On The Road: Palm Springs / by Tom Gavin

"In Palm Springs they think homelessness is caused by bad divorce lawyers." - G. B Trudeau 

I went to Palm Springs to figure out why old world Hollywood geniuses created an oasis to get away from it all. The city's lavish resorts played host to the uber famous and icons like Frank Sinatra could whisk Ava Gardener away from the spotlight and into private villas. In the summer, the Ingleside Inn became a playground for the stars. Elizabeth Taylor used to sunbathe topless by the pool and Marlon Brando drank amaretto at Melvyn's. The Rat Pack would often be found partying late into the night in private booths, taking turns singing at the piano. You know, the stuff of legend.

But that was long ago. 

Not that modern day Palm Springs is any less beautiful or ideal when it comes to getaways, just that most of those stars are dead, and the generation after didn't find their forbearer's haunts as attractive. Hell, most of those resorts are still priced to the stars. All that is beginning to change. There are new hotels sprouting up that have enough style and vibe to give any old Hollywood joint a run for it's money. 

We set out one afternoon to scope out many of the fabled resorts, hotels and bars--both old and new--starting with the Parker and it's rad interior designed by Jonathan Adler. You immediately understand why vacancy is rare the moment you set foot in the lobby. The whole place has a romantic whimsy and after a few cocktails, you find yourself gazing at the surrounding mountains and slipping into a woozy state of mind where time becomes less and less important. There is an all-caps "DRUGS" sign hanging above a fireplace, and it really suits the mirrored table and glass cowboy hat centerpiece beneath it. It wouldn't seem out of place in Studio 54--not that I know a damn thing about the decadent 70's. I have, however found myself in scenes in west Hollywood that certainly qualify as so. 

Anyway, that's beyond the point. 

After finishing an expert-made manhattan, we headed through the enormous red doors and off to the ACE hotel. Outside of the retro sign in the small parking lot, the ACE doesn't look like much, but once you reach the bar, you realize that's the whole point. It isn't a lavish getaway; it's an upscale dive bar with a pool and hotel attached--although the ACE suites boasts some of the best vintage-meets modern decor Palm Springs is known for. The cocktails are delicious and the beer selection is local and seasonal. If that isn't enough, the quirky lobby is packed with apparel and accessories. I'm unsure as to when the ACE decided to start collaborating with clothing brands, but it was a smart idea--even if it doesn't even make sense--and many of their items sell out before they even make it to the hotel. 

By then it was time for dinner, and nearly everyone we spoke to said we must, by all means, head to Workshop. When in Rome, do as the romans--so we made our way to a tucked away colonial building down town. Again, it is quite easy to deceived by the exterior. The restaurant boasts 27 foot high, cathedral ceiling trusses and polished concrete pillars that make the entire space feel modern, while the high barn windows give a more rustic feel. The staff goes well out of their way--like every good business--to make it clear they want to be there. This creates an unbeatable ambiance, and by the time our food arrived, we'd already decided Workshop was one of the best meals we'd enjoyed all year. Any where.

I have to admit, we managed to get a flight voucher and stayed an extra day. Who knows the next time we'd be able to sneak away from our busy schedules just to roam around in a place designed for people who simply want to relax in gorgeous locales and sip on delectable drinks? I mean, that just sounds perfect. Right?