The Event Planner's Guide 2011: Palm Springs

The desert social calendar is jammed for the season: good news for Los Angeles event planners who are often called on to produce events in the Palm Springs area. Increasing planners’ attraction to Palm Springs is the fact that more than $180 million in hotel renovations and upgrades over the past three years has resulted in finer facilities for the desert enclave.

The season kicks off with the Palm Springs Film Festival (Jan. 5-16), which is followed shortly by the Humana Challenge Golf Tournament (Jan 19-22 at PGA West). Formerly the Bob Hope Classic, the long-running pro-am tourney is now partnered with former President Clinton’s foundation. March brings in two major tennis events: the BNP Paribas Open March 5-15 (in Indian Wells) and the K-Swiss Desert Smash March 6-7 at the La Quinta Resort. The LPGA championship tourney then hits Rancho Mirage March 26-April 1.

Also on the calendar: the popular Modernism Week (Feb. 16 -26), a gathering of 25,000 mid-century modern art, architecture and design enthusiasts. The cooler weather season culminates with the Coachella Music Festival, occupying two weekends in 2012, April 13-15 and April 20-22; even though the music fest is in Indio, the entire valley fills up with revelers and ancillary events.

Perhaps the most notable space to open to the public in 2012 will be the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, devoted to confabs fostering international cooperation. Sunnylands’ heart is a 25,000-square-foot A. Quincy Jones-designed manse owned by the late media magnate and U.S. ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, and visited by seven U.S. presidents and other world leaders. Although the retreat is not a public event space, groups are welcomed to the adjacent center; the Palm Springs fest hosted filmmakers for a retreat at the center earlier this year and will return in 2012.

Upping Palm Springs’ social cachet is its increasing popularity as SoCal’s wedding destination of choice. Because there are so many grand private estates within gated communities, complete privacy is possible. Additionally, select hideaway boutique hotels, such as the Willows, the Parker, Movie Colony Hotel and Viceroy Palm Springs, lend themselves to wedding buyouts.

Each season brings additions: After a $2 million renovation, LuLu California Bistro opened to the public in August, occupying a prime downtown location that had been vacant for years.

Before its official opening, LuLu was the site of private events, including the Palm Springs short fest closing night fete in June. It’s a multilevel space, with two mezzanine rooms and a banquet room that seats 150. JDV Hospitality is on board to manage the former 249-room Holiday Inn on Palm Canyon Drive that was purchased by the Sydell Group in September, developers of the Ace Hotels in New York and Palm Springs. The space will undergo a complete stylish update and re-open in spring.

EVENT PLANNER’S GUIDE
Social engineering | Upgrades offer a new luxe on life | Space craft

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