First look: Palm Springs Margaritaville opens into Preceding Riviera hotel

First look: Palm Springs Margaritaville opens

First look: Palm Springs Margaritaville opens into Preceding Riviera hotel The new Margaritaville hotel in Palm Springs is welcoming guests after a months-long renovation of the former Riviera property in uptown Palm Springs, marking the transformation of a historic Rat Pack-era property into a Jimmy Buffett-inspired getaway.

The opening comes amid a new, limited stay-at-home order in California with a 10 p.m. curfew, and as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to stay home and not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 398-room hotel initially will open with about 60 to 75 rooms, Margaritaville’s chief operations officer Brad Schwaeble said. That will allow for maximum social distancing, and meet the tepid-but-present demand for leisure travel. 

“Obviously with health and safety being the primary concern, we don’t want to open the property at capacity. It wouldn’t make sense,” Schwaeble said. “Nor do I think the demand is there right now. This allows us to do it intelligently and as safely as you can currently.” 

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The Margaritaville brand, inspired by singer’s Jimmy Buffett laid-back and beachy ethos, has more than 20 properties including locations in the U.S. and Mexico. 

The property is the first Margaritaville on the West Coast, with two properties under development in San Diego that are slated to open next year.

It’s the first new brand for the Riviera property since it opened in the late 1950s; the brand change was done after Davidson Hotels & Resorts that took over as operators of the property earlier this year. 

The hotel will be staffed with more than 100 former Riviera employees, Schwaeble said.

A pandemic-era hotel opening

Schwaeble said the local management team is paying attention to local and state protocols to ensure that the hotel is operating in line with coronavirus guidelines.

Safety protocols at the hotel include: 

  • Required face coverings in all public indoor spaces of the hotel, 
  • Cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing using COVID-19 approved products,
  • Wellness checks for staff members.
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Beyond the hotel’s own policies, California has a face mask mandate requiring people to wear face coverings when not at home unless they’re outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance from others not in their household.

The company is not “tone-deaf” to what’s going on, Schwaeble said, and though demand for travel has been a roller coaster in recent months, he anticipates there will be guests looking for fun and safe getaways.

He said hotels are seeing people book their trips a few days out, indicating an appetite for last-minute travel. 

“We’re excited to be opening a property and on the other side of it, we want to continue, we want to keep hospitality going,” he said.

“As a brand, we take all of this very seriously,” Schwaeble said.

Several amenities will not be available at first, including the St. Somewhere Spa, the Fins Up Fitness Center, and several food and beverage options. And while Margaritaville hotels are typically feature live music at on-site venues, such performances can’t take place under current guidelines. 

The Come Monday Café, the License to Chill lobby bar and the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, however, will be open for guests for on-site dining, according to the website.

Redesigning a historic property

Guests who stay at the hotel will be the first to see the latest renovation of a historic property that was built in the 1950s and a hangout for the Rat Pack. 

The Margaritaville brand centers on a tropical, escapist lifestyle. But as a hotel franchise, each property attempts to integrate the regional flavor.

“Each one is unique, in that we embrace the local geography and the local culture,” Schwaeble said.

In the case of Palm Springs, the redesign by McBride Design incorporates a mid-century flavor to its furniture and artwork selections and a palette of cool blues and serene greens. The architectural framework of the hotel, including the large porte-cochère at the front entrance, are preserved. The pool deck is refreshed with lounge chairs, and features a performance platform ready and waiting for when live music is again allowed.

Still, there are obvious nods that Parrotheads will recognize — plenty of slogans and sayings that nod to a laid-back lifestyle, including a gargantuan flip-flop in the lobby. 

The resort is offering the ‘Tis the SeaSon  package to celebrate the opening that will contribute $5 a night to local charity FIND Food Bank, plus a $5 nightly resort credit and a complimentary welcome margarita for guests. 

General Manager Matt Huss, who previously managed Davidson properties for 15 years in Atlanta, San Diego, and Agoura Hills. and Memphis. said the team is “looking forward to welcoming our guests and providing a relaxing oasis to escape, unwind, and enjoy the laid-back desert life.”

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