The Desert Report: What’s New in Palm Springs


From its soaring rooflines and retro retreats to its celebrity culture and 354 days of sun, Palm Springs has long been called ‘America’s Winter Playground.’

The desert oasis has a large concentration of mid-century architecture, making it a perfect sojourn for modern design aficionados. From modernism events, new hotels, renovated digs and the best under-the-radar spots, there’s a lot happening in the desert this winter.


Stay: Mid-Century Makeover

The Lobby at Del Marcos Hotel

Set against the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains, the Del Marcos Hotel has re-opened after a refreshingly stylish remodel. Extensive renovations both inside and out began on the seventeen-room hideaway in early 2011 to restore the look and feel originally constructed by famed desert architect William F. Cody. The newly landscaped desert grounds feature a large saltwater pool and lounging area equipped with modern furniture and other plush touches. Improvements made to the hotel’s eleven suite rooms include fresh balcony space, upgraded kitchenettes and bathrooms. Inside, both common areas and rooms have been outfitted with sleek mid-century furnishings, giving the boutique spot that golden era vibe.

225 West Baristo Road, Palm Springs | 800.676.1214

Opening Soon: Stay at The Saguaro

Sister property, The Saguaro in Scottsdale | Courtesy of the Sydell Group

Sister property, The Saguaro in Scottsdale | Courtesy of the Sydell Group


A new hot spot is opening in Palm Springs and currently undergoing a $10 million transformation from a former Holiday Inn Resort to a stylishly hip desert retreat, The Saguaro (the “g” is silent) is set to open this February. The 249-room hotel by New York-based Sydell Group Ltd. (The Ace Hotel New York & The Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs) in collaboration with Joie de Vivre hotels, is part of a new hotel brand based on the design and style of casual Southwestern living. Positioned as a complement to its sister property in Palm Springs, The Saguaro will have a young, hip vibe similar to the Ace Hotel down the street. 

The hotel’s vibrant, yuppie-meets-hippie look is being created by New York architects Stamberg, Aferiat Architecture. One of the first steps in the renovation process is trading Holiday Inn green for white exteriors with bursts of 14 accent colors (from red to yellow, orange and green to blue, purple and pink) inspired by the flowers of Palm Springs. 

Next up: new furniture, artwork and a new off-street entrance for the site’s upcoming tequila bar and Spanish restaurant, Tinto. The venue will be manned by Jose Garces (if you don’t know him as a James Beard Award-winning chef, you probably know him from the Food Network as the “The Next Iron Chef” winner!)

1800 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | 877.808.2440

Shop: notNeutral

The LA design shop takes up permanent residence in Palm Spring’s Uptown Design District after testing the waters with its pop-up shop earlier this year. Colorful rugs, bright lanterns, funky dinnerware and other modern lifestyle pieces are housed within notNeutral‘s desert shop for year-round shopping. 


800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | 800.270.6511

Celebrate: Make Merry at the Revamped Cary Grant Estate


photography: Tyler Todd & Keith

Fully restored inside-and-out, the 1.54 acre Movie Colony estate that Grant named “Las Palomas” will soon be available for large and small event rentals. Designated as a historic landmark by the Palm Springs City Council earlier this year, the home was built in the 1930s as a literal copy of a 19th-century Andalusian Spanish Farmhouse. Once frequented by stars like Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock and Katharine Hepburn, the 6,000-square-foot home fell into competel disrepair after Grant moved out in 1972.


Today, after an 11-year, multi-million dollar restoration by the home’s current owner, the six-bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom home is nearly finished. During the design process, all efforts were made in order to remain true to the materials and workmanship of the house. All five of the stucco fireplaces – once clogged with debris – have been refurbished. Cathedral ceilings, French doors, hardwood and paver floors are featured throughout the home. As for the furnishings – which remain to be seen – pieces true to the period have been carefully handpicked. 


Transformed from a jungle of brown, dead overgrowth, the estate boasts lush greenery, expansive lawns, rose gardens, citrus trees and palms once again. Amidst the landscaped background is a sparkling swimming pool and a private art studio that will be available as an event space. Offering the largest indoor space for parties and private dinners is the guest wing designed by architect Wallace Neff. Beautifully redone, the space boasts indoor/outdoor living thanks to the floor to ceiling glass doors which slide open and disappear from view. 

For rental information, call 760.904.0200

Coming up…

Arthur Elrod House, courtesy Kilroy Southridge Properties | Photography by Leland Y. Lee

Design buffs flock to Palm Springs each year for Modernism Week. The ten day event focusing on architecture and mid-century design returns, kicking off on February 16, 2012. Festivities begin with the Opening Night Cocktail Reception at the Lautner-designed Arthur Elrod House, followed by an action packed schedule of events, film screenings, lectures, parties and tours.   

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