Spa Review: Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs

Ace Hotel & Swim Club exterior
Ace Hotel & Swim Club exterior

I am strolling the grounds at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, California, feeling a bit like grown-up “Wendy” dropped into a groovy desert Never-Never Land. Stark sculptural palms line the property, and the chiseled San Jacinto Mountains loom above me like a cubist landscape sprung to life. Ubiquitous vintage metal chairs brighten the monochromatic color scheme with retro pops of 50’s-era hues, and Neil Young and Bob Dylan have been rocking over the hotel’s speaker system since 8 a.m., creating a soundtrack of “desert cool.”
 
Until a few years ago, this space was a decidedly blah Howard Johnson’s. Then in 2009, the Ace, a Portland-based group with four hip U.S. hotels, seized control and re-envisioned the place, transforming it into a sparse mid-century hideaway for the 20-something Coachella Valley set. Now, the five acres and 173 guest rooms are punctuated by case-study daybeds and outdoor ceramic fireplaces that have been designed by famed hippie artist Stan Bitters.

The Ace isn’t exactly the ideal setting for a fancy spa featuring high-tech French collagen treatments, but it’s a suitable home for an all-organic spa that delights in novel and innovative forms of skin care. And having spent the night observing the Ace’s poolside drum circle—where dancers thrashed under a full moon into the wee hours—I am not quite sure what to expect from my upcoming experience at the Ace’s Feel Good Spa. —By Alison Singh Gee