March 21, 2017

The Riviera Palm Springs has a storied past.


In 1957, when architect Irwin Schuman acquired  the 21 acre site at the north end of Palm Springs, his Chi-Chi club was already the talk of town. Soon after his Riviera resort opened in 1959, it became a favourite with entertainment industry tycoons and stars.


The first hotel to be built in a radial, spoke wheel fashion, its bold modernism spoke to Kennedy era optimism, and it made a perfect setting for films like 1963’ s Palm Springs Weekend.


In the 60’s, Desi Arnez, Elvis and Sonny and Cher performed here, and in the 80’s Sonny Bono opened an adjacent restaurant. But times change and before you could say demographic shift, the amphitheatre where Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. once performed, had become a spa.


And all that history can get a bit heavy, particularly so after renovations in the 2000’s that emphasised intense Vegas inspired red lighting and over the top Hollywood Regency glam.


Now, Miami-based designer Liubasha Rose has successfully modernised this classic property with a sleek new look that pays homage to its past, but with a more natural palette that complements the stunning backdrop of the San Jacinto mountains; the entrance way now beckons, rather than overwhelms, with inviting greens and whites, while curved lit screens lead to a mysterious corridor lined with mint walls. A lobby arcade functions as a microcosm of the hotel’s histories, with a series of small lounge vignettes featuring local artwork and photography and three new food and beverage spaces play to different cinematic moods: Cantala is a cosy dining destination layered in forest green, rattan, and cork with an outdoor area punctuated by woven basket lighting in the canopies of fiscus trees; Café Palmetto is the perfect lunch spot done up in pop-art inspired colours and punchy graphics; while the Gypsy Rose lounge channels retro glamour with midnight blue and rose velvet seating, crystal sconces, brass accents, and a David Lynch inspired black and white, over-scale hex tiled floor.


By Hadani Ditmars