Tamanrasset is an installation of large-scale abstract paintings and light by Vivian Suter. Photo Lance Gerber.

There are plenty of us who love getting out to see the desert close up and personal. Especially this time of year, the cacti are starting to bloom, and wild desert flowers are peeking their fragile heads out of the desert soil. Breathing the fresh desert air is sure to revive a tired soul. Now, there is another way to explore and appreciate the desert… by exploring Desert X, which is happening now through May 16, 2021.  Book a romantic getaway with your sweetheart or take the kids to a family-friendly small hotel. Either way, prepare yourself for the creative desert adventure known as Desert X .

What is Desert X?

Desert X is an exhibition of 13 contemporary artwork installations, created by artists from eight countries, that are designed and built on site-specific locations through the 40 miles of Coachella Valley. The exhibition is  organized by the Desert Biennial Board, a California nonprofit that selected the sites and artists.

Students and scholars worldwide come here to study and write about the art and emerging and established artists who created these often monumental edifices in unexpected places.  Subject themes range from the environment, immigration, or climate change, to name a few.

However, what makes this adventure very special is that it is an activity an entire family can enjoy. Finding the locations, which are often obscure, may require one to use GPS coordinates. Get the whole family involved in the treasure hunt to find another installation often not visible from the road. The Desert X mobile app is a great tool for learning the details about  the art and its artist.

Here a few examples of the sites that will be revealed as you explore.

Desert X Wishing Well by Ghana Artist Serge Attukewei Clottey

These brilliant canary yellow cubes are constructed of plastic water buckets used to carry water in Ghana. The four-inch squares are connected with wire on four corners. The artist wanted to bring attention to the Coachella Valley’s future and its continuing dependency on water.

Desert X What Lies Behind the Walls by Saudi Arabia Artist Zahrah Alghamdi

This wall is about a quarter-mile hike up a slightly elevated path.  It is made out of insulation dipped in glue and then rolled in the earth surrounding the area. Metal rods in the interior hold it in place. Thus, it displays the different colors of the soil and forces one to think about people’s diverse cultures and experiences throughout the world.

Desert X ParaPivot by Poland Artist Alicja Kwade

This art installation is placed on top of a hill with a path that quickly gains elevation. More than one person has stood at the bottom of the trail and decided it is too much of a challenge to tackle on a warm Palm Springs day.  Representing glaciers, balanced in precarious positions, one walks through it and contemplates the what-ifs surrounding our everyday life.

Note: IF you have a disability placard, please let the volunteers know, and they will facilitate a way to see the art.

So make your reservations to come to Palm Springs. Pack your suntan lotion and your hats, and head out to explore this unusual way to see our valley.

How to Travel Safely by Car

Not since the days of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez’ road trip to California and when the Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe traveled to Palm Springs have road trips been so popular. This is the time to nostalgically take a road trip and reflect on those bygone days.

Pack your car and head to Palm Springs to enjoy one of the elegantly restored boutique mid-century hotels in the group known as the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. With almost 80 hotels from which to choose, you can be revitalized a poolside environment and snuggle in a cozy bungalow.

Before you head out, though, there are some safety precautions you should know during these times of Covid-19.

What to Bring in the Car

Even if you are traveling a short distance, bring all your travel documents—your auto insurance card, your driver’s license, auto registration, and your health insurance card.

Try to bring as much as possible of what you may need to be self-sufficient and cut down on trips to stores once you arrive. Bring water, snacks, lunch (to eat on the way or once you reach your destination), disinfectant wipes, masks, gloves, phone chargers, medications, and Ziploc bags. If you want to have some wine and spirits, pack those bottles under the car seat so you don’t have to journey to a liquor store.

Stopping for Gas and a Restroom

Like it or not, that gas stop and restroom is sometimes necessary. When you are pumping gas, disposable gloves are a great idea. Once you have finished pumping, use sanitizing wipes on anything you have touched– door handle, steering wheel, knobs for air conditioning or the radio, and your credit card.

As far as public toilets at gas stations, prepare for the worst. Bring toilet paper and soap. Make sure you really scrub your hands for at least those 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose before washing. Grab a clean paper towel to grab that door handle.

Staying at a Hotel

Here comes the beauty of staying at a Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel. With all hotels being less than 50 rooms, your room will be on the ground level or one flight upstairs. There will be no elevator rides or long hallways to negotiate. That’s because most of the small hotels were designed to face open-air courtyards.

While all of the Palm Springs Preferred Hotels have undergone deep cleaning and as a group have in place a set of baseline of safety sanitation standards, it is still a good idea to practice safety cleaning of your room. Once you are inside, use sanitary wipes to clean areas where people touch like door knobs, tables, faucets, toilets, sinks, light switches, phones, remotes, and curtain handles. Wipe down anywhere you will rest your belongings.

Eating and Drinking During Your Stay

Palm Springs is currently not open to indoor dining. But the wonderful part about visiting Palm Springs is that the weather is conducive to dining outdoors, a much safer option. Many of the finer restaurants provide food and cocktail delivery so that you can just sit back and dine comfortably in your room or by the pool. A list of some of those options are: The Tropicale, Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, El Mirasol Restaurant, Jakes’ Palm Springs, and 533 Viet Fusion.

Note that the City of Palm Springs mandates the use of face masks in public, whether you are indoors or out.

So, grab your swimsuit and a slice of nostalgia on a well-deserved road trip to Palm Springs where unsurpassed blissfulness, hospitality, and tranquility await.

Amin Casa embodies the quiet sophistication of Palm Springs, with a twist of old Hollywood glamour.

Once the residence of actress Gloria Swanson, Amin Casa made its debut in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood in November 2016, following several months of major renovations both inside and out. “Amin” means “ours” in Tagalog, while “casa” is Spanish for “home,” and owners Ramon Bautista and Nelson Cooley want it to feel like “your home away from home.” 

“On property, guests will find the relaxing, club-like ambiance and genuine, heartfelt hospitality they have come to treasure,” Ramon said. 

The compound dates back to the 1920s, and when fully occupied, the property only accommodates 14 guests, adults only. The bungalows come with living rooms, kitchens complete with microwaves, coffeemakers, blenders, and dishes, eco-friendly toiletries, and bathrobes and slippers, plus the Swanson residence with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, and the property’s largest kitchen. There are stunning gardens, fountains, a swimming pool, cabanas, and an outdoor dining area with a grilling station.

Above all else, Ramon and Nelson, who have experience at some of the finest hotels in the world, strive to give the patrons of Amin Casa one thing: “Intuitive, gracious service provided by a staff passionate about pleasing our guests.”

When you fly or drive into Palm Springs from the West, you cannot miss the sudden, dramatic appearance of hundreds of windmills. To be exact, 2200 at this writing. Few people know that it is possible to take a tour of this windmill farm. Standing at the bottom of a windmill and looking up is a thrill for even the most skeptical participant.

Windmill Farm Background 

The formation of the windmill farm, as it is now called, began in 1984. The location was chosen because it is consistently the windiest place in the United States. Winds are clocked regularly at 30 mph because air current is trapped and funneled between the two mountain ranges.

With the 1980s oil crisis came the need to increase the development of alternative energy; thus, this area received international attention and became a focus for rapid design and development of more efficient windmills. Today, constant research is done by four companies, including one from Spain.

Public Access 

With changing times, the Windmill Tour Company pivoted. Previously, a bus trip through the area was accompanied by a volunteer narrator for the tour. Now, one can take a vehicle with up to eight people and drive through the farm with a video or audio narration.

Upon arrival, you are handed a sanitized iPad in a plastic bag.  Then you drive through the designated path, which is marked, and look for the blue barrel with a number that matches the narrative on the video. At each stop, there is room to park so that you can get out and take as many pictures as you want.

Highlights of the Tour 

For engineer types, there is a display of the original turbines with detailed descriptions of the design. We learned that the original open-tower design proved noisy and caused the demise of many birds. Thus, it was back to the drawing board for redesign, especially the blades. Today, the fiberglass blades can be 144 feet long, almost the width of a football field.

One of the stops allows you to get right up to the windmill with a column that extends 300 feet into the air. The majesty of this engineering feat is difficult to comprehend.

This approximately 1.5-hour tour is truly a magnificent experience. You learn, take in the fresh desert air, and your appreciation of windmill power will increase tenfold.

 

Helpful Hints: Make reservations on their website. There are no restrooms available. Make sure you take plenty of water and a hat, for there is no shade on this tour. Finally, when you sign up for the tour, be sure to copy the directions. It is handicap accessible. 

Palm Springs Windmill Tours
www.windmilltours.com
62950 20th Avenue
Palm Springs, CA 92262
800-531-5834

 

Amin Casa exterior

Amin Casa embodies the quiet sophistication of Palm Springs, with a twist of old Hollywood glamour.

Once the residence of actress Gloria Swanson, Amin Casa made its debut in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood in November 2016, following several months of major renovations both inside and out. “Amin” means “ours” in Tagalog, while “casa” is Spanish for “home,” and owners Ramon Bautista and Nelson Cooley want it to feel like “your home away from home.”

“On property, guests will find the relaxing, club-like ambiance and genuine, heartfelt hospitality they have come to treasure,” Ramon said.

The compound dates back to the 1920s, and when fully occupied, the property only accommodates 14 guests, adults only. The bungalows come with living rooms, kitchens complete with microwaves, coffeemakers, blenders, and dishes, eco-friendly toiletries, and bathrobes and slippers, plus the Swanson residence with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, and the property’s largest kitchen. There are stunning gardens, fountains, a swimming pool, cabanas, and an outdoor dining area with a grilling station.

Above all else, Ramon and Nelson, who have experience at some of the finest hotels in the world, strive to give the patrons of Amin Casa one thing: “Intuitive, gracious service provided by a staff passionate about pleasing our guests.”

With its amazing weather year-round, Palm Springs is the place to host corporate, creative, and wellness retreats, and everything in between

PALM SPRINGS, California (April 5, 2018) — Like real estate, planning a retreat is all about location, location, location.

Whether it’s a yoga, writing, or intimate corporate retreat, if it’s not held in the right place, it won’t yield results. That’s what makes Palm Springs the perfect spot for a retreat — it’s easy to get to by car and airplane, the weather is ideal year round and because the town has such a laid-back vibe, it’s easy to eliminate distractions. And with so many boutique hotels, retreat planners can readily find one that offers the perfect retreat experience for their audience.

Kathy Friedle of The Monkey Tree Hotel regularly works with facilitators who host retreats at her mid-century property in Palm Springs.Friedle says that when planning a retreat, it’s important to share with the hotel all the basics: the number of attendees; the types of space desired, the equipment needed (for example: a television, podium, microphone), and activities planned. Also, openly discuss how meals will be handled. A sample itinerary goes a long way towards helping hoteliers meet a group’s needs.

By matching the size of the retreat to the hotel property, retreat hosts gain efficiencies in pricing and support. Atmosphere is essential as it helps drive interest and engagement—two critical factors for fitness and creative retreat facilitators who generate revenue from attendance.

When choosing a place for a retreat, keep in mind the size of the group, size of the property, and the atmosphere the group is looking for. Friedle says The Monkey Tree Hotel feels like “a 16-bedroom home environment with plenty of breathing room and a giant pool are as our outdoor living room. We’ve had people say that our property feels like you are both at a resort and at someone’s home. You can have a large meeting here and also have plenty of smaller-size breakaway spaces.”

“It’s a great opportunity to get some fresh air and work in a different environment to get the creative juices flowing,” Friedle says.

At the 10-room Three Fifty Hotel, the pool is the perfect place to set out yoga mats and take in the views of the looming San Jacinto Mountains. Manager Laura Slipak says because of its size and apartment-style rooms, the hotel could also easily be rented out for a corporate leadership retreat or just a private weekend.

“We’re in the Historic Tennis Club District, just a block away from the heart of Palm Springs,” she added. “To be able to fully focus on a retreat, you need to have peace and tranquility and that’s what makes the Three Fifty Hotel a little gem in the desert.”

About Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels

Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels was established in 2016 through a series of town hall meetings by local small hotel owners and managers, in partnership with the City of Palm Springs. The purpose of PSPSH is to serve as an economic driver and to create awareness of the uniqueness of Palm Springs Small Hotels, which are an essential part of this desert resort town’s unique culture and economy.

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Village Fest Palm Springs

March is one of the best times to visit Palm Springs. The weather is balmy, lots of flowers are in bloom, and activities abound.  Whatever your interest may be — hiking, biking, culture, art, shopping, history, entertainment, eating or drinking — there is so much going on.  Here are some ideas about what to do in Palm Springs in March.

Month of March:  Photographs from celebrated photographer, Michael Childers, will be featured in an exhibit titled “Rockin’ Hollywood,” which opens February 29 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. The exhibit features portraits of such Hollywood greats as Elton John, Cher, John Travolta, Rod Stewart, and Ringo Starr and includes the fascinating history behind the celebrities portrayed.

March 4First Wednesday Art Walk at the Backstreet Art District, 2600 Cherokee Way, from 7 to 10 p.m. Art galleries and artists’ studios are open for art lovers to enjoy original art by local, national, and international artists. This is an amazing opportunity to interact with artists and to view their paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics and jewelry, while savoring refreshments and vibrant camaraderie.

 

March 5, 12, 19, 26: Palm Springs Villagefest is a street fair held every Thursday along Palm Canyon Drive (between Baristo and Amado roads) in downtown Palm Springs, 6 to 10 p.m. More than 180 vendors feature food, art, crafts, and entertainment. This is always a wonderful time for sampling some great food, mingling, and shopping.

March 6:  Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward will be speaking about his career and current issues. Woodward is best known for uncovering the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein in 1973. Celebrated for his investigative skills and fair, objective approach, Woodward should be a fascinating speaker. He will offer a knowledgeable perspective on what’s happening in politics today. Richards Center for the Arts, 2248 Ramon Road, 7:30 to 9:30. Tickets $30 to $150 can be purchased online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/palm-springs-speaks-presents-bob-woodward-tickets-67044334409

March 7 & 8; March 21 & 22:  Desert Art Festival will be held at Frances Stevens Park, 555 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artists present their works in all media for visitors to view and purchase. This beautiful setting in Uptown Palm Springs is an idyllic spot for a leisurely weekend stroll. Admission is free.

March 7Wildflower 5K Fun Run/Walk at the Civic Center, 43900 San Pablo, Palm Desert. This is a family friendly event with strollers and dogs welcomed. Registration opens at 7 a.m. and RSVPs are required. Registration fee is $30 and includes a t-shirt. RSVP at https://www.desertmountains.org/calendar/2020wf-5k-ccpark

March 9-11:  Max Von Essen is performing at the Annenberg Theatre at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, 6 p.m.  Max has won many awards, including a Grammy.  He has starred in the Lincoln Center’s revival of Falsettos and has appeared in Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Les Miserables. This should be a truly inspiring and entertaining performance. To purchase tickets, go to the Annenberg website (link above).

March 11:  Let’s Talk: Walk a Mile in My Shoes. Anthony Purnel, a member of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, discusses the many challenges he faced during his inspiring 132-day hike from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail. Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 East Baristo Road, 6 p.m. $10 for members of the Cultural Center and $20 for non-members.

March 13-15; March 20-22: How to Survive an Apocalypse is a surprisingly delightful romantic comedy (despite the title) about a young, stylish couple who are convinced that their chic, partying lifestyle is coming to an end. They become hoarders and hunters and learn a lot about their relationship. At the Palm Springs Woman’s Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Rd. Tickets available via website (link above).

March 7, 14, 21 & 28:  The Certified Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 Baristo Road, from 8 to 12:30. This bustling outdoor market features a seasonal variety of fresh food products, craft items, and chef demonstrations.

March 27:  Palm Springs Community Drum Circle. This unique, inspiring experience is led by sound healer, Scott Meredith, and held at the Gallery at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon Drive, downtown Palm Springs. Free event.

March 29: Slim Man Rat Pack Big Band Show.  Award-winning jazz vocalist, Slim Man, leads a 17-piece big band with favorite songs from the 60s, recreating the era of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin and Nat King Cole. At the Annenberg Theatre at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, 5-8 p.m. Tickets available at  www.slimman.com

Also keep in mind that the Palm Springs Historical Society offers a wide variety of walking and biking tours throughout March, such as tours focusing on such topics as Architecture & Glamour, Rat Pack Playground, Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood, Modernist Treasures, Uptown Design District and many more. To see what is available and sign up, go to the society’s website (link above).

Wake up in Palm Springs with the sun gloriously shining and grab your glamorous floppy hat, recyclable water bottle, and sunglasses. It doesn’t matter if the museums are closed because there’s so much fabulous public art to explore in Palm Springs.

Start your walking tour in the Uptown Design District on North Palm Canyon.

First Stop – Palm Springs Desert Art Center

The center for Palm Springs creative arts is the Desert Art Center at 550 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262. Often overlooked, this grand building is the home for numerous art classes, exhibits, and theatre performances. One of our city’s latest art installations is on the Desert Center’s palatial grass-covered lawn.

MIDABI is an artist and philosopher focused on large-scale public art using text in sculptures and murals. Residing in Palm Springs since 1998, with family roots going back to the 1950s, MIDABI continues a family tradition of contributing artistically to the desert.

Large, bold, and thought-provoking, MIDABI creates works of art that seek to inspire and challenge the viewer to think for themselves and see reality differently. One may feel shaken, for emotional core values may be questioned.

Since you have your walking shoes on, head on down Palm Canyon; along the way, you will see colorful benches to rest upon, which our local artists created.

Second Stop – Koffi North

If you want to have a cup of coffee, you might want to stop at Koffi North. Be sure to go straight through the store to the back and see the courtyard. The locals hang out here during non-Covid times.

Third Stop – Near the Palm Springs Art Museum

Now that your energy is restored, head down to Museum Way and turn right.

Before you get to the Palm Springs Art Museum and located in what we locals call the “Sand Pit,” (and future home of an underground parking lot) are ten sculptures, 11 ft long X 9-foot fiberglass babies. A barcode replaces any semblance of a face.

Czech artist David Cerny has loaned this art installation to Palm Springs through 2022. He wanted to make a statement about the dehumanization of society due to big tech and data. We are betting you will have an opinion.

Check out the wall on your left as you overlook the Sand Pit. You’ll spot a mural by Santa Monica artist, Peter Tigler, who worked with attendees of all ages to create this 7-foot-tall-by15-wide mural at the Annual La Quinta Arts Festival in 2019. Look closely; it was created by finger painting. The bright colors and numerous scenes invoke the sense of “Wish you were here.” It’s a great place to take a selfie to post your social media.

Fourth Stop – Graffiti Park

Across the street from the Sand Pit is our Graffiti Park. While waiting for the area to be developed, artists are encouraged to express themselves through their art. The various cement pillars and stones, remnants of past construction, serve as canvases. The art is constantly changing, so be sure to come back and see it on your next visit.

Fifth Stop – Right Side of Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum is closed, but the parking lot holds a surprise. Check out the Road Signs scattered throughout the premises. They were created by artist Gerald Clark, who identifies himself first as an artist; and secondly, a Cahuilla Indian.

These Road Signs were created for an exhibit of his work in the Palm Springs Art Museum a couple of years ago. Walk to the museum’s right side first, then see the rest of them on the museum’s left side.

Sixth Stop – Left Side of the Palm Springs Art Museum

After you have pursued both sides of the museum, you will see a large semi-truck parked in the parking lot. In the semi is a three-story all-metal house, called the Aluminare House, designed by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher. The house was donated to the Palm Springs Art Museum for its permanent collection and will be reassembled in 2021. It is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of Modernist architecture in the world.

We hope you have enjoyed this tour of some of our public art. There are many more installations–both inside and outside–scattered throughout the city. However, we wanted to give you a small taste of the many treasures that await your visit to Palm Springs.

There’s no better way to see Palm Springs than by bike, and several boutique hotels in the city offer complimentary use of cruisers during the day.

Just off of North Indian Canyon Drive, The Avanti Hotel is a short ride away from the shops, restaurants, and nightlife in downtown Palm Springs. Hop on and hit such hotspots as Copa, Tropicale, and Jake’s. The Avanti Hotel, 354 E. Stevens Road, Palm Springs. 760-327-3866

Don’t feel like peddling all by yourself? The Desert Riviera has retro-style cruiser bikes available in single or tandem. Take a ride around the neighborhood to check out the different architectural styles, or even bike to a nearby hiking trail. The Desert Riviera, 610 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-327-5314

The Movie Colony Hotel is undergoing a major renovation, but one thing remains the same — guests can borrow touring bikes to take in the sites on two wheels. Adjacent to the Design District, the Movie Colony Hotel is just a quick bike ride away from museums, art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. If you don’t mind going on a five-mile trek, ride over to the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Movie Colony Hotel, 726 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-320-6340