Casa Cody is the oldest operating hotel in Palm Springs. All of the buildings at Casa Cody tell a story. I explored the now designated historic preservation site the other day.
The property was founded in the 1920’s by Hollywood pioneer, Harriet Cody, cousin to the legendary, Buffalo Bill. The hotel is nestled against the spectacular San Jacinto mountains, in the heart of Palm Springs.
History of the hotel: In the early 1900’s, Harriet and Harold Bryant Cody came by wagon from Hollywood to Palm Springs. They settled on land that was to become Casa Cody and built a home. By the 1920’s, Harriet established the property as a hotel and it became the stomping grounds for legends of the arts community, visiting the desert. Charlie Chaplin, American Opera Singer Lawrence Tibbett and AnaÏs Nin spent time here, particularly in the Adobe House, where a stage was built and Tibbett’s piano was kept below the House for performances and parties. Charlie Chaplin was rumored to have performed on the stage in the living room.
Casa Cody combines glamour, history and just plain breathtaking beauty at every glance.
This week on an unusually windy day, I had the pleasure of checking out another unique hotel.
Kathy, the gracious owner, escorted me around her delightfully large one-acre property and filled me in on the history surrounding the private 16 room boutique hotel nestled against the backdrop of the dramatic San Jacinto Mountains. After all, what’s a good hotel here without a story?
Originally designed by renowned modernist architect Albert Frey and built in 1960, the hotel re-opened in 2016, after a restoration by its current owners, Kathy and Gary Friedle, to its original mid-century modern design. The space is very charming and makes you feel at home. I think you might want to stay for more than one night. The outdoor space includes a lovely heated saltwater pool, the only Scandinavian Spa in the area including dry sauna, hot tub, seating areas and a Smeg retro fridge where guests are welcome to help themselves to the contents. A complimentary continental breakfast and sangria happy hour every day for guests. What’s not to love?
Bonus: I love that Gary concocts his own teas which guests also have the privilege of sampling from the cart. There’s even a Palm Springs blend which smells heavenly.
The Monkey Tree is located less than a mile from the hustle and bustle Charlie Farrel’s famed Racquet Club. The hotel is a classic example of mid-century modern design and was a get-away for the celebrities who wanted to have some time away from the public. Palm Springs lore has it that celebrity guests at The Monkey Tree Hotel have included: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Eric Clapton, Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder, and even a JFK and Marilyn visit (guarded at the private entrance of their suite by the secret service).
In 1995, Albert Frey contacted the then owners of the hotel to ask if he could come by for a visit. At the time, Frey was 92 years old and said that he had not visited the property since it was built. He rode his bike the four miles from Frey House II where he was living to the hotel in a white polyester pantsuit and burnt orange shirt, arriving dapper as always. As he toured the property, he shared his inspiration for the layout and design of the hotel with the current owners. Frey was fascinated by the San Jacinto Mountains and found great inspiration in them. He intended the dramatic slanting roof lines to be in harmony and pay homage to the mountains and the Indians.
ABOUT THE OWNERS (Kathy & Gary):
After obtaining her Master of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis in 1992, Kathy began her architecture career in New York City. She worked for Gensler for 20 years in both design and management roles. Her clients in New York included many prestigious law firms, a well-known California based talent agency and numerous advertising agencies.
Gary has been in the field of financial management for 25 years. He started his career working on a trading desk in New York City then worked with private wealth clients and most recently was the Chief Operating Officer of a private wealth management firm. Gary has a passion for long distance running and has participated in several (100-mile) ultra-marathons.
In 2015 an opportunity arose to purchase a boutique hotel in Palm Springs, and the timing and career change seemed right for them and their two teenage sons to try a new adventure on the west coast. After seeing the great architectural bones of The Monkey Tree hotel they dove in to the restoration of the mid-century modern property which had been largely closed to the public since 1988. Their first decision was to re-establish the original 1960 name of the hotel and to re-brand, and re-invigorate the property.
They did just that. I would definitely recommend this hotel.
I love the idea behind a brand new boutique getaway in Palm Springs aptly named the
I say “getaway” instead of “hotel” because it’s the kind of place you will want to stay and linger for longer than a weekend. Maybe a month or more? It’s easy to get inspired in a place like this. It’s bright and bold so not for the faint of heart, or at least color. A perfect place for artists. The owner is in fact an artist, designer, author among other notable achievements.
Bookings for the Art Hotel will begin in January 2020. In addition to rentals, Turco also wants to use the space to host hybrid art exhibits/pool parties that will raise money for public arts projects.
Coming soon: the Tiki hotel – another Turco project.
In keeping with my desire to discover and explore the little hidden gems behind the hedges, I bring you L’Horizon Resort & Spa – a *Steve Hermann Hotel. A place with a history and a glamorous past; basically everything I’m looking for. The ultimate holiday escape.
To give you an idea of exactly how clandestine this place is, I’ve passed it on my bike countless times before I knew what was there. One day I spotted a little sign out front and out of curiosity I stopped in. I liked what I saw on the inside so I contacted the person in charge of PR to make an appointment to come back and find out more. Which brings me to this:
Turns out I wasn’t the first one.
A celebrity hotspot in its original incarnation more than 60 years ago—has been reborn, with three acres of desert land by designer- to-the-stars, Steve Hermann. – Travel and Leisure
“As for the hotel’s cosseting comforts, there are even complimentary foot and back massages at the pool.” – Architectural Digest
A bit of history:
L’Horizon was originally designed in 1952 by renowned architect William F. Cody as a private family retreat for the television producer, oil tycoon, and legendary hotel owner Jack Wrather and his wife, Hollywood actress Bonita “Bunny” Granville. Wrather was one of the most important California figures of the 1950’s, producing both “The Lone Ranger” and “Lassie”, building the Disneyland hotel, and opening the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose. He commissioned a residence with 20 guest houses be built in Palm Springs as a getaway for his Hollywood friends to come join him relaxing poolside. He named it L’Horizon and the guests of the property included Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Presidents Reagan and Nixon, as well as countless other luminaries.
Now, redeveloped as a luxury resort, it boasts true exclusivity nestled within intimate spaces on 3 acres of gorgeous manicured desert grounds. The 25 Bungalows are custom designed to emulate luxurious private residences with hand selected materials and finishes. The dramatic mountain backdrop frames the imaginatively designed landscapes to create a striking setting found only at L’Horizon Resort and Spa. L’Horizon Resort and Spa is an Adult only Resort, all guests must be 21 and over.
Steve Hermann is a celebrated designer of high-end homes all over the world. As one of the most prolific designers within California, he is known as the design guru for the Hollywood elite, captains of industry, and foreign royalty. His innovative and imaginative homes are owned by A-list celebrities, entertainment executives and members of the Forbes top ten wealthiest list. His designs have been featured on Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, E!, MTV, ABC, as well as in hundreds of magazines and websites worldwide. One of his recent projects called The Glass Pavilion was published in over a hundred magazines and newspapers. It was featured on over 18 million websites and at one point was the 3rd most viewed house in the world.
Steve has now focused his attention on establishing a world recognized luxury hospitality company, Steve Hermann Hotels, of which L’Horizon Resort and Spa will serve as the initial flagship property.
About some of the private bungalows/suites:
The Residenceis one of the most spectacular resort accommodations to be had worldwide. The original home of Hollywood mogul Jack Wrather, it boasts a secluded yard and full sized pool. Completely private, the living room and yard feature extraordinary unobstructed views of the mountains.
The pinnacle of desert luxury, the Fireplace suite
features a wood burning, indoor copper clad fireplace for cool desert nights. Marilyn Monroe’s personal bungalow at the Wrather’s residence of the 50’s, this large and spacious bungalow is the ultimate way to experience the glamour of old Palm Springs. Featuring a private outdoor shower, you can shower al-fresco under the night desert stars as she was often fond of doing.
Beyond the yellow door lies a little haven. I remember when this remarkable little refuge used to be called the Viceroy. My friend Colleen took me here for a drink one evening about four years ago. I have her to thank for introducing me to an abundance of chic little retreats that I may have otherwise not known about. Places I’m now sharing with you.
The avalon is one of those unassuming from the outside places that I love…because when you walk in you immediately feel like you’re on holiday. And being on holiday or at least feeling like you are, is an escape.
THE ART OF THE GETAWAY
A quick spin from L.A., Palm Springs was truly born as a weekender getaway for industry players, movie stars, mafia and moguls. But us regular who are you calling regular folk can also revel in the desert hideaway.
Even so, this unassuming sanctuary is only one block from the downtown design district – an easy walk or bike ride with a choice of casual or chic dining, shopping, and entertainment.
The property, known as a Hollywood playground since the 30’s, was common for faces like Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Errol Flynn. (Crawford famously demanded french bread and 7 packs of cigarettes–3 opened–in hers.)
Enjoy a flowing series of courtyards, lawns, gardens and grounds that reveal romantic pools and cabanas, a hidden spa, studios and suites, and historic bungalows.
The Estrella Spa can suit whatever mood you happen to be in or want to be in. Pamper and heal with a natural menu of options. Try the Milky Way experience which can be made vegan with coconut or almond milk.
Oh yeah, the restaurant…
At Chi Chi restaurant, Jason Moffitt’s fresh, balanced California menu matches your desert mood, be it health or indulgence or somewhere in between. They’re known for adding rum to their coconuts.
So I called up the Captain, ‘Please bring me my wine’
He said, ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine’
This is the beginning of a series of desirable places to stay, eat, drink and unwind in and around the Palm Springs area.
As many of you know, I’ve been coming to this desirable desert destination for many years. Two years ago I purchased a place to escape the rainy Vancouver winters and I love it. I’ve become somewhat of a homebody preferring to cook meals at home, hang with my dogs and read or watch a movie. But I also like going out to restaurants and listening to live music. I especially love to discover the little hidden gems. Places and spaces that take you away and really make you feel like you’re somewhere special. Places like this:
So this is what I’ve been doing…in between cooking at home, walking the dogs, exploring new hiking areas, cruising on my bike and watching movies. Luckily I also found an amazing tango instructor and a place to go dancing swing. So I’m set. However I’m still curious and I look forward to exploring the remarkable sprinkling of interesting and exotic places to enjoy.
There are so many noteworthy boutique style hotels where you can just stay put. They’re not only places to spend the night when you come home from late night partying. They make it hard to want to go elsewhere. Which brings me to my recent weekend stay at The Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells, CA. A special birthday weekend with my sister and two longtime girlfriends. We were greeted upon check-in with Moroccan mint tea and pink champagne on ice in a pineapple ice bucket no less, in our gorgeous suite with large outdoor seating area including an outdoor bathtub. Acqua di Parma bath products – noted. And if you happened to forgot to pack your sunscreen, no need to worry – they supply “Sun Bum” by the pool.
The Moroccan-themed property was designed by legendary interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 designers in the world. And it is simply put; stunning! I mean these photos do not really do it complete justice.
A combination of Bullard’s Moroccan-inspired influence and a mid-century vibe that is synonymous with the desert’s everlasting allure, the Sands Hotel & Spa is an exotic, luxurious and personalized take on hospitality. It caters to an adult only environment, therefore all registered guests must be over the age of 18. I like that too.
Located in close proximity to the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens and glamorous El Paseo Shopping District as well as a short drive to Coachella Polo Grounds, it features 46 guest rooms, the Pink Cabana restaurant and bar and a full-service spa. It’s Fabulous darling!
You can check out any time you like, But you don’t want to leave!
We were well taken care of. Special thanks to Adam Ramirez; Guest Services Manager and Olivia Prescott; Director of Sales + Public Relations for making our stay extra special. See you next time! XO