Palm Springs was once the getaway destination for Hollywood’s stars, close enough to LA to jet back to set for filming, but far enough away to escape the ‘movie scene’ & it’s intrusive press. It boast some famous hotels, including the Hyatt where Marilyn Monroe & President JFK were rumoured to have met in secret. In recent years there has been a resurgence in its popularity attracting some of the trendiest names in hospitality to this sun baked city. One of the most prominent being Sydell Group’s colourful Saguaro Hotel designed by New York based architects Stamberg Aferiat.
The original 1977 3 storey structure was formerly a run of the mill holiday inn, wrapped around a central courtyard & pool; what Aferiat were challenged to do was inject a new energy & vibrancy into the building to better match the brands hipster & fashion conscience target market while still referencing the surrounding desert.
The controversial rainbow colours on the facade are not just to show the playful side of the hotel, but are actually selected from wild flowers found in the desert. Planning regulations state that structures in Palm Springs should be chosen from a desert colour palette and until the Saguaro they tended to be brown & beige.
The specific total of 14 colours were chosen for the simple reason there are 14 bedrooms on the longest street elevation. The colours are arranged in a spectrum along the facade.
Arranging the colours in a rainbow ordering gives the building a young and fun persona as well as constantly drawing the eye along the elevation or corridor to some other point of interest and constantly changes the buildings appearance during different lighting conditions throughout the day. Furthermore it creates an abundance of perfect back drops for photos of social media savvy clientele.
The architect replaced some of the original bedroom balustrade on the external elevation with perforated palm tree motif balustrades which gives a bit more interest to the elevations and deviates from the original bland facade. The punched panels are also used in the front of house & entrance block to give it some hierarchy compared to the rest of the accommodation wings.
The entrance is identified with a triangular canopy structure that acts as a landmark defining the hotel on the busy intersection between E Palm Canyon Drive & S Sunrise Way.
As soon as you step foot in the hotel you are met with a crescendo of coloured planes that represent the surrounding rocky mountains, these dynamic shapes continue into the landscape of the courtyard & pool area. The backdrop to the reception dominates the lobby with a feature wall of bright orange and yellow flowers, a real ‘oasis’ in the desert and assists with way finding.
The interiors aren’t just all bright colours, the front of house areas are populated with traditional south western / native style furniture, with stretched hides, twisted bark & thick woven fabrics.
Either side of the reception are the two dining / bar areas. El Jefe Tequila Bar is the hotels trendy bar where you can sample their extensive a tequila list or try some fantastic Mexican bar food. The decor is a traditional western style saloon bar with natural tongue and groove timber panelling, random vintage photos create a homely saloon feel.
In contrast video game type used in the light boxes above the main bar & neon signage give an edgy retro quality to what feels like an otherwise quite a traditional space.
Reverting back to the saloon style for joinery, Aferiat uses a riveted metal bar top & table tops to bring a vintage hand crafted aesthetic to the bar area, this deviation to metal provides a welcome material change from the large swathes of timber panelling and furniture.
The main dining area Rocco’s Electric is a little more formal with much cleaner lines and a more rigid modern & bright aesthetic to the interiors. Tiled bar fronts give a subtle accent of the south western style seen in much of the hotel furniture, while this dining area uses chunky varnished timber counter tops instead of metal.
At the heart of the hotel sits perhaps its biggest pull; its pool & bar area. When we stayed it was two days before Coachella festival and the pool area was buzzing with glamorous & hip patrons. The rainbow kaleidoscope of colours that wrap around the courtyards elevation help create a fun and frivolous atmosphere. This is offset with the ominous mountain range that bands around the accommodation block.
The original pool area was surrounded by a rather unsightly fence which could not be removed due to planning conditions. Instead Stamberg Aferiat continued the mountain shapes seen in the reception into the landscaping, defining chill out areas at either end of the pool and acting as a screen to hide the existing fence where possible.
Colourful planting further adds to the vibrancy of the space and helps break up and ground the screens so they really feel part of the courtyard. You can see where colours chosen from the desert come from.
During the festival, the hotel teamed up with various high profile brands (boohoo, La Croix & NYX Makeup) to host pool parties and market their fashion and lifestyle orientated products. It was a chance for invited bloggers to snap their selfies in the photo friendly settings and further strengthen the Saguaro’s appeal to the social media generation. Check out #thesaguaro and you’ll see for yourself the power the hotel commands over the web.
The hotel holds 245 rooms, the majority of which look out onto the courtyard with an external corridor wrapping around the bedroom wings. Brightly coloured doors mark the entrance to the rooms and reflect the balcony colour on the other side.
The interiors are simple yet fun. The bright colours used in the rest of the hotel are still apparent in the bed throw, bed head, carpet and vanity desk, yet in a more reserved manner. There is certainly a south western feel to the decor
The bathrooms are bright orange with matching mirror & sink unit, again they are practical and fuss free, but this hotel isn’t about spending all your time in your room, get outside and enjoy a cocktail in the sunshine.
Furniture pieces in the room match that used in the lobby areas with an native Indian style with twisted bark and stretched hide table tops,
When you stay at the Saguaro you are certainly given more than just a room, Its colourful spectrum and ability to understand its clientele and what they want has made this hotel into the place to be seen. Its an visual oasis in the desert. Although the base design is quite simple, the excellent detailing, colourful planting & traditional furniture make the building into something special. Photo opportunities are endless, and you cant fail to be invigorated by the energy of the place and its glamorous visitors.