I was recently sipping a craft brew at a rooftop pool bar overlooking the mountains and the iconic buildings below.
A group of men hid from the searing sun under a cabana. Two couples lounged poolside, periodically taking a dip to cool off. Others relaxed on kitschy chairs and couches, including Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.
I was in Phoenix, at the Palomar, a Kimpton brand hotel.
Fast-forward to 2015 and that same scene could be set in Palm Springs —with Barry Manilow draped over a couch instead of Suh.
The hotel is the most similar to the Kimpton proposed for downtown Palm Springs as part of the Wessman Development revitalization of the Desert Fashion Plaza.
Since my husband dragged me to Phoenix for the Lions vs. Cardinals game on Sept. 15 (I’m from Michigan and by default a Lions fan), I decided to take a tour.
Like the Kimpton hotel proposed for Palm Springs, the one in Phoenix is a new construction project with a rooftop pool and bar. It also is part of a larger mixed-use plan that includes retail, restaurants and entertainment.
It opened in June 2012.
It’s not a cookie-cutter match, though.
“Our Kimpton hotel will be a very special hotel,” said Michael Braun, senior vice president with Wessman Development.
Like a lot of big-city downtowns, the 14-story Palomar Phoenix is tall and shiny. The top-floor apartments are still under construction, though, so a tall crane and covered sidewalks out front slightly detract from the façade.
Before arriving, I was warned the hotel would be a madhouse since it was hosting the Lions team — hence the Suh sighting.
But the only sign of an entire NFL team was running into the occasional 300-pound athlete and being told that the third floor was off-limits.
On the way up to the rooftop pool and bar, we noticed the mid-century modern aesthetic of the “living room” lobby, and a mini wine bar with complimentary pours of cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay for guests.
The Palm Springs hotel also will have a “living room” lobby and host a wine hour each night, Braun said. There will be free in-room yoga mats and bicycles. Pets are welcome. For Fido, there’s a bed, leash and free pick-up bags, plus room service. Pet food and water is delivered to the room. Keep their paws off the phone.
“It will have the same … service, but the look will be much more reflective of Palm Springs,” said Braun. “We want people to go into the hotel and know they are in Palm Springs.”
In Phoenix, the Kimpton is part of CityScape, a three-city block project that includes retail, restaurants and entertainment components. There’s a bowling alley, comedy club, Urban Outfitters and Tilted Kilt, the latter practically overflowing with people on this Saturday night.
In Palm Springs, the seven-story Kimpton hotel, which has garnered criticism for its height, also will anchor several new city blocks filled with retail and restaurants.
If the proposed schedule goes as planned, the hotel could begin construction next year and be open in 2015.
But there are three pending lawsuits — two against the city that allege the Palm Springs City Council violated the California Environmental Quality Act when it approved the project. The third was filed against Palm Springs and Wessman Development Co. for not asking voters to weigh in on the height after enough valid signatures were gathered to do so.
Once I climbed to the rooftop bar, I immediately noticed the panoramic views of the mountains on one side and two sporting arenas — Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball and U.S. Airways Center where the Phoenix Suns play basketball — on the other.
In Palm Springs, if the hotel is built as planned and the Forever Marilyn statue returns nearby, perhaps you’ll get to see the top of her blonde head instead of her britches while posing under her skirt.