Palm Springs a Desert Oasis for Meetings and Events

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Palm Springs a Desert Oasis for Meetings and Events

By Rich Luna | Mar 11, 2019

There’s a spot about 20 minutes into the trail ride through the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs, Calif., where the views from a ridge overlooking the Coachella Valley are simply breathtaking. 

Sitting atop my trusty steed Jeremy, I paused to gaze into the valley and the city, where on this day the stars of the film world had gathered to celebrate the 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala. 


The wide-open space. The perfectly blue sky and crisp air. A sense that unlimited adventure awaited in the hills and in the surrounding city known as the playground of the stars. On this day, though, Palm Springs is the real star. 

They like to say Palm Springs is “like no place else,” and they may be right, especially when it comes to meetings and events. 

Imagine being able to get off the plane, check into your hotel and be at your meeting in about 30 minutes. 

Imagine a range of hotels, from the 410-room Renaissance Hotel that is connected to the Palm Springs Convention Center to the recently opened Kimpton Rowan or the colorful nostalgic Saguaro Hotel. In all, more than 1,600 hotel rooms are within walking distance of the airport. 

Imagine a convention center less than two miles from the airport with more than 260,000 square feet of space with an additional 180,000 square feet at the aforementioned Renaissance. 

Need some activities for your attendees after the meetings are over? Try horseback riding or Jeep tours or a spa treatment at the famous Palm Springs Yacht Club (PSYC) followed by dinner in the downtown village of shops and restaurants. 

“This place is very different from any place you’ve been,” says James Canfield, executive director of the Palm Springs Convention Center. “I mean that in a good way. We can be very creative with what we do. Honestly, once people come here, they either never want to leave or can’t wait to come back.” 

Hard to argue that point. The annual film festival is just one of the crown jewels for a city that is just as comfortable with movie stars as it is with convention attendees.  

The film festival, often a precursor to the Academy Awards, is an example of how Canfield and his team can convert the 92,000-square-foot, column-free Oasis Hall into a stage for Hollywood’s elite. Rami Malek of Bohemian Rhapsody, Regina King from If Beale Street Could Talk, the cast of Mary Poppins Returns, Bradley Cooper from A Star is BornBlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee and Roma director Alfonso Cuarón were just a few of the stars to walk the red carpet and be honored at the gala. 

Our group had rubbed shoulders with the stars earlier in the day when we visited PSYC. Malik lined up behind us for his spa treatment. Melissa McCarthy was spotted walking the grounds just over there, a Michael Keaton sighting here and someone thought they saw Viggo Mortensen.  

But when the stars go home, that doesn’t mean the luster of Palm Springs fades in any way. The fun was just getting started for us. 

Our group split up, with some of us opting for horseback riding, others for Jeep tours. Our visit to the Indian Canyons, part of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation, was highlighted by a discussion with a tribal ranger on the fascinating history of the area. 

One thing is certain: There is no shortage of things to do here, whether you like the outdoors or being pampered. It helps that the city enjoys about 300 days of sunshine each year. 

I tugged on Jeremy’s reins so we could catch up with the group. Jeremy hesitated as we took one last look into the valley. Can’t say I blame him. 

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While you’re here… 

If riding horses is not for you, then Desert Adventure Jeep Tours might be a good fit. One option takes you into the mountains where you can take a short hike to see even more of the rock formations and plants, or there’s a different tour that includes city landmarks. 

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Whether you ride horses or ride shotgun in the Jeep, the next stop has to be the luxurious Palm Springs Yacht Club. One could indulge in a relaxing walk through the gardens, a scrumptious lunch or a game of croquet, but the best reason to visit is for a spa treatment. As our tour coincided with the film festival, the stars were out and about, including Rami Malek, but there’s a chance of seeing stars most any time. 

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Besides the Renaissance Palm Springs, there are a rangeo of options for hotels with meeting and event space, from the new and modern to the classic Palm Springs eclectic. There are staples such as the Hilton Palm Springs (18,000 square feet of meeting space) and the Riviera Hotel (45,000 square feet). A recent newcomer in downtown Palm Springs is Kimpton Rowan (16,000 square feet), where the 4 Saints restaurant has rooftop views of the Coachella Valley. For the eclectic, there’s Hotel Zozo (25,000 square feet), a former Hard Rock Hotel; the Ace Hotel (8,000 square feet); and the colorful Saguaro Hotel (15,000 square feet).  




Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.