Nearby, a far cry from routine

Times Staff Writer

With war making some travelers jittery about flying, new or newly expanded hotels in the Palm Springs area are poised to welcome Southern Californians looking for a getaway close to home. Notable additions include:

* Estrella: The 74-room Palm Springs boutique hotel, sister of the Avalon in Beverly Hills and the Viceroy in Santa Monica, has finished a major redesign that features a new restaurant by chef Tim Goodell, whose other restaurants include Aubergine in Newport Beach and Whist at the Viceroy. Citron, described as an “eclectic California/French” restaurant, is scheduled to open Tuesday.

The hotel’s spa opened about a week ago, offering indoor and outdoor massage, facials and other treatments, plus yoga, tai chi and Pilates classes.

Peak-season rates start at $149 a night. 415 S. Belardo Road; (800) 237-3687 or (760) 320-4117,


* Springs Hotel and Spa: A 1935 motel in downtown Palm Springs has been gutted and expanded to create a 25-room boutique hotel, tentatively set to open in late May.

Landscaping and decor will be similar to Andalusian Court, a sister property in Palm Springs that opened in November 2001 with villas set around courtyards, fire pits and water fountains. Guest rooms at the Springs will have fireplaces; some will have Jacuzzi tubs.

Nightly rates will run $149 to $255. 227 N. Indian Canyon Drive; (760) 416-1388,

* Desert Star: The owners of the popular Hope Springs inn in Desert Hot Springs are converting a Palm Springs condominium complex into what they call an “almost-underground, self-service inn” because of its tiny size, residential location and lack of housekeeping service.


Four of the complex’s seven units have been redesigned into 600-square-foot studios with a hip, minimalist-modern look. Each has a full kitchen, sitting area and private patio. The hotel is not listed with directory assistance. Owners, who live on site, refer inquiries to the Hope Springs Web site.

Rooms are $110 per night. 1611 Calle Palo Fierro;

* Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa: This Indian Wells hotel has opened a 30,000-square-foot spa as part of a $65-million renovation and expansion. Gone is an 11,500-seat tennis stadium. In its place are Agua Serena Spa and 141 more guest rooms, bringing the total to 479.

Published rates start at $365. 44-600 Indian Wells Lane; (800) 233-1234 or (760) 341-1000,


* La Quinta Resort & Club: A three-year, $60-million improvement project wrapped up last month. All 800 guest rooms have new furniture, carpeting, artwork and other refurbishments. The project includes 177 new “spa villas”; cabanas around some of the resort’s 42 pools; a French seafood restaurant, Azur; and the most recent addition, an expansive children’s playground.

Peak-season (through May 4) published rates start at $405. 49499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta; (760) 564-4111,