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Naturist Quest Ends in Sensual Feast

April 06, 1986|JUDY SATIN | Satin is an Alhambra free-lance writer.

PALM SPRINGS — When my husband turned 30 a couple of years ago, he thought he needed to do something to convince himself that he was still as adventuresome as he was at 20. I agreed to help when he selected nude sunbathing.

I now have a thing for sunbathing in the nude. I also have a thing for not playing volleyball or cooking chili that way. We used to have two choices: to sunbathe quietly at home or go to a nudist club and weather the humiliation of playing boccie ball in the altogether.

I say used to because we found a happy medium one mile from downtown Palm Springs and a million miles from the commonplace.

Two trusted friends told us about Le Petit Chateau. Billed as "the only clothes-optional bed-and-breakfast inn in the country," it offers its guests a separate environment, a "cocoon," as owners Don and Mary Robidoux describe it. The fact that swimming and sunbathing by the pool is optionally au naturel is almost incidental to the special attraction and charm of this Mediterranean-style resort.

Sinfully Tempting Breakfast

The talented and hard-working Robidouxes have a clean, safe, well-maintained operation. Mary, one of the sweetest people in the nation, prepares sinfully tempting breakfasts of eggs, sausages, ham, bagels, English muffins, sweet rolls, fresh yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, orange juice and fresh-ground coffee. You'll even find peanut butter between the cream cheese and whipped butter.

In the late afternoon the table was filled again with wine and cheese and a variety of appetizing snacks. Mealtime attire ranged from silk robes to silken skin.

The rooms are spacious and cool and individually furnished, many with antiques that Don and Mary have collected. Some even have complete kitchen facilities for those who don't want to go home. Special rates are available for extended stays.

With private patios, king-size beds and unusual decor, they make you feel like you're a guest in your best friend's home.

Visits With Good Friends

Guests range in age from early 20s to late 60s. There are business people and doctors as well as homemakers and retirees. Most are world travelers, such as a couple who just returned from a six-week trip to the rain forests of Ecuador. Having traveled extensively, they have just about seen it all. Their trips to Le Petit Chateau, they say, are like visits with good friends, coupled with the elegance and regal treatment to which they are accustomed.

With only 10 rooms surrounding the sparkling, kidney-shaped pool, a comfortable social atmosphere prevails. A couple can choose to keep to themselves, but it would be difficult not to be swept up in the warm, friendly banter that seems inherent in this carefree atmosphere.

Having danced away one evening at a popular club within walking distance of the inn, we were extremely grateful the next morning for two other special features--the Jacuzzi and an expert masseur.

The entire place is a sensual feast. Don's own design, Hawaiian-style misters emit a fine spray of cool water on bodies lying below on a row of lounge chairs; soft music plays, and the majestic San Jacinto mountain range rises in the background.

Hidden Behind Bougainvillea

Don and Mary have created an enjoyable, restful experience.

The complex is hidden behind magenta bougainvillea-covered walls and filled with flowers and lush green plants. Only guests have keys to the locked front door. Completely private and secure, relaxing and lovely, Le Petit Chateau is indeed a cocoon.

Le Petit Chateau is at 1491 Via Soledad, Palm Springs 92262, phone (619) 325-2686. Rates are $74 to $91 a night double, including breakfast and afternoon wine and snacks.

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