92262 Travel Guide
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.
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:
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.
Admit, it. You've probably thought about what it's like to actually live in a hotel. The thought is totally normal, especially when you think about the daily housekeeping, trendy design and staff often responding to most every want. Well, this idea can be a reality with a trip to the desert of Palm Springs and your own little slice of the Hard Rock Hotel.
The Hard Rock is looking for people, regular people like yourself, to invest in the luxury 163-room resort in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. With a little professional help from RealtyMogul.com, interested (and cashed-up) parties will register their desire to be part of the America's first fully online crowd-funded hotels.
Benefits for signing a check with a few more decimals than a night's stay extend way beyond bragging rights. Individual investors in the hotel will receive VIP benefits ranging from free use of the hotel owner poolside cabana, 25% discounts off the best available room rates and free room upgrades. Even if you're not a regular to Coachella Valley Music Festival, this might be a good reason to get away to the desert more often.
Last week, we got a sneak peek at the upcoming Hard Rock Palm Springs which we initially thought would open in September. Turns out the opening will actually happen on October 4 but the good news is, you can book a room today.
We found rates on opening night, a Friday night, for just $262 a night. Rates dip to $193 on Monday but are pretty much around the $250 mark for the rest of the month. (Weekends are higher of course.)
The Hard Rock Palm Springs will have a total of 163 rooms, including a VIP rock star suite as well as a Rock Spa, a Body Rock fitness centers, a Rock Shop gift store, a few restaurants, a happening pool scene and tons of rock n' roll memorabilia.
The only bummer here is that the Hard Rock will be charging a resort fee of $30 a night. That includes internet, valet parking and a shuttle from the airport so you do get something for it. Oh well, add them to the list!
The Hard Rock Palm Springs is getting ready to rock the desert. When we daytripped to PS the other week, we noticed a few billboards teasing the impending arrival of the rocking hotel brand. Sure enough, the website is up and running and all systems are a go for a September opening. And now we've got some hotel renderings to share too.
The Hard Rock Palm Springs, which was formerly the Hotel Zoso, will have 160 rooms, a VIP rock star suite, a Rock Spa, a Body Rock fitness centers, a Rock Shop gift store, a few restaurants and of course, a happening pool scene. It will also have some crazy sexy "stair gallery" where we gather there will be tons of rock n' roll memorabilia to ogle. We're also digging the sexy lobby bar lounge.
We expect rates to be around $250 a night but when Coachella rolls into town in April, that will go way, way, way up.
[Photo: HotelChatter; Renderings: Hard Rock Hotels]
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If you're familiar with Camp Palm Springs—the clothing-optional resort where guests get super naked for some random meet and greets—then a) shame on you! and b) you should know it's no longer in operation. It's now Skylark Hotel, featuring 28 contemporary rooms, a large pool, shamrock-shaped hot tub and an al fresco bar. Oh, and the cruising is still 24-7 but only clothed (nothing but a jockstrap counts, we think).
You'll notice the gay themes haven't changed much (gay owners, gay clientele, gay staff, gay magazines in rooms) but heteros are welcome. All rooms look out into the central pool area, so whether you're voyeuristic or egotistic, everyone wins. Except uncomfortable heteros.
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If you think you've been hearing a lot about Palm Springs lately, the trend is far from over. It was just announced that the 160-room Hotel Zoso in downtown PS will soon be renovated and re-branded as the Hard Rock Palm Springs.
According to TravelPulse, the Hard Rock Palm Springs is due to offer "a VIP rock star suite; Rock Spa; Body Rock workout facility; the Rock Shop featuring Hard Rock merchandise; myriad dining options, a lobby bar, and outdoor spaces for cocktails and lounging."
Korakia’s quiet courtyard and trickling fountain will fool you into thinking you're in a Mediterranean hideaway
Recently in Palm Springs, we wandered off Palm Canyon Drive in the blazing desert sun and found ourselves on the stone path leading into Korakia Pensione. Not the glitzy Riveria, the rugged cool Ace Hotel, or the fanciful Viceroy, Korakia is quietly gorgeous, romantic with a capital “R” and thick with Mediterranean beauty. Scan the Palm Springs hotel scene and it’s unlike anything you’d expect to find in this fabulous, mid-century modern town.
Inside, we spied old photos and a history dating back to Korakia's 1918 Orchard House, though it was 1924 that marks the hotel's real start; that's when Scottish painter Gordon Coutts took up residence and a Tangier-inspired decor in the original Moroccan villa. Celebs and artists followed and often gathered here, including Winston Churchill who is rumored to have painted in the villa’s Artist’s Studio. Later in the 1930s, silent-screen star J. Carol Naish lived in the Mediterranean villa.
Restored and named Korakia in 1989, the hotel is as ornate and authentic as it we imagine it must’ve been nearly a century ago. Moorish-meets-Mediterranean décor, Moroccan fountains, antiques and handmade furniture, dark wood beams and cool stone floors – amazing features throughout paint this pensione a dreamy, historic retreat.
It's what you've been waiting all year for--The 2011 HotelChatter Awards! We'll be bringing you the best and worst of the year all day today and part of tomorrow. Agree or disagree with our picks? Air your thoughts in comments below.
We've seen a lot of nasty stuff in our years of covering hotel stays but the sewage explosion that happened in a guest bathroom of the Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs was by far one of the worst accounts we've heard, this year at least.
What was supposed to be a relaxing getaway turned into a shitty weekend, literally. Our afflicted hotel maven writes:
Saturday morn we ventured to downtown, which was the next street over. After a mere two hours of window shopping, we headed back to our room to get ready for the pool. However, as we entered our room, it smelled like a fart - you know the kind like rotten eggs that lingers? I though maybe my boyfriend forgot to flush and he was blaming me!
I took a peek in our bathroom and HOLY SHIT - LITERALLY. Our sink had diarrhea--a sewage explosion. It went off in our sink and showered our bathroom with, well, shit and other foulness.