Palm Springs Travel Guide
In September of 2013, Palm Springs lost one of its most treasured buildings to fire, the Community Church of Palm Springs, a city landmark dating back to 1935. The photo below shows the church post-fire. Also damaged was the adjacent Orchid Tree Inn property which included several historic bungalows.
So now, what better news could we share other than not only are these endangered buildings being saved, they are getting a new life as a luxury hotel, The Orchid Tree Resort and Spa.
It’s getting close! Last time we heard about the Palm Springs Hotel, it was taking reservations for a 23 November opening, having hit a construction snag for its planned August opening date. But things have forged ahead, and the hotel is now taking reservations from 10 November. Not only that, but the first pictures have finally arrived. And they’re exciting.
Subtle throwbacks to midcentury modern, but not in an overly kitsch way. Modern, but classically so – it’s beautifully pitched. Simple, stone (unless that’s wood) flooring, flashes of color and Palm Springs legends on the walls. And this bathroom!
Take us there now.
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As the temperature drops from “inferno” to “tannable” in the Coachella Valley, there’s lots going on in the Palm Springs hotel scene. A new restaurant? A hotel opening? A sad demolition? Here’s what’s happening:
· Here’s the first picture from the forthcoming Palm Springs Hotel. Originally slated for an August opening, it “hit a construction snag” but is now on course, with the website taking reservations from 23 November, with rooms from $139 on opening night ($119 the following week).
It was a time when its Doric columns over the porte cochère symbolised the elegance within, and the fountain outside was as thrilling as the Bellagio Fountains of the 21st century.
Yes, it’s Throwback Thursday, and we’re in Palm Springs, courtesy of a vintage postcard from the Palm Springs Visitor Center (they sell them for $1.99). It’s the 1960s, and we’re at the Riviera, that Ratpack favorite that opened in 1958 as the first hotel in the US to be built in a “spoke wheel” shape. Back then, it was every bit as sophisticated as Las Vegas.
Of course, Palm Springs is still sophisticated, even if we can’t say the same for Vegas. The Riviera has undergone a snazzy refurbishment with some seriously beautiful decor in the rooms, but to us, it’s still the most Vegassy of Coachella Valley hotels – when we stayed, we were surrounded by a hard-drinking, scantily-clothed and pool partying contingent.
Not particularly eagle-eyed readers of HC will know we love the Parker Palm Springs with a passion that verges on the stalkeroo, but that our passion is burning a rather large hole in our pockets.
So join with us in rejoicing that the Parker is turning 10 years old on October 1, and to celebrate, it’s inviting us all over for a party at a pretty spectacular rate: a four-course dinner at Mister Parker’s and a room for just $75 per person.
The Colony Palms has always been a sceney place in Palm Springs – especially now that it has semi-official links with Soho House members. If you’re not staying, a meal at the poolside restaurant, the Purple Palm, has always been a good way of poking your nose into that scene – it takes up one side of the pool, so you’re literally feet away from the beautiful people sunbathing, swimming, or, er, coupling in the pool.
The Purple Palm has stepped it up a gear this summer, with a new exec chef, Greg Stillman. He’s going local – focusing on working with California “producers and foragers” to get seasonal ingredients on PP plates – while the restaurant itself got a makeover last month, vamping up the Moroccan elements.
The menu was in soft opening, if you can say that of a menu, when we visited in July. Here’s what we had:
You may have realized by now that the Parker Palm Springs is one of our favorite hotels on earth. You may even have noted that one of the best ways to stay is through the Spa Junkie package, which gives you credit to PSYC (Palm Springs Yacht Club, the spa) with your room rate.
The package used to cost $199 plus tax, and give you $200 spa credit. This year, they changed it to a $250 room rate and $250 credit – not so cool, since the taxes and fees take it up to $324.
However, the Parker just announced it’s dialing back the prices for September - $199 for your stay, $200 spa credit. The deal is bookable until midnight tomorrow by clicking here.
Never judge a book by its cover, people, especially if that book is the Hard Rock Palm Springs.
Because the Hard Rock is launching a “dive in” movie season this Friday at 8pm. That’s right – not a pool party. Not a rave. Granted, the movie is Tommy, but even so – a genteel movie screening on a Friday night. In conjunction with the Palm Springs International Film Society, no less. Whatever next?!
But the Hard Rock Palm Springs is not your usual Hard Rock. This is Palm Springs, darlings, and they go after a different crowd. Eclectic. Open-minded. Party-orientated, yet not necessarily of a bro disposition. Some more reasons why it’s not your typical Hard Rock:
You’re in your room in the middle of the day, taking shelter from the aggressive Palm Springs heat. There’s a knock on your door: “Housekeeping!” Urgh. What do they want?
You open the door. There is a man with a cart outside it. “Hello!” he says. “I’m part of the management team. I was wondering whether you would like anything from the cart? I have fruit, soft drinks, water and cookies.”
You look at him, suspicious. Is it a new, cookie-shaped travel scam? Is he going to murder you? Or just your wallet, once he tells you the markup he’s put on the cookies (don’t forget room service charge, service charge plus ‘optional’ gratuity)?
And then he notices your hesitancy and says a weird thing. “It’s complimentary.”
And once you ascertain that it is indeed free, and that he has not roofied the cookies, you pillage his cart as best you can and take your spoils back to bed and eat until the sheets are crackling with cookie crumbs.
This is no hotel-cookie-fetish fantasy, though. At least, it’s not if you’re staying at the Hyatt Palm Springs. Their “wow cart” (so called because that’s what most people say when they’re told it’s free) does the rounds of every room on property each afternoon, starting around 4pm (depending on how many people are in their rooms, it can take anything from 20 minutes to two hours to make the full round). It's normally staffed by management, like Josh here, who's Director of Operations. This is so they can also find out how your stay is going (this is a brilliant idea, since we had issues during our stay and chatting about them over a cookie would have been a much more pleasurable experience than having a go at the front desk staff in front of other guests).
When Hard Rock introduced their Rhythm and Motion spa treatments earlier in the year, we, along with everyone else in possession of common sense, heard the “gimmick” klaxon. “The world’s first fully immersive music-centric spa menu utilizing amplified vibrations, pressures and patterns, as the foundation of its treatments,” heavy-breathed the press release. “Bass vibrations ripple through the massage table as treble beats come from above, sending pulses through the body and leaving guests feeling energized and invigorated.” What rot, we thought. Vibrating, titillating rot.
And then we tried one.
A couple of weeks ago, I stayed at the Hard Rock Palm Springs, one of the first to get “the dome” (the treatments are referred to as taking place “under the dome”). Being a massage fiend, I wanted to see what the pulsating “Synchronicity” massage was like. First impressions weren’t great: the spa is small with just four treatment rooms and a tiny, not very atmospheric, relaxation room. The signature Hard Rock pre-treatment guitar on the bed was fun, but “the dome” looked like one of those hair-setting bowls at old lady salons.
The massage started to a soundtrack of chill-out music, and just a hint of a vibrating bed underneath me. Just as I’d thought: gimmick. Rub, dig, swirl, should have chosen a normal massage, rub, dig, swirl, stop trying to identify the music, rub, dig, swirl OHMYGODWHATISHAPPENINGTOME.
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The Palm Springs Hotel
Be still, breaking hearts – it’s the last day of Palm Springs week! We’ve covered how to get there on the cheap, the must-stay hotels, and your essential pools and spas. We’re wrapping up today with forthcoming hotels that should be on your radar in the coming months – either brand new or refurbished.
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The hot spring pool at The Spring