Idyllic relaxation …
Korakia Pensione is the perfect place to hide away, relax, and disappear for a while.
Located in Palm Springs, California, you’ll find the former rendezvous and secret retreat of renowned artists, nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains. This Mediterranean and Moroccan themed escape consists of guesthouses, bungalows, gardens, and pools. To be fair, they are so spectacular and take on such a plane of their own, that calling them “themed” feels somewhat insulting.
The VIVA GLAM TEAM, holding four persons strong this time, was almost there, hitting Palm Springs in the later afternoon and heading straight to our destination, Korakia. As we drove down the main drag, we gazed upon the storefront windows and predicted which restaurants we thought we would like to eat at during our stay. We were in the middle of everything, and beginning to wonder what kind of “retreat” could exist so close by. But soon the GPS took us off the busy path, and quietness came over the sky.
We located the property and parked. We proceeded to the check-in, completely naive to the experience that was about to envelope us.
We were immediately lured in by the enchantment of Korakia. With citrus blossoms, olive trees, oleander bushes, date palms, bougainvillea vines, and gorgeous Moroccan, petal filled fountains, the artistic part of our spirits were spoken to. The feeling of being in your own world was immediate, and the woman at the front desk became the only person in sight; her and a cat named Sasha. The host’s energy was peaceful and serene, allowing us to remain in this state of wonder. Check in was the easiest we have ever experienced, with a quick “What is your name?” and “Here is your key.” we were off to our rooms.
The peacefulness had already taken over, and gently gliding away from the entryway was somehow both exciting and calming, with every step taking us further away from the outside world.
Our suites were in The Moroccan Villa, the former hideaway of Scottish painter Gordon Coutts. When building this property in the 1920’s, he attempted to re-create his art-filled life in Tangier by utilizing architectural design and promoting a Moroccan decor. Dar Marroc, as it was called at the time, quickly became a gathering place for musicians, visiting artists such as John Lavery, Agnes Pelton, Nicolai Fenshin, Grant Wood, and celebrities such as Rudolph Valentino and Errol Flynn.
Just through the impressively eclectic library, we found the open, private courtyard that accompanied our suites; one right on top of the other. We entered the first, the Adobe Suite and found a very wonderful bohemian energy about it. Then up the multicolor tiled staircase to find my space, the Artist Studio. This studio is gorgeous, quiet, and features a large window the width of the far wall that overlooks the pool area. It was both humbling and thrilling to be staying in the very studio that Winston Churchill is rumored to have painted in!
Both suites filled with undeniable charm, the detail in every minor accouterment so perfectly laid out. Appointed with magically mid-century vintage details, antiques dress the space and old books fill the shelves. There is no TV or phone, and no harsh lighting. (there is Wi-Fi, but you have to ask for it). The level and size of kitchen is different with each suite, but all have coffee – which for most of us, even on a relaxing, decompressing weekend is as pleasant as it is necessary. You can’t accurately describe Korakia as having “great décor;” they have created a complete environment, a capsule in time and space.
Once settled into our digs, we ventured out onto the grounds. Let’s be honest, when a place touts the accommodations, you’re eager to check them out.
Korakia’s Moroccan and Mediterranean Villas are equally stunning. The Moroccan Villa has a perfectly tempered, salt-water pool aligned with a running fountain, and beside it, a stone waterfall spread across the main courtyard with several fire pits. The view is simply beautiful. The grounds maintain daybeds, gardens, and a divine front courtyard with tables where breakfast is served.
In the 1930’s J. Carol Naish, an early silent-screen star, owned what are now known as the Mediterranean Villas. Venturing over to these Villas across the street, we found blends of Southern Europe with North African accents throughout its structure. The main house boasts an impossibly romantic master suite, high wood beam ceilings, an indoor/outdoor bathroom, and a massive fireplace. All of the villas on this parcel are open, bright, inspiring, and every detail creating a breathtaking escape.
Here in the Mediterranean Villas is where you will find the second sun-drenched pool area, this one lined with several fire pits as the centerpiece of the courtyard. These Villas embrace a beautifully simplistic yoga and spa lodge, host a Bocce ball court, and boast an outdoor area where you can lay on a bed of pillows while watching classic vintage movies out under the desert night sky.
Both sets of Villas have picturesque views of the Mountains, and the two sides blend harmoniously to create a true oasis in the California desert. It is all so very quaint, romantic, and intimate … as if it is all just for you.
A Day at Korakia
Begin the day with Meditation. Clear out the clutter and center yourself. Turn your focus inward while filling your senses with the serenity of the desert.
On Sunday mornings, you could greet the day with Sun Salutations and surrender into the bliss of your breath, diving deep as you stir your subconscious into full awareness of the beauty of the day.
Then slip over to a home cooked breakfast in the beautiful Moroccan front courtyard. As a consequence of the ambiance and type of person Korakia Pensione continues to attract, you will likely share this social space with some eclectic artist-types; writers, photographers, actors, and tourists who are clearly “in the know” about where to go on their holiday.
Your day is open and you are free. Soothe your soul poolside, seek to heal through yoga, or pamper yourself with a massage treatment at the indoor/outdoor spa lodge. Join a game of bocce ball, explore downtown Palm Springs on one of their complimentary cruiser bicycles, or spend the day hiking the superior backcountry of Pacific Crest Trail.
In the afternoon, indulge with the traditional Moroccan tea service and take on the daunting task of deciding to have lunch served in your room, your private courtyard, or if it shall be poolside while you soak up some sun.
However you choose to spend your time, you will thoroughly enjoy the energy of and staff of this haven. In addition to being friendly and attentive, the staff somehow manages to all maintain the same level of mellow, graceful, Zen energy in everything they do; from the manager to the host and gardeners, they are all Zen masters.
And as the sun sets, employees walk around and light hundreds of tea lights, candles, and lanterns. The flames flickering through the dusk create a magical note to the beginning of a blissful evening. And that is Korakia Pensione.
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