Palm Springs, CA, has no shortage of luxury resorts boasting spectacular views, perfectly-manicured grounds, lavish spas and a lively dining scene. So with myriad hotels to compete with and new post-pandemic lifestyles to consider, Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs transformed its property into a destination within a destination at the intersection of hospitality and high-end retail. Enter: Palm Springs Escape, a culinary, artist and retail showroom experience hosted in April that allowed hotel and other ticketed guests to explore a carefully curated collection of brands across four days packed with activities and opportunities for connection.
The event kicked off with an on-site drone show at dusk, a first for any U.S. hotel, then unfolded into a robust agenda that offered a little something for everyone, with varying levels of engagement, by design. Even the ticket prices, which ranged from $75 to $1,600, allowed attendees to choose how they experienced the event. And Kimpton strategically arranged activities so that each experience was unexpected in some way, and vastly different from the one before it.
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Among engagements, attendees could participate in wine, spirits and culinary tastings; get an introduction to luxury and emerging designers, artisans and local influencers; and check out classes on sustainability, health and wellness and community empowerment. Attendee-favorite touchpoints included an “LGBTQI 360” event led by artist Sam Kirk, a stargazing hour with Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory and a wellness/charity brunch benefitting Holton’s Heroes, a local nonprofit that provides services for children born with brain injuries.
For Kimpton Rowan, Palm Springs Escape showcased the evolution of its overall business model, and its recognition that even though the post-Covid blurring of lines between work and personal life has prompted people to spend longer periods of time in environments like hotel resorts, the promise of fluffy pillows and a hot tub won’t get them there—they need a meaningful incentive founded on human connection to make the trip.
“We knew that we had to begin to look at our business a little differently as a whole. We needed to connect and create an experience and unexpected touches that differentiated us from any other hotel,” says Christine Delgado, director of sales and marketing at Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs. “Over the course of the last couple of years, people connected more to what was really important to them, and had time and the ability to take a breath and to reflect and to prioritize… So even if everything on the [event agenda] wasn’t something that was close to your heart, you were bound to experience something that was.”
More than a one-off experiential strategy, Palm Springs Escape was the latest iteration of “Brand Closet Showroom Social,” a new hospitality/retail platform the brand may continue to leverage going forward. The platform focuses on the convergence of retail, art, culinary and community at amenity-rich properties where consumers have an experience that is less about buying, and more about relaxation and discovery.
At a time when forming strategic partnerships and raising the bar on the guest experience is crucial for the boutique hotel, the brand says the platform was an appealing solution. And it paid off: Palm Springs Escape earned 880,000-plus social impressions and snagged myriad media placements.
“People are paying more money than they’ve ever paid for certain experiences,” says Delgado. “So, there is certainly creating value, which obviously is what these experiences do. But it goes much deeper than that. It goes to reaching people’s hearts, keeping them in touch with what they’ve really had the opportunity over the last couple years to define as cherished.” Agency: A Non-Agency (campaign platform, event execution).