Riviera Resort in Palm Springs – Desert Delights

Genie Davis November 16, 2012 No Comments

Riviera Resort Pool Palm Springs

The Riviera’s pool was large, warm, and shallow – family friendly.

My kids have always talked about the California desert as if it was a place even more exotic than it is – as if it were the sands of Arabia, and Aladin would soon be sailing a magic carpet over their heads. So a recent trip to the Rat Pack meets fairy tale wonders of the Riviera resort in Palm Springs seemed only to confirm the illusion of exotic magic, close to Los Angeles.

The Riviera was once a true Rat Pack escape, with Frank Sinatra hanging out by the pool drink in hand. While he might recognize the wheel-and-spokes design of the hotel’s twenty four acres, he’d be surprised by the cool changes a recent seventy million spent on hotel restyling and updating has wrought.

While the resort certainly caters to couples, girls weekends, and adults intent on relaxation, it’s also a surprisingly family friendly resort. Nestled in the quieter north end of town, with towering palm trees and shady gardens, the exotic decor is a real lure for adults and kids alike.

The rooms are large and sleek, and many have either balconies or patios. Sure, the kids will enjoy the big flat screen plasma TV, but even more they’ll like the pop art decorating the walls in bright primary colors – Warhol abounds – and light fixtures that look like “popcorn on top of tiaras.”

Octopus Chandelier Riviera Resort Palm Springs

The kids loved the fantastic design elements throughout the Riviera resort in Palm Springs – lots of amazing light fixtures as art.

Best of all are the public spaces: the moment you walk into the lobby your inner child and children will be captivated by bright tangerine walls and intricate white scrolling; glittering chandeliers line a hall way that leads to the comfortable, casual yet lovely main dining room, Circa 59, with both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s in the restaurant that the wow factor really kicks in: a giant red octopus of a chandelier that could’ve been created by glass designer Dale Chihuly. There’s also a great looking outdoor corridor whose walls are covered with fake greenery – it feels like you’ve entered something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Of course your kids may be most interested in the pool offerings at the hotel. We found a smaller pool furthest from the center of the hotel was filled with families, and the pool was commodious, the hot tub not-too-hot. We also saw a number of families besides our own at the main pool, which is surrounded by large palms and also has the benefit of friendly, fast pool side food and beverage service. Morning egg and cheese burritos, veggies and hummus, fruit plates all make good, healthy snacks and truly serve two. The pool itself is shallow, topping out at four feet, making it child-ideal, and at night, story telling by a glossy fire pit pool side – with perhaps a desert order from Circa 59 to accompany the tale – is a sure hit. Besides loungers and luxurious rental cabanas, the hotel offers an inbetween-option: day beds big enough for a family of four and with overhead shade.

Maybe best of all: attentive service. The kids seem thirsty? Here’s a chilled Fiji water on the house. Need more towels in your room? Coming right up.

Parents can take turns booking a surprisingly reasonably priced massage at the poolside SpaTerre.

Our family loved the relaxing but luxurious vibe, as well as the op and pop art giving a ‘60′s era swagger to the walls, the friendly staff, and the illusion that we were indeed in an exotic place, self-contained and too comfortable to want to hurry away from. The hotel was able to accommodate our desire to linger with an extended check out, too.

Marilyn Monroe Statue Palm Springs

Twenty-six feet tall and thirty-four thousand pounds. That’s Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs through June 2013

We did leave the resort in order to take a look at the giant Marilyn Monroe residing in downtown Palm Springs just behind the mall. Sculptor Seward Johnson crafted Marilyn to be three stories and twenty six feet tall. She’s in town until June 2013, to celebrate what would be the icon’s 85th birthday and the fact that she was discovered and photographed in Palm Springs over fifty years back.

Previously residing in Chicago, the “Forever Marilyn” is even more impressive with palms and blue hills behind her.

We joined the small line of people waiting to pose for a picture op beneath her billowing skirt. Definitely a tourist draw, the sculpture weighs over thirty-four thousand pounds and had to be reassembled after her journey from the mid-west.

After some posing and mugging, we walked a few warm blocks to the new Lulu’s restaurant, where a three course, delicious Sunday brunch under a massive space-ship of a chandelier – cool lighting seems to be the norm in Palm Springs these days – is available for just under twenty dollars. Kid friendly? Yes indeed. The kids menu included tasty waffles for the under-twelve set for the bargain price of $5.99. Indoor/outdoor dining in what feels like a pastel colored space ship
includes vegetarian and gluten-free options. We loved people watching as the sun sank below the purple and honey colored hills.

Like everything else magical about the Palm Springs desert – nights almost as warm as days, welcoming staff at a super-cool hotel, our kids were enchanted, and your family will be too.

avatarAbout the Author:

Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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