Elvis loved Palm Springs. So did Sinatra, Garbo, and Lucy and Desi. They instantly felt the desert magic that keeps Hollywood’s brightest (and most in love) returning year after year. You will, too! After all, though the Coachella Valley beckons with swaying palms, mountain views, aqua-blue swimming pools, and near-perfect weather, we’re much more than that. Romantic hideaways, luxurious spas, hip hotels, world-class art, tours and trails, and live entertainment offer a well-rounded desert experience.
In addition to pools, lakes, gondola rides, and a poolside steel-drum band, Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Palm Desert boasts a terrific spa decked out with a Turkish hammam and steam showers infused with essential oils. Reserve a suite with a discreet entrance, two-person hydrotherapy tub in a walled-in courtyard, and digitally programmable rain shower. Lounge fireside in the living area with high-def television while a personal butler indulges each whim. (760) 341-2211.
Tuscan-inspired Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells enchants couples with bougainvillea-draped private terraces and swaying hammocks for two. Past the Villa Suites’ private, candle-lit entrance you’ll find a terrace, marble bathroom with oversized Jacuzzi tub and walk-in glass shower, large flat-screen television, and Bose stereo system. The amenity-laden Miramonte is a favorite for its outstanding spa and 11 acres of bubbling fountains, piazzas, gardens, and Italian architecture. (760) 341-2200.
Many golfers and spa-goers seek La Quinta Resort & Club for its romantic accommodations: fireplaces, patios, and mountain views with your own pool or spa. Several restaurants make it easy to lay low around the resort. (760) 777-4827.
OLD WORLD CHARM
A best-kept secret, Villa Royale Inn in Palm Springs sits on three lush, walled acres. Request a villa with cozy fireplace and private patio, then wander through tranquil courtyards with fragrant blooms, cascading fountains, two heated pools, and a large Jacuzzi. The honeymoon package include an in-room massage, champagne, and dinner for two at the on-site Europa Restaurant. Wake refreshed to a complimentary, cooked-to-order breakfast. (760) 327-2314.
Or retreat to Korakia Pensione, recognized by the Times of London as one of the “best small hotels in the world.” The whitewashed walls, international furnishings, and flowing curtains whisk you away to an oasis of exotic simplicity. The two villas, one Moroccan and one Mediterranean, were built in the 1920s and became a hideaway for artists and other creative types. (760) 864-6411.
With interior design by Jonathan Adler, Parker Palm Springs embodies all that is funky and fun in the desert. The hotel remains popular for alfresco breakfast or lunch at Norma’s, dinner at the clubby Mister Parker’s restaurant, or lemon drops in the retro-cool lobby lounge complete with fire pit. Explore the grounds that are scattered with hammocks, fire pits, a croquet course, tennis courts, and pools. Villas have a swinging chair in the living room. Also on property, Gene Autry’s own twobedroom residence.
HIPPER THAN HIP
A boutique hotel just a block off the main strip of downtown, Viceroy Palm Springs buzzes with a nightly scene. The black, white, and yellow Hollywood Regency décor by Kelly Wearstler lends a crisp look to the historic 1930s property. Get pampered in the spa, then sample Citron restaurant. Their mojito menu reigns, but the upscale contemporary American menu is equally delicious. (760) 320-4117.
Other favorite hip hangouts include The Horizon Hotel — quiet and low-key with detached rooms and midcentury architecture. (760) 323-1858, www.thehorizonhotel. com. Or try Palm Desert’s Mod Resort, offering 500-thread-count sheets, pillow-top mattresses, Turkish spa towels, flat-screen televisions, wireless Internet, private patios, kitchenettes, and a convenient location within walking distance of El Paseo’s shops, galleries, and restaurants. (760) 674-1966.
• Hot Spots For Honeymooners
More than 120 golf courses in the greater Palm Springs area attract celebrity golf pros every year. Host a wedding weekend tournament for guests or just hit the links with each other. Check out the Golf Guide at www.palmspringslife.com.
SHOPPING AND THEN SOME
Designer stores along the first-class avenue of El Paseo in Palm Desert offer fine clothing, accessories, art, and antiques. Eat lunch at a sidewalk café or a second-floor restaurant with mountain views.
Stroll the shops and boutiques of downtown Palm Springs, then indulge in a relaxing lunch or dinner in the garden at Spencer’s Restaurant (760- 327-3446) or Le Vallauris (760-325-5059), both walking distance from downtown.
Or wander through Old Town La Quinta, a quaint, European-style village of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Lunch at Hog’s Breath Inn (760-564-5556), which offers patio seating, Santa Barbarameets- Old-West atmosphere, and Clint Eastwood movie memorabilia.
Bargain-hunters head out to Desert Hills Premium Outlets (951-849-6641) in Cabazon for 130 outlet stores.
UP, UP AND AWAY
Balloon Above the Desert offers beautiful hot-air balloon tours with champagne toasts at sunrise and sunset. Prices range from $150 to $175 per person. (760) 347-0410.
Spend a day with wildlife wonders at The Living Desert in Palm Desert. Leopards, wolves, giraffes, owls, snakes, hawks, meerkat, bighorn sheep, and other creatures from deserts far and wide wait around the bends of this lushly landscaped park. (760) 346-5694.
Natural mineral springs and the wondrous desert climate converge in Desert Hot Springs, an area long recognized for its healing powers. More than 40 hotels and spas offer all types of accommodations and/or day use for visitors. Popular getaways include Two Bunch Palms, The Spring, and Nurturing Nest.
Locals love hiking at the Indian Canyons. This desert landscape, which belongs to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, offers miles of trails, waterfalls, and views galore. Admission is $8 for adults. (760) 325-3400. Or experience the canyons on horseback (trail rides daily). (760) 327-1372.
OUT ON TOUR
A variety of tour companies offer Jeep, Hummer, and all-terrain vehicle tours of the local landscape. Elite Land Tours offers a Safari Trax tour that gets up close and personal with big cats. (760) 318-1200.
Tour Palm Springs’ midcentury modern architecture by minivan or on a Segway with Robert Imber of PS Modern Tours. (760) 318-6118.
On Thursday evenings, enjoy the VillageFest street fair in downtown Palm Springs.
REALLY GREAT OUTDOORS
Contemplate the desert’s vast and versatile beauty at Joshua Tree National Park, 45 miles from Palm Springs. Year-round activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, camping, stargazing, and more. (760) 367-5500.
ON TOP OF IT ALL
Shake any fear of heights and enjoy the 10-minute, 2.5-mile ride from the valley floor up to an elevation of 8,516 feet aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — gateway to the Mount San Jacinto State Park and wilderness area. Bring a jacket: it’s usually around 30 degrees cooler at the top, where you’ll find two restaurants and scenic hiking trails. (760) 325-1449.
Two low-key local delis shine above the rest. Sherman’s Deli & Bakery in Palm Springs is an unassuming, New York-style sandwich shop, so tasty that lines stream out the door by noon. Drop in to find out why the classic deli sandwiches and colossal desserts have made this a meeting place for half a century. (760) 325-1199.
Manhattan in the Desert is another crowd-pleaser, with tall sandwiches, big booths, and terrific matzo ball soup. (760) 322-3354.
A block from downtown, Palm Springs Art Museum features contemporary and Western American art, basketry by the indigenous Cahuilla Indians, changing exhibitions, and performing arts and lectures. Open daily except Mondays and major holidays. (760) 325-7186.
El Paseo in Palm Desert is famous for its assortment of world-class galleries. On the first Thursday of each month from October through May, stroll the open-gallery receptions from 5 to 9 p.m. (760) 346-8885.
RELIVE THE CLASSICS
Celebs came from Hollywood to relax away from the limelight in Palm Springs, a tradition that continues at Melvyn’s cocktail lounge and restaurant at the Ingleside Inn. Nightly entertainment at this piano bar is like stepping into an old black-and-white film: the men are mysterious, the women are alluring, and the bartender pours a mean martini. (760) 325-2323.
In Cathedral City, head to Buddy Greco’s Dinner Club (760-883-5812) for live, late-night music with Buddy’s trio and his wife, Lezlie Anders, on vocals. Bing Crosby’s Restaurant and Lounge offers an elegant ambiance and swings with live piano favorites seven nights a week. (760) 674-5764.
• Suite Talk — Best rooms for the honeymoon.
BEAU MONDE VILLAS’ RUSSELL HOUSE BY ALBERT FREY AND MORE
Legendary architect Albert Frey’s stunning midcentury gem with valley views (it’s perched on a hilltop), infinity pool, and iconic angles is just one of the fabulous private homes available through this luxury home-service company. Styles range from cutting-edge modern to historic hacienda bungalows. (877) 318-2090.
CASA CODY INN’S HISTORIC ADOBE
This early 1900s complex beckons with mature citrus trees; bougainvillea, open lawns; and a solar-heated, kidney-shaped pool. The quaint B&B has ties to Buffalo Bill Cody, housed several of Gen. Patton’s officers, and often welcomed Charlie Chaplin. Choose a small one-bedroom cottage (relocated here from the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics) or hole up in the restored, authentic, two-bedroom adobe. (760) 320-9346.
COLONY PALMS HOTEL’S CASITAS
Wedding stress disappears at the sight of your private outdoor lounge bed and Jacuzzi tub, Italian linens, oversized shower, and high-definition television with on-demand movies. Head to the Moroccan-themed spa, then the poolside Purple Palm Restaurant for Mediterranean cuisine. The Winner’s Circle suite takes it up a notch with vaulted ceilings, wood floors, chandeliers, wet bar, private terrace, claw-foot bathtub, and four-poster bed. (760) 969-1800.
EL MOROCCO INN’S SULTAN’S PLAYPEN
Couples adore this “sheik” fantasy-inspired bedchamber at this quiet Desert Hot Springs retreat. The exotically intimate room features a 7-foot round bed swathed in color-drenched sheers. Enjoy cocktails in the cozy living room, followed by a swim. (760) 288-2527.
ELVIS HONEYMOON HIDEAWAY
It’s true — The King and Priscilla spent their first wedded night here May 1, 1967, and continued to escape the limelight here thereafter. Fans appreciate the estate’s iconic diamond-shaped pool, circular master bedroom with panoramic mountain views, and the master bath’s Jacuzzi tub. (760) 322-1192.
HYATT GRAND CHAMPION’S PRIVATE VILLAS
Live large in a 1,900-square-foot villa, complete with marble entryway, maple and mahogany furnishings, artwork, dramatic lighting, and expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. Enjoy the fireplace; 42-inch flat-panel television; surround-sound system; and oversized bathroom with skylight and flat panel television plus marble, stone, and quartz appointments surrounding a raised whirlpool tub for two. The courtyard and garden — large enough for entertaining — feature a whirlpool spa, stainless steel barbecue, and expansive views. Did we mention the butler? (760) 341-1000.
MOVIE COLONY HOTEL’S TOWNHOUSES
Enjoy the ups and downs of an entire townhouse. The living room’s French doors open onto the pool with curtained poolside seating. Upstairs, the bedroom suite includes two robes, a terrace and 400- thread-count duvet. A travertine bar makes it happy hour any hour. (888) 953-5700.
RANCHO LAS PALMAS RESORT & SPA’S LAKE VIEW SUITES
After a $35 million makeover, this sprawling resort is honeymoonready. King suites don plush bedding and French doors that open onto a private patio. Catch rays at the mini water park, Splashtopia, with a sand beach and lazy river; sip cocktails or dress up for dinner at posh bluEmber; work out in the fitness center; golf the 27-hole course; hit the spa or the tennis courts; or rent a poolside cabana. There’s even an on-site Starbucks. (760) 568-2727.
TWO BUNCH PALMS RESORT & SPA’S SPA SUITE
Spread out and enjoy a king bed, living area with plasma television, private kitchen with dining area, and two private patios — one with a whirlpool spa. Rooms sit on 56 beautifully landscaped acres with a mineral-water grotto. Choose from a spa menu that includes four couples’ treatments, including massage and mud baths. (800) 472-4334.
Shopping, golf, and pool photos makeup: Joy Fields of J. Russell Salon, Palm Desert.
Models: Emily Christie and Chris Bonomo