The Riviera's lobby cries out for Elvis to be in the room.

Courtesy Photo

The Riviera's lobby cries out for Elvis to be in the room.

A Rat Pack Destination

Opulent Glitz at the Historic Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs

Palm Springs was the original Desert destination and is still very attractive after a three-hour drive in, as it is the first community you come to. Within a few blocks of your arrival here sits the Riviera Hotel and Spa made popular by the “Rat Pack” in the early ‘60’s. Noble House Hotels has restored this famous landmark to its original grandeur, and it is well worth a look.

The Start

The Hollywood crowd immediately flocked to the Riviera upon its opening in 1959. The innovative wheel-shaped design of the property drew all guests to the middle and its pool, lounge, and restaurant. It was this area that drew the attention as Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Elvis lounged by the pool at its Presidential Suite. The view of the mountains from poolside was used in many films.

The Riviera’s Mediterranean Room drew Palm Springs elite to hear the likes of Desi Arnaz, Raquel Welch, and Bob Hope perform. Sonny and Cher were regulars as well and started their popular tennis tournament here.

By Courtesy Photo

Pool looks out to the San Jacintos.

The Hotel

The Riviera has been reborn with a glitzy remodel that pays homage to its past. The dramatic circular driveway is pure Vegas all the way. The ultra-modern lobby includes caricatures of all the Rat Pack members made out of dimes. Unique modern art adorns most common areas and gives the property a very contemporary feel.

The property is set on 24 acres just a mile or so from downtown Palm Springs. There are 406 guest rooms, including 45 elegant suites ranging from 680 to 1,248 square feet. Flat-screen, LCD TVs, marble baths, and down bedding make the rooms extremely comfortable. As with the original design, all rooms lead like spokes on a wheel to the pool/spa area. This is a very relaxing spot during the day or evening. The views towards the San Jacinto Mountains are inspiring as is the constant sun. Spa Terre is adjacent to the pool and features 18 treatment rooms spread out over 11,000 sq.ft.

An excellent excursion from the Riviera would be to take in the Palm Springs Tram just a couple of miles away. This ride will take you from 70+ degrees to winter snow in a matter of minutes at the top of Mt. San Jacinto. You can go for a hike or just inhale the breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley. Make sure you bring a sweater as the temperature is normally 20 degrees cooler at the top. Great shopping can be found just minutes in the other direction in the downtown Palm Springs area.

The Dining

Circa 59 is the hotel’s signature restaurant. It features indoor and outdoor dining. We sat outside on a typical, beautiful desert night. The water fountains, fire pits, and pool light all combined for a very pleasant atmosphere. Circa 59 utilizes 25 local farms for weekly purchases that ensure freshness. We started with a wedge salad and tuna sashimi. For entrées we chose sautéed salmon and veal oscar. The food was exceptional, and the service was first class all the way. The Starlight and Sidebar lounges are other options for meeting and greeting. The poolside lounges seemed especially popular and guests relaxed here late into the night. For complete details visit

The Golf

If you are in town for a couple of days and want an upscale golf experience, try The Golf Club at La Quinta. This semi-private facility is tucked away on the far northeastern side of La Quinta which has an advantage. Most golf courses in the desert area get a fair amount of wind on certain days. Not so with the ones up against the mountains in La Quinta. That is why elite private clubs such as The Madison Club, The Quarry, and The Tradition have become so popular. The Golf Club of La Quinta enjoys this same advantage, and a lot of work has been put into its condition over the past two years.

On our recent visit, we found the course to be in pristine condition, as good as any private club in the area. The layout is very interesting and can stretch out to over 7,000 yards for those who so desire. The fairways are fairly generous, but the greens are well guarded by water, bunkers, and some serious undulations. This is a player-friendly course with enough teeth for the low handicapper as well.

The green fees here are very reasonable, especially considering that they include lunch as well at Bistro 60 overlooking the course. This is an upscale restaurant that is very popular with local residents, and I know why. My Baja fish tacos were very tasty, and I long for an encore. Go to for further information.

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