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Sheri’s Palm Springs Area Blog

Whether it be real estate updates, restaurant reviews, events, or highlights of unique homes in Palm Springs, follow Sheri as she covers all that Palm Springs and the surrounding area has to offer.

Dining Around Laguna Beach: Splashes, Sapphire, Ysidro

Those of you who have been with me for a long time know that I lost my late husband, Bill, in 2016 to a glioblastoma brain tumor. In 2018, I met Michael, and we got engaged in 2019. Well, we finally pulled the trigger and got married on April 1st!

We went to the Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach for a few days as a quick get-away. One of the wonderful things about that area is so many great restaurants and the fabulous ocean, of course. And it’s only 2 hours away from the desert.

I’m not going to detail every last meal, but rather give you the highlights, as I highly recommend all of these restaurants.

The first night we dined with good friends Dean and Debbie at Ysidora at The Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The service was outstanding, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, the company couldn't have been better, (along with that vintage bottle of Dom from Dean and Deb) and we all went away very glad that we’d had our first night’s dinner there.

The next night we went to Sapphire in Laguna Beach. We sat outside on their spacious patio and made good use of all the heaters as April at the beach is NOT April in the desert!

We started with cast iron roasted brussels sprouts, Romanesco cauliflower, and Kurobuta Pork Belly. Outstanding!

Michael had the crispy duroc pork schnitzel with maitake mushrooms, garden herb spaetzle, baby rainbow carrots, Meyer lemon, and basil emulsion.

I went lighter and had the chardonnay steamed Manilla clams, Mexican white prawns, and P.E.I. mussels with saffron pearl couscous, Spanish chorizo, melted garlic, and charred tomato broth.
Even though we were stuffed, we managed to find room for the Meyer lemon crème Brulee.

We will definitely be back the next time we are in the area.

As we stayed at the Surf and Sand, we had lunch at Splashes one day, which was very good. I had the Avocado Toast with heirloom tomatoes, poached eggs, shaved radish, and everything seasoning. Michael had the Grass-Fed Burger with Fresno onion jam, pepper jack, tomato, pickles, and truffle aioli.

My mom joined us for dinner one night. She had fish tacos, I had seared scallops with crisp enoki mushrooms, pickled cauliflower, puffed quinoa, and a tellicherry pomegranate reduction. Michael had lobster bisque and Icelandic cod in brick dough with purple sweet potato, heirloom carrots, heart of palm salad, yuzu, and white soy gel.

I’ve never had anything less than a stellar meal at Splashes, and this was no exception. It’s the one place I always go to in Laguna.

Dining Around the Desert: Los Arcos, La Quinta

 

Los Arcos is a 10-month-old, family-run, Mexican restaurant in La Quinta. Located in the “old” Ralph’s shopping center at the end of Washington, across from Starbucks.

I’d been seeing glowing reviews on Nextdoor, and so Michael and I decided to try it as there’s always room for another good Mexican restaurant in my book!

We arrived around 6:15 PM and the place was already pretty full. We opted to sit on the patio and soon Jesus arrived to greet us and take our drink order. They have applied for a liquor license, but for now, it’s just beer and wine.

Along with our beers, we started with chips, salsa, and Fresh Tableside Guacamole. Made with avocados, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, and their secret spices, it was very tasty and chunky, just how I like it. The chips were fresh, thin, and perfectly salted. The salsa was very good and came with a kick.

I had a Taco Salad with shredded Chicken which was fine, but nothing spectacular. Next time I’ll try something different as the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked great.

Michael, on the other hand, had the Mojarra Frita. A deep-fried whole tilapia fish served a bed of mixed bell peppers piled on a cast-iron skillet. Served with your choice of corn or flour tortillas. Garnished with pico de Gallo, lettuce, and avocado. It was presented sizzling on a platter and was wonderful. Moist, with crispy skin, just like a whole fish should be.

 

Los Arcos has an extensive menu with a nice selection of burritos, tacos, chile Rellenos, etc…everything you’d expect. The prices are very reasonable with nothing over $24.

Our server, Jesus, is also one of the owners, and couldn’t have been more personable, as was all the staff. We will be back soon!

Open from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, 7 days a week.

50855 Washington St, La Quinta

760-992-5133

 

https://losarcoslq.com/

 

Click here to see the full menu….

Why Palm Springs Airport is a pandemic economic success story

 A jet takes off from Palm Springs International Airport, which has defied COVID-related slowdowns by increasing flights and passenger traffic during the pandemic. Photo by Shutterstock.

With spring just around the corner, many travelers looking for relaxation will be heading to Palm Springs. The return of visitors means Palm Springs International Airport will be humming with action in the coming weeks.

But Zócalo Public Square commentator Joe Matthews says business has actually been booming for a while at the local airport. He calls Palm Springs International a pandemic economic success story.

Opinion column by Joe Mathews:

If you’re heading to heaven, you really should fly out of Palm Springs.

Pandemic-era air travel is a miserable combination of unhappy passengers and unreliable service, except in Palm Springs. There, flying still feels like something miraculous.

The airport is small and easily navigable. And after you speed through security, you emerge into an outdoor desert garden that might be the best waiting room in American aviation. If we're lucky, sun-splashed, open-air PSP — the airport’s code — will become a model for post-pandemic flight across California, and especially in the smaller airports of our growing inland regions.

PSP is already the people’s choice. While the pandemic has grounded the travel ambitions of other places, PSP has soared. 2021 was the busiest summer in the airport’s history. Since last June, the airport has set seven new monthly records for passengers. PSP now serves more than 2 million people annually.

Those records may keep falling. Southwest Airlines started service in Palm Springs in 2020 and now flies from there to eight cities, including Sacramento and Oakland. Other airlines have added flights to destinations from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale. The 13 passenger airlines serving the airport now offer 35 different routes, creating competition that lowers fares.

In local news reports, airport officials have expressed surprise at this pandemic surge. They hadn’t projected a return to pre-COVID numbers until 2023. But PSP, a former military base converted six decades ago, has long found ways to succeed in hard times.

PSP has prospered ever since the Great Recession, even as other Western airports stagnated. One reason: all the Canadian snowbirds buying Coachella Valley properties after the collapse of the housing bubble.

To serve that growing Canadian colony, the airport established non-stop service to Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. In the process, PSP set new records for passengers in six of the seven years between 2012 and 2019.

The airport’s growth has been supported over the last two decades by careful and sustained investments, including a new control tower and terminal, a ticket lobby expansion and a better baggage handling system that have not cost the airport its small and convenient feel.

But Palm Springs can’t take all the credit for its growth. The awfulness of flying in and out of LAX and the horror of driving anywhere from it have driven customers to find alternatives. And Ontario Airport, the nearest Inland Empire rival to Palm Springs, has been badly mismanaged, shedding flights and passengers for most of the 2000s and 2010s.

When COVID hit, PSP, with that outdoor space, felt like a safe place to visit — not unlike Palm Springs. The Coachella Valley’s great weather, and its tradition of indoor-outdoor living has made it a popular place to pass the pandemic.

I made my maiden voyage recently on a late afternoon flight from PSP to Oakland after a tiring day of reporting around the valley.

For the first time I can remember, an airport refreshed me. I made it through security in two minutes, having to wait only for a very polite family of five, all wearing Toronto Maple Leaf sweatshirts. I lay down on a shady bench in the garden before heading up into the Sonny Bono Concourse to grab a sandwich at an open-air restaurant. While eating, I took in fabulous views of Southern California’s two highest mountains, Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Jacinto. It felt a bit like visiting a desert spa.

Marveling at the scene, I told an airport worker that the only thing missing was a swimming pool. She quickly corrected me — there is a pool, but it’s in the general aviation part of the airport for those who fly privately.

I’ve heard people compare the look of the airport with attractive canopies and all that light to the sets in the NBC show “The Good Place,” a comedy that offered a sun-splashed view of the afterlife. Of course, we mere mortals have no way of knowing whether PSP really looks like heaven. But Palm Springs does have one advantage over that other paradise: an airport that makes it easy to get in and get out.

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square.

Open Season

How the former tennis champion Peggy Michel landed BNP Paribas as title sponsor of the Coachella Valley’s signature sporting event.

Courtesy of Ellen Alperstein, Palm Springs Life

Indian Wells Tennis Garden opened in 2000, hosting the Tennis Masters Series Indian Wells presented by Newsweek.

It dawned cool and a bit cloudy in Paris that day late in September 2008. But four visitors from the Coachella Valley had a sunny outlook about their meeting at the formidable banking power, BNP Paribas. Charlie Pasarell, Raymond Moore, Steve Simon, and Peggy Michel were top executives of the tournament held each year in March at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Since 2002, it had been the Pacific Life Open, but the California insurance company had concluded its sponsorship. The IWTG suits were seeking a new title sponsor for an event that had grown since 1976 from a pro-tour byway in Rancho Mirage to a sporting spectacle drawing more than 330,000 fans in 2008 despite a history fraught with financial instability and the cannibalistic intentions of other sports impresarios.

The tournament brain trust hoped the meeting would culminate in a boffo deal that Michel, assistant tournament director and VP of sales and sponsorships, had been cultivating for months. BNP Paribas had long supported tennis worldwide, including the French Open, one of four Grand Slam tournaments. Partnership with Indian Wells would strengthen the IWTG’s financial footing and protect the tournament from poachers. It would juice the global prestige Indian Wells had been building long before its owners broke ground on the facility at the turn of the millennium. Michel, long regarded for her decency and sales wizardry, was this close to the biggest get of her life.

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peggymicheltennis
Peggy Michel won three Grand Slam titles with Evonne Goolagong.

Then somebody saw a news flash: The U.S. stock market was in freefall. Trading would close that day, Sept. 29, with the largest one-day drop in history, dumping more than 
$1.2 trillion of value. Banks around the world were in shock, and those were the lucky ones. Some collapsed. On this day, four desert denizens were knocking on the door of Europe’s largest bank, hands out to support a place where the median household income was more than double the national average.

Margaret “Peggy” Michel was born in Santa Monica in a close-knit family of six kids. She was named for her mother, Margaret Duguid Michel, who, in the 1930s, was UCLA student body president, the first female to hold that office at a Southern California coeducational university. “Dugi” inspired her children to pursue their dreams.

Peggy pursued tennis. A two-time U.S. collegiate doubles champion and twice a finalist in singles, she was the consummate serve-and-volley player who is as rare in today’s game as snow in the desert.

missionhillscountryclub

The BNP Paribas Open played under different names at venues in Indian Wells, La Quinta, and Rancho Mirage before landing at its forever home, Indian Wells Tennis Garden, in 2000.
After graduating with a degree in education, she went to Australia to work with renowned coach Vic Edwards. He paired her with Evonne Goolagong, and the two won three Grand Slam doubles titles in the mid-1970s — the Australian Open twice, and Wimbledon once. In Oz, Michel learned not only the finer points of the pro game, but how to navigate gracefully among big talent and equal expectations. “Mr. Edwards,” she recalled recently, “said, ‘When you’re playing doubles with Evonne, she’s going to get the accolades for winning, and you’ll be blamed for losing.’ So, I said to him, ‘Well, we’re just not gonna lose.’”
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indianwellstennisgardenconstruction

The attitude served her well on tour, and when she retired into a business career that continues today. A career in which she moves among giants, avoiding the limelight many in her position find so nourishing.

In 1976, the American Airlines Tennis Games was a men’s tournament at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. By 1981, its host was the La Quinta Hotel (now La Quinta Resort & Club), where Pasarell was director of tennis and part of a real estate development group whose appetite for growth was whetted by the modest success of what was called the Grand Marnier Classic, with prize money of $175,000 and three commercial sponsors whose names today no one would recognize.

Pro tournaments are operated by their owners, but their dates are sanctioned by the sport’s governing bodies — the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for men and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for women. They are keen to hold the strongest tournaments with the best dates in the biggest markets. The ATP had been making noise about moving this plucky little event in a perceived California backwater to the tennis Valhalla of Florida.

HyattGrandChampions

Hyatt Grand Champions

By the mid-’80s, the tournament had outgrown La Quinta. Former pro players Pasarell and Moore formed PM Sports to produce a top-tier tournament at an equally lofty venue. With financing to build a luxe hotel, followed by a big stadium in Indian Wells, they needed someone to sell hotel rooms at the incipient Hyatt Grand Champions (now Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa).

Peggy Michel was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her parents wanted her back in Southern California. One day, her father, Walter James Michel, was chatting with Pasarell, a fellow member of the board of directors of the Southern California Tennis Association. Pasarell knew Peggy from their days on the tour. He asked Walter what she was up to. On a handshake deal that was her contract for 24 years until PM Sports sold the tournament, Peggy was hired to sell hotel rooms, tennis packages, and a tennis fantasy camp in Indian Wells.

“Once we opened the new facility,” she said, “Charlie said he thought it would be better if I came over to the tennis tournament. ‘You’re very good at sales, so I want you to sell sponsorships and the suites.’”

Over the next couple of decades, Pasarell, Moore, and Simon were the visible movers and shakers, and Michel was a secret weapon, the big-brand escort into one of the Coachella Valley’s signature sporting ventures. Not a lot of people knew her, but they recognized Hugo Boss, Coke, Hertz, Enterprise, Baccarat ...

evonnegoolagong

Peggy Michel, Charlie Pasarell, and Evonne Goolagong (Michel's former doubles partner) at the former Hyatt Grand Champions, an early host of the Indian Wells tournament.

The tennis world paid increasing attention and respect to the well-run, player-popular tourney, but it suffered from an identity crisis. Between 1985 and 2002, the name changed 10 or 12 times, depending on how deeply into the sponsorship weeds you want to wade. (Are The Matrix Essentials Evert Cup [’92-’93], The Evert Cup [’94, ’99], and State Farm Evert Cup [’95-’98] one or three?) The tournament upgraded venues twice in that period; it faced more financial challenges and one notable player controversy that took 14 years to resolve.

In 1989, women joined the competition when the WTA sanctioned a lower-tier event the week before the ATP’s, and PM Sports strengthened the tournament’s stability by partnering with IMG, the entertainment management powerhouse.

In 1996, attendance reached 140,890 when men and women’s play were combined into one event — one of only six such tournaments in the world. A year later, both were series 1000 events, which rank just below the four “majors,” or Grand Slams. The numerical designation signifies the points winners earn to determine world rankings.

Apart from the majors, most people thought the Grand Champions was the pinnacle of pro play. But PM Sports lusted after a large plot of land just east of the Hyatt. In 1999, the ATP signed a deal with global marketing firm ISL to infuse $1.2 billion into the men’s tour over 10 years. Indian Wells’ share reportedly was $110 million for the term, and PM Sports/IMG purchased the property and developed the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Its Stadium 1 would seat 16,100 people, second largest in the world, with a multitude of outer courts and concessions over 54 acres.

chrisevert
womenstennis
Women began competing in 1989 when the WTA sanctioned a tournament prior to the men’s event. The competition merged into a combined event in 1996.
womenstennisassociation

It opened in 2000 with the Tennis Masters Series Indian Wells presented by Newsweek. More than 187,430 people came to watch tennis where Mount San Jacinto loomed in the west and palm trees paid obeisance to the occasional wind. Forty-four suites ringed Stadium 1; Michel had sold 32 of them.

Attendance in 2001 topped 200,000 for the first time. But drama ensued. Claiming a knee injury, Venus Williams defaulted to her sister Serena minutes before their semifinal match. The capacity crowd and much of the media were loudly displeased. Serena was booed as she beat Kim Clijsters for the title, and her father, Richard Williams, called it racist. Neither Williams would return to Indian Wells until 2015.

IWTG was a huge hit, but so was the size of its debt service. The owners were forced to consider selling their sanction again when ISL declared bankruptcy. PM Sports/IMG had $40 million left on the stadium loan, plus all the other tournament and site expenses. Interests in Shanghai were lobbying the ATP for sanctioning rights. A few years later, Doha, Qatar, also with deep-pocketed promoters, was another suitor.

Some relief arrived with Pacific Life’s sponsorship in 2002, and by 2004, attendance was 267,834. Still, operating expenses the next year were $5.7 million when tournament revenue was $3 million. IMG, with 50 percent ownership, was committed only through 2006, and was receptive to the foreign offers.

“We thought we were going to be sold to China,” Michel recalled. “Then Raymond [Moore] got help from other businesses and the USTA. … We just kept fighting to save the event.”

IMG’s equity was assumed by outside investors including tennis stars (Pete Sampras, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King), the U.S. Tennis Association, the publishers of Tennis Magazine, and the city of Indian Wells. By 2008, the last year of Pacific Life sponsorship, attendance at the Coachella music festival was 151,666 compared with 331,269 at the tennis garden.

“We thought we were going to be sold to China,” Michel recalled. “Then Raymond [Moore] got help from other businesses and the USTA. … We just kept fighting to save the event.”

In early summer, Michel went to BNP Paribas’ New York office to court the bank as title sponsor. Executive Michele Sicard was receptive to Michel’s proposal and wanted to visit a venue she’d never seen. Michel warned about the extreme summer heat and how dead the IWTG would be.

“She said she loved the desert,” Michel recalled, noting there would be no deal recommendation to Paris without a site inspection.

Michel’s team spent a month sprucing up Stadium 1 and its suites. It hung BNP Paribas signage around the court as if in mid-tournament and tarted up the lighting for a post-sundown command performance.

A couple days before the audition, Sicard canceled.

In her office, Michel cried, thinking, “Oh, they’re not interested.”

Two days later, Sicard called. The visit was back on. Michel’s show got rave reviews, and the tourney team booked their trip to France. In Paris, Peggy Michel seated herself across the conference table from Antoine Sire, then BNP Paribas head of group communications. She fingered the one-page pitch she had crafted on the advice of Sicard.

indianwellstennisgardenerial

Sire opened the meeting: “You do know that you’re here looking for a sponsorship knowing what’s happened in the United States in the stock market? But go on, go on.”

If anyone could put lipstick on a pig, it was Sire, whom Michel found to be “the nicest gentleman, very genuine; he had a warmth to him.” After about an hour, Sire said that it would be very difficult, but that they would think about the sponsorship and get back to the Tennis Gardeners.

They walked back to their hotel in a glum mood.

That night, in a final appeal, Michel wrote a letter to Sicard, and stuck it under the door to her hotel room.

On Sept. 30, in a cab heading for the airport, Steve Simon’s phone rang. It was Michele Sicard. We’re in, she said.

More than 13 years later, as head of company engagement at BNP Paribas, Sire recalled that day, and Michel’s role: “Despite the very unfortunate timing of their visit to Paris in 2008, Peggy played an instrumental role in selling the tournament to us. Her experience — having been a player, and with the tournament since the beginning — was an important factor, but it was her optimism, vision, and ‘can-do attitude’ that really convinced us.”

The BNP Paribas Open contract has been renewed twice and expires in 2024. In 2009, assured that the tournament would remain in the desert, PM Sports sold it for a reported $100 million to tech magnate Larry Ellison. He has spent an equal amount on improvements to the IWTG. By 2015, the tourney hosted 456,672 spectators, more than the French Open.

“Yes, we’re the fifth largest [tournament],” Michel says, “but we’re … not in a major market, we’re in Indian Wells, California. It’s one of the most beautiful places to have an event … but [it] will always be very difficult.”

IWTG does not disclose contract terms, but title sponsors typically cover the prize money, and sometimes more, which appears to be the case here. The 2022 total prize money is slightly more than 2021, thanks to a contribution from the ATP: $17,748,393. Michel remains the BNP Paribas point person.

“Peggy is completely committed to the tournament,” said Jean-Yves Fillion, U.S. CEO, BNP Paribas, “but also to the sponsors and clients that she manages. It is this dedication and dynamic that has driven our successful partnership.”

She and Fillion are two of a kind — kind, aware, engaged.

Again, this month, Michel will escort Fillion around the tennis garden. He greets the ball kids, the officials, the player transport drivers. Last year, Michel reported, “He sat there and talked to every [volunteer] who was handling credentials and thanked them for all of their time and effort, told them he knew how hard 2021 was.”

Ya think? Rescheduled for October because of the pandemic, the tournament was COVID-canceled in 2020, the year after Michel sold all 44 suites for the first time. She called every sponsor and suite-holder and offered credit or refunds. Most took credits, and all returned in 2021, even though several of the sport’s biggest stars were absent and attendance dropped by about half. Still, unlike many other tournaments, the prize money remained at 2019 levels, and Michel sold three-quarters of the suites.

As always, this year Michel and Fillion will promote sport and education in the Coachella Valley in ways most people won’t notice. As always, Michel will be hustling for sponsors and suite-holders with the charm and integrity that have described her 37 years on the job.

“Yes, we’re the fifth largest [tournament],” she says, “but we’re … not in a major market, we’re in Indian Wells, California. It’s one of the most beautiful places to have an event … but [it] will always be very difficult.”

 

Where to Stay in the Desert in 2022

Glow Up

One-of-a-kind amenities and design flourishes — from dramatic flower murals to itty-bitty bowling alleys — make these Greater Palm Springs hotels a cut above the rest.

Courtesy of Derrik J. Lang Palm Springs Life

AZURE SKY

Palm Springs

Built in 1959, the midcentury hotel will be reborn in April as Acme Hospitality’s first property in Palm Springs. The company behind such spots as the Santa Barbara restaurants Loquita and The Lark as well as the hip Nevada County hotels Holbrooke and National Exchange modernized the boutique’s 14-room property, which features a 4,500-square-foot pool and fit pits.In the rooms, chic updates include built-in beds with tufted blush-colored headboards. azureskyhotel.com

tracyturcodesign

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVEN CLARK
The Tiki Hotel has 11 rooms, which are available as a buyout.

TIKI HOTEL

Palm Springs

After opening the splashy Art Hotelin 2020, designer Tracy Turco turned her attention to the property next door, transforming the former Carlton Hotel into a celebration of all things Polynesian. The 11 rooms, which are available as a buy-out, are embellished with rattan furniture, vintage finds like masks, and Tiki-print wallpaper. A gift shop in the front sells — what else? — Tiki mugs and other tchotchkes, as well as jewelry, handbags, and other wares by Turco. tracyturco.com/tiki-hotel

westin rancho mirage

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE WESTIN RANCHO MIRAGE GOLF RESORT & SPA
A major renovation at the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa includes expanded outdoor recreation and entertainment spaces.

THE WESTIN RANCHO MIRAGE GOLF RESORT & SPA

Rancho Mirage

This behemoth 365-acre resort recently emerged from a massive $15 million renovation with several updates, including refreshed rooms, 12 new pickleball courts, an outdoor concert space (dubbed The Backyard), and an expanded pool area with 30-foot double-barrel waterslides. The most fun addition is Pinz & Pints, a new family-friendly arcade-style venue with two lanes of pint-size duckpin bowling and scads of games, including air hockey and claw machines. westinmissionhills.com

FleurNoirehotel

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY FLEUR NOIRE HÔTEL
Fleur Noire Hôtel sets the mood with bold statement walls.

FLEUR NOIRE HÔTEL

Palm Springs

Since welcoming its first guests last August, everything has been rosy for this 10-cottage property in the Uptown Design District formerly known as Burket’s Trade Winds Hotel. Before reopening, Fleur Noire co-owners Chris Pardo and Corey St. John tapped artist Louise Jones to slather each of the Spanish-style buildings with images of bright blooms on a black background. The flower power extends inside with wallpapers and fabrics designed by Ellie Cashman. fleurnoirehotel.com

ON THE HORIZON

Here’s a glimpse at other accommodations arriving soon-ish in Greater Palm Springs

BodePalmSprings

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY BODE HOTEL
Bode Palm Springs keeps it modern.

BODE PALM SPRINGS

After launching in Tennessee with properties in Nashville and Chattanooga, the apartment-style accommodation brand — think: vacation rental meets boutique hotel — is constructing its first West Coast outpost in downtown Palm Springs. bode.co/palmsprings

MONTAGE AND PENDRY

Talus, formerly known as SilverRock, in La Quinta will be home to a pair of new resorts: a 134-room Montage and 200-room Pendry at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains adjacent to the Arnold Palmer–designed golf course. They’re poised to open next year. taluslaquinta.com

THOMPSON PALM SPRINGS

The long-delayed project on the border of downtown Palm Springs and the Uptown Design District is now expected to open by the end of the year and be branded as one of Hyatt’s posh Thompson hotels. (It was originally meant to be an Andaz.) thompsonhotels.com

TRIXIE MOTEL

RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars champ and cosmetics icon Trixie Mattel is werking on turning the old Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn in Palm Springs into a seven-room pink palace — and the drag queen is documenting the process for a Discovery+ series. trixiemattel.com

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A rendering of Blackhaus Hotel.
BLACKHAUS HOTEL

Down the street from Bode Palm Springs, Arrive and Fleur Noire mastermind Chris Pardo is building a similar Airbnb-style property. The hotel will feature four separate structures, each with five rooms and their own pool, patio, and parking spaces.

 

Dining Around the Desert: Cunard’s Sandbar, La Quinta

Anyone who has been coming to the desert for any amount of time has likely dined at the Sandbar, or at the very least wanted to.
Owned by Bob and Tina Cunard since 1982, the Sandbar is an institution in La Quinta, and it’s not to be missed.
I’ve personally been friends with Bob and Tina since about 2005, having dined there many, many times and I’m friends with them outside the restaurant as well. Their hospitality cannot be beaten, and the entertainment is something you have to see to believe. Featuring Bill Baker at the grand piano, playing all the standards, it's a hoot!
It’s one of those kinds of places where you know the staff by name, you know their kids, their pets, etc…and now, full disclosure, Kayla Cunard, one of my rock star agents, is married to their son. Regardless, if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t bother to review it.
Michael and I went about a week or so ago, and it was delightfully just the same as always. Comfort food in an old-school ambiance.
Michael had the BLT Wedge which is a wedge of crispy chilled iceberg, topped with Applewood smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, chopped tomatoes and creamy ranch dressing. As his entrée, he had the Filet Mignon, a Tender center cut 8 oz Midwest corn fed filet, presented with garlic herb butter. It was cooked perfectly medium rare.
As all entrees come with soup or salad (it’s that kind of a place), I had the salad with blue cheese crumbles. Then my favorite dish at Cunard's, the Calamari Steak – Abalone Style, slightly pounded and breaded, served with lemon, butter, and capers.
We both had the baked potato, fully loaded, and fresh garden vegetables.
We’ll be back again soon!
78-120 Calle Tampico
La Quinta, CA 92253
• Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1265,
La Quinta, CA. 92247
• (760) 564-3660
• Open Tuesday - Saturday Serving
Dinners from 5:00 PM

Desert Circuit Equestrian Events

January 2022 Desert Circuit

The Desert Circuit Equestrian Events | Jan. 19-23 & 26-30 | Desert International Horse Park, Thermal The Desert Circuit is eight weeks of USEF Premier-rated Hunters and 5*/6* Jumpers running from mid-January through mid-March with one week off in mid-February. The circuit draws thousands of equestrians to the premier Southern California show grounds.

Click here for details

 

Dining Around the Desert: Pom, Fantasy Springs Resort

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in one of our local casinos, due to Covid, but also, I honestly can’t take the smoke. So I was thrilled to hear that there is no longer any smoking whatsoever which made the decision to have dinner at Pom in Fantasy Springs Resort last week easy since we were headed to Fantasy Lanes to check it out.

The restaurant was fully booked, and the wait was over an hour; however, a couple of nice guys at the bar were heading into the concert, and we snagged their seats.

We started with the unique seasonal Old Fashioned, which had a splash of apple instead of orange. It was made how it should be with one large ice cube, and the bartenders were excellent.

For dinner, I had the Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, egg, avocado, blue cheese, black olives, tomato, and blue cheese dressing. It was a nice presentation and very fresh and tasty.

Michael had the 14 oz. Rib Eye Steak with garlic whipped potatoes, tobacco onions, and a burgundy demi-glace. It was cooked perfectly, and as with the salad, it was a nice presentation.

We took our cocktails outside, just past the bar where the Rock Yard is. It’s a nice open-air concert area, and there was a decent band playing. They’ve got a Boston Tribute band on the calendar and a Bruno Mars Tribute band this weekend. During the week, they have a variety of different groups.

The main concert venue has everything from Dionne Warwick, Temptations & Four Tops, Bill Burr, Los Hurachanes Del Norte, Il Divo, Righteous Brothers, to Pit Bull and Toto. Pretty much something for everyone.

We'll be back!

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
84-245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio, CA 92203
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Where to Go Surfing Next Year in the Palm Springs Area (Yes, Palm Springs!)

Three wave pools, including one designed by champion surfer Kelly Slater, are due to open in the Coachella Valley in 2022 and 2023.

BY KATHRYN ROMEYN

Seeking waves in the parched California desert sounds like the delusion of a stereotypically stoned and sun-bleached surfer, but it’s about to be reality, thanks to three high-tech wave pools coming to the Coachella Valley. This should come as no to shock to Chris Hemsworth, Shaun White, Diplo, and Oscar-winning Free Solo director Jimmy Chin, some of the lucky few who have already had the privilege of surfing 100 miles inland, at Kelly Slater’s invite-only Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California (not far from Fresno).

Surf Ranch is the prototype for Slater’s newest project: a wave pool at Coral Mountain, a community planned for La Quinta, California, that will include a 150-room hotel, wellness spa, and single-family homes starting in the high $2 millions. “Coral Mountain is meant to be a well-rounded sports and wellness community for the entire family,” says Michael B. Schwab, founder of Big Sky Wave Developments, which, with Meriwether Companies, is behind the 400-acre project. “A surf destination will complete the surrounding golf, tennis, event venues, and hiking and biking trails already existing in the area.”

Designed by Kelly Slater Wave Company, Coral Mountain’s half-mile wave basin — projected to open in 2023 and powered by green energy — hopes to create the world’s tallest and longest human-made wave. It also will have extended bays for surfers who are far from professional. “A novice can learn to surf on the same day a professional surfer has one of the best surf days of their life,” says Schwab. (While wave pools lose significant water to evaporation, developers point out that they use significantly less H2O annually than golf courses.)

Whereas Coral Mountain will be reserved for residents and hotel guests only, The Palm Springs Surf Club — set to open in June — represents a democratization of the wave pool. “We cater for everyone,” says creative director Jamo Willis. “We want all people to come and learn to surf and get that first wave or that first barrel and just be so excited because they had that experience that might [otherwise] take years. In two days of surfing, you get more waves than in half a year, and that gives you the confidence to get out there in the ocean.” According to Willis, there are 1.2 million surfers living within a two-hour drive of Palm Springs.

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Pro surfer and wave pool developer Kelly Slater at his Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California (located near Fresno); Surf Ranch’s pool. ALLEN J. SCHABEN / LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES (2)

The upscale surf resort, with a vibe Willis describes as a blend of Mykonos, Tulum, and the Sahara desert, will feature not only the pool — which uses pneumatic air-chambered Surfloch technology to create waves — but also restaurants, bars, cabanas, lap pools and a beach club. “We wanted to build something a wave park has never had before,” says Willis, “and that’s creating more of a lifestyle experience around the pool, not just for surfers but for everyone.” He likens the beginner section to a green run at a ski resort, with double-diamond-like waves for advanced wave riders

DSRT Surf is the third concept proposed for the area, featuring waves in a diamond-shaped pool by The Wavegarden Cove, a boutique hotel, skate park, recovery center, restaurants and access to Desert Willow golf courses, projected to open on 18 acres in Palm Desert in 2023. The pool will also have dedicated hours for stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking and bodysurfing.

The appeal of these pools — beyond the obvious perk of consistently flawless waves — is that there are “no crazy tides, no sharks and no dangerous reef. Everything people worry about, it’s not there,” says Willis. And unlike in, say, Malibu or Manhattan Beach, “there’s nobody dropping in on you, which takes a lot of the stress out.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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