Escape to Palm Springs

I’ve been to Palm Springs all of three times – not very often for an LA native prone to short road trips in and around So Cal.

I’ve been to Palm Springs all of three times – not very often for an LA native prone to short road trips in and around So Cal.

During this last trip, I realized why so few. Those three desert jaunts all occurred in the peak of summer, you know, when rubber flip flops start to melt and stick to the sidewalk because it’s too darn hot. So blame it on bad timing. However, I learned something else this last visit. Should I have the foresight to plan a Palm Springs sojourn in, say, December, when the climate is milder, this town makes a fantastic quick getaway for shopping, spas and sanctuary. Palm Springs is hot…in more ways than one.

Mobsters, Memories & Mojitos

My recent Palm Springs adventure began with an invitation to the Colony Palms Hotel. Turns out, the Spanish Colonial-style property boasts a history as steamy as the climate. Originally christened the Colonial House by Purple Gang mobster Al Wertheimer in 1936, the hotel attracted an enthusiastic crowd, not only for the sunshine and seclusion, but also for the notorious speakeasy and brothel hidden inside. In the late 1940s, the hotel became the Howard Manor under the stewardship of Robert and Andrea Leeds Howard, owners of the champion thoroughbred Seabiscuit, and enjoyed many years and many guests from the Hollywood set. Only recently did the property get an extensive renovation and new name, transforming the grounds into a four-star boutique resort for a new generation of willing patrons.

The Colony Palms Hotel

Much of the hotel’s legacy is preserved in the new design, including the Spanish Colonial architecture sprinkled with ample doses of Moroccan flavor and Hollywood glamour. But unlike the neighboring Riviera hotel, a huge resort complex that feels straight out of Vegas in scope and ostentation, the Colony Palms feels authentic and intimate, and totally unpretentious.

The pool’s the place to be, especially when temperatures hover around 100 in the shade. I found my spot under an umbrella and watched as several couples enjoyed a cool down in the water. Fortunately, the pool also sits right alongside the resort’s restaurant, aptly named the Purple Palm, where the drinks and small dishes flow endlessly throughout the day. I especially enjoyed my summery cocktail, an orange vanilla concoction, which offered a refreshing respite from the heat. The restaurant also serves a delicious dinner menu for those seeking a meal al fresco or in the comfort of the air-conditioned dining room. And, be sure to check out the hotel spa, offering a variety of wonderful massages and facial treatments. Quiet and beautifully appointed, it’s a heavenly haven not to be missed.

Thank You, Mr. Adler

Ecstatic doesn’t quite sum up my display of enthusiasm when my travel companion revealed I was to be treated to dinner at the signature restaurant of The Parker Palm Springs. There was an entire television show devoted to this sprawling resort, formerly Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch and Merv Griffin’s Givenchy Resort, and rightly so. Like the Colony Palms, there’s legacy here. And, thanks to the creations of interior designer Jonathan Adler, it’s a whole lot of fun too.

We were running late to our dinner, so we quickly ushered ourselves in through the big orange doors and tried not be distracted by all the amazing décor in the lobby in order to keep our table. And what a table we got. Perched in a corner booth, we had the pleasure of taking in the entire dining room at Mr. Parker’s, a swank eatery that reminded me of a dim-lit dive bar I used to hang out at over by LAX during my college days. And, I mean that in the most complimentary way. Outfitted by Mr. Adler with tufted black booths, mirrored ceilings and wood-paneled walls covered in an assortment of retro prints and paintings, this pad has character to spare. The menu is equally impressive and the wine list extensive. If you like foie gras, check out their delicious offering. As my dinner date stated so eloquently, it was “ridiculous”.

The Parker

The Parker

Full and overstimulated, we ventured out onto the grounds. The place is huge, but pleasantly planned. Mr. Adler’s décor transitions from whimsically wonderful indoor spaces to creatively communal outdoor ones. There are elegant sporting games like croquet, pétanque, and tennis, a fire pit surrounded by a circle of modern chairs and plenty of fragrant garden paths through which you can leisurely wander. Each of the bungalows lists a first name on the door, chosen for celebrity visitors, or so I was told…Brad, Tom — you get the idea. The sun was setting on the hills, and sadly, on my Palm Springs vacation. But as I took in the breathtaking site, I took solace in the relative convenience of the journey and the promise that I would be back soon…but perhaps in a cooler season.


The Palm Springs area is host to a long list of beautiful golf courses. Here are a few of our favorite greens, desert style:

PGA WEST – La Quinta
Each designed by a golfing legend, these five stunning courses boast reputations as challenging to players of all levels.

Shadows Hill Golf Club, Indio
Tee off at this beautiful 18-hole championship golf course and try not to get distracted by the surroundings.

Indian Wells Golf Resort
Opened in 2006, this new Par-72 Celebrity Course delivers in both play and picturesque scenery.

For more information on Palm Springs courses and tee times, visit, or call 800-727-8331.