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Palm Springs Is in Economic Bloom Again

Another new hotel concept comes in South Palm Springs, where the Desert Riviera occupies a revamped 11-room motel meticulously preserved in mid-century details and embellished in period antique finds. You won't find dogs or hipsters smoking to the beat of electro-rock anthems here; its Oregonian owners maintain a cozier aesthetic of preening pool and evening firepit where guests gather with goblets of Pinot or take to the local neighborhood on complimentary beach cruisers. Rooms mix colorful retro decor with period bathrooms a la I Love Lucy and in-room kitchenettes. The hotel is a secluded reprieve from hot spots such as the Ace Hotel that appeal to a louder, brasher weekend demographic.

The Saguaro Palm Springs opens Feb 1. An expansive resort walking distance from the Ace opens within a former Holiday Inn, now ablaze in colorful southwestern colors and a boutique vibe that's like a hipster tribute to Georgia O'Keefe. This is the sophomore edition of The Saguaro brand after Scottsdale, Ariz., all owned by the Sydell Group -- the same development group that own Ace Hotels as well as the soon-to-open NoMad Hotel, also in New York. The Palm Springs and Scottsdale installments of The Saguaro (named after the famous Sonoran desert cactus) are managed by San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre.

Built in the late '70s, The Saguaro Palm Springs will likely extend the weekend party scene started at the Ace Hotel to its courtyard resort deck and pool. The design overhaul comes via architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat of New York-based Stamberg Aferiat Architecture, who use a palette of 12 colors inspired by indigenous desert flowers for exteriors as well as the 249 guest rooms. Lovers of the Ace should expect a similarly playful hotel experience, likely to be the it hotel of the season with its two eateries by Iron Chef star Jose Garces, a James Beard Award winner. Forthcoming Tinto restaurant will offer a Basque-influenced eatery and tapas lounge, while El Jefe will create a small-plates lounge experience inspired by the cuisine of Mexico City.

As for other developments around Palm Springs, chatter regarding a Mondrian Hotel next to the city's refurbished convention center continues, although the project is still in the early stages of planning since being delayed in the real estate downtown. And as for that empty mall in the city's downtown core, voters approved a 1% increase to the city's sales tax that will be allocated to buying parts of the mostly vacant project for redevelopment -- hopefully just in time for better economic times in California's most famous desert community.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.
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