Not new, but newly reborn. That characterizes several boutique hotels in downtown Palm Springs that have found new lives while retaining a touch of old Hollywood glamour and their Spanish Revival architectural style.
The Rossi is a lush hideaway of cosmopolitan creature comforts in the heart of Palm Springs’ historic Tennis District. The suites-only property is the latest iteration of a retreat with retro cred that predates anything you might call modernist.
“We purchased the hotel back in 2004 and it was called La Bella Villas back then,” says owner and designer Marina Rossi, who changed the name to San Giuliano. “It was a really a country inn then but it had kind of lost its roots,.”
VIDEO: Take a tour of The Rossi with owner Marina Rossi. (Video by Steven Salisbury).
There are just eight suites on the property but they are uncommonly spacious, a throwback to the days when Hollywood stars sought refuge from the studio lights in hideaway inns like this and others that sprinkle the neighborhood. The long swimming pool is floodlit pink at night, as are the palm trees, and the garden setting is verdant. The effect is less evocative of a desert oasis than something one might encounter in the tropics.
The Moroccan lanterns and Balinese and Thai garden furniture that grace the common areas find their way into the guest quarters as well, all with private patios and tiled Jacuzzis.The Ranch suite, where Lucille Ball stayed back in the day, exudes Old California with the original arched bathrooms and a door from the Errol Flynn estate in Palm Springs, now used as a decorative element above the bed.
“When we first saw this place, we really didn’t understand why it wasn’t more like the way it is now: it made no sense to me what it was,” says Rossi, who earned her design chops in Milan. “In ’04 it was still a family-owned property. I had wanted to kind of reinvent things. I purchased the property in March 2015, so now it’s just mine and my daughter’s.”
There are lots of bits and pieces — literally — that make this genteel vibration hum. Vintage Mexican doors (some over a hundred years old), nightstands from Bali and exotic lanterns in fanciful shapes plus candlelit ones in the garden by night all bespeak a carefully cultivated eclecticism that didn’t just come together overnight.
“It took six months to renovate the inn because we spent tons of time in each room putting all the pieces in the right spots,” Rossi says. “It was certainly a labor of love.” Rossi purchased some articles, like beautifully carved wooden doors from Mexico, sometimes years in advance, storing them in her garage in San Diego until “finding just the right place for them.”.
The result of this methodical approach is color, personality, and a rich sense of place. If suites with names like Sunset, Sedona, Sunflower and Kasbah seem to invite languor, it just might be by design. “We do have that romantic vibe, and each suite provides a different experience,” Rossi says
And sometimes that results in Desert Staycation 2.0: “Guests like to spend time in their private patios and we have some that never leave their rooms,” she says. “We have this one couple that comes every year in July for a week for their anniversary and they do nothing but sit in the pool, have cocktails, enjoy these amazing mountain views and cook. They never leave the property.”
The Rossi, 375 W, Arenas, Palm Springs, 760-325-7100; www.therossihotel.com.