REVIEW: Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs

REVIEW:  Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs

If you’re looking for a romantic spot for Valentine’s Day, the newly re-opened Riviera Resort & Spa offers several options that are worthy of your consideration.

The Palm Springs resort covers 24 acres, and was once the playground for the famous and infamous.  Elvis Pressley and the Rat Pack spent time here, and back in the 60’s this was the largest and most famous of the Palm Springs resorts.

Re-opened in 2009, the resort has a vibe reminiscent of its former glamour days.  Sleek line, bold graphics, abstract details and vivid colors combine with retro furnishings and mirrored walls to make this a hip place to see and be seen.

I love the improvements that have been made, and the efforts to restore the Riviera to its rightful place in hotel lore.   You enter the resort through a bright lobby area that’s bursting with color with orange flowered walls, reminding me a little of the flower power of Laugh In days.

The two story buildings, with 406 rooms and suites, surround a central swimming pool, outdoor living room area, and the Bikini Bar.  There are general lounging areas and private cabanas, along with fire pits and seating areas.  The fire pits make for a lovely touch, and would be a great spot for a nightcap on a chilly desert evening.

Spas have become a staple of resorts, whether its for relaxation, treatment, romance, or for a fun of a girls day out.  SpaTerre features a Zen-like oasis of serenity sure to satisfy the most discriminating spa goer.  Although I didn’t indulge in any of the treatments, the area looked comfortable, full of the expected appointments – and a few very nice unexpected ones as well.  Several treatment rooms accommodate two people.

Use of the spa is free for guests, and a variety of pampering treatment packages are available.  This would make a great escape for a wedding party or girl’s weekend.  Day passes for the facilities are also available.

Romance kicks into high gear with the resort’s choices of restaurants and bars.

Circa 59 is the resort’s fine dining restaurant.  Although dinner wasn’t on the agenda this visit, the aromas wafting out were heavenly.  I’ll put a dinner visit and review on my to-do list for another time.

I stopped off for a cocktail at the Starlite Lounge (top photo) with my traveling companion, Anita.  Located on the mezzanine opposite the lobby, the seating area includes tables, chairs and banquettes.  A video wall behind the bar shows vintage images of stars.  For awhile, we nearly felt like one of the stars ourselves!

We wanted to try some of the signature drinks on the menu, and asked our server Paige what was unique and special about their cocktail menu.  Paige explained that the resort has taken many of the classic retro cocktail recipes, updated them with a new twist, and that they only use fresh juices and ingredients.

So far, so good!

After explaining our taste preferences to Paige, we put ourselves in her hands and let her create something that she thought we’d enjoy.  She came back with a watermelon mojito (although refreshing in its lightness, there wasn’t much of a watermelon taste) and a Rock Hudson-tini (a raspberry based martini, a bit on the sweet side, but oh so yummy).  On a return trip, I’d like to try a house made Bloody Mary and a margarita – two drinks that are often made from a mix – but so much better when made from scratch.

Other bars include the Bikini Bar alongside the pool, the name derived from the many beauty pageants that have been held at the resort, and the Side Bar, for sophisticated patio cocktails.

The Riviera Resort & Spa is located at 1600 North Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs (map)

Photo credits:  personal collection

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

2 Responses to “REVIEW: Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs”

  1. February 12, 2010 at 4:49 am #

    When we visited Palm Springs last summer, we headed over to the visitor center at the base of the mountain where you pick up their famous tram. Inside, they had a great selection of books covering area highlights. One of them covered all the different architectural styles in the Coachella Valley. Of course it doesn’t hurt that this has always been a hideaway for movie stars…they really get to experiment with style. Some houses, like the late Bob Hope’s are truely out of this world. They look like they are from another planet! And that matches the desert landscape perfectly.

    • February 12, 2010 at 7:15 am #

      @Steve Mirsky,

      I love the architecture from some of the older estates. They are really eclectic! Everywhere you turn there’s something legitimately retro, or made to look that way. And the weather isn’t too bad either!

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