The Golden Palace begins where The Golden Girls had ended, in the quartet's now-sold Miami house. With Dorothy Zbornak having married and left in the previous series finale, the three remaining cast members (Dorothy's mother, Sophia Petrillo, Rose Nylund and Blanche Devereaux) decide to invest in a Miami hotel that is up for sale. The hotel, however, is revealed to have been stripped of all of its personnel in an effort to appear more profitable, leaving only two employees: Roland Wilson, the hotel's manager, and Chuy Castillos, the hotel's chef. This requires the women to perform all the tasks of the hotel's staff.
After their ex-roommate Dorothy moves away to Atlanta with her new husband, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia sell their house and decide to purchase a dilapidated hotel near the beach.
Blanche and Roland clash over who is the boss of the hotel, meanwhile Rose unknowingly opens up the hotel to a serial killer.
Rose suspects Miles has been unfaithful to her when his name is found in the hotel registry dating back several years.
Rose adopts a delusional elderly woman who thinks she's her daughter; Sophia and Chuy decide to go into the Chinese takeout business.
Chuy meets an old friend with a grudge against him; the staff try to make it through the weekend incident free when they realize they don't have any insurance coverage.
Blanche and Rose are concerned that Roland overworks himself and decide to compete to find him a new girlfriend. Rose finds a beautiful young girl and Blanche tracks down Roland's southern ex-girlfriend Tricia. Only when Tricia is already on the plane to Miami does Blanche find out that Roland hates her. Sophia is jealous of Chuy because he was chosen over her to represent the hotel at a television show.
Dorothy visits her ex-roommates at the Golden Palace, hoping to convince Sophia to come and live with her and her husband in Atlanta.
Sophia runs away to her old rest home. When the other girls try to get her, they find that it is no longer anywhere near as bad as she said it was.
Nick De Carlo, a handsome patron says he cannot pay the bill and wants to work in the kitchen. The girls want to find something more appropriate for him to do and ask him about his trade. Nick says he is a gigolo. Shocked, the girls hire him anyway to wash the dishes. When Blanche's date dies, and Nick proposes to escort Blanche to her diner. They really hit it off on their date, and when he has paid off his debt, he thinks of changing jobs. Blanche offers him to stay at the hotel and take care of him. Roland takes Chuy to a seminar from the author of "Ready, Willing and Able" so he changes his personality. Chuy is supposed to walk on hot coal so he overcomes his fears. It turns out Chuy manages but Roland is afraid to do the same. Chuy talks him into it. Rick tells Blanche he does not want her to pay for everything. He wants to go back to Indiana and work in his brother's store to earn money. But he still asks for more money before he leaves. Rose finds out his hometown does not exist and threatens to tell Blanche. Nick gives up and leaves.
Roland's parents call to visit. He thinks they are flying over to tell him his dog died. It turns out they have decided to get a divorce. A comic duo is coming for a radio show live from The Golden Palace. Sophia advises the duo to use Rose for the show where they need a stupid person to make fun of. The prank goes too far and Rose thinks she killed one of the hosts. Roland's dad wants to move in with him until he finds a place. Blanche offers to help and gets Roland's parents to talk. Eventually Roland is the one convinced that the divorce is for the best. Sophia decides to tell Rose the truth because she is so upset. But the dead guy comes back dressed as a ghost and chases Rose who shoots him. Sophia, terrified, tells her it was a joke. But Rose reveals she was the practical joker all along. Sophia attempts one last time to turn the situation around.
When The Daughters of the Traditional South are set to arrive at the hotel, Blanche hangs a Confederate flag on the front counter, though this doesn't bode well with Roland. Meanwhile, Rose is outraged when a married man whom she knows checks in with his mistress.
Chuy does not like Christmas because of bad memories in his childhood. Roland accepts to be Santa at the children's hospital. Rose wants him to be a perfect Santa so she puts him through a training with Sophia. Unfortunately, a group of guests being medically treated for depression threaten to check out if anything reminds them of Christmas in the hotel. This makes Rose miserable and Chuy very happy. That night, Chuy dreams of Rose as the spirit of Christmas past. She takes him to his father's kitchen so he realizes his father wanted to teach him what Christmas was about when all he could feel was shame being dressed as a giant cake. Blanche appears then as the ghost "of Christmas presents" who shows him that his friends have to celebrate Christmas out in the cold so as not to upset the guests and wait for him to open their presents. Sophia is the ghost of Christmas yet to come. She shows him how his hatred of Christmas made him a hated man who took over the hotel and made his friends miserable. Chuy wakes up and yells Merry Christmas all over the hotel, convincing the guests Christmas is a great time.
Miles contacts Rose again and wants them back together. Blanche advises Rose to date other people to get over him. Roland tells Blanche something is wrong in the books and he suspects someone may be stealing money from the hotel. Blanche swears she will not tell anyone while he investigates. A woman wants her wedding organized at the hotel and Rose wants it to be a cow-themed traditional wedding. Blanche suspects Sophia, then Chuy about the thefts. Rose decides to get back together with Miles until she finds out he is about to marry the very woman whose wedding she organized. Roland catches Blanche taking money from the cash drawer, not even realizing she is embezzling. Rose wants to attend the wedding so she can get on with her life.
Sophia and Oliver joy ride in a guest's car and wind up in police custody.
Rose organizes a romantic getaway night at the hotel with Dr. Ursula as a guest to give a lecture. Blanche is excited because Taylor Michaels is coming to town. She once lost this man to another woman but Rose is the one Taylor is interested in when he arrives. Sophia signs up Roland with her to the lecture because she feels she lost her sex appeal and Roland has a poor sex life. Blanche is jealous that Rose and Ernie are dating so she finds a way to get Rose occupied while she replaces her on a date with Taylor. Taylor offers the two girls to have diner together the next evening. Blanche cannot stand that Taylor wants Rose and not her. Rose shows her that she is more important to her that he is.
The Golden Palace is being sued by the owner of another hotel : he says part of the girls' parking lot is on his property. Blanche challenges herself and tries to deal with this as a business woman instead of seducing the man so he drops his charge. Chuy is mad because Roland, who is the captain of the volleyball team, will not let him play but lets Rose on the team even though she is not better than he is. Blanche finally finds a solution to the problem without getting romantically involved with the hotel owner even though he flirts with her. Rose decides to be a cheerleader instead of playing but one of the player hurts himself so Roland asks Chuy to play. However they loose because of him and Roland gets upset which he later regrets. Once the business chapter is closed with the hotel owner, Blanche accepts a date.
Rose is enamored with a hotel guest who looks exactly like Charlie; Blanche is horrified to discover her visiting son Matthew wants to pursue a career as a comedian.
A dead body, a news crew and a health inspector all descend upon the hotel during its weekend-long re-opening celebrations leaving the staff scrambling.
Blanche's relationship with a greyhound breeder becomes strained when Rose finds out what will happen if his dog doesn't win the next race.
Chuy's big mouth results in Roland losing his job after it's revealed he met with the owners of a rival hotel.
It is revealed that Blanche has another brother - a mentally handicapped man who has been living in an institution.
The girls learn that Dorothy's ex-husband Stan has died, but Sophia eventually finds out the truth when Stan shows up: he faked death and left the country to avoid paying back taxes.
Spring Break finds a horde of college kids descending upon the hotel; Rose receives a visit from her granddaughter Charlene who is contemplating sex with her boyfriend.