Thought that Palm Springs was only for the 65+ crowd? Vv Magazine’s travel correspondent Si Si Penaloza investigates the former retirement destination’s shift from hip replacement to hipster…
Back in the day, Palm Springs was where Los Angeles-area gay men went out to pasture after their 40th birthday. There’s a reason they call it Tinseltown in the Desert, and it’s not just because Bob Hope held court here for decades. Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Katy Perry, Kristen Stewart – this is a town where every local has a showbiz anecdote to share. In the “winter,” Canadian Snowbirds and loaded Hollywood moguls colonize the streets, Sunday driving seven days a week. The whole town was in bed by 10pm as most of the population was over the age of 70.
Then, exactly 10 years ago, the cool factor officially clicked. Big headliners and epic reunions gave the Coachella music festival a cooler-than-thou reputation and, by 2004, the annual fest was clearly cemented into the mainstream consciousness. More than a California festival, this media juggernaut became a worldwide phenomenon. Now A-List and mainstream, Coachella put Palm Springs more on the map than any Valley of the Dolls-style shenanigans ever could.
A few developments have kept people coming back in the slower season. The Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa is one such hotspot. So much more than a mere posh place to sleep, the resort provides every reason to stay on the grounds and have the facilities in place to keep you engaged. This is a beehive of activity; a quintessential desert escape, nestled on 45 acres of lush gardens and boasting 530 guest rooms, including 26 luxury penthouse suites and 43 luxury villas with private outdoor spas or fire pits and personalized butler service. Cool interiors are uncluttered, making the most of the property’s clean lines and maximizing that sense of spatial connection to the big desert sky.
Given the amount of money sloshing around – the town boasts more than a hundred Rolls-Royce Phantoms – it’s no surprise that this is one of the world’s most age-defying senior communities. It’s places like the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa that bring fresh faces into the mix, with savvy cocktail events, social programming, and athletic opportunities.
The resort’s two PGA-championship golf courses are ideal for golf-mad groups; golfers can choose between the scenic Pollhe Clive Clark-designed Celebrity Course and the challenging Player’s Course. Staffers stand at the ready to refresh you with a icy cold Arnold Palmer at every other hole — it’s a tradition on these greens. Tennis players will be equally impressed by the resort’s world-class facilities, featuring three hard-surface courts, tennis instruction, and a pro shop. They’ll even assist you with planning your own tournament with your circle of friends.
The lively scene here is an instant hook up to the heart of Palm Springs lifestyle in all its moisturized poolside glory — after all, there are seven pools here to sample! At the adult pool, sunshine illuminates beautifully bronzed sun-worshippers. The vibe is lush and contagious, city slickers of every persuasion relaxing, chatting, people-watching, and lolling about in cabanas. Freedom and glee reigns supreme. Considerate touches include the free use of cruiser bicycles and home-baked cookies.
Agua Serena, the property’s 30,000-square-foot spa, is hailed as among the nation’s best, nourishing both body and mind with a creative menu of rejuvenation treatments. On the plus side, everything they use here is chemical-free and as pure as possible. On the minus side, the lighting is a tad bright, which is a bit of a buzzkill. The facility is also home to a full-service salon as well as the award-winning Medical & Skin Spa for non-invasive aesthetic dermatological treatments.
We also like the category-defying Miramonte Resort & Spa for keeping the groove going in the off-season. This is an engaging, upscale property without the chintz and club chairs. It’s stylish and chic, nestled at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Views throughout the resort are expansive and epic; it’s an impressive backdrop to one of Palm Springs’ most playful, upbeat stays. An enviable line-up of live music every Thursday night keeps the mojo going all year long.
Once you are all settled, it’s like nesting in a quaint Mediterranean village. Think Italian fountains, fine-crafted stonework, tranquil piazzas, and olive tree groves. There were more mature citrus trees on site than I’ve seen at any hotel in the area, bravo to the groundskeepers for keeping it raw and real. Other hotels tend to over-prune for the sake of painstaking uniformity, which does the fruit bearing no favours.
Tasteful two-storey villas welcome you to Miramonte, bougainvillea-covered grand archways lead to freshly updated guest room retreats. The 215 guest rooms, suites, and villas are woven into 11 expansive acres of rose, herb, and flower gardens. Two pools – one adult-only – are peppered with canopied daybeds and cabanas.
The Grove Artisan Kitchen is a lively place to meet fellow visitors. The “farm to table” seasonal California cuisine is a big hit with guests and locals alike. Nothing fancy here, just savoury satisfaction. The menu features organic produce, ranch-raised meats and poultry, house-made pastas, prime dry-aged meats, and inspired vegetarian dishes. For lighter fare, the Vineyard Lounge offers an impressive wine selection, and an innovative cocktail and martini list. The Vineyard Lounge patio makes for a savvy vantage point to take in the sweeping views of the Santa Rosa mountains. Be sure to order a round of savoury nibbles and a bottle of bubbly.
The Well Spa at Miramonte is a place to set an intention for health and happiness in the present moment and toward the future. An award-winning menu of outdoor and indoor treatments rejuvenates the body and mind, under the direction of the best spa director in the area. Take a breather by an impressive co-ed courtyard, a Watsu pool, and a signature river bench pool. Guests of Miramonte experience true world class golf located adjacent to the resort grounds at the Indian Wells Golf Resort. Hotel concierge services include a member of Les Clefs d’Or, and a golf and tennis concierge. Hot air ballooning, desert Jeep tours, and the Empire polo grounds are only moments away.
Do you think Palm Springs has upped their cool factor or is still for the geriatrics? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.