By Leslie Dinaberg
A recent quest to experience “two sides of the desert” has convinced me that the Palm Springs area has something for just about everyone to enjoy.
I began my adventure in the heart of the city at Hyatt Palm Springs (285 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760/322-9000, palmsprings.hyatt.com), where I stayed in a plush suite overlooking the golf course, within walking distance of many downtown hot spots. Actually, the Hyatt itself is a hot spot, with a lively and creative bar scene both inside at the SHARE Small Plate Bistro & Wine Lounge and outside at the Hoodoo Outdoor Cocktail Garden, which features live music and fabulous people watching.
Dinner our first evening was at the recently renovated Mr. Lyons (233 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760/327-1551, mrlyonsps.com), a local institution for more than 70 years. Evoking the Hollywood glamour of yesteryear, this fine dining steakhouse features black and white marble, wood, brass, leather and velvet interiors, along with a menu that carnivores will adore.
Brunch the next day was at the charmingly eclectic Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge (849 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760/325-8490, eight4nine.com). Located in the vibrant Uptown Design District in what used to be the Palm Springs post office, the restaurant features loads of white with brilliant pops of color and whimsical decor. Every bite was delicious—we’ll definitely return next time for dinner and to sample the inventive cocktail menu.
Our stomachs sated, it was time to head to the other side of the desert. Hyatt Regency Indian Wells (44600 Indian Wells Ln., Indian Wells, 760/776-1234, indianwells.regency.hyatt.com) is a mere 25-minute drive, but this luxurious resort is a world away from the bustling downtown area. Located on 45 acres of lush gardens, this beautiful property has seven pools, golf, tennis, a spa, a salon and much more. Our spacious room once again overlooked the golf course, a pleasing site, even for those of us who don’t play.
Instead, I visited the resort’s Agua Serena Spa. It’s a blissful place, and treatments include the use of a relaxation room, eucalyptus steam room, dry sauna, Jacuzzi and a reflection patio, where the sounds of dancing waters wash all of your worries away.
I could have happily stayed in the spa for several more hours, but, instead, I dressed for a fabulous private dinner that included a sampling of many dishes from the Hyatt’s romantic Lantana restaurant. Executive Chef Chris Mitchum talked us through an inspired spread that highlighted local ingredients from Coachella Valley.
Then it was on to Indian Wells Tennis Garden (78-200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells, 760/200-8400, iwtg.net) for an impressive behind-the-scenes tour that included a look inside two center court stadiums, the international pressroom and owner Larry Ellison’s private Nobu Restaurant, which is only open once a year during the annual BNP Paribas Open every spring. We also met vivacious singer Mindi Abair, who headlined that evening’s Desert Lexus Jazz Festival, along with Brian Culbertson and the Boneshakers. Not only is this a great venue for tennis, but it’s a wonderful spot to listen to music under the stars.
Although I had been to Palm Springs many times in the past, this trip was my first time on Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (1 Tram Way Rd., Palm Springs, 888/515-8726, pstramway.com). What an amazing, majestic capper to the desert experience! I can’t believe I had never done this. Ascending 2.5 miles up into the sky on the world’s largest rotating tramcar is almost an indescribably breathtaking experience as the tram journeys up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. A 10-minute ride from 2,643 ft. at Valley Station up to 8,516 ft. at Mountain Station took us from desert heat into more than 50 miles of snow-covered hiking trails and beautiful terrain. The pristine wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park offers a “third side” of the desert experience and was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
Whether you prefer your getaway action-packed, full of pampering or enjoying nature, there’s a desert destination designed just for you.
This story was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.