Checking In with Acme Hospitality

New Azure Sky Palm Springs Resort Adds to Growing Restaurant and Hotel Portfolio

Credit: Sheva Kafai

Back in June, I jumped at the chance to check-into Acme Hospitality’s newest hotel, Azure Sky, the very week it opened. Tucked on a quiet residential street just off East Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, the 14-room mid-century modern hotel is a contemporary, adults-only desert oasis that quickly earned my adoration for its stylish setting, serene atmosphere, and warm hospitality.

When asked what drew them to this endeavor, Acme Hospitality’s Managing Partner/Owner Sherry Villanueva shared, “Palm Springs has long been a hotbed of creativity and architecture and is distinctly Californian.” She added, “It was impossible to pass up a project so perfectly rooted in place. In downtown Palm Springs, the architectural legacy is palpable. We rode that wave.”

Credit: Sheva Kafai

Acme Hospitality teamed up with real estate developer Henry Courtemanche to breathe new life into the two-acre hideaway originally built in 1959. John Janulis of Lightning Bar Palm Springs, and designer Anne L’Esperance of An Ellipsis Design (the same designer who helped Acme transform The Holbrooke in Grass Valley and National Exchange in Nevada City) collaborated to create Azure Sky’s fresh, photogenic aesthetic. Highlights include custom wood and mirror details, vintage lighting, and a dramatic front screen entry inspired by the city’s signature breezeblock walls.

The residential-style guest rooms are spacious and Zen, featuring “floating” beds, well-stocked kitchenettes, luxurious walk-in showers, cooling tiled floors, and private back patios complete with hammocks for lazy afternoon hangs. Notably, there are no televisions or telephones to enhance the unplugged vibes — but the Wi-Fi is strong and always at the ready!

When not ensconced in the comfort and tranquility of their rooms, guests can relax in the airy-yet-cozy lobby lounge, where complimentary self-service coffee and breakfast bites are offered each morning and canned spirits and bottles of wine are available for purchase. The expansive pool deck beckons morning through night for sunbathing, refreshing dips, and Jacuzzi soaks under the stars.

Azure Sky’s prime location puts you in the heart of everything, whether you want to hit the latest hotspot restaurants after the sun goes down, take a day trip to Joshua Tree, or need a home base for one of the region’s many festivals and events. It’s in easy walking distance to Villa Royale’s dark and sexy bar/restaurant, Del Rey, as well as the Ace Hotel’s King’s Highway. It’s a short Uber or drive to the Uptown Design District, where you can browse boutiques and vintage shops and hit Palm Springs favorites such as Ernest Coffee and Workshop Kitchen + Bar. And the fun, scene-y restaurants at Parker Palm Springs and The Saguaro are a few minutes down the road on East Palm Canyon.

As Villanueva noted, Azure Sky is their first project without a restaurant, so they take a thoughtful, concierge-like approach to all things food and beverage. “In-room, we offer a curated selection of snacks and provisions that reflect the area, health, and restoration,” she said. “When it comes to dining out or delivery, we are in the middle of all the action. Within a mile are some of Palm Springs’ most celebrated bars and restaurants.”

Credit: Sheva Kafai

Following are more behind-the-scenes insights Villanueva shared in a recent conversation about Azure Sky’s opening and what else is on the horizon for Acme Hospitality.

Why did you choose to make this property exclusive to ages 21+? Sherry Villanueva: There are many family options near downtown, but we went in the direction of more solitude and calm. The residential feel and large pool area lend themselves to being an adult-only oasis. Our concept replaces the front desk and lobby with a bar in a beautifully designed living room. The pool area also features a secondary bar. There are two fire pit areas on either side of the property that serve as conversation areas day or night. There is no shortage of adult spaces to gather or to be alone.

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Greater Palm Springs and Santa Barbara have both fared relatively well in their tourism recovery with very strong demand and hotel revenues. What do you attribute that to from your unique perspective as a hospitality entrepreneur? Any observations on how the desert community and Santa Barbara differ or parallel?  Santa Barbara and Palm Springs have a lot of similarities vis-à-vis the Los Angeles drive market. Both are smaller communities that offer wide-open spaces and easy access to nature while also providing world-class dining and entertainment. There’s a sense of truly getting away, even though the drive is only a few hours. For those seeking a clean, beautiful, less-populated getaway, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara are “Goldilocks” zones.

What do you appreciate most about being part of the desert’s hospitality community?  The Palm Springs hospitality community is outstanding. I can’t say enough about how welcoming and inclusionary they have been. From tourism organizations to fellow hoteliers and restaurateurs, we were welcomed with open arms. This camaraderie is valuable for business. When businesses align to sell the entire destination, the results far outweigh going it alone.

Credit: Sheva Kafai

Does Acme have any pending projects in Santa Barbara County? Would a hotel project locally ever be in the works?  There is nothing I’d love more than to do a hotel project in Santa Barbara County, but currently, there is nothing in the works.

Any other boutique hotel or restaurant/bar openings planned throughout California or out of state?  We are working on a restaurant project in San Juan Capistrano, which will open in 2023, so it’s exciting to branch out into a new market. Santa Barbara will always be our first love, but it’s been a blast to explore and integrate into new communities.

What’s the long-term vision for the Acme empire?  Ha-ha! I don’t think of Acme as an “empire.” We are really just a small, entrepreneurial company that’s excited to grow doing the things we do best — building community and taking care of people. We invest deeply in the communities in which we operate, so we try to take the long view every time. We want to grow, but we never want to be so big that we forget where we came from or veer from our strong family culture.

Credit: Sheva Kafai

How has that evolved in recent years as you’ve gotten more invested in the hotel space?  We’re still evolving as a company and excited to continue to grow in both the restaurant and hotel spaces. They are completely different businesses, which we learned the hard way. Now that we’ve found our rhythm in both, I’m looking forward to exploring new opportunities locally and regionally.

Anything else you’d like to share, or an invitation to extend to the S.B. County audience to check into Azure Sky?  Come to the desert and play with us! It’s a short drive and a world away.

Visit to book while you can still benefit from lower opening rates. Room rates currently range from $195 to $500-plus, depending on the demand for those dates.

Credit: Sheva Kafai

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