Palm Springs Area Gains Renewed Resorts, Spruced Up Venues

Two hotels with contrasting styles, one a modern reincarnation of a venerable downtown hotel and the other a Tuscan-style resort undergoing a major facelift, are being repositioned towards the high-end meetings and incentive market.

Opening in September, the 162-room Hotel Zoso is located in downtown Palm Springs on the site of the former Marquis Resort, closed two and a half years ago. With a sleek, contemporary design, the hotel has undergone an extensive makeover, added a spa and redid all guestrooms and public spaces.

Taking advantage of more than 42,000 square feet of function space, Zoso's group business is expected to comprise up to 75 percent of its overall business mix, according to general manager Les Utley.

"We have mountain views and are close to golf, yet we're just steps away from upscale shopping, dining, clubs and art galleries," he said.

Conference facilities at the property are located on a single level below the lobby, and include a 9,500-square-foot ballroom, breakout rooms and a 22,000-square-foot Exhibit Concourse. The hotel also will offer several outdoor functions areas, including a pool deck with water features, a fire pit and landscaped areas cooled with a misting system.

Guestrooms will feature luxurious bedding, flat-screen TVs, work spaces with ergonomic chairs and bathrooms accented with chrome and travertine marble.

The hotel also will offer two restaurants, a business center, fitness center and full-service spa.

According to Utley, the hotel is available for buyouts and will commit a large number of rooms to a single group.

"We're the ideal size for a meeting of 130 to 150 rooms — groups of this size can feel that they own the hotel," he said.

Elsewhere, the 215-room Miramonte Resort & Spa, acquired by Destination Hotels & Resorts in December, is in the midst of a renovation that includes the addition of a 6,000-square-foot ballroom and the refurbishment of all guestrooms, public spaces and meeting areas. After the hotel renovation is completed in November, work will begin on the new ballroom, which is expected to be completed by late next year.

"We are repositioning the hotel to the four-star, four-diamond level," says David Renker, vice president of Destination Hotels, which also manages the property. "Most of our group business will be incentive or high-end corporate meetings, with the ideal group size anywhere from 50 to 100 rooms."

The renovation of the Mediterranean-style resort includes refurbishing and updating the technology of its existing 12,000 square feet of meeting space, replacing soft goods in the guestrooms, and upgrading the food and beverage service. A full-service spa, called The Well, was added to the property last year.

Meanwhile, the Palm Springs area also boasts two new high-end venues suitable for receptions and theme events.

The Viceroy Palm Springs & Estrella Spa, a 68-room boutique property in Palm Springs, recently unveiled the Presidio Meeting Room, a free-standing building embellished with Murano glass chandeliers and French doors opening onto private patios and a courtyard. The new facility accommodates receptions for up to 200 people.

Also new is Hacienda del Toro, an outdoor function area that is part of the 200-acre complex of event space offered by the Empire Polo Club, in the desert community of Indio. The new venue features three acres of lushly landscaped grounds, an aviary and a 6,000-square-foot tent adorned with chandeliers.

Other venues available at Empire Polo Club, a popular site for exhibition polo matches and theme events, include a lakeside area, a two-acre rose garden, and a 5,000-square-foot pavilion.