Dry Heat Resorts –  feeling at home away from home, in Palm Springs

Since 2004, Dry Heat Resorts offer a unique collection of homes from spacious condos to mid-century modern architectural ranch homes in the diverse communities of Palm Springs. Vacation rentals are the hotel alternative for travellers looking for more space and more privacy for less money. Mr Hudson speaks to Kenny Felsher, founder, about his prolific vacation rental business, the values of the company, their unique customer service, and some of his favourite places in Palm Springs.

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Tell us a little bit about the story behind Dry Heat Resorts?  

I started Dry Heat Resorts in 2004. Initially, I moved here from Los Angeles and rented out my own home with the hope of paying my annual mortgage by renting it for only four Winter months. While doing that, a friend of mine had a condo and let me represent it as well. I noticed that numerous homeowners in his condo complex were renting out their condos themselves and decided to ask them if they needed help with renting them out. By the end of the 2004/2005 season, I was representing seven condos in that community. While I never intended to go into the vacation rental business, I realized that it was a good business and pursued other condos. Over time, I started getting homes with private pools as well. For the first five years, most of the properties I represented weren’t very nice. Then I listed a very nice house and realized I could earn a lot more money with one very nice house than with many condos. This caused me to shift away from condos and focus on homes. At first, I managed mostly modest homes. Over time, I got nicer and nicer homes and redefined my business as a provider of high-end luxury vacation properties. I only have one part-time employee, so I offer very personal service to my guests. When a guest calls with an issue, they get to talk to me. I pride myself on providing reliable and personal service. My motto is “Better Properties. Personal Service”. My guest reviews seem to back that motto up.

Also, tell us a bit about your backstory

Before starting Dry Heat Resorts in 2004, I lived and worked in LA as a technology salesman for a business to business software. At the height of my software sales career, I was selling $100,000 software systems to Fortune 1,000 companies. The software I was selling at the time became obsolete due to some new technologies. I had just moved to Palm Springs and started renting out properties here and decided that since that business was on its way out, I would commit myself to build the vacation rental business. Little did I know back in 2004 that Airbnb would come along a few years later and take the industry to a whole new level.

“They’re people who work from home who live in small spaces in big cities that are looking to self-quarantine in a beautiful pool home in a warmer climate”

What makes vacation homes so special these days?  

Vacation homes have been taking market share from hotels for decades now. People prefer getting more space for less money. They like the privacy of having their own home. Since many Palm Springs vacation homes are mid-century modern homes, they like living as the locals lived back in a bygone era. The pandemic has increased interest in vacation rentals even more. Many renters today aren’t vacationers. They’re people who work from home who live in small spaces in big cities that are looking to self-quarantine in a beautiful pool home in a warmer climate.

What are the core values of Dry Heat Resorts? 

Better Properties. Personal Service. And, very well maintained properties. Most guests tell me the property is better in person than in the pictures.

Why are vacation homes so popular with the gay community?  

I honestly don’t know that vacation homes are more or less popular with the gay community. However, since vacation homes are private self-contained spaces, some gay people might feel more comfortable being themselves in a private home than in a hotel common area. Of course, everywhere in Palm Springs is gay friendly, so they don’t have to worry about that here.

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“I talk to my customers, I think most people are tired of never being able to talk to someone”

What experience can guests expect at Dry Heat Resorts?  

Personal Service. When they call Dry Heat Resorts, they will reach me directly. The number on my website is my cell phone number. If it goes to voicemail, I usually return calls within two hours. If they email me about a property, I usually respond within two hours. From booking through arrival, I handle most everything. That’s a unique experience in this day and age. I think most people are tired of never being able to talk to someone. I talk to my customers. It’s a very personal experience. The properties I represent are some of the finest ones in Palm Springs. They’re maintained better than most. I hear it from so many of my guests that I have the best properties in town. Things work at my properties, and if an issue arises, someone is available to come to the property within an hour (in most cases). I structured my properties so that everyone is at most a 15-minute drive from my home office. Most of the homes are less than 5 minutes drive from my office. This allows me to provide a quick response time.

How important is good design for vacation properties today?  

In general, the design is essential for vacation rentals today. That’s one of the reasons that I represent a number of designer-decorated properties.

“I want to focus on quality and not the number of properties. My current portfolio has something for everyone, both size and style-wise”

How do you keep up with changing customer needs and expectations? 

I listen to what customers are telling me. One recent example is how I’ve improved the WiFi speed at the properties. This was necessary because so many people are coming with their families. The parents are working while the kids are remote learning. You need faster WiFi when you have five people having Zoom calls simultaneously.

Do you have plans for another project in the future?  

Not at this time. I like keeping my business small. I actually turn down new properties all the time. I want to focus on quality and not the number of properties. My current portfolio has something for everyone, both size and style-wise.

What makes Palm Springs such a special destination? 

I’ve lived here for 17 years, and the mountain view still hasn’t gotten old. It’s like our beach. We have over 350 days of sunshine, palm trees everywhere, cool mid-century modern architecture, a stylish pool lifestyle. I love the retro vibe of Palm Springs. The hiking and biking are incredible, the desert flora and fauna is beautiful. We have indigenous Palm Tree forests and underground hot springs (Hence the name Palm Springs). We offer world-class dining while still being a relatively small city. For gay travelers, in particular, it’s probably the most gay and gay-friendly city in the US. 50% of the year-round residents are gay. Our mayor is bisexual, and every member of our city council is LGBT. We have great gay nightlife as well.

What are some of your favourite places in Palm Springs that people need to know about?

The Tropicale, LuLus, On The Mark, Mr Lyons, Spencer’s Restaurant.

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