The Palm Springs Thing: Korakia Pensione

During an especially horrid time in my life, I stumbled on a dream:  an article in Sunset Magazine about a beautiful Palm Springs oasis called “Korakia.”  I tore that page out and pasted it on my bulletin board, promising myself that one day I would visit this magical retreat. 

Years later, that time finally arrived:  our three year wedding anniversary!  Andy had a bit of apprehension about devoting ourselves to complete and total relaxation. Remember, he is “Hiking Guy,” not exactly accustomed to the concept of loafing.  In fact, we had just returned from a whirlwind business trip in Stockholm, so I knew we needed some serious relaxation!

Welcome to Ahhs!

At Korakia Pensione, you are immersed in Moroccan tranquility.  It’s a romantic, discrete, sexy getaway amazing enough to make Forbes’ list of sexiest hotels!  There are two choices at the retreat:  The Moroccan Villa built in the 1920s by Scottish painter Gordon Coutts, and the Mediterranean Villa built in the ‘30s by silent movie actor J. Carrol Naish.  At Korakia, you can soak up sun and scenery baking poolside by either of the two saltwater pools with sprawling views of the San Jacinto Mountains. 

We pick the smallest room on the property, the Adobe Room, with French doors leading right out to the pool.  It has a huge comfy bed and a mini fridge for our wine and charcuterie.  The bed linens, towels, and robes are all scented with lavender and feel like a cloud!  

We slip into our bathing suits, pour some wine, set up a charcuterie plate and head out to lounge on a daybed covered in Bougainvillea petals.  Everything is covered in Bougainvillea petals here!

Our picnic basket is packed with lots of treats to keep our strength up while we chill by the pool.  On board, we have salami, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, brie, cheddar, dried Satsuma oranges, pita crackers, almonds, grapes, Rose City pepper jelly, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

We also have a few bottles of wine, including one very special bottle:  A Blooming Hill Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir.  A red wine might seem a little heavy for hot desert weather, but we were married at their vineyard, and 2011 was an excellent year for Willamette Valley Pinot Noir!

Surrender to Serenity

Reclining on a daybed, taking dips in the pool, wine, the warm desert air full of floral aromas, and music drifting throughout the grounds has us melting into puddles!  Our first day is totally devoted to relaxation and romance.  As the sun sets, the glow of candles, lanterns, and fire pits lights our way.  We sprawl on a daybed in front of a fire pit backed by an amazing waterfall wall, spending the evening sipping before retiring to our room.

Go full screen for a moment of bliss!

In the morning, we saunter to the Bougainvillea-covered patio for breakfast made fresh, and served on beautiful place settings by the fountain, morning light filtering through the colorful hedge.  We are offered French toast dusted in powdered sugar and served with fresh fruit, huevos rancheros, fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, and Moroccan tea.  

After breakfast, we laze by the pool until lunch. Then we stroll a few blocks to South Palm Canyon Drive to eat and shop.  We choose Lulu California Bistro, a cool retro restaurant with an electric chair in the lobby… and a light healthy menu.  

Next up, shopping at boutiques, galleries, and specialty shops.  After several hours, we walk back to Korakia. 

We bake by the pool with nibbles and bubbles: Lagranja Cava from Spain.  (Cava is Spain’s sparkling wine, light and fun like Prosecco.)  Unfortunately, we inquire too late to score a couples’ massage, so I would suggest making those reservations well in advance.

At dinner, we sit by an open-air window at La Casuellas Terraza, a festive restaurant with friendly staff and servers, live music, and delicious food!   My pick tonight:, the Tostada Supreme with chicken.  Andy chooses the spicy Camarones Diablo (shrimp wrapped in crispy bacon with spicy Diablo sauce). Of course, we order Margaritas to quench our thirst.  While we’re dining, a street artist amazes us with a cartoon drawing of us enjoying dinner!  What a special surprise!

Back at Korakia and back in our swimsuits, we find a daybed, spread out, and pop open our most-prized bottle of wine: A Blooming Hill 2011 Pinot Noir.  This special bottle made the long, hot two-week journey from Portland to San Diego in our trunk, and constituted the last drops of our A Blooming Hill collection.  It gathered dust in our wine rack a few more years before arriving in Palm Springs.  Transporting wine in heat and keeping bottles too long (generally six years-ish) are both big no-noes for casual wine enthusiasts.  But we were careful, and on this bottle it pays off!  The wine had mellowed and softened and is more full bodied than its younger self.  The rich blackberry notes pair perfectly with our dark chocolates, dried oranges and the balmy, desert air.  This is the perfect way to toast our anniversary!

In the morning we enjoy more breakfast and pool time before checking out.  We still had one more adventure ahead of us before heading home, but it would require cocktails and tacos at Tommy Bahama to work up the courage.  Andy was making me ride the Palm Springs rotating Aerial Tram!  It soars 8,516 feet up through the Chino Canyon cliffs to the top of Mt. Jacinto State Park.

It was a little exhilaration for “Hiking Guy,” after succumbing to 3 days of relaxation.  The tram swinging back and forth scared me, but the view at the top was worth it!  

Now Hubby is a huge fan of off-the-grid full-relaxation vacations, and asks for them by name!