Spotlight :: The Palm Springs Pull

[trip style = sun + weekend getaway + active & adventure]

{Editor’s Note: Today is the LAST DAY to enter to win a $200 credit for zozi, an online hub for local experiences in 63 cities in Canada and the US. Perfect as a Christmas gift for the person who has everything.}

{Don't miss next Thursday's Spotlight :: A Palm Springs Holidette}

It's sundown in 1950, and you're waiting for the signal. As the day fades into the night, an invitation is delivered. Not by mail or messenger pigeon, but by the raising of a Jack Daniels flag in the distance. Cocktail hour has arrived, and so have you. You're headed to Frank's---Sinatra that is---for his almost nightly happy hour. With a Jack on the rocks in hand, you chinwag with the Rat Pack crooner at his Twin Palms Estate in the Movie Colony neighborhood.

That was then. But who says you can't carry on Frank's tradition now? Trip style = sun + weekend getaway anyone?

Palm Springs is full of crooners, characters and community. Its pull spans generations, movements and time, with the first inhabitants being the Native Americans followed by an influx of Hollywood's elite. Audrey, Cary and Marilyn first flocked to the desert oasis to lounge and let their hair down. It was the perfect location outside of Hollywood's limelight, and fell within their 100-mile clause set by the studios, meaning they had to be within two hours of LA while filming.

A few of these 50s and 60s-era Hollywood actors still call Palm Springs home, as does a brood of artsy types who color the landscape. Robert's one of them, and so is Raven. Dressed in a fedora and retro-cool outfit, Robert leads modern architectural tours around Palm Springs neighbourhoods. His knowledge is encyclopedic, but he's the real attraction; a celeb unto himself with stories that are as entertaining as his tours. {More info on this next week}.

Raven was my Native American Ranger/guide in Palm Canyon, the world's largest fan palm oasis with m-i-l-e-s of easy to rugged hiking terrain. What I thought was going to be a one-hour nature walk turned into an hour of power as Raven dished out sage advice like "A man either leads, follows or serves. Serving is the greatest honor." He's obviously a man of wisdom, but when he told me what he does in his "free" time, the deal was sealed; he's a medicine man, raiser of scorpions for arthritic relief, flutist with a few CDs, speaker {at the same events as Deepak Chopra}, counselor to kids in prison and youth ranger leader. For all I know he also walks on tightropes, but I'll have to return to confirm this...

These individuals and 49,998 others make up the desert retreat's fun-loving, modern-thinking and art-collecting community. Include the winter and weekend swell and these numbers heat up like the hot-to-trot town's 354 days of sunshine per year. This impressive average---which makes my Vancouver soul cry/rain a little inside---is part of what pulls people to this oasis of relaxation and activity. The other reason is the community; the locals, young weekenders {aka "the margarita crowd"} and greying snowbirds mix like a cool gin and tonic with a twist.

The Palm Springs pull is as relevant today as it was in the mid-century mod boom. Sinatra's nightly cocktail hour invite nailed it. Don't wait for an invitation to come in the mail---the Jack Daniels flag is always flying in Palm Springs.

PS - Walk in Frank Sinatra's shoes at his former home---complete with living room recording studio, piano-shaped pool and twin palms---now a vacation rental. While many of the original fixtures are included, the Jack Daniels flag pole is not. Rent it for $2,500/night.

Related Winter Heat Palm Springs Cool Roam+Board :: The Viceroy Roam+Board :: The Parker

[photos by @tripstyler, taken when I was invited to explore Palm Spring with their CVB in November]