Prevue July-August 2017 - 68
Glitz and customization await groups in this ultimate desert oasis
[ON LOCATION] JESSIE FETTERLING
very January, the crowds start lining up before dawn
outside the 261,000-sf Palm Springs Convention
Center. The hope is to get a good view of the red
carpet that leads into the Palm Springs International Film
Festival. A-list actors such as Tom Hanks, Natalie Portman and Ben
Kingsley-and a group of MICE planners and journalists-walked
the carpet this year and waved to the masses.
Our host hotel, the Renaissance Palm Springs, connects to
the center, whose 92,545-sf Oasis Hall welcomed attendees with
cocktail stations and hightop tables for gathering before the annual
Film Awards Gala. By the end of the night, it seemed Palm Springs
was the real winner though. Almost all of the acceptance speeches
started out with a story about the city and the fond memories the
stars have of the destination.
Similar stories have been told about this Southern California
destination-located 107 miles east of Los Angeles-ever since it
became a popular resort town in the 1930s. Back then, it attracted
movie stars in search of seclusion, and that's still very much the
case today. With a population of about 45,000, groups get that
same exclusive experience from the tight-knit hospitality community.
And it can start at the moment of arrival with the Palm Springs
Bureau of Tourism organizing company-themed welcome
banners to be placed for groups driving into town.
"You really own the city
when you come."
68 | prevuemeetings.com
"You really own the city when you come," says James
Canfield, executive director of both the Palm Springs Convention
Center and Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. "The hospitality
industry is the No. 1 industry, and everyone from the mayor to the
service-line employee understands that."
One way our group experienced this next-level service-apart
from literally rolling out the red carpet-was with Desert
Adventures' Red Jeep Tours on our visit to Andreas Canyon,
the home of the Agua Client Band of Cahuilla Indians. Wearing
colorful ribbons in her braided hair, our guide Morgan was a
wealth of knowledge with interesting tidbits about the local tribe.
She even gave each of us a traditional Cahuilla Indian name based
on our personalities. While she had only known us for maybe 45
minutes, her personable demeanor allowed her to glean fairly
accurate names (which would have taken the tribe between
four and 12 years).
Another VIP experience we had was the spa day at The
Parker Palm Springs. Our group rotated in and out of the spa
for individualized treatments, while taking part in croquet and a
light garden lunch-ideal for groups looking to get some R&R. The
combination of the spa, red-carpet experience and Jeep tour gave
a taste of what this resort community can offer groups, making
Canfield's statement that the city gets repeat business more of a
reality than a sales pitch.
visitpalmsprings.com; palmspringscc.com; marriott.com