, I’m very conscious of that. Since we bought the resort, we’ve made so many different improvements in just really creating a luxury level of accommodations so that our guests feel that they’re appreciated.”
Jackson purchased INNdulge back in 2010 with his best friend, Sandy Miller. The duo hailed from Utah and North Carolina respectively, then met in San Francisco as adults. Jackson had already accumulated a trophy case full of discipline and daring; he graduated from law school, became an accomplished figure skater, and ranked as a certified expert in the sport.
He was even qualified to judge at the Olympics.
Jon was serving flair to spare, so he decided to cook up a new challenge: he and Miller collaborated on a restaurant venture in the City by the Bay… but it was short-lived. “We decided we really liked hospitality, but not the chaos of a restaurant.” After a sojourn to SoCal, they were in prime pouncing position to acquire their dream property. “When INNdulge became available, we jumped right on it.”
The clothing optional oasis revolves around its nerve center: a 12-man Jacuzzi that beckons bathers into its bubbly embrace. This sense of – well, indulgence, ripples outward to a sprawling saltwater pool that is heated and cooled to the perfect temperature year-round. Jackson and Miller have crafted a fabulous feng shui around their water features, inviting guests to gather at the breakfast nook to start their day with a smile and a side of continental fare.
The good vibes emanate throughout the day, culminating in a social hour during which visitors can gaze upon the fleeting rays of the sun as it sets over the rim of their BYOB cocktail. “We not only attract guests who are gregarious, and like to socialize, but the resort is set up in a way that fosters that sense of friendship. As a result, we have such a high rate of return that people treat it like their home away from home. And we run it that way. We have probably the most loyal following of any resort in Palm Springs.” Jon’s tone grows as inviting as his sumptuous surroundings when he coos, “It just ends up being a resort where people come and either see their old friends, or make new friends, and they want to come back.”
From the Olympics to the courtroom, Jackson has racked up a lifetime of accolades, not to mention frequent flyer miles. “I’ve been to 50 different countries and all kinds of crazy cities that no one’s ever heard of because they happen to have an ice rink,” but Palm Springs continues to melt his heart.
Jackson considers his role as a gay entrepreneur both a whimsical privilege and a solemn responsibility. “I have a very high appreciation for the value of the pink dollar and the importance of gay rights,” he declares. “I think there are straight owners who do a great job, but I think as a gay owner I understand better the needs of the customer and I think that’s a really important part of hospitality: knowing what your customer needs and then giving it to them.”
Palm Springs is located squarely at this intersection of seeking and satisfaction. When you finally arrive at your desired destination, there’s only one thing left to do: indulge.