In ever-evolving Palm Springs, a downtown inn will be converted to a Hard Rock Hotel as the desert city continues to crank up its appeal for younger, hipper visitors.
By year's end, Hotel Zoso on Indian Canyon Drive is to be turned into a 160-room Hard Rock, where guests can borrow electric Fender guitars to noodle on in their rooms or check out a fancy sound mixer to practice their DJ skills.
There are Hard Rock brand hotels, casinos and restaurants across the nation and in several countries. Among them are a Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood and a Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego. Hard Rock also is scouting for a hotel in Los Angeles, said Michael Shindler, executive vice president of hotels and casinos for the Florida company.
Hotel Zoso will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation to give it the Hard Rock vibe, Shindler said, with an amped-up pool scene and a rock-themed bar and restaurant. Music memorabilia, one of Hard Rock’s trademarks, will line the walls.
Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs is intended to appeal to “the vacationer who is looking for a little more activity than riding around the Rancho Mirage golf course,” Shindler said. He also reached out to gay travelers, who have helped restore the city’s luster as a tourist destination.
“We welcome the gay tourist base,” he said.
Lines differentiating gay and straight establishments are blurring in Palm Springs, said local real estate broker Mark Spohn of Sperry Van Ness.
“There is an evolution that says hip is hip,” he said. “It’s a mixed scene downtown.”
Operators of the Hard Rock Hotel also hope to make it a stop for people taking part in the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of the country’s largest concert events.
Hard Rock is licensing its brand to the hotel owners to operate the inn as a Hard Rock franchise, Shindler said. Public records show the owners as the Prieto Marquis family and Zoso Aphm.
Hotel Zoso opened in 2005, according to data provider LoopNet. Industry observers say it's challenging to operate an independent hotel without the benefits of branding and scale that big chains have.
“It can work to be one of a kind, but you have to hit on all cylinders to make it work,” hotel consultant Bruce Baltin of PKF Consulting said.
“The city of Palm Springs is becoming more of a semi-urban resort destination,” Baltin said. “A Hard Rock will add to the energy of it.”