There’s no place like the Korakia Pensione.

The historic property says it “blends the silhouette of Tangier with a whisper of the Mediterranean,” and is the perfect escape. There are two restored historic villas — the Mediterranean Villas and Moroccan Villas — with spacious rooms featuring wood-beamed ceilings, stone showers, balconies, private patios, French doors, and antique and handmade furniture. The Moroccan villa was built in 1924 as a hideaway of Scottish painter Gordon Coutts, who wanted to recreate his earlier life in Tangier.

Guests at Korakia Pensione are treated to outdoor yoga and meditation sessions, hot breakfasts in the Moroccan courtyard, use of books in the library lounge and cruisers to get around town, Moroccan tea service in the afternoon, and vintage movies screened outside at night.

The Moroccan courtyard is filled with fountains, a stone waterfall, olive trees, date palms, citrus, and bougainvillea, and as the sun begins to set, staff light hundreds of candles and lanterns across the property, setting off a magical glow. Massage treatments can be booked in the indoor/outdoor spa lodge or in guest rooms, and the two heated saltwater pools, with views of the San Jacinto Mountains, are open all day and night.

A Palm Springs classic boutique hotel –Posh Palm Springs– has changed management and its name. Now known as The Westcott, this stunning hotel provides a timeless art deco style retreat in a relaxed adults-only atmosphere.

Public spaces and all ten guest rooms have been thoughtfully and beautifully updated. A large freshwater pool and separate hot tub features 1930s inspired poolside furniture. Sumptuous bedding, plush robes and top-of-the-line amenities will be found in each room.  Upon request, staff will arrange for private in-room spa services (massages, facials, manicures, etc.)

Breakfast is served buffet style and offers a selection of cereals, toast, yoghurt, and fruit as well as a hot egg dish made fresh daily. And they happily accommodate special dietary requests such as vegan and gluten-free. A delightful happy hour takes place daily from 5-6 PM and features a daily house-special cocktail. Light refreshments are available all day.

Eco-conscious guests will be pleased to know that The Westcott prides itself on its green practices. Solar panels generate clean energy that powers most of the hotel’s needs. High-efficiency Quietside Ductless Heating and Cooling systems and ceiling fans make each room extra comfortable. And all lighting (interior and exterior) is high-efficiency LED or fluorescent bulbs.

The Westcott is also perfect for intimate weddings, retreats, and family reunions.

Owner, Mathew Westcott, and manager, Michael Barge, look forward to welcoming prior customers of Posh who helped make it such a desirable bed and breakfast destination in Palm Springs.

The Herbert W. Burns-designed luxury hotel was built in 1951, and has been reimagined by interior designer Mark D. Sikes. After several years as the Chase Hotel, the new Holiday House opened on May 1, 2017, with 28 guest rooms and calming shades of blue throughout the property. All of the completely remodeled rooms have oversized showers, Waterworks bath hardware, and Malin +Goetz bath amenities, and some have private outdoor space and Smeg appliances. Walking through the property, visitors will spot intricate tilework, art by David Hockney, Roy Liechtenstein, Herb Ritts, Alex Katz, and Mr. Brainwash, and a garden sculpture by Donald Sultan.

“It is a very un-cookie cutter hotel, where people feel as if they are staying at a friend’s beautiful house,” house manager Abdi Manavi said. There’s also a positive vibe that has been “created by all the beautiful, different areas that people can use for socializing.”

The property is adults only, 21 and over, and there are no telephones or televisions in the rooms, ensuring tranquility. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., guests can stop by The Pantry, which serves a simple breakfast, included in the hotel’s daily service fee, and lunch and snack items, like the HH Lobster Roll, Little Gem Salad, and The Pantry Cheeseburger. The full bar is open until 11 p.m.

Abdi believes what sets Holiday House apart is “the design and attention to details,” along with an “extremely hospitable” staff. For only being open a few months, Holiday House already has impressive feedback.

“We have only had five-star reviews so far, which is pretty sensational for a new hotel,” Abdi said. “Decor and service are the positive things mentioned the most, as well as how beautiful the entire property is.”

The spirit of optimism is alive and well in Palm Springs. 

“While the sunshine, heated pools, and stellar attractions make the city a destination for people looking for relaxation and adventure alike, the pandemic has changed Palm Springs’ visitor profile considerably,” Michael Green, chair of the Desert Gay Tourism Guild and Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, said. “Visitors from Europe are not coming as frequently as in previous years, and Canadians, who typically help boost the Coachella Valley’s economy, didn’t start returning until November.”

That said, the number of visitors overall exceed those of pre-covid days, and since June 2020, the vast majority of travelers have been domestic. Let’s dive into the reasons why.

Beautiful flowers in bloom. Photo credit: Kathy Condon

Feeling Safe on the Road

With the pandemic ongoing, many people feel safer planning a road trip with their family instead of getting on an airplane or cruise ship. San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix are no more than a 3.5-hour road trip away from Palm Springs, and even people from the San Francisco Bay Area can drive here within a day. For those in the northwest, they can turn Palm Springs into a road trip destination, making leisurely stops to see sights along the way. Road trippers not only pack their comfort items, but pets are welcome in Palm Springs, so Fifi and Brutus can come along for the ride, too.

Art at the Palm Springs International Airport. Photo credit: Kathy Condon

Direct Flights to Palm Springs

For travelers who do choose to fly, the Palm Springs International Airport is easy to navigate, just five minutes from downtown Palm Springs, and welcomes direct flights from many U.S. cities. Major airlines are always adding direct routes to Palm Springs, and new carriers are building the city into their business plans. According to Daniel Meier, Palm Springs International Airport’s deputy director of aviation, marketing, and air service, arrivals are up nearly 25 percent at the airport. 

Professional Mobility

When people first couldn’t go into the office to work, they came up with innovative ways to get their jobs done. Zoom allowed them to connect with colleagues and customers from anywhere with WiFi, and Palm Springs became a choice workcation destination. “With the ability to work remotely, we noticed a trend that people were taking advantage of the opportunity to stay longer,” Joyce Kiehl, director of communications for Visit Greater Palm Springs, said.

A Change of Residence

Palm Springs was one of the epicenters of the 2021 summer real estate boom, as harsh northeastern winters and being stuck inside brought to mind visions of sitting under a palm tree near the pool, conducting business meetings on Zoom. Robert Hunt, manager of Alcazar Palm Springs, said he has noticed that “many of our guests are staying here while looking for property.” Bob Deck, an agent with Town Real Estate, has found that people interested in buying homes in Palm Springs are “tired of the traffic in the bigger cities. They are looking for ways to take their commute time and turn it into family time.” 

A couple explores Palm Springs by bike. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

What Does the Data Show?

Things are looking up in Palm Springs, with hoteliers and retailers seeing a 23 to 25 percent increase in business in November, compared to the same month a year earlier. Jeff Witthuhn, owner of downtown gift shop Peepa’s, said he’s seeing “many more customers are coming from the East Coast,” while Kim Galland, owner of the women’s accessory store Kimbals, attributes her growth to previous customers who are delighted to be out in the world shopping.

In October, the city reported that transit occupancy tax collection increased almost 45 percent over 2020. Randy Garner, marketing manager for the Palm Springs Board of Tourism, noted that most events and conferences were canceled in the fall and winter of 2020, and the recent success of the 2021 Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade illustrates people are ready to get out there and enjoy the many aspects of our welcoming community, including new public art and restaurants.

Inside Gigi’s Restaurant. Photo credit: Kathy Condon

Thriving is a word that best describes Palm Springs. Remodeling of stores, the upgrading and restoration of our hotels, and additional direct flights are making our ever-changing desert community a destination that encourages visitors to come back again and again. What are you waiting for? Make a reservation through Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels to see this fabulous city for yourself.

Take a video tour of The Monkey Tree Hotel! This classic mid-century modern hotel is a Palm Springs time capsule.  Perfectly restored with meticulous attention to detail by owners Kathy and Gary Friedle, who preserved the original architecture and furnishings. Kathy’s background in architecture and design shows in every detail. If you love mid-century design, you will love this tour.

Are you looking for a place with a serene setting to relax and forget about your hectic schedule? Look no further than the Amin Casa boutique hotel, where you can spend hours sitting and listening to the sounds of a three-tiered water fountain and birds chirping. 

Located just steps away from bustling downtown Palm Springs in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood, you can park your car at Amin Casa and take a rest from the congested roads that may be part of your daily life. If you fly in, no need to rent a vehicle — the airport is a quick 10-minute trip by taxi. 

Amin Casa owner and manager Nelson Cooley. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Owner and manager Nelson Cooley is quick to bounce out of his office to greet you upon arrival. He has your keys in hand, and the online registration filled out ahead of time told him everything he needs to escort you to one of the property’s eight bungalows, your home for the next few days.

A historic place

This repurposed hotel was once the home of famed Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson, considered one of the most photographed women of her time. Indeed, there are numerous photos around the property of her walking the grounds with people from the entertainment world. It is rumored Joe Kennedy was a frequent visitor, so imagine the entourage he brought with him.

Another interesting factoid: During this period, Swanson was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. She starred as Norma Desmond in the 1950 classic Sunset Boulevard, one of the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.

The Amin Casa grounds. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Gorgeous grounds

Swanson recognized quickly that the four-bedroom house needed a swimming pool and, of course, a guest house to help maintain her privacy. The pool and tennis court were added to entertain her guests, who were also summoned to participate in Swanson’s famous movie nights. Today, the tennis court has been replaced by a lawn, which is home to a 100-year-old cactus.

A new chapter 

As Swanson’s career skyrocketed, she decided to sell her home to a newspaper heiress from Rhode Island, and moved to a new place in the Movie Colony neighborhood. The Swanson property was transformed into a hotel, with a kitchen added to the guest house (those quarters still have the original all-oak paneling). The inn was called Arenas Garden Hotel, which gave homage to the road it is located on and the gardens that wind their way through the property. 

New owners bring life back to the property

In recent years, the property languished for lack of visitors and no caretaker to make sure repairs were done. It was becoming an eyesore, and fear was mounting that this beautiful place would come to face the fate of a wrecking ball.  

Cooley and partner Ramon Bautista were frequent visitors to Palm Springs, and when they saw the hotel, they appreciated the architecture of the building and understood its historical significance. By chance, Bautista went to a dinner party in Los Angeles and was seated next to a woman he knew well, who told him, “I need your help. I have a friend who owns a small boutique hotel in Palm Springs inherited from a childhood friend who had no heirs, so he left the place to my friend. She lives in Chicago and does not know what to do with it. Would you look at it?”

Yes, it was the hotel the two men had admired from afar. In March 2016, they bought the property and the work began. Cooley, a former high tech executive, took over the outside and interior structural aspects and day-to-day management of the hotel. Bautista is the mastermind behind interior design while continuing his medical practice in Pasadena, where he specializes in international travel medicine. Their goal was simple: to maintain the integrity of the architectural structure, interior, and grounds

Amin Casa’s bungalows are fully equipped for your stay. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Staying at the Amin Casa

When getting ready to launch Amin Casa, the men wrote down everything they disliked about going to other hotels. The list included parking fees, resort fees to use the amenities, and extra charges for special cleaning, satellite television, and Wi-Fi. Today, when you go to check out at Amin Casa, you will find no surprises on your bill — everything is included in the cost of your room. 

This hotel heats its pool all year, giving guests the opportunity to swim or read a book and sip a cocktail poolside during winter, spring, summer, and fall. Since Palm Springs has 350 days of sunshine, you can work on your tan at the same time. 

Amin Casa’s sparkling swimming pool. Photo credit: Nadine Conger

Longterm guests are welcome, with many already booked for years to come. Amin Casa’s bungalows are well-appointed with everything one may need to live comfortably — in the deluxe bungalow, I was surprised to see fine china displayed in the glass-door cupboards. If you want to prepare a gourmet dinner for special friends, you have everything you need to impress even the most persnickety.

The bungalows have lovely living rooms, which could be used as part of a movie set. Attention to every detail has been magnificently executed throughout the entire property. 

Yes, there is a great deal of history in this 94-year-old structure. It is one of our premier Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels standing open and ready to invite you to bring your family here for a reunion or a wedding. However, most of the year, it is a beautiful place to relax and meet fascinating people. If you want to escape the real world for a bit, this is the place to step back in time and be pampered. 

Palm Springs, California, is a tourist destination, welcoming millions of visitors every year from around the world. There are dozens of boutique hotels catering to all types of travelers — architectural aficionados, party animals, wellness-minded yogis — but what really stands out are the hoteliers. 

Centrally located in the Warm Sands neighborhood of Palm Springs, the historic 1930’s property has been refreshed under the direction of up-and-coming LA-based hotelier/designer Matthew Kurtz in partnership with local hoteliers Richard Crisman and Jeff Brock. Together they strive to deliver a new, whimsical boutique hotel with minimalistic yet chic design and approachable service – all at an affordable price point.

Old Ranch Inn in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan
Contributed by: Brittany Ryan

Nestled between Indian Canyon and bustling downtown Palm Springs, sits the historic Old Ranch Inn. Here, in this intimate eight-room boutique hotel catering to adults and their pet dogs, is where travelers come to find a home away from home. Although Old Ranch Inn has been offering guests a peaceful escape since the 1930’s, it has recently come under new ownership. Old Ranch Inn is now being looked after by Troy and Jason, and they have big plans for the Inn’s future including an extensive renovation of the guestrooms and public spaces.

Troy, who is a retired partner from the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young, has 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, loved the idea of customers being able to feel like they were staying at a close friend’s guesthouse.

“Old Ranch Inn is designed to offer privacy and intimacy.” Troy explained to me. “Because the property accommodates 16 people total, we are able to provide a completely customer-centric experience for our guests from the time they check in to the time they check out, which is reflected in our Expedia rating of 4.7 out of 5 and a 9.6 rating out of 10 on hotels.com” And since the hotel is located in a residential neighborhood, it’s a peaceful setting.

This customer-centric experience is made apparent in all of the details of the property. When you arrive at this slice of paradise, you’re welcomed by the trickling sound of fountains and birds singing in the trees. Western lanterns line the property offering a peaceful amber glow in the evenings.

Old Ranch Inn Courtyard in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Courtyard in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

The pool is surrounded by bright teal lounge chairs, each with their own pillow. It’s easy to see why some guests spend their entire trip just relaxing by the pool. Jason and Troy see to it that all of your poolside needs are taken care of – cold water, sunscreen, pool noodles, and floaties. The patio offers a variety of umbrella-covered seating areas. This is a favorite spot for guests to enjoy cocktail hour and dine al fresco under the string lights as the sun begins to set.

Old Ranch Inn Pool in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Pool in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn is set in the Historic Tennis Club area – one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, founded in 1937. Just minutes from the famous Palm Springs Walk of Stars, Palm Springs Art Museum, the bars/restaurants on Arenas, the Tennis Club was once an under-the-radar destination for Hollywood celebrities, politicians, statesmen, and infamous world travelers. Today, the desert community is considered one of the premiere locations for upscale boutique hotels.

The eight pristine guest rooms at Old Ranch Inn create an instant feeling of coziness. Tasteful western design elements, like Tiffany-style lamps and white quilted linens, are seamlessly blended with modern amenities, like a kitchenette, walk-in shower, and a private patio.

“We wanted to pay homage to the western desert roots that the Old Ranch Inn is known, while still providing a contemporary, relaxing experience for our guests,” says Jason.

Old Ranch Inn Bedroom in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn Bedroom in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Troy and Jason’s vision for a comfortable home away from home is quickly coming to life. The guesthouse caters to both short and long-term travelers. Old Ranch Inn is set in a very walkable location, just a few blocks from local favorites like FARM, a charming, French-inspired eatery, and Wilma & Frieda Palm Springs, a brunch spot with reinvented comfort food. Head in the opposite direction toward the mountains, using one of the Inn’s free bike rentals, to hike one of the popular Tahquitz Canyon hiking trails and get some grand views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. If you’re lucky, you might even see some big horn sheep.

“We have active guests that love the ease of access to hiking, golfing, shopping, and local dining, and we also have guests that come simply to enjoy the quiet pleasures of relaxing poolside for the majority of their stay,” says Jason.

Old Ranch Inn at Dusk in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

Old Ranch Inn at Dusk in Palm Springs. Photo Credit: Brittany Ryan

In short, Troy and Jason’s vision for Old Ranch Inn is to provide a luxury level experience in an intimate setting. The fact that this boutique hotel is perfectly located between the San Jacinto Mountains and Downtown Palm Springs is icing on the cake!

When Ruby Montana packed her bags and left Seattle in 2000, it was front page news.

The Seattle Times ran a story about Ruby’s big move, and the fact that she was closing the vintage store she operated for nearly 18 years. “They ran a funny headline,” she said. “‘Montana Leaves Washington for California.'”

The same quirky treasures that filled the shelves in her store are now on display at Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn, a pink, whimsy place to rest your head. As an added bonus, guests are welcome to purchase any of the collectibles on display.

“I’m more of a kitschy experience, as opposed to pure hospitality or pure mid-century,” Ruby said. “I think the Coral Sands has a sense of humor that is built-in as a result of some of that. It’s a precious little jewel of a place tucked into Las Palmas.”

The Coral Sands was built for the L.A. Rams in 1952, and has six rooms, a nine-foot pool, and a “warm, kind of embracing” atmosphere. Ruby also has small rescue dogs, and several guests have fallen in love with the dogs during their stays and after building relationships, end up adopting them.

“I love everything about this property,” Ruby said. “My favorite room is the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. It was built with stone and redwood beams; it’s like a lodge. When I stepped foot on the property, I knew immediately I wanted to be part of it. It’s a phenomenal property and works well with my nostalgia; it feels like your grandmother’s lakeside property, on a pool.”

Ruby’s fans from Seattle continue to flock to her hotel, as do return guests from Los Angeles and other environs. She loves having a “fully-integrated life,” where all she has to do is wake up and be where you need to be. “You don’t have to put on a suit and go downtown in a commute,” she said. “My commute is to the kitchen.”

Ruby also loves being around her guests. “It’s required you be a person who enjoys people, and doesn’t have a lot of boundaries,” she said. “I live at my hotel, and my friends tease me that I live in a fishbowl, because you can see in the picture window. My mother used to always say to me, ‘Honey, sometimes I wish you were a little more discerning, is there anyone you don’t like?’ Basically, not many.”

The hotel is seriously special, Ruby says, a “vortex for really incredible things happening.” It’s not unusual for guests to run into people they know, as “coincidences happen here. There’s a certain force that people feel — it’s a very magical place.”