“Greater Palm Springs — a brand-new day,” the brand message that unifies the marketing of nine desert cities, underscores the refreshing excitement in the area’s robust tourism sector.
Powered by a growing number of world-class events and experiences, the desert resort communities are seeing an increase of visitors, significant upgrades at hotels and attractions, and downtown revitalization.
“All of this shows confidence in the market and the long-term potential of our destination,” says Scott White, president and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs CVB. “Greater Palm Springs is once again a world-class destination attracting visitors from all over the world.”
In Palm Springs, two new boutique hotels — Sparrows and Arrive — will open in the next 12 months, and Hard Rock Hotel is transforming the former Hotel Zoso into the brand’s second Southern California destination.
The past year was equally active in the hotel sector, with the opening of Skylark Hotel, The Curve Palm Springs, Bearfoot Inn, and Random Haus Palm Springs.
“There is synergy between the hotels, attractions, and events,” says Tim Ellis, chairman of the Hospitality Industry Business Council. “Growth in each of these areas is fueling the others.”
Redevelopment of Desert Fashion Plaza has also begun. In 2015, visitors and residents will enjoy a pedestrian-friendly plaza, restaurants, retail, and the Kimpton-branded Hotel Palomar. The design also opens the view of the mountains and provides easy access to Palm Springs Art Museum. A few blocks south of the development, the museum’s Architecture and Design Center — located in the 1960 Santa Fe Savings & Loan building designed by E. Stewart Williams — is scheduled to open in 2014. It will be the third Palm Springs Art Museum location in the Coachella Valley (the other is in Palm Desert).
In Rancho Mirage, the Ritz-Carlton will open in March 2014, and Omni Hotels & Resorts has purchased Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa.
New owners at La Quinta Resort & Club will invest millions in the desert’s fabled property, while neighboring Indio is celebrating the city’s first new hotel in 28 years — the 89-room Holiday Inn Express.
To spread the word about the destination nationally and internationally, the Greater Palm Springs CVB has created a Tourism Marketing District, which will generate about $3 million a year. Part of those funds will be used to co-market with airlines. White says, “We hope to add direct routes from the Northeast and expand our flights and type of aircraft from key hub cities.”
BY THE NUMBERS
+15 PERCENT – 2012 CVB convention bookings over 2011
120,800 – Meeting attendees in 2012
$12.7 million – Estimated amount spent by 2012 convention delegates
43,675 – Jobs sustained by visitors in 2012 (24 percent of total employment)
11.5 million – Estimated number of visitors in 2011
$450 million – State and local taxes generated in 2011
$4 billion – Amount spent by visitors in 2011 — an 8.1 percent increase over 2010
SUNNYLANDS CENTER & GARDENS
This 200-acre Rancho Mirage estate, which includes the modernist house of the late Walter and Leonore Annenberg, is known as the Camp David of the West for its high-level meetings and summits, including the recent meeting between President Obama and President Xi of China. The new visitors center, which has an impressive collection of Modern art, and gardens are open to the public. www.sunnylands.org
ELDORADO POLO CLUB
The world-renowned venue of the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals hosts a full winter season of international polo, as well as lacrosse and field hockey competitions. In 2012, the two festivals reached 650,000 in attendance and $89.1 million in revenue to the city of Indio, which has secured the events through 2030. The agreement allows two more concerts in the fall. Goldenvoice, the concerts’ founder, purchased the 200-acre polo grounds and another 80 acres around it. www.eldoradopoloclub.com
INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDENS
The 2011 BNP Paribas Open, the ATP World Tour Masters 1000, and WTA Premier tennis tournament at Indian Wells Tennis Garden generated an estimated gross economic impact of $289,287,532 in the Coachella Valley. In 2014, a major expansion — adding 8,000 permanent seats and amenities — will be ready for the next BNP Paribas Open. About 500 credentialed media from more than 20 countries cover the tournament. The venue also hosts the Indian Wells Arts Festival, concerts, and other events. www.iwtg.net
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, celebrating its 50th anniversary, whisks visitors to the top of Mount San Jacinto for outdoor adventures and jaw-dropping vistas. The tram and the Indian Canyons are part of Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, the mountain range that spans the south and west perimeter of the Coachella Valley. The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Garden in Palm Desert offers insight into desert wildlife and plants, while flying birds of the wartime variety wow visitors to Palm Springs Air Museum.
WHERE THE DESERT SHOPS
El Paseo, located in Palm Desert, is the heart of Coachella Valley retail, boasting world-class brands in an open-air environment that offers fine art and dining. Westfield Palm Desert offers shoppers a traditional mall alternative. Uptown Palm Springs is the epicenter of midcentury design and décor. From fashion to furnishings to home accessories, this place is all about vibe. The River at Rancho Mirage, located centrally in the Coachella Valley, offers fine retail and is most popular for its restaurants and massive movie theater. Old Town La Quinta is a maturing retail destination with shops and personal services, while Perez Road in Cathedral City continues to define itself as a place for home design and art.
Greater Palm Springs CVB partners with the Coachella Valley High School Hospitality Academy, and has an internship program through College of the Desert and Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. COD offers an associate’s degree in hospitality management, allowing students to transfer to state universities or begin working in entry-level and mid-management jobs in hotels, restaurants, travel services, gaming and entertainment, recreation, managed services, and special events. The associate degree program in culinary arts includes advanced training for working chefs. The college also offers certificates of achievement and associate’s degrees.
PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Jan. 3-13, 2014
HUMANA CHALLENGE GOLF TOURNAMENT
Jan. 13-19, 2014
RANCHO MIRAGE WRITERS FESTIVAL
Jan. 15-18, 2014
PALM SPRINGS FINE ART FAIR
Feb. 13-16, 2014
PALM SPRINGS MODERNISM WEEK
Feb. 13-23, 2014
RIVERSIDE COUNTY FAIR & NATIONAL DATE FESTIVAL
Feb. 14-23, 2014
Late February/early March 2014
BNP PARIBAS OPEN
March 3-16, 2014
LA QUINTA ARTS FESTIVAL
March 6-9, 2014
FASHION WEEK EL PASEO
March 16-22, 2014
AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
March 27-31, 2014
KRAFT NABISCO CHAMPIONSHIP
March 31-April 6, 2014
INDIAN WELLS ARTS FESTIVAL
April 4-6 2014
COACHELLA VALLEY MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL
April 11-13 and 18-20, 2014
April 25-27, 2014 (estimated dates)
THE WHITE PARTY
April 25-28, 2014
ARTHUR LYONS FILM NOIR FESTIVAL
May 8-11, 2014
PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL SHORTFEST