The historic Plaza Theatre, currently in the midst of a fundraising for restoration, will provide the city and its visitors with top-notch entertainment in an iconic and fully restored historic venue.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAMINSKY PRODUCTIONS
When the Palm Springs City Council announced in February that Scott Stiles had been selected as the new city manager in Palm Springs, his colleagues from around the world took notice.
“When the word was out that I was coming to Palm Springs,” Stiles says. “I heard from people all around the world: China, Israel, Europe, the list goes on. The reputation of Palm Springs is known far and wide.”
As an internationally recognized destination, the city is laser focused on the future and thriving in the present. Business is booming, visitors are arriving in record numbers, international organizations are planning their conferences here, hotels are opening, and airlines are offering nonstop service to and from more destinations.
Tourism Continues to Soar
Palm Springs’ red-hot tourism appeal shows no signs of fading, thanks in part to the city’s ongoing marketing efforts. The destination’s latest campaign — How Do You Palm Springs? — invites visitors to explore the many sides of the city.
“This new campaign really recognizes that people want to travel and experience a place in their own way,” says Kimber Foster, Director of Palm Springs Tourism. “Our community is truly all-inclusive, and we wanted to make sure that was depicted in our campaign.”
As visitation continues to soar, new hotels are opening their doors. Drift Hotel Palm Springs opened earlier this year, bringing 84 rooms and a Baja-inspired restaurant, Maleza, to downtown Palm Springs. In the Uptown Design District, Hyatt’s Thompson Palm Springs is set to open its first phase by the end of 2023, with the second phase scheduled for completion in 2024. Additionally, the city recently finalized its development agreement with the Dream Hotel, which will bring 156 rooms and plus residential units to a lot adjacent to the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Meetings and Conventions Draw International Demand
Additional accommodations, especially near the Convention Center, are welcome as Palm Springs continues to draw international interest from meeting planners and convention groups.
“Last year was a record-breaking year in terms of revenue,” says Rob Hampton, general manager of the Palm Springs Convention Center. “The future looks strong, too, with our legacy events like the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala, ESRI annual conference, and California Grocers Association meeting. We’re anticipating attendance to be up overall next year based on trends.”
Austin Butler at the Palm Springs International Film Awards accepting the Breakthrough Performance Award for his lead role in Elvis.
PHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
The city’s reputation as a welcoming, inclusive, and safe destination continues to attract the LGBTQ business community as well. Next summer the Convention Center will host the annual convention for the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. In 2025, the city will host travel professionals and industry leaders from around the world as the host destination for the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association’s Global Convention.
Airport Upgrades and Expansion
As interest in Palm Springs continues to grow, Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is also expanding with new routes and additional service. Later this year, Alaska Airlines will launch a seasonal nonstop route to JFK. Other airlines are also planning to increase the number of flights during peak travel times, such as the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, which will see a Los Angeles route added for improved connectivity to PSP.
“We’ve been very aggressive to bring in more air service since the pandemic,” says Aftab Dada, chairman of the Airport Commission. “Our airport is the lifeblood of our industry, and we had a record 3.2 million passengers this last fiscal year.”
In the immediate term, the airport will renovate its baggage claim area, thanks to a $5.7 million grant from the FAA. The airport is also reimagining its dining and retail offerings to provide not only more options for travelers, but also more exciting local representation from restaurants and shops such as Trio, El Mirasol, and the Palm Springs Farmers Market. Finally, the city is adding 49 new job positions to the current 65 at PSP.
Monarch Apartments affordable housing under construction, is located on Southeast corner of N. Indian Canyon and San Rafael Drive.
City Initiatives and Quality of Life
“The most important thing we do here in local government is to make sure we provide good services for the community,” Stiles says.
To that end, the city is growing both in terms of staffing and funding for new projects to continue to improve quality of life for the community. For emergency services, the City is adding additional firefighters and police dispatchers, and will begin work on a new fire station downtown for District 1. The City is also focused on the much anticipated restoration of the historic Plaza Theatre in downtown, a two-phase renovation of the public library, adding pickleball courts to at Demuth Park, and additional resources for the Swim Center. Many of these projects are funded in part by Measure J, a one cent sales tax increase passed by voters in 2011, which has helped Palm Springs maintain its world-class amenities and outstanding quality of life.
“Cities are living, breathing creatures that are always changing and evolving,” Stiles says. “We’re constantly listening for what our residents need and where their priorities are.”
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Like No Place Else
As Stiles looks to the city’s future, he’s inspired by cooperation seen throughout the community; a level of engagement he doesn’t always see in a city this size. He believes it is the key to continuing to ensure Palm Springs offers a high quality of life year-round.
The new Blackhaus Hotel is a hidden gem that offer guests a unique and intimate experience.
“Palm Springs has a tremendous amount of civic engagement, and what that says to me is that people really care about this community,” Stiles says. “We have 52 neighborhoods all working together. We have our hoteliers and vacation rental owners working together, and there are a lot of communities where that never happens. We have community volunteers serving on a multitude of commissions and boards with the city. Everyone is working together, and that’s what makes Palm Springs uniquely special, like no place else.”