Any true connoisseur of boutique luxury hotels should be familiar with the Provenance Hotels brand. While not the biggest name in the business, it is among the very best and most distinctive. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Provenance specializes in independent hotels “imbued with the soul of the cities in which they thrive.” That means “trend-setting amenities, locally curated art collections, creative collaborations with local tastemakers and innovative food and beverage” offerings. This has brought them industry-wide accolades and awards as well as a loyal following among discerning travelers.
Some of their standout properties include the Revolution Hotel in Boston, Hotel Max in Seattle, and The Old No. 77 Hotel in New Orleans. And in 2018 they added a new gem to the portfolio: the enchanting Villa Royale in Palm Springs. Like the Old No. 77, the property has a rich history that Provenance is now enhancing and adding to, giving the hotel new life and a new chapter. And like New Orleans, Palm Springs is a magical place that lends itself well to cool, creative new endeavors that incorporate the heritage and character of the locale.
Villa Royale is a joint venture with Lightning Bar Collective, another Portland-based business which shares a “deep appreciation for hospitality and craftsmanship” with the Provenance team, and has been “redefining” the city’s cocktail scene since launching in 2007. Their Portland projects include Century, The Bye and Bye, Victoria, The Sweet Hereafter, Associated, Capitol, Thunderbird and Jackknife, the latter located at Provenance Hotels’ Sentinel in Portland. Villa Royale is their first hotel.
Situated at the foot of the famed San Jacinto Mountains, in the Coachella Valley, the adults-only Villa Royale is home to just 36 rooms, suites and villas spread over 3.5 acres. The hotel is comprised of two distinct spaces: the main complex houses 31 villa rooms, while the Villa Rosa annex is home to seven California-ranch style villas offering an even more exclusive experience. The overall vibe and decor is described as “a secluded stomping ground reimagined where Spanish influence and architectural nuances of the Post-War period stand side-by-side with the modern design appeal for which Palm Springs is known today.”
Originally built in 1947, Villa Royale introduced guest rooms to the south end of Palm Springs alongside the Deep Well Guest Ranch and Smoke Tree Ranch. Heralded as one of the earliest small hotels in south Palm Springs, Villa Royale soon became one of the local properties frequented by Hollywood celebrities, entertainers, screenwriters, including screenwriter Irving Shulman, credited with writing Rebel Without a Cause, who made Villa Royale his preferred getaway. Provenance notes they were drawn to the area by the ‘Two-Hour Rule’ imposed by Hollywood studios, which stipulated that actors and actresses under contract could venture no further than two-hours from their movie set.”
While retaining Villa Royale’s original Mission Revival Style, the revamped villas and geometric tiled courtyards “channel the eccentric history of the destination and mesmerism of the landscape that has long lured wild, free-thinking and creative spirits to the Southern California desert.” In the manner of a true desert oasis, the property is lushly landscaped with towering palm trees and flowering desert flora that provide a backdrop for the interiors’ attractive midcentury decor and vintage furnishings. Villa Royale is also home to an original, commissioned collection of more than 50 large-format oil paintings, which were actually painted on the premises prior to the hotel’s opening.
Artists Juan Antonio Casas, Lou Kregal and Sara Radovanovich lived and worked at the property for weeks at a time, “channeling the history and vibe of Palm Springs” while producing an eclectic body of work featuring desert landscapes, classic cars and icons of popular culture, film and music. Casas, a Spanish artist and poet based in Portland, Oregon, created paintings including a portrait of Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now and Debbie Harry of Blondie. Kregal, an Athens, Georgia-based artist, created geometric surfboard-and-diamond patterned works for Villa Royale’s guest rooms. And Los Angeles-based Radovanovitch created a portrait of Lana Turner from a 1944 publicity photo of the actress, and another of Clark Gable, also from the 1940s, smoking a pipe. All add a major dose of originality and cool to the spaces they adorn. Nor does Villa Royale’s art initiative end there. Vibrant murals wrap the walls of the hotel’s grounds, traversed by lush pathways, created by Radovanovich and Los Angeles-based tattoo artist and muralist Sagent Staygold.
The marquee accommodation at Villa Royale is the stunning Continental suite, designed to be a hip, romantic home base for unwinding after a day spent exploring the Coachella Valley, or just lounging by the property’s picture-perfect pool, either in the chaises or in one of the attractive outdoor seating areas. The living room, designed like the rest of the lavish suite in a mix of Mid-century furniture, the hotel’s custom artwork by Casas, and designer touches like Mascioni linens and Portuguese tile, comes complete with a gas-burning fireplace and separate bar area, as well as large french windows and a private patio. The Continental is surrounded by a private desert garden as well as a hot tub and lounge area in the shade of the swaying palms.
Original paintings by Casas adorn the walls of Del Rey, Villa Royale’s dark, intimate, inviting and very cool restaurant/bar/lounge, overseen by chef Wes Hannah. The stucco-walled, wood-paneled venue (currently open for room service and takeout, but set to return to normal service in the near future) features a twelve-seat oak and marble bar, tiled fireplace, brass cocktail tables, tufted dark-oxblood banquettes, and an outdoor patio equipped with a fire pit for late-night lounging under the desert moonlight. The menu of small plates is inspired by Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. The drinks menu leans towards Mediterranean and Spanish wines, as well as local vintages and classic poolside cocktails as well as other more adventurous forays into mixology.