True to its name, Thermal, California was a blistering 120 degrees, but inside our BMW 335i the AC kept things cool as we burned rubber around a spaghetti racetrack.
Here at the BMW Performance Driving Center in Palm Springs, racing pros teach groups how to safely put the pedal to the metal on a track, drag strip, slalom course and skid pad. It’s team building with a thrilling dose of adrenaline, or as our instructor Johnny puts it, “you can share your near-death racing experiences with your closest friends and colleagues.”
Racing BMWs was just one highlight of our “Summer Chill Destination Experience,” hosted by the Greater Palm Springs CVB last year at the expansive JW Marriott Desert Springs Palm Desert. Fifty key event planners gathered to explore unique desert adventures and venues, and tour the area’s wealth of conference-friendly hotels, including Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, and Hilton Palm Springs in the heart of downtown, plus destination properties such as Miramonte Resort and Spa and the historic La Quinta Resort.
“The primary thing meeting professionals know Greater Palm Springs for is our amazing weather, and outside of the peak summer months more and more planners are taking their smaller meetings outdoors,” says Rick Blackburn, VP, convention sales & destination services for the Greater Palm Springs CVB. “What would you rather do: meet inside a room with four walls and a ceiling, or lounge on couches on the lawn, while staring at palm trees and bougainvillea?”
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JW Marriott and 360 Destination Group presented a team building party-starter where groups took on game-like tasks to break an ice sculpture and be first to reach the key inside. Flamingo-themed cocktails and prizes fueled the fun, as did an international buffet featuring food from the resort’s nine restaurants. Unexpected entertainment was provided by hundreds of teens who were at the resort for a cheerleading competition.
The most conventional space in town is the 180,000-sf Palm Springs Convention Center, which hosts everything from Comic Con fan fests to red-carpet events for the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Located in the heart of downtown, it’s just 1.5 miles from the quaint international airport (nicknamed the “resort-port”) and within blocks of five major brand hotels.
In nearby Rancho Mirage, the exceptional mid-century Sunnylands Estate hosts world leaders and thought leaders for retreats and meaningful meetings as part of the Annenberg Foundation mission. Seven US Presidents have held events here, including President Barack Obama, who made Sunnylands his meeting spot of choice six times, including an international summit to meet with Asian leaders. The 200-acre property has become known as the “Camp David of the West,” but Obama wistfully calls it “beautiful Sunnylands.”
For Palm Springs venue ideas, check out “5 Star-Studded Event Spaces in Palm Springs.”