Maybe it will be the giant sandal you’ll see as you enter. Or the 5 O’Clock Somewhere tiki bar. But it likely won’t take very long to figure out you’re no longer at the Riviera Palm Springs, and have been transported instead to Margaritaville Resort.
The introduction could happen in October as renovations currently take place while the Palm Springs hotel is closed. The property has always been identified as the Riviera dating back to its inception in 1959 when it attracted celebrities like Elvis Presley, the Rat Pack, Desi Arnaz, and Sonny and Cher Bono.
That last part may not change. The whole Margaritaville concept is part of the Jimmy Buffett empire, whose song by the same name released in 1977 became his highest charting solo single. Look at the social media channels for the Margaritaville hotels/resorts and you’ll see the now 73-year-old Buffett making appearances.
General Manager Matt Huss says under the Margaritaville umbrella, the hotel will continue the legacy it has built up over the years.
“The Riviera is a very iconic hotel with a lot of history,” Huss says. “Historically, it's been a great place to escape, and here at Margaritaville, we are going to continue that legacy with this new brand. And it's going to be a place for people to celebrate, create memories, and Palm Springs is really a growing tourist destination, and I think it's going to be perfect for this new brand.”
Huss chatted further with Palm Springs Life about the hotel and what visitors and staycationers alike can expect.
So how do you create a new identity for that property? Maybe not necessarily erasing what was there, but kind of building your own brand?
Margaritaville has done a fantastic job in creating our identity. A lot of it is not only through the great renovation that we're in the process of doing right now, but using Jimmy Buffett's passion and love for music, and visually, they focus not only on the visual part, but the music in the lobby and the lighting.
A giant sandal like this one at Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood Beach, Florida, will greet visitors to the Palm Springs location.
So what differences might people notice right away from its previous appearance?
I would say once you walk in the doors, you're going to be hit with a lot of different sensory things. It's going to be a very bright interior. The moment you walk in the door, you're going to see a giant flip-flop to represent Jimmy's laid-back style. The lighting, the music, it's going to be very evident from the moment you walk in the door.
Is there any new construction going on, or is it strictly renovating what is already there?
It's renovating what's here. We are also creating another restaurant venue that we're going to be doing a little bit of adjusting with the current food and beverage outlets so that we have additional options for people to dine. The retail space is being converted around to also offer food and beverage options.
And I noticed on the website that they mention family-oriented programming. Why is it important to include that segment?
I think it's really important because this property with its great history has really been, I think, more of an adult resort. And Margaritaville brings a really diverse group of customers that are attracted to the brand. And as far as families go, that's where a lot of memories are created that you carry throughout your entire life, and creating memories is what we really want to do here for people.
Can you maybe give me an example of what might be considered family-oriented programming?
I would say as we go through the food and beverage areas, we're definitely developing menus and concepts toward different age groups. And one thing that we are doing in our guest rooms, we have some rooms that are double-bedded rooms, and we've turned those into king size beds. So not a lot of hotels, when you have a double size room that you actually have large beds. So that would be helpful and accommodating families. And definitely the retail space is going to be very attractive and very different from what we've had here in the past with the items that we offer in there, and also the food and beverage options.
Palm Springs has always been considered a getaway place, a place to escape to obviously for visitors, but even for people who live here. How does Margaritaville fit into that type of experience, and why is it a good match for this market?
I think the big thing with the Margaritaville brand is, we use the term quite a bit about the different state of mind and relaxation, and we've got the amazing views here, and this is definitely going to be a place where you can relax.
One of the last indications of the Riviera signage.
If you listen to Jimmy Buffet music, when you hear it, you always kind of escape. You always think of vacation and being away in a place where you can relax. And then likewise, when you're at work and you want to dream about being on vacation, he definitely has the type of music that makes you escape. So I think it's a wonderful place to come.
I also saw that you guys were opening a resort in San Diego. Why was this a good time for the brand to branch into California?
I think California is a wonderful place. When you think about San Diego, I think most people who go to San Diego, it quickly becomes one of their, if not their favorite, cities to vacation in. And we're really excited here in Palm Springs to be the first and kind of a gateway.
What kind of impact has the pandemic had on completing renovations, and was there any thought to waiting until next year?
Whenever you talk about COVID, you want to make sure that safety is the No. 1 priority. So we are very conscious of that while this is going on. In some ways, it's assisted from a standpoint of the property is closed, so construction and renovation actually can probably move a little bit faster from that perspective. I think every one of us has been on a renovation when the public is still occupying the hotel. So in some ways, if there's any silver lining, it's probably helped progress to be made without interrupting any guest experience.
We have a unique hotel mix in Palm Springs with boutiques and major chains. What will separate Margaritaville Resort from the rest?
I think what's neat about Margaritaville is that they have a very unique programming and very unique design. From the perspective of how they train, the amount of time they spend training and ensuring that the Margaritaville culture is integrated among all the staff members, I've never seen it this detailed before. All the people at the corporate office and the leaders are just very passionate about the brand and making sure that the spirit and culture of helping people to get away and escape is present at all times.
Will there be any additional amenities on the property that weren't there before?
We're still going to have our great spa, which is the largest spa in the city. The new item out by the pool will be our Five O' Clock Somewhere bar. It'll be like a tiki bar. If you picture listening to Jimmy Buffett music, you'd be sitting at that bar. That's exactly what it's going to be. But of course with the beautiful mountains in the background.
For more information, visit margaritavilleresorts.com.