Palm Springs, CA's history tied to its pools

Palm Springs, CA’s history tied to its pools

California has always been associated with a certain free-wheeling lifestyle, and the fact that many of the state’s cities experience near-perfect weather for the majority of the year makes it seem an even more luxurious destination. In some ways, this is nothing more than an exaggeration. However, certain communities in California have embraced the image of year-round, sun-soaked summer fun.

Palm Springs is one of those towns that still carries a dedication to pools and swimming even today. A few hours’ drive from Los Angeles, this resort town tucked away in the San Jacinto Valley was once a well-kept secret of Hollywood’s rich and famous. As Palm Springs’ reputation grew, word started getting out that there might be no better swimming destination in the entire country. As the Palm Springs Historical Society explained, the combination of fine weather, good people and great times transformed the resort town from a run-of-the-mill vacation spot to the city with the most swimming pools per capita in the U.S.

Pooling resources
As the first European settlers swept across North America, not many stopped in Palm Springs. The city’s tourism board explained that it wasn’t until 1909 when Nellie Coffman, a wealthy businesswoman, decided to build the Desert Inn – Palm Spring’s first hotel. This establishment was focused on servicing and repairing the cars and trucks that brought settlers from the east to California, but in time, Coffman added a swimming pool without quite knowing how much that one little move would do.

After the initial pool construction project at the Desert Inn, Palm Springs exploded with aquatic activity. By 1938, the resort town was well-known within Hollywood circles and stars like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Marlene Dietrich all spent time at the city’s hotels. According to the Palm Springs Historical Society, there were more than 900 commercial facilities in the city by 1955. Less than 10 years later, though, that number had ballooned to 2,000 pools. At a rate of one for every six residents, Palm Springs once boasted the highest number of pools per capita in the country.

Such a great number of pools transformed the way Palm Springs conducted itself to the outside world. Postcards featured lavishly decorated pool decks and hotels marketed the quality of their aquatic facilities over the comfort of their rooms. Even today, Palm Springs is first and foremost a resort town filled with boutique and chain hotels that still boast some of the finest pools on the West Coast.

Taking a dip
So where should you go if you find yourself in southern California with a pair of swim trunks and nothing do to? If you fancy yourself an athletic swimmer who enjoys laps over wading around, recommended the pool at Palm Spring’s Renaissance Hotel.

The facility at the Renaissance is by far the largest in the city. At more than 5,000 square feet, this pool provides separate areas for swimmers of different preferences to do their thing. It’s also heated, which makes for great twilight swimming in the fall and spring. No world-class resort would be complete with just one lap pool, though, and the Renaissance Hotel also features a kid-sized pool, a spa and a sandbox. Cabanas and other amenities are included to round out the luxurious vibe.

Not everybody likes to get a workout in the pool, though, which is why the Parker Hotel’s oval-shaped wading pool might be better for vacationers who want a little quiet to go along with their aquatic activities. You might have to leave the kids behind – the Parker has two pools, though the one tucked away inside a garden at the back of the resort doesn’t allow children. If you manage to make it, reward yourself with a drink from the lemonade bar next to the pool.

A trip to Palm Springs, the self-styled Mecca of aquatic resorts, is a must for anyone who fancies themselves a high-end luxury swimmer. Come to rub elbows with Hollywood starlets, but stay for the amazing swimming experiences. With so many facilities to choose from, though, you might be finding yourself booking a return trip the next chance you get.