Orbit In entrance neon sign
A neon sign lights the way! You can see several of Herbert Burns’ signature architectural elements before even stepping into the hotel, including stacked sandstone planters, vertical poles, and the use of a secondary lower eave and fascia. In 2015, the property was approved as a Class 1 Historic Site, thanks to the nomination written by former longtime co-manager Jade Nelson. Photo by David Glomb.

If you’re lucky enough to have stayed at the Orbit In, you know it’s so much more than just a great vacation spot. This nine-room boutique hotel, located in the historic Tennis Club area of Palm Springs, was built in 1955 and is right in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. The property was designed by Herbert Burns and originally called “The Village Manor.” Burns and his wife, Gayle, owned several “apartment hotels” in the Tennis Club around this time, and lived in the nearby Town & Desert Apartment Hotel (built in 1947, now called The Hideaway). The couple created a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests, many of whom kept retuning time and time again to their slice of Palm Springs Paradise.  

Orbit In Atomic Paradise room
In the “Atomic Paradise” room, an Orange Slice chair (designed by Pierre Paulin) and boomerang coffee table take center stage. The accent wall with the Palm Springs Weekend movie poster has original Weldtex siding and the vertical poles are used as an interior accent. Photo by Dan Chavkin.

Re-igniting the Spark

Fast-forward several decades to 1999 when Christy Eugenis and Stan Amy came across a “For Sale” sign on the Village Manor. Original features throughout the interior and exterior still remained and the internal systems had been well maintained. Surprisingly, despite the abundant and striking Midcentury Modern architecture in the area, there really weren’t many boutique hotels of the style being renovated at this time.  

 Christy and Stan took 18 months to restore and renovate this mid century gem, creating a truly unique getaway. Most of the original features remain, including pink tile bathrooms (with pink toilets!), white metal kitchens, and even a sandstone fireplace in one of the rooms. Updates to the exterior were done with care to keep in-tune to the original architecture. Christy and Stan worked with local architect Lance O’Donnell to add a tasteful shade structure and a jaw-dropping concrete terrazzo boomerang-shaped poolside bar. Misters were added to keep the guests cool, and a bare concrete area behind the rooms was transformed into private back patios, each unique in their own way.  

Orbit In Bikini Pool
Richard Schultz 1966 Collection outdoor furniture creates the perfect poolside lounging atmosphere. In the foreground to the right, note the original sandstone planter and vertical pole elements, common features in Herbert Burns architecture. Photo by David Glomb.

A Shooting Star

In March 2001, the hotel opened under the new name “Orbit In.” Architectural photography legend Julius Shulman was even there for the opening! Just as Herbert and Gayle hosted with warm and welcoming arms, so did new owners Stan and Christy. Frequent guests Jinny Park and Kevin Miller were enjoying a quiet visit at the hotel in 2004, when they started dreaming of one day buying the Orbit In. Lounging out beneath the palm trees, the couple saw a glittering star shoot across the sky as they were chatting of their future plans. In 2007, that dream became a reality when the couple purchased the property from Stan and Christy.  

Kevin and Jinny have certainly kept with the tradition of owning and operating the small property with open arms, making each guest feel like family. “We’ve tried to run it from a guest’s perspective,” says Kevin. “And that is getting very hard to find nowadays … there’s not many people that own the inn and run the inn,” he continues. The couple can often be found hosting Orbitini hour, a nightly complimentary happy hour at the boomerang bar (for guests only).  

sunbrella Orbit In pool
Aluminum Sundrella patio umbrellas add both shade and 1950s style to the pool area. Photo by Lindsay Jarvis.

A Touch of Personality

Some of Kevin’s favorite original features include the built-in clocks, vertical pole features, and Weldtex (a striated or combed plywood) accent walls. Each of these striking elements can be found in other Herbert Burns architecture from that time. Burns’ Late Moderne style oozes with casual elegance, and the Orbit In is no exception. Kevin and Jinny have enhanced each room with unique vintage and retro finds. Several of the rooms have original kitchenettes and one room even has a working 1960s HIFI

Orbit In display case
A glass display case in the lobby is full of his vintage finds as well as items that his guests have donated over the years. Photo by Kevin Miller.

A New Caretaker

For the last 13 years, Kevin and Jinny have created an incredible getaway, introducing many new people to the Palm Springs lifestyle (the author of this article included!). But the time has come to pass the torch on to the next caretaker. For any Orbit In guests starting to panic, it’s comforting to know that Kevin and Jinny want to find someone who will keep the legacy going. “We’re not in a hurry, we’re just looking for the right person and the right fit,” says Kevin. “I often think of this as not just a hotel for sale, but it’s sort of a dream for sale,” he continues. 

Although Kevin and Jinny have not officially listed the Orbit In for sale, they are exploring the idea of finding the right caretakers to continue on their legacy of friendly hospitality.  

vintage postcard of Orbit In
In this rare vintage postcard, you can catch a glimpse of the original shade structure on the property. When a new shade structure was added in 2000, the team worked to expand upon what was already there while keeping the spirit of the original architecture.

Kevin notes that they have very much enjoyed running the hotel together. “As a couple, you can really give each other a little time off and come together and help each other when you need it.” And of course, a love for hosting and entertaining would be a great fit for a new owner 

To learn more about Herbert Burns, check out our recent Spring 2021 issue, where we tour an incredible 1948 Burns home. We also take a look back at Burns’ background and architectural style featured in The Design of Herbert W. Burns by Steven Keylon.  

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