Palm Springs Desert Modernism Tour – Day Two – Parking, Breezeway, Window, Wall

“Parking, Breezeway, Window, Wall,” recited Robert Imber, resident Historian and Guide for Palm Springs Modern Tours. This is the classic and common characteristic of any modern home. It is my second day in the Springs and I’m on a double-decker bus tour of local mid-century architecture that has put modernism and Palm Springs on the map.  It’s about 80 degrees, the sky is clearly blue, the mountains are majestic and I…well, I am in a state of pure bliss.

Hillary Angel (l), and Robert Imber's poses with T.Rayson (r)

Art adorns one of the walls in King's Highway (l), and directions to the Amigo Bar are written in chalk

King's Highway


Let me take you back a couple steps, before boarding the bus, our tour group was treated to a ridiculously delicious breakfast at King’s Highway located at the ultra trendy and off-beat ACE Hotel.  I have to start by saying that King’s served three of the best cups of coffee that I have ever had the privilege of sipping. They are the only establishment in the Springs to serve Stumptown Coffee, a coffee that doesn’t need any hype to let you know that it’s the real deal. Much like the ACE, King’s Highway is organic in its setting, unfinished floors, green leather barstools, classic saddle leather booths, and “kitchen-like” dish towels for napkins. No detail from the décor to the food is over or under thought. Highlights of the menu include homemade Granola with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, homemade Lox and Bagel with Salmon cured in a Spicy Tequila, Chilaquiles with Chorizo which is made of scrambled eggs, chiles, ranchero, and home corn tortilla chips, Ricotta Hot Cakes with Maple Crunch Butter, crispy Black Pepper Thick-cut Bacon, and Sage Nutmeg Sausage. You can see that the trend is “homemade” and it’s one of the elements that make the flavors of the cuisine stand out eludes Craig Mattox, the resident chef at the restaurant. “We use fresh, organic, and local ingredients,” says Mattox.

Ricotta Pancake (l), and one of the best cups of coffee being poured (r)

Homade Granola with fresh fruit

The grounds of the ACE have cool signage and landmarks

Bellies full, we then took a walk around the grounds of the ACE Hotel and viewed some of the rooms that are available to anyone that isn’t pretentious about the definition of luxury and enjoys the element of outdoor/indoor living. Rooms can start as low as $89 per night and increase from there. Read any previous article written on the hip venue and you are sure to be schooled in the history of the ACE chain and how its presence has added urban whimsy to the Springs. What you may not read about in those other articles is how being at this hotel made me feel as though I could saunter around the grounds in couture, posing in some awkward but fierce fashion pose at anyone of the distinctive landmarks or curl up next to one of the outdoor fire pits in sweats and Birkenstocks while listening to a vinyl on the record players that are supplied in the rooms. Either way, it all just works at ACE.

Collage Box over the front desk of the ACE Hotel

Art drawing of the ACE Hotel's map

Front Window

Rooms with record players

Boarding the bus

ACE Hotel tour done, it was now time to board the double-decker, which brings us back to where I started this article.  Imber guided our group through neighborhoods that were once occupied by Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra; pointed out properties designed by some of the most prolific architects of the modernism era, and gave us the history on distinctive landmarks like the Butterfly Roof which Frank Lloyd Wright helped to pioneer during the late 50s. A Butterfly Roof is a roof line in “W” pattern that help to add depth to a building’s upper structure.

The Butterfly roof is a common feature of homes of the modern era

neatly manuicured lawns and desert landscapes

Poignant pauses along the way were dedicated to relaying tidbits of information on historical properties like “ The Ship of the Desert” now owned by Los Angeles-based clothing designer Trina Turk, and “ The House of Tomorrow” designed by architect Bill Krisel and known as Elvis’ honeymoon hideaway. Other properties visited were the Canyon Country Club Estates that are owned by Quincy Jones and those of modern architect Donald Wexler. There is so much to learn and Imber’s Palm Springs Modern Tour is a must for anyone looking to understand just how rich the area is.

Jakes!

Lunch on day two was light and refreshing at Jakes Ready to Eat. We sat at a long table on a quaint and majestic patio that ushered in cool, aromatic breezes. Offering many light fares for lunch, I opted for the Salad Caprese which incorporated fresh mozzarella, tomato & basil served on a bed of organic greens with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with balsamic drizzle. My travel mates lunched on options ranging from the Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad to the Turkey BLTA. Jakes also has a bakery that produces sweets baked right at the restaurant.

Jake's Ready to Eat


Just Fabulous!

After lunch, it was time to explore and do a bit of shopping in the Downtown and Uptown Design District.  I marveled at the variety in shops dedicated to fashion, art, and furnishings. One store that I stopped in because I loved the name was Just Fabulous. This small gift shop was filled with everything that a fabulous person could think of to own or give away as a gift. Fashion designer books, unique cards, lux candles…you name it! And, not to mention the fabulousness of the shops retail specialist. I met Steven and Luke and was immediately taken by their personalities. They were kind, humorous, and chic. I could have talked to them the entire day, but our group was on a schedule and I had to make my way back to the hotel so that I could glam up a bit for dinner at TRIO.

Lounge area adjacent to the bar at the Hyatt


I walked through the lobby of the Hyatt and was captivated by the flames of the fire bouncing merrily in the lounge area of the bar. I had a feeling that this would be a good night. Hillary Angel, who has been working hard, steady, and joyously over the course of our two days, chauffeured our group to TRIO Restaurant and Bar. The vision of business entrepreneurs Tony Marchese and Chef Mark Van Laanen, Trio has been a hit with the Springs locals since the day it opened its doors. I fell in love with the artistic lighting fixtures adorned throughout the restaurant and once the appetizers sat upon our table, I fell in love with the food as well. For me, Trio is one of those restaurants that you have to experience in order to appreciate the menu. But I can tell you that I loved my signature cocktail, Rory’s Tiki Monkey, my Filet Mignon was cooked to a perfect medium rare and melted in my mouth, and the desserts…well, let’s just say this added another 2lbs to the 5 that I gained on day one. My absolute favorite dessert was the Trio Nut Torte in all its nutty, chocolaty, chewy, and buttery splendor!

Media travel tour group

Filet Mignon dinner (l), delectable dessert (r)

Another honorable mention about Trio is that owners, Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen  support local artists and two charities, the Arts Institute at Palm Springs High School and the Aids Assistance Program of Palm Springs. How it works is that guests can purchase any piece of art on the wall of the dining room and depending on the artist, 10% or 20% of the proceeds are donated to the two charities. Now isn’t that fantastic?

Artistic lighting at Trio

Diners outside of Trio are full and happy


That was it for day two. I was dropped off back at the Hyatt tired, but happy, full, and cultured!

For more information on any of the destinations mentioned, please check the following Websites/Contacts:

Palm Springs Tours – Contact Robert Imber at [email protected]
ACE Hotel and King’s Highway – www.acehotel.com
Trio Restaurant and Bar – www.triopalmsprings.com
Jake’s Ready to Eat – www.jakesreadytoeat.com
Just Fabulous – www.bjustfabulous.com


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