Revamped 4-Star Resort Maintains Midcentury Glamour
In the 1960s, members of the Rat Pack could often be found sipping cocktails by the pool at Riviera Palm Springs, and Elvis Presley was known to rent out the resort for rehearsals and R & R between tours. The Riviera of today still embodies the cool, midcentury glamour of Sinatra’s heyday, but it does so through more contemporary style thanks to a recent $70 million face-lift and the hum of near-constant activity, from live jazz music to late-night DJ sessions.
A collection of three-story, Old California–style bungalows are spread out over the Riviera’s 24-acre campus. Each guest room overlooks either the San Jacinto Mountains or landscaped gardens. Designed like a wheel with spokes, the resort centers on a hub containing a restaurant, a large swimming pool, and the Bikini Bar—a pool deck set beneath a hand-woven thatched hut. Day beds and cabanas outfitted with TVs and misting fans surround the pool, while sarong-clad servers deliver poolside drinks for daytime and evening cocktail parties.
The onsite SpaTerre—named one of the Best of the Best by Palm Springs Life in 2010—offers a full menu of services in a Thai-inspired oasis. Waterfalls, sparkling pools, and dramatic readings of lotion-bottle labels set the scene inside the spa’s Buddha Lounge. Here, you can enjoy several relaxing treatments, ranging from facials and massages to medical-grade body wraps and microdermabrasion.
Palm Springs, California: SoCal Resort Town with Midcentury Charm
A little more than 100 miles east of Los Angeles lies Palm Springs, an oasis of outdoor recreation and old Hollywood glamour. The desert town was once the stomping ground of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and the Rat Pack and still attracts A-list vacationers. A stroll through the Movie Colony—which had its heyday between the 1930s and 1960s—will take you past the former homes of Dean Martin, Bob Hope, and Marilyn Monroe.
Palm Springs is also the birthplace of desert modernism, a Bauhaus-influenced architecture movement. You can explore the area’s famed midcentury-modern landmarks on a self-guided tour; grab a map at the Palm Springs Official Visitors Center, itself housed within an iconic building—the retro-futuristic Tramway Gas Station designed by Albert Frey. Furniture and clothing boutiques along Palm Canyon Drive, the main drag, embrace Palm Springs’ trademark aesthetic—what you might call Mad Men West. Nearby, the small but impressively curated Palm Springs Art Museum features works by Pablo Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg along with significant contemporary and Native American collections.
The sun shines on more than 300 days a year in Palm Springs, which means you can play a round of golf or hike in the nearby Agua Caliente Indian Canyons no matter the season. It’s worth it to take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, whose tramcars rotate 360 degrees as they carry passengers to Mount San Jacinto’s Mountain Station, located 8,516 feet above sea level. About 40 miles northeast is the nearly 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park, which encompasses parts of the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Take a stroll on 1 of the 12 nature trails for a chance to see native animals, such as desert bighorn sheep, snakes, and black-tailed jackrabbits.