The Riviera Resort & Spa

By Mary Mullaj

Noble House Hotels & Resorts unveils an icon transformed.


 The resort’s main restaurant, Circa 59, gives guests a chance to enjoy fine surf and turf dining in a dynamic setting.

Palm Springs, a mid-century hotspot, is currently undergoing a revival. This desert oasis has natural hot springs, which fascinated tourists from Los Angeles as far back as the ’20s.  First opened in 1958, the Riviera Resort & Spa was a beacon to the Hollywood elite, achieving almost mythical status by hosting in its original heyday the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, wand Elvis Presley, to mention a few. On October 15 the Riviera Resort & Spa reopened its doors following a $70 million modernization in hopes of reinstating its iconic status. The refurbishment revitalized the resort, yet it still evokes the glamour Palm Springs in the 1960.

The ambitious plan of Nobel House Hotels and Resorts was to restore the rooms, lobby, restaurant, landscaping, and meeting facilities while still preserving the original structure for its historic and aesthetic value. Furthermore, the company wanted to pay tribute to its colorful past while at the same time repositioning the resort as a premier Southern California destination. With this philosophy, the original façade has been preserved, and the layout by architect Irwin Shuman remains unchanged. Designed in a modernist wheel configuration, a series of two-story buildings skirt a central swimming pool, bar, restaurant, and outdoor lounge that maintain the same sense of intimacy as 50 years ago.

The design team of San Diego-based Rossi Architecture and Chicago-based Delarosa Studio also maintained the classic mid-century Hollywood glam while adding some contemporary sophistication. The color scheme of reds, yellows, deep orange, chartreuse, and white is complimented by pop art portraits of the resort’s celebrity clientele, displayed amongst houndstooth accents, oversized chandeliers, light-infused pillars, and mirror clad walls. The 406 rooms and suites all have oversized retro furnishings, marble bathrooms, private balconies or patios, and modern amenities like flat-screened televisions and wireless Internet.

The resort’s main restaurant, Circa 59, gives guests a chance to enjoy fine surf and turf dining in a dynamic setting. The menu is a nod to the 1950s, with classics like the Cobb salad, potpies, and an elaborate iced seafood platter. Modern twists include the lobster mac and cheese, Kobe beef, and “sharing dishes” that you will have difficulty sharing. And of course there’s always guestroom dining.

The No. 1 reason for many to visit Palm Springs is because of its history as a spa town. The resort’s brand new SpaTerre offers an 11,000-square-foot retreat from the world paired with global treatments inspired by Thai, Balinese, and Indonesian rituals. One of them is the “Javanese Royal Treatment,” a lavish affair that includes a Balinese massage, essential oil and herbal exfoliation, and a cool yogurt splash followed by a soak in a tub filled with rose petals and tropical fragrances. Or for those who prefer a more traditional spa visit, SpaTerre includes a full service hair and nail salon, a relaxation center, and a state-of-the-art fitness area. There are 18 treatment rooms, private steam rooms, a coed Buddha Lounge interspersed with palm trees, with a Jacuzzi and an expansive Watsu pool. Palm Springs has a history and reputation for hosting luxurious spa getaways, and the Riviera Resort & Spa promises to continue this tradition.