I was drinking cocktails and organising my Roxy Music LP collection the other day when the realisation struck: I haven't yet remarked upon my recent Palm Springs holiday trip. I suppose I ought to do so at once before my memory fades even further. Nightly gin and valium take a toll, you know. What is there to say? Plenty, but I shall keep it brief.
To start with, it's hot. Very, very hot. The temperature hit 117 degrees the first day I was there. One begins not to notice after 100; what's another 10 degrees if it's already 110 outside? Palm Springs is after all in the desert. Lawrence of Arabia said he liked the desert because it is clean. I agree. It is also very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that I could have sworn I could hear the tiny nocturnal geckos that lurked in the crevices of the hotel buildings panting in the heat. Silence fosters peace and serenity. And that is the point of a weekend away at a desert resort.
I was the honoured guest of a trendy boutique hotel establishment in the Old Palm Springs neighbourhood dubbed 'The Movie Colony,' which, as the publicity literature explains, "has the identity of glory and splendor of old Hollywood, as many of the stars owned homes in the neighborhood." Today it is known as a getaway retreat for those in the movie industry. The hotel was a veritable oasis: classic Spanish Colonial buildings of white stucco and red tiled roofs surrounding a lush courtyard dominated by a fountain, garden paths, croquet lawn, lounge area, pool, and award-winning restaurant. One might say, an oasis within an oasis.
The hotel has a curious past. Although for many decades a fashionable resort for the Hollywood smart-set, it actually began life in the 1930s as a mob-run speakeasy and brothel. I half-expected to hear at night the ghostly moans of orgies past. But all I could hear was soothing ambient trip-hop playing in the lounge. And the only stars I saw were the numberless ones in the clear desert night sky. Absolute bliss.
I should mention the food. Breakfast, as you know, is my favourite meal and eggs benedict my usual fare, though an omelette will do in a pinch. The EB dish at the hotel was exquisite, I can report, as were the roast beef sandwich, cheese platter, steak, and several other dishes of which I can not recall names. In town I visited Sherman's, the well-known Jewish deli, for some eggs and corned-beef hash. Utterly, fantastically delicious.
About my fellow guests, what can I say?
Self-absorbed Spanish boyfriends.
Young, sulky professionals from Los Angeles desperately trying to look cool.
Chubby English from Essex.
Hipsters from Santa Monica.
Bewildered-looking Eastern European couples.
It was a friendly, calm, laid-back crowd. Prep style amongst guests and residents was very much in evidence: Lacoste and Polo polo shirts with popped collars, boat shoes, tote bags, Wayfarers, Vilebrequin swim suits, John Cheever book; there was even a copy of Take Ivy in the hotel lobby.
To say I spent most of the weekend in the pool drinking cocktails would not be an overstatement. What else could one do, apart from seek refuge in air-conditioned room? That way lay submission and defeat. One does not venture into the desert to hide in a hotel room. So there I soaked in the water in full sun-light, with other thirsty hotel guests, all of us lined up at side of pool with upturned face and open mouth, like a gang of hungry fledglings, clamouring for the attentions of the cocktail waitress.
I was quite impressed with Palm Springs. It was not my first trip there, but somehow it struck me differently this time. It's a clean, organised, well-managed place. The town itself seems of a much higher class than, for example, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. This is partly due, I think, to the immense wealth, as well as its status as a winter resort home for wealthy foreigners, Midwesterners, and Easterners.
I shall be back.