92262 Travel Guide - Page 2
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.
We had a short but sweet stay at the Colony Palm Springs over Labor Day weekend, which officially marks the beginning of the desert town's peak season. Though bargains are still to be found (on a weeknight, a Standard room here can go for as low as $199), rates are expected to climb higher and higher through the winter months—by Coachella season (mid-April), the hotel will demand a three-night minimum at $799 per night. Ouch!
But a classy joint like the Colony can be enjoyed at any time of the year. And on Saturday afternoon, when we checked in, we had one thing and one thing only on our minds: hotel pool lounging. Nevermind the nearby town's attractions, nevermind the casino around the corner (we managed to squeeze that one in later). This was strictly business, and the clock was ticking.
At this point, we're kind of collecting instances of plug panels showing up in hotel rooms. The latest is an unexpected find, at a hotel that's probably one of the last where someone would choose to do business: The Riviera Palm Springs. Basically if you're staying at The Riviera, you're more than likely just using your room as a place to sleep, dry your swimsuits, and occasionally nap to cool off in the air conditioning.
Regardless, the hotel is surprisingly up on its techas we saw with this outlet and A/V panel built into the mirrored TV table, just above the minibar.
Thumbs up...except for one huge problems we're beginning to notice when hotels get proactive and install plug panels: this won't fit Macbook Magsafe plugs! You know what we're talking aboutthose big white blocks on the end of Macbook cords, with the plug sticking out of it. Sure, you can attach the included Macbook extension cord to get around the big white block part, but then the outlet must be for grounded plugs (which this one luckily is). Ughh, tiny aggravation after tiny aggravation. Welcome to the modern world.
Think for a second. Why do people go to Palm Springs, CA? There's the colorful culture, gambling here and there, the sun so hot it takes like ten minutes to tan and mmm...mid-century modern style. Also: affordable hotels in the middle of all this with great pools.
Recently, taking advantage of a cheapie deal on JetSetter.com, we hightailed it to the Riviera Palm Springs to soak in the sun, yes, but also their free-form pool. By free-form, we mean that it's not rectangle-shaped, or a perfect circle or even kidney. It's kind of like a goopy blob shape if viewed from above, but this irregular form has its serious advantages.
You’ve heard of peekaboo bathrooms, of course, but this is taking it to a whole new level. This, people, is the view from our shower at the Orbit In in Palm Springs.
We knew we were getting an outdoor shower when we booked the room – it’s on the website for this room (the Albert Frey Lounge) and was explained to us over the phone. But the guy on the phone also said it’s completely hidden from view. Which it is – from this angle.
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Yes, we're back in PS. Is there ever any reason not to be? Not when its hotels keep knocking out such awesome deals. The latest we scored: $195 ($226 inc tax) for three nights at the Renaissance Palm Springs, thanks to Voyage Prive. Seeing as rooms are running at $199 a night at the moment – and it’s one of the few hotels in Palms Springs not to have a resort fee, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.
We had a hellish journey getting in – nine hours for what should have been a four-hour drive from Vegas, thanks to a car that broke down three times en route. The final breakdown, as we were waiting for the tow truck, we called the hotel to warn them that we’d be arriving late. The woman on the phone was sympathetic, told us about a nearby carpark where we could leave our dead car for free rather than paying the $10 hotel charge, and wished us well on our journey. That got us in a good mood for the hotel.
In the end, thanks to the tow truck getting lost and it being past midnight, we dumped the car in the hotel carpark instead, and came in to be told by the lady at check in that she was waiving the parking charge since our car was unusable. Then, when we asked for a nice view, she told us that since we’d had a crappy day, she would upgrade us to a room overlooking the pool. Yes, you could call it an upgrade – we went upstairs to room 4339 and realised that she'd given us a “resort suite” – basically a junior suite with a pool view (standard junior suites look over the mountains).
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Apologies for the shaky video. Our camera was obviously as excited by the color palette as we were
Yesterday we waxed lyrical over the bathrobes at The Colony Palms, but toweling doth not make a hotel stay alone, so it’s time to delve into the rest of the set up. As we said yesterday, we scored a major deal on Hotwire - $66 for a room that normally would cost $199. As we were coming straight from a stay at the swanky Parker (more on that to come) we thought we’d be in line for a massive downgrade. Here’s what we found.
A rollercoaster of slight emotions, was check in. We pulled up outside the entrance, by a sign saying valet only – but there was no valet, so we judged it ok to leave the car there as we checked in. Slightly antsy, we walked into the lobby – white and purple walls, antique-looking furniture and old Hollywood style pictures. It looked Mexican crossed with Moroccan, and we had a glimpse of a lovely looking garden and pool. We relaxed. Then we heard the people ahead of us complaining about their belongings having been removed from their room, even though they hadn’t checked out. None of the staff seemed to be apologizing and the family was getting more and more irate. We got concerned.
Then it was our turn and the same guy who had seemed unconcerned about the angry people’s predicament turned out to be the perfect checker inner. He told us our room had been upgraded, asked about our journey, said he hoped we’d like it here better than the Parker, and recommended us places in town to go get our drink on. His name was Cesar and he was fabulous. Phew! Our emotional rollercoaster ended on a high.
One of the main things that makes us feel all snuggly in a hotel room, company and merlot aside? A good bathrobe. And, being bathrobe geeks, there are several categories we judge our robes on – from texture (not too soft but not too scratchy) and absorbency (should dry without getting wet itself) to length (too short, it’s cold and indecent, too long it’s like a shroud) and overall pleasantness of appearance. When all these things converge, it’s the matrix for toweling heaven.
Recently, we stayed at The Colony Palms hotel in Palm Springs, and although the bathrobes weren’t as fancy as some of this lot, we were very taken by them. Mainly because they did the stuff in terms of practicalities, and then accessorized with little white hoods.
If you want to hang out at the Colony Palms Hotel’s pool, but realize that your old bathing suit needs an upgrade, you can check out the new collection of solid-colored two-pieces from company Pool Swimwear.
Pool Swimwear says it offers sleek, neutral-hued suits that are comfy and offer better coverage than the barely there itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny numbers. The bathing suits are made from Italian four-way stretch fabric, and the tops have boning so your girls won't spill out and cause a wardrobe malfunction that’ll leave you mortified when you take a dip in the hotel pool.
Looking for a quick getaway to someplace warm? Here's a special deal for you sweet HotelChatter readers: The Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs is offering our readers a free upgrade at check-in and two complimentary glasses of champagne upon arrival.
The booking code to use online is CHAT. The deal will expire at the end of April and the upgrade is based upon availability.
We checked multiple rates for the weekends and they all seem to start at $279 a night for a basic Superior King room. The next room category is the Deluxe King room which has either a claw-foot bathtub or fireplace. Over the weekend of April 23, we did see a smaller room category open up, the Colony King, for $259 a night.
However, the weekend of Coachella, which is April 16-18, room rates jump to $499 a night for a Superior King.
Summer in Palm Springs can make you feel like you're vacationing on the surface of the sun, but if you're willing to take a little heat, you can find some amazing desert deals like a room at the Riviera Resort and Spa for $99. That's an even smaller number than the readout on the thermometer during the hot months.
We read the small print for you on this offer, and it turns out that this rate is good for a weekday stay and can only be applied to one of the five "Riviera King" rooms at the resort. If those are taken, there are an additional three "Classic" rooms that are book-able for $119. So yeah, eight special rooms out of a total of 406. That's not much, but it's better than none at all.