Palm Springs became popular in the early part of last century when people headed there from Los Angeles to play. Once the fierce summer heat began to diminish, the short journey took them to a beautiful desert town in the Coachella Valley, surrounded by the majestic, snowcapped San Jacinto Mountains. They bought up land and built some architecturally wonderful homes, many of which remain.
Visitors to Palm Springs can expect to be treated to everything a holiday-maker could want. Superb weather, sophisticated nightlife, countless golf courses, exciting shopping, loads of physical activities and a wide choice of accommodation.
This beautiful desert city offers a marvellous blend of the old and the new. Young fashionable people have discovered it, resulting in lavish cocktail parties beside fancy pools, swish nightclubs and restaurants and all the trappings that go with that lifestyle.
One way to get the feel of new Palm Springs is to book into The Parker. Previously the Givenchy Resort and Spa, it has been transformed into an intimate hotel of understated elegance. As you drive in, welcoming staff appear from nowhere, cool drinks are served and check-in is completed in your accommodation.
The hotel's 144 rooms, suites and villas sit on over five hectares of attractive private gardens. There are four pools two indoors and two outdoors four red clay tennis courts, croquet court, two pétanque courts, beauty salon, fitness centre and spa.
Manhattan designer Jonathan Adler was commissioned to undertake the $27 million makeover, and he has left his mark, right down to Moroccan tea, Hermes soap and chilled towels at the pool.
Casual dining can be enjoyed in Mister Parker's Brasserie inside or al fresco, and fine dining takes place in Norma's Deluxe Diner where you can indulge in a $1000 caviar omelette! There are menu choices more reasonably priced.
The best way to admire the valley is to ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in the Chino Canyon. It opened in 1963 and a one-way ride in an enclosed car takes 15 minutes, past Valley Station at 805 metres to Mountain Station at 2595 metres. At the top you can stroll to a three-storey building with a restaurant, cocktail lounge and observation decks.
You are then on the doorstep of the 5700 hectare Mt San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area, which has 86 kilometres of hiking trails, campgrounds and granite outcrops. Views are spectacular, with the Sonoran Desert spread before you.
Palm Springs has a true desert climate. Soaring temperatures in summer see people getting things done very early or very late in the day. During the middle of the day they retreat to air-conditioned comfort anywhere they can get it.
A ride on the tram is another way to escape the heat it is around 12 degrees cooler at the top. In winter, the high season, it is warm enough to take a dip in a pool in the valley and then take the tram up the mountain for a spot of cross country skiing.
When you're ready to hit the shops, a visit to Arlyn Rudolph's Celebrity Seconds is great fun. Her little store is crammed with hats, gloves, shawls, shoes, boots, day and evening dresses and accessories. You must look at the little tags to see who items once belonged to. Arlyn's favourite pieces belonged to Ginger Rogers, who bequeathed her wardrobe to her personal assistant, who in turn passed it on to Arlyn, rather than to Sothebys.
Not far away is the extremely chic Trina Turk Boutique. She is a designer riding on a crest with her retro glam style. Setting up in Palm Springs was by accident. Trina and her husband snapped up a 1950s Albert Frey-designed furniture store and set up shop and have turned it into a brightly coloured welcoming boutique with lots of glass and mirrors. Her clothing has clean lines and everything screams 'California'. She has some very well-known clients and is gathering steam in the "is that a Trina Turk you are wearing?" stakes.
Palm Springs is a wonderful place to shop a detour on your way into town to the Desert Hills Premium Outlets is worth it 130 stores and reasonable prices. Consignment Stores have some excellent bargains too. Palm Spring has emerald green golf courses galore, and if you fancy a flutter, there are plenty of casinos. Life is laid-back, people are friendly and very tanned and all-in-all, it's a good place to spend a few days.