The desert is calling — and people are answering for a weekend, a month and permanently: “It’s the vacation in your backyard.”
Next year’s Palm Springs Film Festival has been canceled, Coachella and StageCoach are TBD and Modernism Week has been scaled back to a mostly virtual event.
But the desert is still calling — and people are answering, for a weekend, a month and permanently, enjoying the big sky and outdoor vistas Southern California has to offer year-round.
“The revitalization of the desert started with the popularity of Coachella and the opening of the Ace Hotel — that was the beginning of Millennials coming in with cool boutique hotels, restaurants and bars. But we’ve seen an influx because of COVID-19,” said Matthew Kurtz, owner of Les Cactus, a nudist resort that became a 27-room boutique hotel with a chic pink and green, Cal-French aesthetic and casual vibe that had a full, socially distanced house during a recent visit in October.
Kurtz, who got his start running the front desk at the Chateau Marmont, opened Les Cactus after a six-month renovation last February only to have to shut down for March, April and May, Palm Springs’ busiest season. Now, the tourism industry is starting to rebound, he said, despite Riverside County sliding back into the purple tier, which prohibits indoor dining for one, due to worsening COVID-19 numbers at the end of October. “We are selling out weekends, and things are starting to pick up during the week because people are itching to get out,” he said.
Other cooler, hipper businesses have also opened in the area, including local microbrewery Las Palmas Brewing and a permanent brick-and-mortar location for the Mojave Flea Market at The Shops at 1345, the stylish collection of retail boutiques that includes Soukie Modern with Turkish towels, Moroccan rugs and caftans; Lindy curated vintage decor and jewelry, and Man About Towne with terry cloth camp shirts by Oas Company and other resortwear.
“We like to think it’s what Fred Segal used to be,” said James Morello, who pandemic-pivoted from live events to open the Mojave Flea Trading Post in July, featuring clothing and home accessories by 35 makers, including repurposed vintage bandana pieces by Utori out of Joshua Tree and shibori-dyed clothing by The Highlands Foundry out of Hudson, N.Y.
Business has exceeded his expectations, he said, adding that it’s a mix of weekend visitors, kids who have moved back in with their parents, and transplants. “Just like the young tastemakers from Brooklyn have fled New York for the Hudson Valley, the same thing is happening here.”
Original publication 5 November, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 16th December 2020
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