Thursday, April 19, 2007

As the korakia flies

the following post is from my guest blogging post at sfgirlbybay.. For years, Palm Springs has been a quick get away for the smog laden folks of L.A. (it's about a two hour drive due east). Once there, the air is clear and still, the mornings fresh and quiet. The mountains appear as cardboard backdrops to this arid oasis. It's a place that seems to make the rest of the world melt away. With the Palm Springs resurgence of mid-century modern enthusiasts, it seems that everyone from Kelly Wearstler to the guy who cuts my hair, is taking old funny, flat roofed apartment buildings and outfitting them in Saarinen, Nelson, Eames, and Bertolia. And doing it with such a deft hand that it all looks fabulous. However, it seems that now days, you've seen one, you've seen them all. It's becoming a tad ho-hum. This is why, when I turned down a neighborhood street and saw a chalky, white Moroccan building with heavily carved wooden doors from another century, I had to see more. Pushing through these doors, revealed a dusty little front yard with the most fragrant Valencia orange trees, a trickling fountain and a little table with blue bottles dripped with the wax of a hundred candles. A large, arched, open doorway with a huge swinging lantern opened into the tiled vestibule. Right away, I was taken. Someone was up to something special, and I needed to be a part of it. Korakia, Greek for crow according to Doug Smith, current owner and architectual restorer, has historical significance in Palm Springs dating back to the 20s when it was built as a pensione for artists and writers. The hip decor includes hand-carved four-poster beds draped in hand washed, sun dried linens. The rooms are appointed in a spartan way using campaign furniture, original wood floors surrounded by adobe walls. All around are African and Balinese influences (and 7th grade artwork from his, now grown, daughter--gotta love it! I can say this, after you walk through the entryway and out to a beautiful private pool (with a wonderful mosaic of a crow embedded in the bottom) you do not feel that you are anywhere remotely close to Los Angeles. or even California for that matter. You are suddenly, transported to Tangier and all of your cares are forgotten. Lazy dogs, lie around in the shade of a bougainvillea canopy, the employees, pad by in chic white, wrap skirts designed by 'dosa' (which are for sale and I snagged one!) The sound of a waterfall and the white flower perfume of the citrus trees is pure heaven. Guests enjoy, basking in the sun on old fashioned, wheeled, metal chaises. A panini lunch with a yummy salad is offered at lunch time for any takers. There is no menu, just sort of the attitude of 'hey I was thinking of whipping up a panini and a yummy for some?" sha! Every morning out on the front patio, the guests can sit at little farm tables covered in bleached out cotton cloths and sip fresh squeezed o.j. while waiting for whatever little concoction they had provisions for that morning. Smith, wanders from table to table chatting up the guests while reprimanding a random dog for swiping a piece of french toast off of distracted guest's plate. It's all very euro-homey but at the same time- it feels luxurious and sophisticated. It's as though you are the house guest of an eccentric, ex-pat friend who decided on building a b&b in a place he fell in love with while on holiday. You expect to sit at a long table, with exotic co-guests for a communal dinner, drinking a lot of great wine--'Stealing Beauty' style. The only difference is that through that gate, around the corner and down the street sits an 80s built marriott. This is a place that doesn't advertise, because as Smith says, and I paraphrase, "I only want people that my guests want to be around, so I depend largely on word of mouth" And you know who you are if this sort of attitude gets you so excited! Come Monday morning, when I woke up, in my own bed, back at home, I had that funny displaced feeling you get when you get back from traveling to a foreign country. photo credits: dog, windows & front yard--

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