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Discover the Massive Meetings Property Renovations in Greater Palm Springs
Pool area at Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells
While California took the safe and steady road during the pandemic, its hotel stock was busy with renovations, such as in the Greater Palm Springs area, where the desert bloomed with improvement to many of its major meetings properties as well as infrastructure throughout the Coachella Valley.
Following are standout renovation and rebrand projects completed either during the pandemic, or in one case, right before, at six of the destination’s major resorts that cater to the meetings and conventions segment.
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
The Desert Springs JW wrapped a multimillion-dollar renovation in November 2021 that had a mission of transforming the property into a holistic retreat informed by desert elements. Marriott said the renovation’s goal was to emphasize wellbeing, with calming colors, silhouette murals, quartz vanities in the bathrooms and the addition of free-standing soaking tubs in more than 300 of the rooms.
All of the resort’s 884 guest rooms, including 101 suites, were redone, along with its lobby and a new ballroom named after a legend who loomed large over the Palm Springs area in both of their heydays.
The Sinatra Ballroom is a major highlight of the project, which at 25,000 square feet, is the largest in the Greater Palm Springs area. Named after OI’ Blue Eyes himself—and in honor of the legend’s last public performance at the venue—the redesign of the conference center features mid-century modern styling, with cool-blue hues, modern chandeliers and a sophisticated desert color palette.
The 450-acre resort offers a total of 235,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting, exhibit and banquet spaces, and two Ted Robinson-designed, championship golf courses.
The renovation also featured the debut of the JW Entertainment Zone, which offers an arcade game room, skee-ball, duck bowling, virtual reality games and other activities depending on the season. According to Marriott, future plans at the resort call for a spa redesign and updates to its dining outlets.
Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs
Formerly The Riviera, the 398-room Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs opened in fall 2020 and represents the casual-luxe brand’s first foray on the West Coast.
Modeled on the unique state of mind that is Jimmy Buffet, the property is located minutes from downtown Palm Springs and includes the 10,000-square-foot St. Somewhere Spa (with 18 treatment rooms), two resort pools, cabana rentals and four island-inspired dining options, including JWB Bar & Grill, named after brand standard James (Jimmy) William Buffett, and the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill.
Meeting options are spread out over 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including three ballrooms (the largest of which is nearly 20,000 square feet), a 14-person The Boardroom, seven Sunrise Meeting Rooms and 15,000 square feet of outdoor space that includes gardens, courtyards and pool areas.
Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa
Indian Wells’ Miramonte Resort & Spa wrapped a $9 million renovation in late March 2022, transforming the resort’s 11 acres to resemble a Mediterranean retreat and redesigning many of its 215 guest rooms, with the complement scheduled to be completed by fall 2022. The project also renovated outdoor gathering spaces, including the restaurant and bar patios, along with planting an olive grove in keeping with the Mediterranean feel.
Other improvements included a new fire wall, six new fire pits and updates to pool areas, along with a new treatment menu at The Well Spa and the addition of Mediterranean-inspired menus at Citrus & Palm restaurant and The Tavern Bar.
“This transformation was designed to meet the needs of today’s leisure and business travelers while paying respect to Miramonte’s rich history, stunning location and the unique culture of the Coachella Valley,” said General Manager Ajit Acharya in announcing the completion of the renovation. “From our new spa menu and Mediterranean-inspired dining options to the reimagined spaces throughout the property, we’ve created a luxurious wellness escape and know guests will appreciate the attention to detail we put into this renovation.”
The project was led by Long Beach, California-based HFS Concepts 4.
Meeting space options include more than 35,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for up to 500 attendees, with five meeting venues: Mesquite Ballroom, Mesquite Lawn, the Juniper and Ocotillo Ballrooms, and the second story Miramonte Terrace, which boasts a grand stone fireplace and cathedral columns.
Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells
Described as a multimillion-dollar complete makeover, the renovation at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells led by SFA Design Company touched the resort’s 560 guest rooms and suites and corridors, and pool areas, along with the following new amenities:
- A multi-story lobby
- A 4,643-square-foot fitness center located within the 13,000-square-foot Spa Esmeralda
- F&B outlets
- The Place lobby bar
- An olive tree grove
- Outdoor gathering spots
Public area design highlights include an entry experience featuring dozens of pendant lights reminiscent of the desert’s night skies, a refreshed grand staircase and indoor fountain, communal dining and workspaces in the lobby and a reinvigorated The Place lobby bar that serves desert-inspired cocktails and a menu reflective of the early days of Indian Wells, the Golden Era of Hollywood and the days of the Rat Pack.
On the accommodations end, the renovation resulted in new guest room configurations that include a larger selection of suites and complete transformation in all room categories. New locally inspired room artwork evokes the surrounding neighborhood, scenery and history.
Groups can take advantage of a grounds renovation that follows a Mediterranean style, with gardens and a new olive grove, all of which can be booked for meetings, events and activities such as yoga and other wellness pursuits.
A major highlight set for a June 2022 unveiling is the Desert Glow Entertainment area, which will offer activities such as classic arcade games, duck bowling, an escape room and a bar slinging signature cocktails and light bites.
The 23-acre property offers more than 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and function space, including a ballroom with a capacity for 1,000 attendees, and 51,000 square feet of indoor space that includes the more than 18,000-square-foot Esmeralda Ballroom, nearly 15,000-square-foot Crystal Ballroom and the 5,148-square-foot Valencia Ballroom.
The Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa
The transformation at Rancho Mirage’s Westin property was so complete that even the resort’s name was changed, from The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa to The Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa. The name change reflects the growing prominence of Rancho Mirage in the tourism mix of the Greater Palm Springs area.
The two-year, $15 million project, which was completed at the end of 2021, has recast the property as a Coachella Valley entertainment hub with its The Backyard venue, which features live concerts. The renovation also included a full makeover of its 512 guest rooms and 130,000 square feet of meeting space to modernize the look and feel of the resort, which opened in 1987.
“Turning the page to the resort’s next chapter, and coming out of a global pandemic, the design and renovations have been centered around bringing people together, fun new experiences and the guest’s overall wellness, sending them home feeling better than when they arrived,” said Tom Scaramellino, general manager of the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, in announcing the completion of the renovation.
The Backyard features a stage, turfed terrace and outdoor kitchen with a woodburning oven, outdoor smoker and open-air barbecue, and carries a Moroccan design. The venue will also be used to showcase live culinary demonstrations.
Other aspects of the renovation include updates to the resort’s Las Brisas pool, spa, tennis courts, and the addition of 12 pickleball courts and a sand volleyball court, among other activity options, including a new four-lane bowling alley.
The resort offers 130,000 square feet of meeting space, including 21 event rooms, 65 breakout rooms and 30,000 square feet of outdoor space.
This youthful downtown Palm Springs hotel boasting a decidedly cool California vibe launched new F&B programming at The Kitchen and its popular pool, and completed a soft interior refresh. The property also came under the management of Columbia Hospitality.
Known for its pool and social scene, the hotel, which offers 25,000 square feet of meeting and event space, also added The Lounge at ZOSO, a Friday and Saturday night offering featuring local DJs. Other fun options for attendees who may want to extend their Palm Springs meeting trip include Flamingo Pool Parties on Saturday afternoons as well as the new Pretty Faces nightclub and a new drag queen brunch saucily named Biscuits and Bitches.
Other Greater Palm Springs Improvements
In addition to the major meetings property renovations, other new and improved news in the Greater Palm Springs area includes the following:
- The more than 11,000-seat Acrisure Arena, set to open in the fourth quarter of 2022, will be the home of the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the American Hockey League team for the NHL Seattle Kraken, which will play the 2022-2023 at the venue. The arena, located in Thousand Palms, will also host other sporting events and live music.
- Also opening in late 2022, the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza will house the 48,000-square-foot Agua Caliente Museum and the approximately 40,000-square-foot luxury Spa at Séc-he. The plaza will also include numerous outdoor activity spaces and a Cultural Plaza that will feature a Gathering Plaza.
- Located on the site of the former Wet n' Wild waterpark, $50 million, 21-acre Palm Springs Surf Club will utilize a wave pool prototype that can create a variety of wave shapes and sizes for surfers. Along with keeping Wet n’ Wild’s existing lazy river feature, other features will include private cabanas and a restaurant, spa and gym. The project was postponed due to the pandemic but hopes to open by late summer 2022.
- Palm Springs International Airport, located only five minutes from downtown Palm Springs, added 20 new routes since 2020. A major addition came in the form of welcoming service from Southwest Airlines last fall, offering nonstop service from 33 cities. Other nonstops, offered by various airlines, include Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose, California; Portland and Eugene, Oregon; Chicago; Dallas and Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; and Reno, Nevada. The airport also embarked on a $36 million expansion and renovation.
This article was produced in partnership with Visit California