A Beach Resort in the Desert? Margaritaville Palm Springs CA Review

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A beach resort in the desert? It’s no mirage. The uber popular Margaritaville resort chain transformed an iconic mid-century hotel in Palm Springs into a beach-themed getaway. Does it work for families? Read on to find out.

The writer was hosted.

Margaritaville Palm Springs: Island Vibes in the Heart of the Desert

if winter’s got you down, you might be looking for a beach getaway to a Caribbean all-inclusive. Or, perhaps, you’re seeking an Arizona desert spa escape? What if I told you that you could get both experiences at one resort less than two hours from Los Angeles?

Located on 24 lushly landscaped acres at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains in Southern California, the new Margaritaville Palm Springs is a true desert oasis! It opened in 2020, after a months-long renovation of the former Riviera Resort. The hotel, which originally opened in 1959, has been transformed from a swanky Rat Pack-era hotel to a Jimmy Buffett-inspired laid-back resort.

Read More: California Vacation Ideas for Families

The result of this transformation is a tropical oasis just minutes from downtown Palm Springs. The first Margaritaville property on the West Coast, Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs combines the chic, mid-century design Palm Springs is famous for with a casual, beachy feel.

From the poolside bars to the family-friendly activities, you’ll feel like you’ve been zipped away to an island getaway.

Margaritaville Palm Springs
Welcome to Margaritaville Palm Springs! Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

The Hotel

Margaritaville Palm Springs
You’ll feel like you’re on vacation the moment you walk into Margaritaville’s lobby. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs is laid out like spokes on a wheel, with six guest buildings spreading out from the central hub, where you’ll find the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar, fire pits, lounge chairs, cabanas and the main pool. The hotel lobby is bright and airy, with Margaritaville’s signature giant flip flop, and lots of cheerful little seating areas to enjoy. You’ll feel like you stepped into a beach resort the moment you check in.

Some people may find the sheer size of the resort overwhelming (it took us a bit to get our bearings!). But once you find your way around you will realize this feature is what makes the resort so unique and charming. There are sprawling lawns and lots of secluded areas, so if you want to be outdoors but away from the busy pool area, you have lots of options.

Additional buildings branch out the back, housing event space and meeting rooms and a second pool. There is also an onsite 11,000 square foot spa, St. Somewhere Spa (Palm Springs’s largest resort spa), located right near the main pool. It is a full service spa, offering facials, massage and even pedicures to get your toes pool-ready!

Read More: Margaritaville Cancun Review: All-Inclusive Casual Luxury in Mexico

Margaritaville Palm Springs
Brightly-colored signs help you easily find your way around this expansive hotel. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

What Works for Families

  • Large, comfortable rooms
  • Rooms with one or two king size beds
  • Two outdoor pools
  • Free parking
  • Cozy fire pits
  • Free bike rentals
  • Free internet access
  • Close to downtown Palm Springs
  • Lots of on-site and nearby dining options
  • Super attentive and friendly service

What Doesn’t Work for Families

  • Sprawling property can make for a long walk if your room is not situated by the pool or lobby area
  • Weekends can pose a more adult, rowdy atmosphere, and higher prices. It’s quieter mid-week and there are often price promotions too
  • Some of the restaurants are very pricey
  • Hot summer weather (this is the desert after all!)
Margaritaville Palm Springs
You’ll find plenty of space in your hotel room and bathroom at Margaritaville Palm Springs. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Rooms

There are 398 guest rooms and suites, many with balconies, and all featuring great amenities including refrigerators, coffee/tea service, a hair dryer, free Wi-Fi, 50” LCD smart TVs, large bathrooms and lush linens.

Rooms are decorated with fresh, bright island-inspired decor, comfortable furnishings and plenty of thoughtful amenities that effortlessly blend together for a casual and carefree stay.

There are a variety of room types available, from standard rooms with one king bed and a sofa bed to premium rooms with two king beds. Most rooms have a patio or balcony.

I visited recently with a girlfriend and our two sons. We found our room with two king beds perfectly comfortable for four. (Much better than the typical two queen beds!) There was a big desk, lovely outdoor patio and huge bathroom with a separate free-standing tub. The boys enjoyed plugging in their laptops and relaxing in the room, making it easy for us moms to slip away for the evening, knowing our tween sons were safe and happy.

Additional buildings branch out the back, housing event space and meeting rooms, and a second pool. There is also an onsite 11,000 square foot spa, St. Somewhere Spa (Palm Springs's largest resort spa), located right near the main pool. It is a full service spa, offering facials, massage, and even pedicures to get your toes pool-ready!
Enjoy poolside snacks at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Dining at Margaritaville

It’s not paradise without delicious food and drinks, and the island-inspired bars and eateries at Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs definitely added to the vacation atmosphere. Whether you’re in the mood for a burger, chips and salsa, a poolside frozen margarita or something a little more upscale, Margaritaville has you covered.

The hotel features two sit-down restaurants, both with indoor and outdoor seating. We dined at the Come Monday Café, which is located off the lobby and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The outdoor patio at night is simply magical, with firepits and lanterns hanging from the trees, and the food was very good, as well! Kids are welcome. JWB Grill is a more upscale restaurant, located adjacent to Come Monday Café.

For poolside drinks and bites, the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar provides the perfect spot to relax in the sun. You can order at the bar, or waitstaff will take your order and bring food right to your chair.

If you are looking for a quick coffee or food to go, Joe Merchant’s Coffee & Provisions, located in the lobby, offers drinks, breakfast items, salads and sandwiches. This spot is also the resort’s gift shop. Room service is also available.

Margaritaville Palm Springs Pool
Margaritaville Palm Springs has two large outdoor pools. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Things to Do at Margaritaville Palm Springs

Perfectly positioned in the very heart of Palm Springs, Margaritaville Resort has no shortage of activities both at the resort and nearby to make your stay a memorable one.

We spent two enjoyable afternoons at the pool. There were great tunes playing, making for a very lively atmosphere. We were even able to order lunch and eat it right on our lounge chairs! A good thing, since it didn’t require making the boys dry off and change to go to the restaurant. Cabanas are available if you want to splurge.

Borrow one of the hotel’s bikes – included with the resort fee – and ride into town for a coffee or frozen yogurt, or just to see the sights.

With two swimming pools, lawn activities, spa, tennis courts and fitness center, surely you can fill a whole weekend without ever having to leave the property. But take the opportunity to wander! Palm Springs has a whole slew of family-friendly activities you can enjoy with your kids.

Nearby excursions include:

  • Palm Springs Art Museum
  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
  • Numerous Golf Courses
  • Indian Canyons
  • The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
  • Desert Hills Factory Outlet Mall

Check out this article for more Cool Family-Friendly Desert Adventures.

With so much to see and do at Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs, you’ll have to force yourself out of the comfy poolside lounge chairs, but make sure you do! After more than 60 years as a premier desert resort, the rich history of this property awaits a whole new generation of Palm Springs’ vacationers.

Gwen Kleist is an award-winning travel writer and author based in Southern California. She is the mother of one very active son who shares her love of travel and adventure. She is the owner and publisher of CaliforniaFamilyTravel.com, a family travel blog dedicated to sharing the best destinations and experiences in California and beyond! Her articles have also appeared in San Diego Family Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Cat Fancy, Huntington Beach Magazine, and she was a contributing author to Explorer Publishing’s guidebook, Los Angeles: The Complete Resident’s Guide.
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