The Saguaro Palm Springs

Postcard Perfect Palm Springs and The Saguaro

On Day 6 of our Spring Break Getaway we left L.A. It was Cole’s 30th birthday which began with a stop at Joshua Tree on our way to Palm Springs.

The windmills of the Coachella Valley were in Mission Impossible 3.

We drove from L.A. to Joshua Tree 127 miles via Interstate 10, passing the San Bernardino National Park and and San Gorgonio Pass windmills on our way to the Yuca Valley. You can tour the windmill farm. Info is here.

Windmills outside Palm Springs

road trip to Joshua Tree, California

Joshua Tree, California

Roadtrip from L.A. to Joshua Tree

Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree, California

We had a big lunch at Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree, California. Popular with locals and folks passing through, they have vegan options, a huge breakfast menu available until 1:30 PM, and local brews. Their hours were 7 AM – 9 PM (check website to be sure).

We wanted to spend more time in Joshua Tree National Park but between the 5 days in L.A. and road trip, we were ready to get to our Palm Springs hotel and relax. Ben had been to Joshua Tree before. I first heard of the place thanks to U2, but learned that Joshua trees are actually succulents. 19th-century Mormon settlers named them after Joshua in the Bible because they felt the trees’ outstretched arms were guiding them westward. The rock formations remind me of those we’d seen in Colorado Springs.

Joshua Tree California

On to Palm Springs and napping by the pool under tall palms…

Palm trees in Palm Springs California

Palm Springs is as postcard perfect as it gets. Spotless. Safe. Midcentury Modern. Beautiful. Even the airport is cool.

Locals obviously love living there — especially women of a certain age (mine and older) who I saw chilling with friends downtown. My family loved it too. However, if you stay where we did, be warned.

There’s just one problem with The Saguaro in Palm Springs…

you won’t want to leave! No, really. It isn’t an all-inclusive resort, but we so enjoyed the property, relaxed vibe, and food and drinks at great prices that we spent most of our remaining vacation time there. Even when it was over, I still didn’t want to leave.

In the Old West, settlers found a place to call home and staked a claim. I wondered … If I refuse to budge, will the Saguaro Palm Springs let me live here?

Cole’s taste in accommodations was impeccable, from the serene, white home-away-from-home rental in L.A. to this fun stay. Turns out, The Saguaro Palm Springs is the most Instagrammable place in town. The boutique hotel has been lauded by Architectural Digest, The Telegraph, CBS News, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, New York Times, Vogue, National Geographic and so many more. Prior to 2012, it was The International, then Holiday Inn. It was built the year I graduated from high school and reminded me of childhood vacations. Like the title of Chicago’s song that ended every high school dance, The Saguaro succeeds at its mission to “Color Your World.”

The 14-color palette was chosen by the Sydell Group and architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat based on the hues of local wildflowers. At first, the Palm Springs Architectural Advisory Committee rejected the departure from neutral shades, but Aferiat argued the hotel’s rainbow effect inspires optimism. Thanks to Flower Power and persistence, the architects won. Read more about the Battle of the Beige here.

Californians love The Saguaro (and the Coachella Valley which hosts the music festival). Our host in L.A. asked where we were staying in Palm Springs. When we said The Saguaro, he said he likes to stay there and we’d love it, too. If you’re headed to Coachella this year or ANY year, The Saguaro is a great option. It was the perfect way to spend the last two days of our vacation. Here you can book a stay at Saguaro Palm Springs, too.

Saguaro Pam Springs
The Saguaro Palm Springs is a destination in itself. Located downtown, it has been named one of. the most colorful hotels in. the world. Surrounded by three mountain ranges — The San Jacinto, The Santa Rosa, and The San Bernadino — guests get breath-taking views from the pool, gardens, and rooms.
The Saguaro Palm Springs
The Saguaro has two hot tubs and a poolside bar. They provide sunscreen for sunning on a poolside lounger, or you can reserve a shaded cabana.
Cabana at Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs California

When we pulled into the hotel parking lot, it was crush-at-first-sight. Cole went inside to check us in. When he came out I asked him what the reception area looked like. He grinned with a sigh and shook his head. “You’re going to go crazy.” I did.

Saguaro Reception Area Palm Springs

Cole, my son, did a great job choosing this hotel. Taylor, Ben, and I were soooo pleased. Turns out that The Saguaro is the most Instagrammable place in town.

Palm Springs is a dream town for artists. No wonder surrealist Salvador Dali loved it. Go no further than the reception area of The Saguaro and you’ll find an installation of works created at the hotel in 2016 by Anna-Alexia Basile. An Italian -American who grew up between Italy and Florida, the fashion, travel, and lifestyle photographer loves using color to explore the relationship between reality and the surreal. Her extensive client list includes Elle Decor, Apple, Disney, H&M, Vogue, Refinery29, and Banana Republic. She says The Saguaro is “the perfect place to bring my inner world to life.” Her online photography classes look amazing!

Resting and playing in such spaces is a beauty break for the soul. The natural wonders of Palm Springs fuel creativity.

Historic snowfall in Palm Springs created a surreal view from our balcony at The Saguaro Palm Springs.

I was in pink heaven. Our suite was huge. See all of the room choices on a virtual tour here.

We had a gorgeous mountain view (above). Across the street was a grocery, but we didn’t need it. El Jefe Desert Cantina has great breakfast options, poolside lunch service, and daily Happy Hour on the patio. Their Taco Tuesday and Thursday deal is amazing. They also have a 24-hour fitness center, weekend yoga, free bikes (Palm Springs is the perfect bike town), two hot tubs, and other areas to socialize in all weather. The patio has fire features. There are Adirondack chairs, hammocks, and a bocce ball court.

We missed this event by a week. It tops my Next Time list.

While my kids slept in after a late night playing pool, I took photos of the gardens, had breakfast on the patio, and met a new friend by the swimming pool. A yoga teacher, author, and for several years single mom, Erin Ford hit a milestone at Palm Springs Recording Studio. She showed me her book, Words That Rhyme and Lullabies which is available here. We talked about writing and the value of creative community (aka retreats). She wants to do my next writing retreat in Morocco. I want to do her yoga retreat in Palm Springs. She told me about hiking by a waterfall and the Thursday Night Palm Springs Village Fest. A huge bonus of travel is meeting kindred spirits.

Saguaro Pool Palm Springs
Ben checking out the Saguaro Palm Springs pool

I couldn’t leave Palm Springs without attempting a drive-by of the homes of Elvis (my first pretend boyfriend) and Frank Sinatra. Cole drove me and sent his sister a photo of me stalking Frank.

On the California Now podcast, Palm Springs Celebrity Kurt Cyr explains why the city is the epicenter of Midcentury Modern design. He explains Desert Modernism that started after World War 2 and why Palm Springs became the playground for celebrities. Note the hotel featured on the episode cover. I’d love to do his Rat Pack Tour to see homes that belonged to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin (my grandmother loved Dino and I’ve always been obsessed with both of them), Peter Lawford, and Marilyn Monroe. It ends with Martinis at Melvyn’s, a Rat Pack hangout. How cool is Melvyn’s? Check this out.

The perfect time to be in Palm Springs is Modernism Week. Flip through the pages of the October 2022 schedule and be blown away at all there is to see. And by the way, October is just the mini-festival! The 11-day event is February 15-25, 2024. Make plans now for these events. If you go at other times of the year, fear not. You can do a self-guided tour of desert modern design or contact Kurt Cyr for a Mod Squad tour.

We’re not sure if we saw the outside of Elvis’ hideaway or not. I did stumble upon (literally) his star on a quick stop downtown and on Trixie’s Cactus Garden.

Palm Springs California

Trixie's Garden Palm Springs

BIG THANKS to Cole for planning this trip (and for donning the Cannon for a mini photo shoot). L.A. and Palm Springs provided a perfect getaway. To Cole, Taylor, and Ben I saw in the words of Bob Hope, a former resident of Palm Springs, thanks for the memories!

Cole McCain Saguaro Palm Springs

Ben, Taylor and Cole at El Jefe Desert Cantina at The Saguaro Palm Springs

Cooking for Company

Coc au Riesling

Ok, so I was going to write that tonight I am cooking and eating with Frank.  No lie, I have shared more time in the kitchen with that boy, Sinatra, than any male I know.  But to be truthful, I’m hanging with the whole Rat Pack.  Dean Martin, fav of my sis and Mama Sargeant, is singing right now as I eat my new Dish Darling—Coq au Riesling. I just made it the cover shot of my Pinterest “I Fancy Food” Board.  (Need I say more? For all those who know my go-to cliché, “long story short,” the answer is, of course, I will say more.  Always.)

Coq au Riesling renders the best “sop” I’ve ever had, and coming from a Kentucky-Turned-Tennessee-Girl raised on buttermilk and red-eye gravies, you can trust me. And Ella.  I never allow my puppy “people food,” but tonight I slathered the creamy concoction over her Iams.  The little lab mix lapped it up.  I varied the recipe by using rosemary and lemon thyme from my deck rather than parsley, and to prevent family feuds, I used all legs rather than equal parts of legs and thighs.  My Mama Lou called legs “drumsticks,” and she and my dad preferred them to any other part of the chicken.  So do my kids and I.

You can also trust my rave review because I’m about to go all gut honest and still raw…again.  First of all, like my dad who called “Izod” shirts “Izog,” and my mom who makes Walmart and Kroger plural, I did a brain switch on the name of the chef, Nigel Slater, who created Coq au Riesling.   When I pinned Alida Ryder’s blogpost in which Nigel’s recipe was reprinted,  I thought the name read  “Nigella Lawson.”  I hadn’t seen the brunette British bombshell in years, so when I Googled “Nigel Slater” to see what she was up to, I discovered she is a he. Both are food gurus, but they are very different people.  So technically, tonight the Brat Pack welcomed Nigel, not Nigella, to dinner.  Though I didn’t dream up the traditionally French dish, my oversized imagination transported me to Paris where I sat, not at my kitchen table, but as a Parisian sidewalk cafe.  Mama Lou taught me how to do that when we’d fly to France via her rocking chair and then move to the couch where tv trays were tables at Maxims.  And as I did last month when in Paris for real, I, of course, snapped a picture.

Which brings me to a bit of a struggle due to the Facebook/Pinterest Effect.   While we were once frightened by 1984 or The Truman Show, we find ourselves teetering between putting on a positive face/showing gratitude and living in a “Look How Great My Life Is” photo shoot (ie) trying to cook like The Barefoot Contessa while looking like Giada; resisting Instagram Envy when our travel pics aren’t from the Great Barrier Reef or Bali; missing realtime conversation because we’re distracted checking in at cool concerts, restaurants, and social events which, in turn, makes someone else feel “How Sad My Life Is” because he/she wasn’t invited; feeling pressured to book the next  Richard Avedon for  engagement/wedding/firstborn’s first birthday party pics before even dating anyone.  But I’ve decided I can say life is good, and simultaneously wish someone special was sharing this meal with me.

I knew the day would come when my kids would leave home, so I tried Match as an insurance policy against an empty table.  After a not-fun first date several years ago, the angry guy who drove me home sneered,  “Oh yeah, all you women are soooooo happy with your lives.  But you know what?  You aren’t all that happy or you wouldn’t be on Match.”  His bitterness scared me.  The truth is I have much to be grateful for.  Once a coworker compared me to Ally McBeal: “You have to love her.  You are both the ‘Queens of Angst.’” I remember mentally depositing him, Ally-like, into a curbside dumpster.  Probably because he was right.  I’m happy to say I’m no longer as full of angst as I once was, but as I discussed with friends, Kim and Cheryl yesterday, life is about seasons.  As for Ally,  I love that she was honest.  Though good at her career, though independent, she wasn’t afraid to want more. Wanting a life partner didn’t make her weak.  It doesn’t make me weak either.  Admitting it makes me real.  When he joins me for Coq au Riesling one day, I’m sure Frank and Nigel, though not Ella, will gladly scoot over.