Travel

January 15, 2018

What’s New in Palm Springs

The desert city gets its tallest hotel, a new downtown park and an upcoming cultural museum

  • Written by Chloe Sachdev

With 350+ days of sunshine, glimmering desert and Mid-Century Modern architecture, all just two hours’ drive from LA, Palm Springs has been a hit for decades. First as “Hollywood’s Playground” for golden-age movie stars, such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin (and the Modernist trailblazers that designed their homes) and now for moneyed LA folk and Coachella kids.

And now the scorching desert has just got hotter with the unveiling late last year of the first new-build hotel in years. At seven storeys, The Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs is the city’s tallest building, and it’s part of a multi-million dollar regeneration project that promises to jumpstart a new downtown scene.

Apart from the 153 rooms and suites, it’s the rooftop that delivers the real razzle-dazzle. It’s the only rooftop pool (and is also open to the public) in Palm Springs, there are day beds, private cabanas and a bar with all the fixings for retro spritzes (think Tiki classics and spiked punch bowls).

Meanwhile, the upscale poolside restaurant 4 Saints, headed by Executive chef Stephen Wambach (formerly of The Four Seasons Chicago), riffs off French cuisine with dishes such as sea urchin with green apple and coriander; dry aged duck with foie gras sausages; and lobster ravioli. But the real pièce de résistance is the 270-degree killer views of the rugged San Jacinto red rock mountains, and the rest of the valley.

The hotel is in the heart of downtown, meaning there’s no shortage of design stores, bustling bars and restaurants. But perhaps its biggest coups is that it’s within walking distance of the Palm Springs Art Museum, one of the finest Modernist art museums in the country with permanent collections by the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, John Chamberlain, and Anthony Gormley. Plus, soon-to-open opposite the museum will be the new downtown park, billed as a 26,000-square foot “garden for the city” and future home to the iconic 26-foot tall “Forever Marilyn” statue by Seward Johnson.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have unveiled plans for a behemoth cultural centre and spa complex at the site of the tribe’s historic hot springs in downtown Palm Springs, set for 2019. There’ll be an expected 48,000 square feet of gallery space for art and cultural artefacts, education and exhibitions, plus a further 40,000 square feet for the spa and bathhouse that will include outdoor mineral pools, salons, a fitness centre and treatment rooms.

The Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262 is open now and Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, and Spa and Bathhouse in Palm Springs opens in 2019

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