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Beyond the Border: Palm Springs Is a Planner’s Paradise

By Megan Gosch

While the Sonoran Desert region may already be a popular spot for snowbirds and festivalgoers, when it comes to restorative surroundings for meetings or retreats, it doesn’t get much better than Palm Springs. With plenty of stunning venues (three of which are properites included in Marriott’s Convention & Resort Network and are united in their delivery of high quality service to groups and planners), sweeping mountain views and countless opportunities for outdoor (and indoor) fun, the city has become a sought-after site for meetings and events.

“Palm Springs is such an incredible destination. It’s got the allure of a far-off, exotic escape—you really do feel like you’re on the other side of the world. And between the art and architecture or the golf and hiking options, there’s actually something for everyone. The possibilities here are endless,” says Rhett Heflin, destination sales executive for the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa.

Whether you’re planning a therapeutic time-out or fostering some creative out-ofthe-box thinking, planners have plenty of meeting options in the nation’s ultimate desert playground. 

Covering more than 450 acres, the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is a desert destination in itself. The luxe resort offers over 230,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space across 28 event rooms, all of which are equipped with the latest event tech and high-speed Wi-Fi. Team-building favorites include on-site mini golf and memorable private dinners in executive chef Peter Smith’s Innovation Kitchen. 

Post-meeting, guests can take full advantage of the many amenities the resort has to offer including eight dining options, a full-service spa, five outdoor pools, two championship golf courses and the new on-property Costas Nightclub. The resort not only plays host to several species of exotic wildlife (including the flamingos and black swans that roam the grounds), but also features a labyrinth of footpaths and waterways for guests to explore the extensive estate by foot or … gondola. Curious attendees can board the guided boats in the lobby for a tour of the property

Events at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa include a striking entrance as guests take in the atrium lobby’s grand mango wood staircase and extraordinary views of the Coachella Valley. With more than 200,000 square feet of total event space and the ability to create up to 33 breakout rooms, there are dozens of possibilities for creating unique event experiences. Planners utilizing the resort’s impressive outdoor space (and with over 350 days of sunshine each year, why not?) are treated to views of sparkling pools shrouded in vibrant bougainvilleas, set against the Santa Rosa Mountains. Attendees staying on-property will enjoy nods to the Rat Packera celebrities who put Palm Springs on the map while soaking in the desert oasis from a private balcony. 

Just 6 miles from the Palm Springs International Airport, the 512-guest room Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa is a Rancho Mirage desert retreat. Featuring Spanish-Moorish-inspired design, the property boasts more than 65,000 square feet of elegant indoor meeting space and 63,000 square feet of outdoor event space, surrounded by 360 acres of lush desert landscape. Named one of Golf Digest’s Top 75 Golf Resorts in North America, the resort also features two championship golf courses for a prime post-meeting round or two, but the property’s courses can also provide planners with new opportunities for creative event design. The resort’s sprawling greens regularly host golf tournaments can be used for private parties. Attendees will also want to stop by the resort’s Spa at Westin Mission Hills, which offers treatments utilizing polishes and scrubs made from the honey harvested from the resort’s on-site apiary.

Of course, what’s a trip to Palm Springs without a bit of built-in leisure time? Attendees looking to explore the nine cities that make up the Greater Palm Springs area will not be disappointed. Those looking to boost their blood pressure can hike and climb the region’s many trails and mountain peaks or take advantage of the area’s unparalleled golf courses, with plenty of other outdoor options to enjoy. For a more laid-back adventure, visitors can catch a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, climbing 8,500 feet to Mountain Station for spectacular valley views or check out the area’s native wildlife and flora as well as exotic species at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. American architecture enthusiasts can revel in one of the area’s main attractions with a guided adventure from The Modern Tour—the region does have the largest collection of midcentury modern architecture in the country, after all. Thrill seekers and auto fanatics alike will delight in a visit to the BMW Performance Center West, one of two of its kind in the nation. Visitors can pair up to take turns driving around a professional track while competing for the best lap record or catch a ride from a racing pro on an adrenaline-filled hot lap. And no trip to Palm Springs is complete without tasting a true local delicacy, the date milkshake (a majority of the world’s dates are grown in this region), from the renowned Shields Date Garden.