By Emelina Minero
While in Palm Springs, CA during the Dinah Shore Weekend I visited lesbian resort Casitas Laquita, owned by partners Joanna and Denise. The facilities, both the rooms and the outdoor pool area, are gorgeous. As Joanna was giving us a tour, women were floating in the pool and reading by the pool side, and one woman came towards us with a smile and greeted my Palm Springs tour guide, Hillary, with a huge hug and then talked to Joanna for a moment. I found out that she was one of the long-term residents who stays at Casita Laquitas for 6 months out of the year, for the past ten years. For some women, Casitas Laquita is a safe and relaxing getaway, for others, its their home.
After my visit, I chatted with Joanna and Denise more about Casitas Laquita and the community they have created.
When did you two move to Palm Springs, and what brought you to Palm Springs?
We moved to Palm Springs in 1998. We had vacationed in Palm Springs as children with our parents and as adults we continued to enjoy this great destination. Our love for Palm Springs, as well as the very gay friendly attitude, are what brought us here to open Casitas Laquita.
What is the LGBT culture and community like in Palm Springs?
Our full-time population is about 45% gay and lesbian. Very, very friendly. We have three openly gay and lesbian city council members, including our mayor. Many gay-owned businesses, including a thriving gay tourism industry.
What inspired you two to create Casitas Laquita?
Denise had a career in the corporate hotel business and wanted to recreate that career on a smaller basis and cater to the lesbian market. Palm Springs was and is a very friendly environment for gays and lesbians.
What is the atmosphere and community like within Casitas Laquita?
The atmosphere is very welcoming and anyone who stays here is made to feel very comfortable whether single or coupled.
Tell me about the famous bread?
The famous bread made by Joanna daily is full of sugar accompanied by some creative concoction, be it chocolate, pineapple, coconut, etc. It is very comforting.
What are the reasons why women come to Casitas Laquita?
They come for the safety, cleanliness, friendly environment, private community, beauty of the grounds, swaying palm trees, sparkling pool, mountain views, and of course, the cake.
You’ve partnered with a new book publishing company and will be hosting a new book festival? Can you tell me more about that?
We have partnered with Sapphire Publishing. Chris and Schileen are two great women and work very hard at their business.
Casitas Laquita is a lesbian resort, but within the lesbian community, who are your clientele?
People do come from all over the world: France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, England, Canada, Mexico, Greece and Spain. Our main market is, however, the US, and predominately the west coast. We cater to all ages, but the median age is around 45-50. Couples make up most of our market, but singles do stay with us. One Dinah Shore we had 8 of our 15 rooms filled with single women.
When I visited, Joanna, you were talking about some women who stay long-term. Can you tell me more about them and what draws them to Casitas Laquita?
Most of our long-term guests come either from Canada or England. They like the safety of our environment and like being around like-minded women. They also enjoy our beautiful weather, as when they stay with us they are usually escaping very cold and snowy temperatures.
What is the most rewarding aspect of operating Casitas Laquita?
Providing a safe and comfortable environment for women so that they can freely be themselves (casitaslaquita.com).