With international events like April's Coachella Festival or the BNP Paribas Open from March 7th, high season in Palm Springs arrives with an exciting new line-up of hotels and restaurants. Long a second-home market for sun-loving Angelenos, Palm Springs has spent the last few decades stuck in the past. Its Palm Canyon thoroughfare was long plagued by a shuttered 1970s mall with sidewalks lined in kitschy tributes to long forgotten stars in a city that still name drops Danny Martin and Dinah Shore. But with a powerhouse Palm Springs Art Museum, a new downtown in the making, and rumors that President Obama will relocate to the Coachella Valley following his presidency, Palm Springs may alas get it right after decades of getting it so very wrong.
In recent years, an influx of hipster resorts like Ace Hotel , Saguaro and Sparrows Lodge have swapped rat packs and martinis with tatted bohemians and spicy margaritas. Posher properties like the Parker Palm Springs and Avalon (formerly Viceroy) feature good design intentions and manicured grounds but suffer from often-mediocre rooms with a much overplayed Hollywood Regency influence. This year, L’Horizon revamps a former William F Cody-penned resort with a sexy marketing campaign, decor dotted in names like Percival Lafer, and new So-Pa restaurant by former El Bulli alum. Other hotel newcomers include the too-quirky Monkey Tree Hotel and more appealing Arrive (pictured) - the city's first new hotel build in over a decade. With partners that include original Facebook investors, Arrive feels like a modernist spin on a Seattle lake house from the rich, rustic woods to the spare design aesthetic that envelops its Reservoir restaurant and somewhat clunky room decor.
Dining in Palm Springs rarely results in raves, with "it's fine" being a good night out at spots like Birba, Workshop and Spencer's that are considered the best restaurants in town. This year, Eight4Nine occupies a former antique shop as a destination eatery and lounge serving up hearty American cuisine with supper club spirit. A bit more authentic is Mr. Lyons that occupies a former Prime Rib house with a meaty mix of rib-eyes and Manhattans in a clubby retro space halfway between downtown and South Palm Springs. In terms of hotel eateries, you'll be hard pressed to beat So-Pa at L'Horizon or new Chi that delivers Latin-inspired all-day dining under the black-and-white striped cabanas of the former-Viceroy. And when the night simply shouldn't end, take in all the small town antics at one of the various downtown Indian casinos or new Bootleggers that mixes a modern Mai Tai with a 1950s tiki lounge.