Posted in Projects on 2 April, 2019

A new addition to California’s desert landscape, the Sands Hotel & Spa isn’t your average American retreat. Features Editor Sophie Harper finds out how an unassuming 1950s building was transformed into Indian Wells’ first boutique getaway.

Known largely for its tennis tournaments and world-class golf courses, the sunny suburbs of California’s Indian Wells is the epitome of American luxe. Even the weather here succumbs to a bit of California dreaming, where blue skies reign supreme year-round, and huge areas of green, preened grassland makes a mockery of the rocky desert landscape surrounding it.

Given all this, it’s not exactly the sort of place you’d automatically think to drop a riad-style resort in, but that’s exactly what you can expect to find at the Sands Hotel & Spa – and interestingly, it suits its surroundings far batter than any polished surface, bling-tastic

duplex ever could.
Originally built in the 1950s, the building that provides the foundations of the hotel had been dormant

for the three years prior to the Sands’ opening. And while much of the design clearly takes its inspiration from traditional Moroccan style, there’s a definite nod to the glamour of mid-century America added to the mix as well.

The colourful resurrection of this little gem in the desert was imagined and brought to life by British-born, Los Angeles-based designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. A man known for his eclectic style and sophisticated take on interiors, Bullard is an award-winning designer and named as one of the world’s top interior designers by some of the biggest publications on the globe.

With a client list that could just as easily be used as a tourist checklist for Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Bullard is no stranger to working on high-profile projects, including a whole host of hotels from Chateau Gütsch in Lucerne, Switzerland to Four Seasons Residences in LA. The Sands Hotel & Spa is Bullard’s third collaboration with PRG Hospitality Group following the success of the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs and Casa Laguna Hotel and Spa in Laguna Beach.

The Sands Hotel & Spa project consisted of an extensive redesign with new building additions and substantial interior and exterior renovations. The new hotel features 46 guest rooms, including two suites and one bi-level Presidential Suite, all-new public spaces, pool deck and landscaping, a private wedding garden, a signature on-property restaurant and a luxury spa – and claims to be the first boutique hotel in Indian Wells.

Striking colour clashes of soft, powdery pinks and heavy midnight blues form a beautiful pairing from first glimpses of the hotel, while hints of aged gold and emerald greens give a feel of decadence from bygone eras. Yet from the various tones used throughout the Sands Hotel, it’s possibly the black and white mosaics that leave the biggest impact visually. A strong theme throughout, Bullard has shown how black and white together is anything but humdrum. Resembling the chicest of Moroccan riads, patterned tiles are mismatched and jostled together on the walls in pleasing arrangements while, in stark contrast, the floors and ceilings showcase straight lines or chevrons in strict uniformity. Other than a leafy plant or a flash of gold, the lobby doesn’t play host to any other colour, which is a bold statement incredibly well executed.

Moving through the hotel to The Pink Cabana – the hotel’s new destination restaurant – guests will find a laidback diner that shares typical American layout with a bit of ’50s flair and Moroccan styling. The menu, by Executive Chef Jason Niederkorn, is inspired by seasonal ingredients and Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes that are prepared by modern French technique, which all adds to the guest experience. The Pink Cabana is both mid-century and contemporary in style and includes an array of clever little design features, from wallpaper cutouts and strategically placed mirrors, to ’50s memorabilia and space enhancing lighting schemes.

Leading out from the restaurant to the hotel’s pool area, the pink backdrop of the exterior walls provide a wonderful canvas for the black and white striped cabanas and sun loungers lined up beside the dazzling azure pool. Between palm trees and pops of brightly coloured flowers, delicate metalwork and mosaic tiles can be glimpsed, which altogether gives the impression of being somewhere quite different to America’s Golden State.

The hotel’s signature spa is a white and airy space that features three separate treatment rooms, including a couple’s treatment room, and a menu of Moroccan- inspired services and provides naturally sourced ingredients from Morocco that detoxify, hydrate and replenish the skin and body. The spa’s entrance welcomes guests with a serene, olive tree-lined garden walkway and relaxation area where plump cushions and patterned soft furnishings create a cosy space to promote vibrance, health and true inner beauty.

The guestrooms each have personalities of their own, where a series of different colour combinations, bespoke furniture, and custom textiles give guests an individual and unique experience during their stay. Each room features Acqua di Parma bath amenities, full-size in-room mini bars with vintage crystal stemware, Waterworks brass fixtures, Revival New York bed linens, Carrara Marble counter tops, and an in-room entertainment system designed to work with guest’s own devices.

From the perfectly neat and tidy Classic King, comprising 300 square feet of living space, to the lavish 1,000 square feet, two-storey Presidential Suite, many of the rooms include a private patio or balcony. The suites include outdoor bathtubs, for the ultimate bathing experience and the Presidential Suite even comes with its own billiards table and full-sized kitchen. But best of all, most rooms come complete with custom Moroccan fountains and lush palm tree lined views over the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountain landscape. Bliss.

PRG Hospitality set out with a unique vision of a boutique hotel that offered inspired design and comfortable amenities to appeal to a new generation of traveller, and on first look, that’s exactly what they’ve achieved. And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if more boutique hotels started appearing in the area on the back of what’s sure to be a very successful venture.

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