As Indoor Events Reopen, Palm Springs Is Back in Business With Modernism Week

The pool at Casa Cody in Palm Springs.
Courtesy of Josh Cho

The pool at Casa Cody in Palm Springs.

After a long year of stasis imposed by COVID-19, the event is set to kick off April 8 — along with a few new and renewed hotspots — and promises to bring visitors back to the Coachella Valley.

With events like the Coachella Music Festival canceled for two years running, the region surrounding Palm Springs has faced economic challenges since the onset of COVID-19. But with the March reopening of indoor dining, theaters and museums (with limited capacity), the desert is back in business. Kicking off this spring reawakening is Modernism Week (modernismweek.com), which once again will celebrate midcentury design in person — actress Kelly Lynch and producer Mitch Glazer are devotees of the festival — beginning April 8. Not-to-be-missed events: H3K Design's reimagining of a 1956 Lawrence Lapham house, Grace Home Furnishings' 1970s-inspired redo of a house in Indian Canyon by architect Stan Sackley, and a "Midcentury Mixology" cocktail-making clinic at Palm Springs steakhouse Mr. Lyons. "Modernism Week is one of the city's premier events that brings in thousands of architecture aficionados," says Mayor Christy Holstege. “We are delighted the program will once again be in-person, and I want to commend the organizers for developing yet another stellar calendar of events — while following COVID safety protocols!”

Palm Springs-based filmmakers P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes (Amazon's House of Cardin) are equally excited. "We have done everything we can to support local business, but what we miss more than anything is seeing each other," says Ebersole. "So to go to an event in real life, we are ready!"

Bring along Karla Magana’s Mod A La Mode Palm Springs, an adult coloring book of Palm Springs’ most iconic mid/mod architecture that lets you color your dream home.

DINING & IMBIBING

Since chef Lance Velasquez launched Biscuit and Counter in the summer, his treats have landed on menus at Grand Central Palm Springs (160 La Plaza) and The Cole Hotel (2323 N. Palm Canyon Dr.).

Local restaurateur wunderkinds Willie Rhine and Chad Gardner's 1501 Uptown Gastropub serves lunch, brunch and dinner, cocktails and 24 beers on tap within a stunning Chris Pardo-designed space (1501 N. Palm Canyon Dr.).

Inspired by iconic bon vivant Cecil Beaton, the newly opened Bar Cecil (1555 S. Palm Canyon Dr.) features curated cocktails and a wine list complemented by the elevated pub offerings of chef Gabriel Woo, also of Palm Springs' Holiday House and Sparrow's Lodge.

REST & RELAXATION

Despite limited hotel debuts amid COVID, two noteworthy recent openings are Jimmy Buffett's 398-room Margaritaville Resort (rooms from $199, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr.) and the redesigned landmark that is Casa Cody (from $199, 175 S. Cahuilla Road), where Charlie Chaplin once stayed. Casa Cody, which bills itself as the oldest operating hotel in Palm Springs, was founded in the 1920s by Harriet Cody, a cousin of Buffalo Bill.

Two spots (which opened pre-pandemic) to check out and check in to include Dive (from $275, 1586 E. Palm Canyon Dr.), where '60s St. Tropez chic rules, and Les Cactus (from $219, 555 S. Warm Sands Dr.), with its pink and green luxe splendor that would make photographer Slim Aarons feel at home.

For those seeking a true desert experience, the La Quinta Resort & Club (49-499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta) — which was featured in the 16th season of The Bachelorette — has partnered with Camp'd Out to create luxe glamping in Joshua Tree (from $2,450).

OUT & ABOUT

The Azure Palms Resort & Day Spa Oasis (67589 Hacienda Ave.) welcomes guests and day-trippers to luxuriate in Desert Hot Springs' thermal waters and enjoy their spectacular pool, Himalayan Salt Room and full spa services.

Palm Spring's Mojave Flea Trading Post (383 N. Indian Canyon Dr.) brings the curatorial genius of James Anthony Morelos' The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five to a stylish additional location for browsing the works of 50-plus artisans.

The Palm Springs Art Museum (101 N Museum Dr.), closed for a year, is reopening amid controversy over the 26-foot-tall Forever Marilyn statue's proposed placement outside its front doors. While visitors won't see Monroe, inside they can see recent exhibitions of Native American artist Gerald Clarke and Agnes Pelton.

Art aficionados can explore Desert X's third Biennial installment through May 16, which includes Nicholas Galanin's Never Forget, 45-foot letters that spell out "Indianland" (think Hollywoodland) and serve as a visual call to action for the GoFundMe campaign of Landbank, which acquires land titles for Indigenous nations. The city of Palm Springs declined to sponsor Desert X this year due to the art festival's sponsorship last year of a satellite exhibition in Saudi Arabia and concerns about the country's human-rights record.

REAL ESTATE

Just listed at $5 million by agents Dimitri and Christos Rigopoulos of the Rigopoulos Group, the former home of comedy legend Harpo Marx on 71111 La Paz Road features a 9,000-plus-square-foot Walter Neff-designed main residence, a casita, tropical lagoon, resort-style pool, tennis court and, yes, a horseshoe pit, all situated on 2.11 lush acres in Rancho Mirage.

According to a recent market report by The Agency, housing inventory is low in the desert communities, with demand driven partly by an influx of buyers from Silicon Valley. In 2020, amid the pandemic, per the report, “sales in summer skyrocketed by 70% over the summer before, combined with a median price increase of 14%. … The lack of inventory, with active properties on the market down 39% over the summer, meant homes at every price point sold within days.”

Other high-profile listings available in the area include the 28-acre estate Bellosguardo, owned by Suzanne Somers, located in Palm Springs' La Mesa neighborhood. The compound, which has not changed hands in 45 years, includes a main house and four stand-alone villas including The Rock House, designed by architect Albert Frey. It's listed with Rodeo Realty's Josh Flagg and Compass' Scott Lyle.

One of the most recognizable modernist houses of the 20th century, the Kaufmann Desert House is on the market for $19.75 million. Designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1946 and restored by Marmol Radziner — and famously photographed by Julius Shulman and Slim Aarons — the house includes six bedrooms and five bathrooms plus a tennis court and its iconic pool. It's listed with Gerard Bisignano of Vista Sotheby’s International Realty.

Located inside the guard-gated Madison Club — where homeowners have included Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, Sylvester Stallone, and Kris Jenner (who paid $12 million for a residence there in 2018) — is a 7,677-square-foot, three-bedroom contemporary house featuring natural-stone surfaces, home theater and a caterer’s kitchen, plus a guest house and infinity pool, all sitting on approximately 1.5 acres. Located at 81105 Columbus Way, it's listed with Compass’ Ginger Glass.

***

Good in My Hood

Lee Hollin, executive vice president TV at Lionsgate, shares five of his favorite spots in Palm Springs for a bite and cocktails.

The Tropicale "Super-fun vibe with festive patio seating and excellent food and drinks. Recommendation: Do yourself a favor and try their famous coconut martini." 330 E. Amado Road

Eight4Nine "Classic dishes reinvented and always delicious. The Irish Stew Pie is gigantic (and yummy), and their decadent desserts also don’t disappoint." 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive

Pinocchio in the Desert "Casual vibe for a big brunch with bottomless champagne for $5. Myriad juices by the carafe for mimosas of any variety." 134 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way

High Bar at The Rowan "Rooftop bar with specialty cocktails, light bites and fun food on the pool deck
of The Rowan Hotel. Great for day or evening." 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way

Moxie Palm Springs "All your favorite bar foods (sliders, nachos). Pre-COVID, they did a drag brunch that I can’t wait to see come back." 262 S. Palm Canyon Drive — As told to Brad Japhe

A version of this story first appeared in the April 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.