If you are acquainted with any budding mid-century Desert Modernism Architectural Enthusiasts or Retro Hipster Rat Pack followers, then chances are you’ve heard about the many charms of Palm Springs. Recently rated one of Frommers Travel Top 10 Destinations for 2014 and also Travel + Leisure’s most romantic winter destinations in the US, Palm Springs is quickly exchanging its tawdry golf-and-nap reputation for a hip new, ‘destination’ image.
A slew of trendy new hotels (the Ace, the Hard Rock) have opened in the past few years, and rumor had it that the Mondrian was to open on South Palm Canyon, formerly an upscale shopping complex gloriously anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, now an empty, boarded up desert of a deserted lot. But alas, it was not to be.
Keep heading down Highway 111 and the Ritz Carlton is refurbishing the former Four Seasons on the aptly-named and retro Frank Sinatra Drive in Rancho Mirage with an expected mid-2014 re-opening. Lots of luxe to choose from. Those mid-century architectural Motel designs, once met with sarcastic Lucille eye-Ball rolls and until 10 years ago relatively derelict, have now been revived with a spritz of modernism and a twist of kitsch, attracting a stylish, new clientele. Yet there’s still an affordability to all this coolness—the newly arriving hipsters haven’t yet priced out the city’s private motel resorts, and some motels have gone semi-hip (like the Monroe, starting as low as $119, the legendary Del Marcos, 2 guests, 2 nights at $498) without getting too expensive.
Blame it on Canada
Where the city was once the playground mostly of weekending Southern Californians, an increasing number of Canadians are choosing Palm Springs as both a vacation spot and investment option. As there is no real industry in Palm Springs, the gay (and straight, for that matter) Canadian dollar has kept the city alive since the recession of 2007 took hold. Canadians investing in real estate, tourism and restaurants have added to the resurgence of this desert wellspring and now find magazines, real estate agents and the Tourism Boards pushing their products to the visiting Snow Birds.
Palm Springs also boasts the peace of the desert right outside the city limits with hiking, walking and exploring Joshua Tree National Park, enjoying a picnic lunch or a climb through Indian Canyons. And, for the Duffers among us, there’s a wealth of obligatory golf courses a short putt away.
Airlines, including WestJet, fly to Palm Springs directly from Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, so you no longer have to drive out from L.A. to live like Bob Hope. United, as part of the Air Canada/ Star Alliance group, has connecting flights from Toronto and Montreal via Chicago, LA and San Francisco.
Palm Springs and #TravelWell, my friends!