My first visit to Coachella is a success! (In this particular case, success is defined in large part of having made it home alive with all my digits still attached and having a wicked good time while there.) For future searchers wondering about Shadow Hills, I figured I'd give the resort a little shout-out.
I get how "the kids these days" would want to be partaking in the on-site camping...I sure would have wanted to do that if I was south of 30 years old. Being north of 40, I definitely couldn't see myself suffering the heat all day, partying all night long, and then trying to sleep in the dust on a thermarest in a flimsy tent.
Given that I was attending pretty much alone, I don't think that a hotel would be the best place for me either. I might meet some people around the pool or wherever, but I'm not sure if that would be the easiest place to make some new friends. Shadow Hills is a great mix of the two. I get the benefit of having my own air-conditioned space, but also the camaraderie from the variety of RV and tent campers that stay there.
I didn't hang at the pool much, but it certainly was packed throughout the day, and again after the fest. On return on the shuttle (which is also a tremendous win) at the end of the night, the owners of the resort had the BBQ fired up to cook up grub for those needing late night snacks, the pool was open until 2 or 3 am, and plenty of people were up and having drinks, especially in the tent camping area.
The average age of people staying there was probably around 30. Definitely some around 20, and some of us oldballs as well. The crowd was friendly, as you'd expect from a bunch of Coachella-goers, and plenty of good times were being had.
It's definitely a quieter place. I was chatting with a couple of people who were helping out the owners who mentioned how they would really prefer to have more of us relaxed beer-drinking card players than Snoop-playing Jagerbomb partiers. So if you're intent on cranking up your tunes so it can be heard 12 RV spots down, this might not be the place for you. But I don't think you'd need to worry about being told to shush if you're mindful of those around you. Some of those I hung out with had plenty of loud tunes, just not cranked right up.
To make a short post very long, I'm pretty pleased with Shadow Hills and imagine I'll return there when I come for my next Coachella, whenever that is. The 2012 price for RV camping was $75 a night for two people (add'l $25 a night for each add'l person), which seemed pretty good value to me. Not sure of the tent camping price, but it was less.
tl;dr Shadow Hills good.