Robb Report Vices

Swinging like Sammy, Dino and Frank in Palm Springs

When the Riviera Hotel opened in Palm Springs in 1958, the area was already an established retreat for Hollywood’s elite—Palm Springs first began attracting high-profile vacationers in the 1920s. The communal-style property quickly became the go-to getaway during the swinging ’60s, and not surprisingly, it established itself as a staple hangout for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the rest of the Rat Pack. Sinatra continued to visit the property through the 1970s and ’80s, though by that time the hotel had evolved into a more family-friendly resort. These days, Hollywood A-listers have their pick of holiday hot spots around the world, but the Riviera Hotel is making a comeback, thanks largely to a fairly recent renovation that has restored a 1960s glamour to the property.

These days, the hotel boasts two prominent swimming pools—the Bikini Pool, which is situated at the heart of the Riviera and transforms into what the hotel describes as a “swanky lounge” in the evenings, and the Chiki Pool, unveiled in early 2013, which features a tiki bar and, as the hotel explains, “pays homage to the infamous Chi Chi nightclub.” It wouldn’t be the Riviera of the 1960s without live music, and (as one might expect) the hotel has that covered with four distinct entertainment venues. There’s the Chiki Pool, which hosts a variety of DJs; the Sidebar Lounge, which offers a cosmopolitan feel; the Sidebar Patio, which brings the vibe of the lounge outside; and the Starlite Lounge, which is the new home of Martin Ross, a singer-songwriter-pianist whose eclectic portfolio of songs includes the very best of Frank Sinatra. Hearing the chorus of a classic Sinatra ballad at the Riviera is a beautiful thing; but don’t worry, Ross isn’t the type to impersonate the Chairman of the Board. He sings those hits in his own way—much like Frank did—which keeps them honest and brings the best of the 1960s back to the forefront in the desert.