CA Travel Guide
Nowadays, it's rare for a hotel to open up without some sort of spa component--whether it be its own state-of-the-art spa facility or simply, a partnership with a local spa. But while it's convenient to have a massage therapist who's just a button on the house phone away, guests in need of a deeper physical work, and emotional healing, should head to a real spa, one that just happens to have hotel rooms attached.
Like the new incarnation of Golden Door near San Diego which has reopened for week-long, spa intensive stays.
Golden Door first opened in 1958 and was a favorite for screen stars like Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, and Elizabeth Taylor. It remained a fave of the A-list, through an expansion in the 1970s, up until the late 90s when the retreat was acquired by a larger corporation and lost a little bit of of its soul. But in 2012, the spa was given back to private ownership (Joanne Conway to be exact, a frequent guest and wife of billionaire philanthropist, Bill Conway) and has since undergone its own dramatic transformation.
The Dorchester Collection Boycott came in like a lion in the spring, with high-profile celebrities vowing to never step foot again in the hotels so long as the homophobic (to say the least!) Sultan of Brunei owned them. Given that most celebrities frequented The Beverly Hills Hotel, the Pink Palace became the prime target of the hotel boycott.
But now a few months on, we hardly hear much about the boycott. Could it be that it has quietly died down? Or perhaps, the celebrities have just considered the boycott a part of their every day normal (ok, not-so-normal) life. Thus, this editor decided to stop in at the hotel and see for herself.
When I pulled up to the hotel at around 12:30 on a sunshiney Monday, the entrance was just as busy as I've always known it to be, with folks hopping out of their expensive cars to walk the red carpet into the hotel while town cars were picking up departing guests and their many pieces of luggage. Dignified doormen were, as always, accompanied by studly valet boys in light pink polo shirts, as they directed the light traffic in the narrow porte cochere.
Self-parking, already quite limited, was not available so I drove my car around to the other side of the property and parked on the street. As I walked along a winding walkway along the hidden pink bungalows and amongst lush greenery (vividly green even though Californias is in a severe drought), I passed by two people. A good sign, perhaps?
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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.
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The hotel, first opened in 1970 by actress Beverly Garland, is in the midst of renovating its 242 guest rooms, 14 suites and public spaces with a hip new look from Forchielli Glynn. We got a glimpse of the intended room design last December but now we've got a peek inside the closet.
Since the hotel has hosted many celebrities (Kurt Cobain allegedly proposed to Courtney Love at the hotel) and has been featured in many TV shows and films, it's only fitting that the wallpaper in the closet contains some paparazzi. Here's a scene from the 1960s movie, La Dolce Vita. For once, entering the closet is going to be thrilling!
The hotel is still open during the renovations and we found a room for next weekend at $369. The following weekend was much cheaper at $279 a night. Popular Los Angeles chef, Warren Schwartz, has opened his Warren's Blackboard restaurant at the hotel but that should changeover to a sustainable dining concept called, The Front Yard, sometime later this year.
[Photo: The Beverly Garland]
And by that we mean, the Japanimation-inspired Hotel Tomo in San Fran's Japantown has gone from a Joie de Vivre Hotel to a Kimpton Hotel. (For those not in the know, JDV's loyalty program is called Joy of Life while Kimpton's is called Kimpton Karma.)
So far, it doesn't seem like anything has changed from the JDV days (except possibly the toiletries in the bathroom which were once Japanese but are now from LATHER.) Here's a more in-depth TripAdvisor review from a Kimpton Karma member who stayed there as the changeover was happening:
I was happy to learn at check-in that Hotel Tomo is now a Kimpton Hotel as I'm a huge fan of Kimpton.
The changeover literally took place the day we arrived so there are still many, many things that need to be ironed out before Hotel Tomo satisfies Kimpton's usual standards.
The staff were very friendly and accommodating. We were given an upgrade which was nice. The room was quite large, especially by San Francisco standards. The view from our room on the eighth floor was great.
What Hotel Tomo looked like in 2010 when HotelChatter visited
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.
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If you're a huge Hello Kitty lover (as if there is any other kind), then you should book your room at The Line Hotel in Koreatown, STAT. The hotel, which is the official Hello Kitty Con Hotel, has put together a "Hello Kitty Sweet Stay" Package which includes an exclusive Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Welcome Kit at check-in, and lots of "super cute" Hello Kitty themed surprises throughout the hotel like HK limited edition items at the hotel's Poketo gift shop and Hello Kitty food. Yes, food. There will even be Hello Kitty-styled theme rooms, although we're not quite sure what those will look like. We do know that LA-based designer Sean Knibb will be designing a special Hello Kitty Suite that will be open to the public.
The Line is also hosting a Hello Kitty Birthday Party on Saturday, November 1 with the Hello Kitty suite serving as the VIP room. Tickets were available through the package but the hotel is now sold-out on Saturday night. Saddies. Rates are still available for Thursday and Friday nights at $344 and $229 respectively. At least you can still get that welcome kitty. Er, we mean, welcome kit.
[Screengrab: The Line Hotel]
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Last time we heard about Hotel Lautner, it was surrendering to the Coachella Valley heat and closing down for the summer. Now, it’s open again (actually, it opened a little early for Labor Day), and with a special September deal: $199 (plus tax) per night, with no midweek minimum stay (though there’s the standard two night minimum on weekends).
You might think this looks relatively expensive for a Palm Springs hotel, since we told you before how low prices can go there. Is a two night minimum and a $200+ room really worth it?
Yes. 100 percent worth it. A million times over. And not just because it has a kitchen so you can save on eating out. Pictures speak louder than words, so here are some photos from our stay back in 2012, when it was newly open.
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Wait! There's one more hotel
Pasadena, a city well-known for its New Year’s Day Rose Parade as well as its historic bungalow residences, is actually building quite a cool hotel scene, with several new hotels set to open in the next few years.
Kicking it off is the DusitD2 Constance Pasadena, opening on September 8 with a bright contemporary design (and a bright outlook for Pasadena as a SoCal destination.)
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.