The iconic Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs, originally built in the 1930s, has a lively past and colorful history as a popular destination for Hollywood elite including Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, mobsters, film producers, and politicians. The hotel has now been reimagined by renowned designer and hotelier Steve Hermann through a multimillion-dollar renovation, transforming it into a modern desert paradise.
“The Colony Palms Hotel was originally built as the Colonial House by Las Vegas casino owner and Purple gang member Al Wertheimer,” says Hermann. “The hotel began receiving guests in 1936, and had a downstairs speakeasy and brothel. It was renamed Howard Manor in the late 1940s, when Robert and Andrea Leeds Howard (the owners of racing horse Seabiscut) took possession. Boxing champion Jack Dempsey was also an owner. For the next 25 years, the hotel was a haven for young Hollywood in Palm Springs.”
Every surface that the guest interacts with has been updated, while the lobby, pool area, restaurant and bar, and guestrooms—41 rooms, 14 bungalows, and two grand suites—have undergone a complete renovation. The lobby features Rhombus-patterned marble floors, walnut-clad walls, and white and green wallpaper. Italian Sergio Mazza sconces and an Art Deco-inspired reception desk covered with Arabescato marble accents evoke the glamorous ambiance the property is known for.
“The style of the hotel is channeling the original era of the hotel,” says Hermann. “We looked to old Hollywood as well as the French and Italian Riviera of the 1930s and ’40s for inspiration. The Colony Palms is a historical hotel that has long had a loyal following, however over the years it has slowly aged and lost a lot of its original luster. We wanted to bring it back to its heyday of the 1930s and reclaim it as one of Southern California’s premiere destinations.”
The property is adorned in tropical banana leaf wallpaper and trelliage latticework throughout, while the pool area features green-and-white tassel umbrellas, reminiscent of both Palm Springs and Palm Beach in the ’40s. Daybeds, featuring banana leaf print upholstery, sit upon large format Saltillo tile floors beside a 70-foot-long, green mosaic-tiled saltwater pool.
“I love the vintage feel,” says Hermann. “Green lattice work on the white walls has been added to the bar and lobby area, reminiscent of the popular style of the 1930s and ’40s. It feels as though you have been transported back in time.”
The Colony Club restaurant offers guests Californian fare and craft cocktails al fresco, overlooking the pool and mountains.
“The Colony Club harkens back to the Art Deco style of the hotel when it was originally built,” says Hermann. “Dark green stripped marble floors compliment the green chesterfield sofas and the classic rattan dining chairs. The walnut-paneled walls set the stage for a large accent wall that is covered in a gilded gold background with white cranes flying by. Vintage Italian Barovier sconces complete the scene.”