PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Entrepre-neurs are buying up window
properties in this area's eight resort communities, remodeling them
and turning them into eye-catching showcase hotels.
"They are buying up properties from the 1930s and 1940s and
remodeling them in a retro-hip fashion -- and they are knockouts,"
said a spokesman for the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and
The architectural style is called "mid-century modern," and the
stylish remodels have helped make Palm Springs and its neighboring
communities chic and popular, particularly among the Hollywood
crowd, he said.
Palm Springs' Orbit In, one of the most popular of the
"mid-century" modern remodels, opened a sister property this
winter. Called A Hideaway, it contains only eight rooms, all
furnished in mid-century furniture, with poolside patios, DSL
Internet access and original tile baths.
The name of the property is derived from a 1948 article in the
Architectural Record that called the hotel -- then known as the
Town and Desert -- "a California hideaway designed as a
get-away-from-it-all in elegant Palm Springs."
There also is much remodeling activity among the larger
The Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa in Indian Wells
completed a $65 million project in January that included the
addition of 139 rooms and the renovation of the rest of its 338
The new rooms, all with terraces or balconies, have views of the
Santa Rosa mountains.
The project also involved the construction of a
30,000-square-foot spa, surrounded by a lake and offering 18
treatment rooms, a salon, a fitness center, plunge pools and an
New landscaping, featuring dozens of palm trees and lagoons, was
added, surrounding three new tennis courts and a seventh swimming
pool (the resort already had six).
The new pool has 16 private cabanas, each with a telephone, a
refrigerator, a TV, a data port, ceiling fans and a misting
Also added was a 50,000-square-foot conference facility on the
lake of the 18th green at the Golf Resort at Indian Wells. The
facility has prefunction space overlooking the green and a
The property now has a total of 88,000 square feet of indoor and
outdoor meetings space. There also is a new wedding gazebo
overlooking the golf course.
Meanwhile, in Palm Springs, Estrella, a 1930s hotel that was
remodeled in 2001 and 2002, opened a spa and a restaurant, Citron,
which offers a California-French menu.
The design for both is Hollywood Regency-style, popular during
the 1930s and 1940s, sporting cool colors: persimmon-colored doors
and rooms decorated in white, black and lemon yellow.
The spa, with 10 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, also is
home to the hotel's new fitness center. The facility will offer
weeklong yoga retreats and multiday tai chi and Pilates
This fall, the hotel expects to complete an expansion of its
conference room to 1,200 square feet, to accommodate meetings of up
to 75 people.
The Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Indian Wells also
completed an expansion and renovation last fall and winter.
The project included renovation of all 560 rooms, including 22
The main addition to the resort was a 13,000-square-foot,
full-service spa and fitness center with 19 indoor and outdoor
treatment rooms, a salon, gardens and hydrotherapy waterfall
In December, the resort opened a 16,800-square-foot ballroom
with views of the Santa Rosa Mountains.
Area's fast start fueled by drive market
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- The eight desert communities that make
up the Palm Springs area are expecting travelers arriving by car to
keep hotels bustling this year.
"We've done well, and it's primarily because of the drive market
from northern and southern California," said a spokesman for the
Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Authority.
In 2002, receipts from local Transient Occupancy Taxes collected
at area hotels were down by 3% from 2001, a relatively small drop
compared with other California destinations, the spokesman
"We were expecting a drop of 14% last year," he said.
Besides Palm Springs, the resort towns comprise Cathedral City,
Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert and
Thus far, hotels in the eight towns are reporting a strong peak
season (January through April). About 60% of the hotel taxes are
collected during the first four months of the year.
But it was not only the drive market that helped the tourism
industry this winter.
Nonstop Delta air service between Atlanta and Palm Springs,
which started in December, provided a boost. That seasonal service
ends April 30.
The tourism industry here is optimistic about the rest of 2003,
the spokesman said. Travelers are looking at short getaways within
a day's drive -- again giving the California desert an edge, he
To fuel low-season travel, the authority is resuming its Chill
Out summer packages program.
Last year, the authority led its first drive to encourage area
hotels to create packages for the summer season; the response was
so "overwhelming" that the program was extended through September,
the spokesman said.
The result was the Chill Out program of 60 packages, which were
combined in one brochure. A direct-mail piece was sent to 50,000
Hotels, again led by the authority, are planning packages and
promotional campaigns around a second Chill Out program this
summer. Packages are expected to be ready later this month.
Also helping keep Palm Springs tourism healthy are events that
draw thousands to the desert. Among them are the Palm Springs
International Film Festival; the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and
Nabisco Championship golf tournaments; and the annual White Party,
a gay and lesbian event.
For information, contact the authority at www.palmspringsusa.com. -- L.D.R.