How Palm Springs Became a Bachelorette Party Destination
Venues like the Ace Hotel & Swim Club have made Palm Springs a bachelorette party Mecca
Photo by Ed Carrasco
Across the nation, affianced young women and their ladyfriends have gained a reputation as puke-stained, shallow monsters wielding tiaras, dick straws and the ability to shriek high enough to break glass.
Until recently, these sorority-like shenanigans were contained in Las Vegas or Cabo, cities known for encouraging the worst kind of day-drinking, vodka-shooting debauchery. But in past years, these hordes of sash-wearing females have discovered a new pre-wedding playground: Palm Springs.
Descending upon the once-quiet city like troops charging into battle, bachelorette parties have become de rigeur in a town previously known for its tasteful commitment to mid-century modern design, sleepy brunches, poolside reveries and hosting tired retirees in their Golden Years. And locals have noticed: "There probably isn't a weekend night [during summer months] that I go out without seeing at least a couple bachelorette parties," says Lizbeth Scordo, a part-time resident. "I used to see zero, and now it's at least a few a weekend."
As recently as 2008, says Scordo, things were markedly quieter between May and September. "The first time we were out here, we had just bought our house," she says. "I remember walking around town and it was really dead, really quiet, a lot of places were closed."
In 1999, though, Coachella parked its hippie festivities in nearby Indio. At first, the show drew only serious music-lovers. But soon, more and more young urbanites turned their beaded-headband-wearing heads in the direction of that drug-saturated summer festival — and so, too, did developers with an eye for the trendy. In 2009, the Ace Hotel and Swim Club opened its doors. The Saguro Palm Springs followed suit in 2012.
Now, Palm Springs is as much a destination for celebrating newly acquired blood diamonds as it is a peaceful retreat.
One L.A.-based young woman planning a bachelorette party for a friend notes that Palm Springs offers many of the same trappings as Vegas, but without the lines, bottle services fees, and crowds. "We went [to Vegas] for another girl’s bachelorette, and it was fun, but we don’t need to re-do it," she says. "We’ve all been to Palm Springs before...and we know how to party down there. Enjoy some non-crowded pool time, get drunk, and go out and party. All in all, I feel like it will be a much less expensive trip, and also only a couple hours away."
Denise Neil, who runs the blog The Palm Springs Local, says she's noticed the trend too. "In summer and spring, there's an influx — you'll see groups of girls in clusters, you'll see like five bachelorette parties in a night. You'll see them with veils on, some white and some black. They walk around with penis hats and cups."
For bachelorettes on a mission to party, there is a military-grade script to follow. It goes approximately like this:
- Arrive at a destination.
- Eat dinner.
- Find a bar.
- Go to the bar.
- Announce the bachelorette's arrival, either via visual cues or outright yelling.
- Play some games, including but not limited to kissing strange men, lap dancing on strange men, and treasure hunts (often rapidly abandoned).
- Make a horrible life choice.*
- Pass out.
These activities can be easily accomplished, it turns out, on the clean-swept streets of Palm Springs. Palm Canyon Drive, the town's main drag, is walkable, and a bus called the Buzz now shuttles revelers around the area.
The introduction of a new, younger demographic has also ushered in a swell of fresh restaurant and bars. Workshop serves craft cocktails. A newly minted day-drinking party recently debuted at the Hacienda Cantina. And Costa's at the J.W. Marriott has zeroed in on brides-to-be like a tractor beam. A recent article in The Desert Sun notes that the newly refurbished club offers a champagne lounge, including a cocktail that's made with Perrier Jouet, Nuit Blac Rose and edible diamonds. "We want to appeal to females," Mirko Marchi, the hotel's director of restaurants, told the paper.
Of course, the bachelorette's options needn't be limited to the new. The Village Pub offers two sprawling floors in which young women can lose touch with one another, text frenetically and then be reunited in tearful embrace. There's Las Casuelas for the margarita aficionado, as well as Zelda's, a more traditional nightclub. And the town's legendary gay bars provide no end of entertainment for the young lady unaccustomed to seeing shirtless men dancing of their own accord.
Indeed, in a post on the website Girls on the Grid, "Gay Clubs" are listed as a potential bachelorette party destination alongside actual businesses like Zelda's, the Viceroy and the Village Pub. "Palm Springs hosts a more than a couple of gay clubs that are supposedly super fun," they write. "I have not yet made it to those establishments, but I’ve heard good things."
The Saguaro, another pool party destination in Palm Springs
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff
On occasion, bachelorette party festivities will also include some manner of spa treatment, which are readily available at hotels like the Parker, the Riviera and the Miramonte. There, people of all ages and genders can choose from a variety of treatments such as sugar scrubs or hot stone massages. For the hungover 20-something, this portion of the weekend can serve as a relaxing way to sweat out the near-fatal level of alcohol consumed the night before, or a safe space for the non-betrothed to cry in private that it isn't her turn. (Why isn't it ever her turn?!?)
Given the whirlwind of emotions, debris, glitter and dignity left in the wake of bachelorette celebrations, it will perhaps come as a surprise that the ever-open-minded locals of Palm Springs welcome these packs of roving vaginas with open arms. "I haven't really heard people complaining about it," says Neil. "It's great for bars and restaurants, it brings a lot of money. At the end of the day, we're happy to have them."
"If it were, like, dozens of them taking over everywhere, maybe people would not be as welcoming," adds Scordo. "Once in a while we'll talk about, 'Hey, isn't it crazy how much busier things are in the summer,' and one of those things is bachelorette parties. It's more like, 'Isn't it amazing how Palm Springs is this summer destination?'"
The bachelorette takoever of Palm Springs seems likely to only continue to grow. "There are just a lot of things that are welcoming for people who want to come in for a weekend," says Scordo. "I think it's only going to increase in terms of drawing in travelers."
Palm Springs residents, gird your loins.
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