Beauty, branding and Bell cuisine. Yeah, we drove into 100+ degree heat in the name of a working staycation. Our first visit to Palm Springs was back in January, and we vowed to return– just not under melting conditions. However, when there’s a rare opportunity to check out an exclusive pop-up resort, we crank the a/c and suck it up.
As we cruised along Highway 111, surrounded by hundreds of windmills, a yellow Lambo SUV flew past us. It wasn’t until later that we learned it was an Instagram celeb with their crew heading to our destination. It would be a sign of how our stay would play out. Upon arrival, security verified we were on a guest list before we could even step out of our car. We appreciated the extra precautions and privacy.
During check-in, we were assigned a duo of wristbands: one to verify drinking age, and the other to show our single-night stay. In addition to our arm jewelry, chic totes holding a ‘hot sauce’ beach towel and other goodies were supplied. Immediately after, we were poured a Bubly brand (non-alcoholic) sparkling beverage with a popsicle garnish. How’s that for a proper welcome?
Upstairs, we found our room decked out in Taco Bell decor and air conditioning on full blast. Other than a Dyson air purifier, Bell bed runner, Fire sauce toss pillow and Bell bath robe (which would all be charged to our card if removed), all the edible and drinkable items in our temporary home were ours to grub on. This included a mini-fridge fully stocked with Pepsi and Starbucks products, as well as Life Water and a selection of Diablo, Fire and Mild Taco Bell chip bags on our desk.
Back in the lobby, we met our contact for a Cucumber Crush cocktail made with vodka and quick lay of the land before heading into the salon. Flame fades, Cinnabon Delight twists and our Bell gel manicure were available to book all weekend. After we were literally branded, it was time to hear their corporate chef discuss the resort menu (See: Avocado Toast-ada pictured). Breakfast, snacks and large plates were offered at the Baja Bar only. Room service was extremely limited, but more on that later. While eyeing black bean hummus and grilled Gordita bread on a crudité plate, we ran into our friends at Foodbeast rocking the camera equipment. Our food vote went to a mexicali cobb salad, tossed with jalapeño bacon, queso fresco and roasted corn.
The evening’s entertainment began with Aqualillies, a synchronized swimming team doing their thing in fiery red swimsuits. This was followed by a live performance from Fletcher. Since we had no idea who she was, we took a timeout to purchase souvenirs from their gift shop, plus popped into a Freeze Lounge housing slushy, Baja Blast Birthday and Cherry Sunset dispensers (indicated in our welcome guide). As the summer night wore on, we opted for a late dinner and cocktails down the street.
Located on the renovated Villa Royale property, Del Rey is a cozy setting for dining. We shared cheesy Manchego bomba, steamed clams in fennel-infused broth, and a perfectly grilled steak, complete with crisp potatoes and fresh asparagus spears. Candlelight and dim ambiance kept the sound level to a minimum, as we lingered in its rich upholstery and painted portraits throughout. A modest cocktail menu included gems like Precious Memories, crafted with pistachio whiskey, orgeat and peach. Afterwards, we paused in their pool area to admire the vintage-tiled courtyard. With only 38 rooms on site, this adults-only getaway was as charming as they come. 1620 S. Indian Trail, (760) 327-2314; www.villaroyale.com.
If you paid attention and read through the welcome guide, you would know that only brekkie would be delivered if you remembered to fill out a door hanger and leave it out the night before. We received a spread of DIY tacos, complete with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, salsas and potatoes. Oh, those bonus gooey Pancake Delights (think Cinnabon, but in donut hole form) were a treat! We made a special trip to the bar afterwards for a thick Horchata-Date Smoothie, utilizing Flying Disc Ranch Medjool dates and Greek yogurt. Considering the thermometer was already inching past 80-degrees before 10 a.m., we’re glad we plunked down the $8.
With the sun beating down on us, our last stop before heading home was the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Traveling two and-a-half miles up to enjoy temperatures over 25-degrees cooler was exactly how we wanted to wrap up our visit. It did not disappoint. Views for miles, wildlife soaring above, and hiking trails enticed us. Coachella Brewing taps at the bar called our name. The tram ride alone with the ‘swinging’ towers was enough action for one afternoon. We bet it’d be even more breathtaking closer to dusk. That would have to wait for another trip. 1 Tram Way, (888) 515-8726; www.pstramway.com.
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A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.