The Saguaro Palm Springs: A Desert Dreamscape of Color

Midcentury design meets modern elegance in the rainbowlike palette of this posh Palm Springs hotel.


An exterior reminiscent of desert wildflowers. A picturesque pool offering escape from the Coachella Valley heat. Guest rooms splashed with bright, vibrant hues. A legendary social scene known around the world. The Saguaro Palm Springs is not only a midcentury design dream but also a hot-spot hotel turned global attraction.

“The Saguaro is always looking for inventive and creative ways to provide the best vacation possible—whether that’s a crafting class, morning yoga on the lawn, or the best possible scene around its swimming pool,” Enos said.

Located in the ultrachic SoCal city of Palm Springs, just an afternoon drive from Los Angeles, the hotel mirrors the very character and personality of the famous resort town. Here we find ourselves allured by the rainbowlike spectrum of 14 complementary exterior colors. The vivid palette marries 1970s California cool with an unexpected modern sophistication that leaves us longing to duplicate its sunny shades.

About the Saguaro

Formerly a Holiday Inn, this hotel hot spot officially reopened as the Saguaro Palm Springs in 2012. The splashy project, in particular its 14-color exterior palette conceived by the Sydell Group and its New York–based architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat, created quite a few waves when it opened. In fact, it was initially rejected by the Palm Springs Architectural Advisory Committee altogether.

”The great thing is the Sydell Group was open to the idea of making the experience of staying in the hotel something about optimism, as opposed to being safe,” Aferiat told Palm Springs Life. "Everyone checks into a hotel that is all about beiges and neutrals. Here, they wanted the experience to be about fun. This is a town that, when you think about it, it’s really about fun.”

Saguaro Hotel

Fun doesn’t begin to describe this visual oasis. Upon entering the lobby, guests are greeted with red bird of paradise flowers, which adorn the walls surrounding the front desk. And the lively Southwestern tones span from exterior to interior, with purple carpeting and blazing color combinations swathing each of the hotel’s 249 rooms.

Design in Color spoke with the hotel’s publicist, Joe Enos, who shed some light on what makes the Saguaro a prime California getaway and go-to design muse.

As it turns out, the Saguaro refused to have the traditional furnishings common in most hotels. Each guest room contains Mexican woven furniture—namely Equipale lounge furniture. These pieces were specifically selected for their natural and comforting elements—the ability to give a warm embrace and be “of the earth.” Guests have become such fans of the décor that pieces can be purchased at concierge. One of these items is the signature striped blanket, custom designed by Stamberg Aferiat and Associates.

If the inviting yellow loungers, pink tables, and orange towels are not enough to create a funky retreat, we’re not sure what is.

Even the culinary offerings here are a nod to Southwestern ambiance. Guests can indulge in a party for their palates when dining at one of three Saguaro eateries. Between the pool bar, Rocco’s Electric, and El Jefe, there are plenty of options for sensory overload. For locals, El Jefe, better known as, “Distrito Federal,” is a major attraction. As Enos put it, “Who doesn’t love tacos and tequila?” He believes the menu and vibe pair perfectly with the aesthetic of the Saguaro. “After all, we’re in Southern California,” he said, “where many of our culinary traditions are rooted in the recipes and products that come from south of the border.”

The vivacious atmosphere has also been translated to the hotel’s expansive pool and lush green courtyard, allowing the social scene to flourish and thrive all year-round. If the inviting yellow loungers, pink tables, and orange towels are not enough to create a funky retreat, we’re not sure what is.

Observing the hotel’s incredible draw for partygoers, Enos remarked, “We’ve developed an international reputation for uncomplicated fun and entertainment programming, especially around the swimming pool, which is one of the largest in Palm Springs. The hotel has a stellar lineup of DJs every weekend during the summer and on special occasions, like Coachella Music and Arts Festival, White Party, and the area’s new electronic dance-music event called Splash House.”

Saguaro Hotel

With artistry and entertainment such integral parts of the Saguaro, it’s only natural that there are organized events and workshops for guests to channel their inner creativity. Recently, the hotel offered a macramé workshop led by Emily Katz, the artist behind e-commerce site Modern Macrame. The class centered on the technique of Mexican weaving, allowing guests to learn what it takes to craft custom pillows, rugs, or lamp shades. Enos said the hotel hopes to introduce more hands-on classes in the future.

“The Saguaro is always looking for inventive and creative ways to provide the best vacation possible—whether that’s a crafting class, morning yoga on the lawn, or the best possible scene around its swimming pool,” Enos said.

In any case, we can’t wait to see how this boutique hotel evolves and continues to employ color in new ways.

The Colors of the Saguaro

Stamberg and Aferiat discovered their inspiration for the Palm Springs resort hotel in the native wildflowers of the Mojave Desert. After all, the hotel’s namesake is the iconic saguaro cactus.

”The desert is a bright place by nature, and the Mojave Desert and San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California are blessed with abundant sunshine—pretty much 360 days of sunshine every year,” Enos said. "The colors of the Saguaro fit well into this bright place, and although not everyone thinks of the desert [as] having colors in it, the hotel offers its guests a pleasant surprise. The color adds to everyone’s sense of relaxation and vacation enjoyment.”

The hotel exterior’s spectrum of colors also pays homage to paintings from Victor Vasarely and Yaacov Agam, and when viewed from various angles or perspectives, these colors take on a different look, depending on the light. And inside, there are no fewer than 52 room-color combinations throughout the hotel.

Saguaro Hotel
Colors shown in palette (top to bottom) are Light Chartreuse 16-10, Maytime Iris 31-9, Iris Mist 1-31, Baby Carrot 8-11, and Shadow’s Secret 27-13.

When looking to the refined shades of Pratt & Lambert, we curated colors that echo the beautiful brights of the Saguaro. To mirror the kaleidoscopic interior and exterior, we found five inspired colors that speak to the building’s effusive energy and technicolor dimension. From a lively yellow green to a calming blue, each hue is pulled from one of the eye-popping combinations that exist within the Saguaro. Our palette includes Maytime Iris 31-9 that reflects an accent on the hotel’s exterior and Iris Mist 1-31, a highlight hue that also accentuates the building's overarching bright shades. Combined with the spectrum of vivid colors—including Light Chartreuse 16-10, Baby Carrot 8-11, and Shadow's Secret 27-13—this collection of refreshing floral tones will bring the fun and splashy sensation of the Saguaro into your next standout project.