PALM SPRINGS, CA—Design is often a combination of exquisite taste and the thoughtful execution of a client’s needs, but it’s also about knowing how to enhance a space without disrupting a longtime vision.
A multimillion-dollar refresh of the L’Horizon Resort & Spa, formerly The Horizon, by owner and Los Angeles-based designer Steve Hermann, is an elegant balancing act of respecting the existing bones of the resort property and introducing creative, yet modern elements to highlight and elevate its look and feel for today’s travelers.
Built in 1952, the L’Horizon was originally a private residence and a group of 20 guest homes commissioned by film producer Jack Wrather (The Lone Ranger) and imagined by architect William F. Cody. Designed in a midcentury-modern style, the bungalows once housed legends of film and leaders of the free world—from actresses Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable to former presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, and many more.
When the opportunity to own and then make enhancements to the desert hotspot arose, Hermann leapt at the chance. He’d been eying the property for some time.
“I am a big fan of Cody, and I believe we did right by him. We didn’t change a single thing about his architecture; the interiors had long ago been removed, so there was no conflict there. We added a restaurant whose architecture and finishes look the same as the original building’s, including the white slump stone walls. It looks like it was always there,” shared Hermann.
For the refresh, Hermann was inspired by the resort’s storied past as a residence for Hollywood’s elite and reimagined it to look like a residence, with each room telling its own story crafted through the nontraditional sourcing of furnishings and replication of luxe amenities found at the celebrity homes he designed.
“The hotel had been operational until I purchased it. We respected the architecture but redid the interiors to modern standards. I designed the rooms to the same standards as when I am doing a celebrity’s home in Los Angeles. We also replaced the existing pool with an infinity-edge pool similar to the one you will find at Vera Wang’s estate. The landscaping was also replaced and enhanced,” he explained. “I designed it as a 25-bedroom house. No two rooms are the same, and we used residential-grade furnishings, mixing collectible vintage and new modern pieces, then selecting items that are bespoke or from small-batch manufacturers. You end up with a really unique, really artisanal product.”
Rooms feature high-end amenities such as 12-in.-wide-plank, matte-oak flooring; brass Forbes and Lomax wall switches; walnut and marble bathrooms; Percival Lafer and George Multiuser chairs; and hand-sewn hide-on-hair rugs. In addition, there is original artwork by Rob Gordon and Midnight Modern; and lighting by Brendan Ravenhill and Buster & Punch. Amenities include 600-thread-count Frette linens and Le Labo toiletries.
“Very few multimillion-dollar homes have this level of quality, never mind hotels. I am someone who is not happy with second best. I wanted this hotel to equal or surpass the best hotels in the world, many of which I have been lucky enough to visit. I designed the hotel to exceed the standards of the places I travel to,” Hermann said. “Everything in the rooms is available for sale, including the custom mattresses and vintage furniture. If you find something on the property you can’t live without, you don’t have to.”
Currently, there are plans to build an additional 24 rooms this summer in a design independent of the pre-existing spaces at the expansive retreat, according to Hermann.
“We wanted the [additional rooms] to be in keeping with the period and the time. I wanted to create a wing of the hotel that’s distinct on its own, but still carry through many of the design elements of the rest of the property without being, you know, just a replica of the original design,” he said.
Inspiration fueled the planning and execution of the project and, according to Hermann, he is deeply influenced by residential furnishings and finishes as well as the lines of the Cody property. In an effort to honor the original design, he set out to upgrade the resort to the kind of luxury one might’ve experienced in the 1950s.
“I wanted guests to feel like they were staying in a very wealthy friend’s guest house. That drove the final touches. After the renovation began, I hired Palm Springs local Jordan Fife, who knew the operations side of hotels. Once we really dove in, we found that we had a good collaborative process, and he was able to execute my vision. Jordan was instrumental in the layout of the restaurant and kitchen. He is now my director of development for Steve Hermann Design and Steve Hermann Hotels,” he said.
A mix of modern luxury with vintage touches, there are elements that evoke a taste of ’50s chic while being immersed in contemporary appointments, according to Hermann.
“I design multimillion-dollar homes for celebrities that are rarely seen by anyone. I wanted to bring my residential influence to a property that could be experienced and enjoyed by guests who might not ever be able to purchase one of my homes,” he said. “The natural elements of the property create this sun-drenched modern resort that fits the iconic Palm Springs aesthetic, but we have tried to elevate the entire experience for the luxury traveler that is looking for more than just a cool looking place.”