Tracy Turco is painting the town red … and orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple.
The colorful owner of The Art Hotel, The Tiki Hotel, and The Cheetah Hotel, Tracy is also a designer, artist, and entrepreneur. Along with her husband, real estate developer Jerry Turco, Tracy has spent the last few years leaving her mark on Palm Springs’ hotel scene, transforming old properties and bringing them back to life.
“I do the soup to nuts,” Tracy says, and it’s true — she selects all of the decor, furnishings, flooring, and paint at their hotels, and has created designs for wallpaper, bedding, clocks, and stools. Tracy is known for embracing bright colors and pattern play, and takes inspiration from all things Palm Springs.
“What I love most about Palm Springs is nature’s beauty,” Tracy says. “I love the sunsets, love the mountains with the palm trees, and all of the fruited trees. You can pick grapefruit and figs from your backyard, and while walking and taking hikes, you see all of these gorgeous flowers in full bloom all year round. The beautiful bougainvillea makes it like you’re living in technicolor. It’s just magical.”
Before heading out west, Tracy lived in New York, where she studied at the New York School of Interior Design; launched the brands SalonTea, Tea&Co., and Tracy Stern Shoes; and wrote two books, Tea For You and Tea Party. Tracy has always been a tea connoisseur, and enjoyed creating tea blends and opening tea rooms in Manhattan, Paris, and Dubai. Her SalonTea outlet in New York was at the City Club Hotel, and this gave Tracy a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to operate a boutique hotel.
“I always wanted to run a bed and breakfast as a little girl,” she says. “That’s why I started my tea parties — to give someone a beautiful experience.”
Tracy first fell in love with Palm Springs during visits from New York, when she would fly in and spend the night at a hotel before driving to her geodesic dome in Joshua Tree. Tracy and Jerry spent more time here together on their honeymoon, and he liked it so much that they decided to start a business in the city.
“Everyone here is so inviting and friendly, and I love the support of our community,” Tracy says. “The community has been nothing but gracious to all of our ventures and endeavors.”
When Tracy isn’t busy at one of their properties, she’s at home conducting research, trademarking her logos and designs, and selling her designs on Society6. The Turcos have purchased an old apartment complex that they are turning into an Art Deco-themed hotel, and they are hard at work developing their passion project: the Modernism Museum. The museum will offer guests an interactive and immersive experience, showcasing collections of mid-century modern kitsch, art, and memorabilia, along with a bowling alley, roller rink, and pizza place.
Tracy has also started an entrepreneurial group for women, where members can share tips and tricks and offer support for one another as they start or grow their businesses.
“It’s important to share and give back,” Tracy says. “There’s a lot of fear, and people don’t know how to get from the concept to fruition.”
Every day at work is different for Tracy, but one thing is constant: she brings her 8-month-old daughter with her to their hotels, where she watches as her mom hangs drapes and picks out paint colors.
“I hope she sees what I do and grows up to be creative and an entrepreneur,” Tracy says.