Palm Springs might very well contain some of the friendliest people in the world. I’ve visited twice, and have come away with more friends, than in several trips – combined.
I don’t know if it’s the constant sunshine that has everyone smiling – or if it’s simply a throw-back to the easy-going yester year that has impacted the culture today; either way – it’s a place where friendships are made easily.
Case in point – meet Robert Aikens. A former native of Vail, Colorado who moved to Palm Springs six years ago because he fell in love with the people and the area.
After being a concierge at both the Palm Springs Riviera and the Parker Palm Springs, he settled on a management position with the Palm Springs Rendezvous Hotel.
The retro bed and breakfast hotel boasts uniquely themed suites that are a nod to the history of the fabulous 50s and 60s. The hotel has even hosted the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Veronica Lake and even Quentin Tarantino.
Despite the star attraction, the hotel is laid back and welcoming to everyone, from the moment they walk through the door.
“We get people from all over the world come back year after year because of our relaxing atmosphere and attention to detail,” says Robert.
The hotel includes breakfast each morning – but it’s unlike any breakfast I’ve ever had. That’s because it’s created by extraordinary chefs who prepare a three-course breakfast meal. That’s right – three courses, which usually entail a smoothie, fruit plate and a main dish (such as the savory ham and cheese quiche or decadent strawberry French toast).
Guests are able to mingle with one another during their breakfast or when swimming in the large, outdoor pool. It’s at the pool where cocktail hour also happens at five o’ clock every day. The drinks are smartly made and the appetizers are scrumptious. Every night Robert serves guests the drink of the night with such specialties like the “Blue Rendezvous”. Guests take the opportunity to get to know one another and enjoy themselves. With only 10 rooms – it’s easy to meet the people staying around you.
Everyone knows Robert and looks for him every morning to say good morning and make requests for their day. He is what makes the Rendezvous so special. But he is also incredibly modest.
“The manager is only as good as their staff, and we have an amazing staff”.
However, Robert is what many would call a “people person”. For nearly thirty years, he owned and managed bookstores and cafes from coast to coast. He loves talking with people and learning about where they come from.
So where does Robert recommend for people to see when in Palm Springs?
“I always recommend taking a tour of the Old Las Palmas neighborhood with all of the old Hollywood movie star’s homes. My other favorites are the Palm Springs art museum, Sunnylands, and the Aerial Tram. If you like to hike or camp, Joshua Tree National Park is only 45 minutes away. The stars out there are amazing at night.”
Another great spot that we discovered this time around was Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway home. This tour, hosted by Michael Ochia is fantastic. Guests are treated to an in-depth look inside the home where Elvis and Priscilla lived when they first married. You can sit on the couch where Elvis sat in the living room and visit the bedrooms and kitchen in the house (which was considered the “house of tomorrow”).
You can even go out back and follow the steps where the pair chose to escape the media and head down the path past Marilyn Monroe’s home, where they were whisked away to Las Vegas to get married in private. Many stories and insight are given on this memorable tour by Michael, who is considered to be an “Elvis historian”, and a true fan of the late musician.
For restaurants, Lulus along the main drag on south Palm Canyon Drive, is a fantastic restaurant for great food and unexpected friendships. We had the pleasure of having Beetlejuice make an appearance one night, which made for a memorable evening. He was there to promote Comic Con happening August 26-26th this year at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Another great spot is the Mexican restaurant, Las Casuelas Terraza, next door. Its colorful band which plays the oldies, and delicious Mexican food is a sure winner for anyone looking for a fun night. No one can’t resist dancing – and meeting new people here is a sure thing. Its open air dining concept under the stars keeps people happy and entertained until the wee hours – where reluctantly they must leave – with plans to return the next night (as we did).
A great lunch spot to hit for a relaxing afternoon is the upscale and scenic Escena Lounge & Grill located on the golf course with spectacular views of the mountains.
The menu offers a variety of items including burgers, sandwiches and salads. The steak sandwich, although the priciest item on the menu at $18, comes with your choice of a side and is well worth the price. Combine it with one of their many drink specials and you won’t want to leave.
Everywhere we visited, we met many locals who were both friendly and welcoming to us. It’s what makes Palm Springs so darn charming. It’s easy to drive around yourself, or if you need to Uber it – it won’t take you long, as everything is very close in proximity.
If you can stand the heat in the summer time (it was 111 degrees while we were there), it’s the best time to go for great deals and less crowds.
And you’ll leave with more friends than you came with – guaranteed.