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Escape Room Palm Springs

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                          rsz fp escaperoom

If you think that you could solve a series of puzzles in order to be released from a captive situation in a given amount of time, you might want to think again. Such was my experience at the unique desert attraction, Escape Room Palm Springs, which puts your problem solving skills to the test in a fun, heart pumping environment.

I’ve always loved those TV shows where you have to do things in a certain amount of time, be it finish a maze, a plate of food, or in the case of Escape Room Palm Springs, get out of a themed room. It seemed easy enough, so I thought, but it turned out to be an absolutely exhilarating challenge.

Opened since February 2016, Escape Room Palm Springs is the creation of computer and game savvy, Mark and Dominique Fruchtman. The concept is to bring a group of people together in a themed room, give them clues to decipher a puzzle, so they can escape the room in an allotted amount of time. Twisted fun! There are four different rooms, the Saw Room (inspired by the horror film, for adult ages 18 and up), the Dark Shadows Room ( help a vampire back to his coffin before dawn), the Mystery Room ( Da Vinci Code meets the Twilight Zone) and the Titanic Room ( find the key before the ship sinks). The rooms are like walking onto a movie set.

As a special for Halloween for the month of October, the Saw Room is modified into a "Scary Saw Room" where something or someone may be lurking in what is usually an actor/staff free zone. Extra twisted!

My boyfriend and I arrived with anticipation for the experience that we were about to enter. We were greeted by the owner Dominique Fruchman who quickly put our minds at ease that everything was going to just fine. We were then ushered into an orientation room with our game master Holly, and she explained what we would be doing. Then, we were guided into our theme room. I chose the Saw Room. As mentioned, for Halloween the room is geared up with a little something special  to make it just a bit spooky. Usually, the Saw Room is best with 10 participants, but on this night, it was just the two of us. Without giving out specifics of the puzzle, all that I can say is that it was an extreme challenge, filled with clues that we needed to find and figure out in order to solve the puzzle. But unfortunately, the buzzer (45 minutes) went off before we could figure out how to get out….but of course they let you out anyway.

Despite the fact that we didn't beat the buzzer, we still had an Amazing time, and found ourselves talking about it for the rest of the night, and on into the next day. I recommend this experience to anyone looking for unique fun in the Coachella Valley. I can’t wait to go back and experience another room. Big thanks to Dominique, Holly and Austin for a night that we won't soon forget!

Escape Room Palm Springs is opened Tuesday through Friday nights from 6pm to 9:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 9:30. Tickets are $30 per person. It is great for families, friends, couples, and even business groups. The attraction ups the ante in Coachella Valley amusement for not only Halloween, but all year round. 

For more information and tickets visit www.EscapePS.com or call 760-779-8888

           

A New Beginning for JC's Patio Cafe

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                                                        rsz imag0787

Set quietly aside from the main stream restaurant brands on El Paseo in Palm Desert, sits a charming dining spot that has been delighting locals and visitors in the know for over 26 years, JC’s Patio Café. Now, longtime owners Steve and Kate Leech, are passing the baton of their long established business to the very capable hands of local restaurateurs, Casey and Michelle Hutchinson.

JC’s Patio Café is tucked away in the Plaza on El Paseo shopping nook, which is undoubtedly part of its charm. Upon entering the restaurant, it is hard not to notice the collage of photos that line the entry wall, evidence of 26 years of success and patron admiration. The patio shaded with colored umbrellas is the focal point of the café, and is highlighted by a flowing fountain, exuding the soothing sounds of falling water. The restaurant has not only survived in what can be an unpredictable business, but through changing tides has actually thrived, all with a word of mouth mentality, and minus any social media presence. Impressive!

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It’s no wonder that JC’s Patio Café has withstood the test of time in their cozy cutout on El Paseo. Like with most long lasting restaurants, the recipe is a simple one, add great food, an inviting atmosphere and sincere friendly service, and people will be sure to want more. JC’s Patio Café has all those components!

The restaurant has been owned and operated by Steve and Kate Leech. The couple purchased it from the former owners who had only had it for a short time. The Leech’s had been vacationing to the Coachella Valley for years, and after a successful run with businesses in Orange County, decided to settle in the desert for a slower pace of life that they had enjoyed while visiting for so long. 

After a more than successful run, the couple has once again decided to shift gears and retire, to enjoy all that the desert has to offer and that they may have missed over the years while owning a business. But the transfer of business wasn’t a seamless one. The Leech’s took care to find just the right people to take over their beloved café, and they found them in Casey and Michelle Hutchinson.

The Hutchinson’s have had their own brand of restaurant success in the desert with their popular spot, Sunshine Café in Cathedral City. They had the popular eatery for 17 years until the economy turned. They are excited to venture into owning a restaurant once again, and one with such a wonderful reputation and following is a bonus.

JC’s Patio Café has a vast menu and is opened for breakfast and lunch and offers a full bar. Their breakfast items include Blueberry Pancakes, Quiche (Lorraine or Spinach), Greek Scramble (Spinach, Tomato, Scrambled Eggs, Feta Cheese), plus many more. Enjoy their lunch selections such as fresh cold sandwiches or wraps with Turkey, Roast Beef, and even Shrimp, hot sandwiches which include a French Dip, Salmon Burger (Grilled Salmon Patty, Tartar Sauce, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion on a Ciabatta Roll), or the Fresh Mozzarella (Warm Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, with a Basil Vinaigrette, on Ciabatta or French Roll) just to scratch the surface. Their salads are made with their own house made dressings, a delectable trademark of the café. rsz imag0786

The transfer of the business will be shared until the spring of 2017, when the Hutchinson’s will take over completely. One aspect that they will be changing is that they will start opening for dinner, as soon as late November. Perhaps even offering wine tastings and special events. The café will be perfect for dinner service with their romantic patio underneath the starlit desert sky.

It has been an amazing experience for Steve and Kate Leech as owners of JC’s Patio Café, and they have given the community a unique place to dine under the shade of umbrellas in the heart of Palm Desert. Now it will be Casey and Michelle Hutchinson who will carry on with the charming spot, bringing their own special touches to the café, all the while continuing on with its friendly, delightful tradition of being a local dining gem.

For more information call 760-568-0733   

Hayman & Summers Offers Outdoor Living Style

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                                               rsz haymansummers color

Gorgeous desert temperatures are just around the corner in the Coachella Valley, and that means that we will be spending much more time outside enjoying them. Hiking, biking, golfing and many activities await. One of the most important and most frequent outdoor activities is spending time in our own backyards. To get the most out of your outdoor, come visit the exclusive patio furniture showroom at Hayman & Summers in Rancho Mirage for the best in outdoor living furniture and accessories.

Opened in 2010, the Hayman & Summer’s showroom was originally located on the deserts own version of “Rodeo Drive”, El Paseo in Palm Desert. They are committed to give their clients not only the best in high end luxury patio furniture brands and accessories, but also in custom, customer care and assistance. Their staff is well versed in the brands that they offer, and work closely with their clients to help put together the perfect outdoor living space.

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Brands such as Dedon, Tuuci, Les Jardin, Rausch Classics, and many more grace the Hayman & Summers showroom floor. The brands that they carry reflect modernist, contemporary, chic design. Inventory that is usually only exclusive to wholesalers and professional designers in hubs that include, Europe, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, are available directly to clients in the Coachella Valley.

In 2014, Hayman & Summer’s moved their showroom to a spacious location in Rancho Mirage on Hwy 111, next to Lamp Plus and Pirch. The vast space has allowed them to bring even more elite brands to their clients, making the selection of luxury outdoor furniture an eye catching and exciting experience. Clients can find everything from outdoor sofas, dining tables, loungers, bars and stools, artwork, lighting, canopies and a myriad of other outdoor furniture and accessories exuding supreme style.

With beautiful Coachella Valley temperatures coming our way, stepping out into and enjoying our own outdoors at home will take precedence. To bring your outdoor living space to life with impeccable elegance and design, visit Hayman & Summer’s in Rancho Mirage.

Hayman & Summer’s is located at 71-905 Hwy 111, Suite A, Rancho Mirage Ca, 92270

For more information visit www.haymanandsummers.net  or call 760-836-0800   

                                                                                      

Coachella Valley Ghost Story: Erawan Gardens

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                                             rsz erawan garden hotel                                                                       

There is no doubt that the desert landscape is blanketed with glorious beauty, but it also possesses a depth of alluring mystery as well. Honestly, with the amount of history that has taken place here, and the millions of people who have traversed through it over the years, the possibility of there being indelible footprints left behind is certain.

The energy that survives from the past in the Coachella Valley may take different forms. From the deafening silence heard when hiking on the many enigmatic trails, to entering an obviously spirit burdened historic building, or even witnessing a paranormal vision itself. The latter is what I experienced years ago on a golf course in Indian Wells...that's right, I saw dead people. Well, one dead persons ghostly presence at least.

It was years ago in my youth, when there wasn't as much nightlife here in the desert as there is today, and having a good time took a little creativity. In the coolness of the evening one winter, my roommate and I left our meager dwelling in Palm Desert and drove to a lush, green carpeted golf course in Indian Wells, adjacent to the Indian Wells Hotel and behind what is now the Miramonte Resort and Spa, formerly Erawan Gardens (Erawan Gardens opened in 1963 and stood tall in all of its Oriental style glory for 34 years, until being sold in 1996).

We were actually sitting at one of the golf courses that had been used as the home of the original Bob Hope Classic Golf Tournament. So there we were, all bundled up in our desert winter wear (a thin sweater and jeans) staring up at the black velvet and rhinestone sky. We quietly slinked over to a sitting wall next to someone’s house, because the wetness from the grass had seeped through our jeans, making for a slightly swishy, uncomfortable feeling.

We cracked open a couple of beers to enhance our evening and let the surroundings guide our conversation. It must have been the enjoyment of our banter, or the beer that gave my next reflexes such a natural and loose response. A polite soft spoken woman approached me on my left and asked "Do you know what time it is?", and without hesitation I responded, "Sure, its 2:30 in the morning" I said politely, and with a smile no less. She thanked me, and then in what seemed to be a slow motion instance, flashed by us in a white blur and vaporized into the wall.

We snapped our heads towards each-other and gaped in amazement at what we had just seen. Then, without saying a word, we gathered our belongings with lightning speed, and threw ourselves into the car as if we were fleeing an alien attack. The ride home was in silence...as we both tried in earnest to mold our minds around what had just happened.

We could tell by the direction that she came from that she materialized from the Erawan Gardens that was closed and fenced off at the time. But who was she? Why did she want to know what time it was? Did she die before she could make her appointment? Maybe she died after partying at the Erawan Gardens and missed a late night rendezvous with her lover? There were no distinct answers to our questions, the only thing we knew for sure was that we were now believers in the afterlife. A belief that I always fervently defend when confronted with a non-believer who poo-poos any boo’s from beyond.

The desert can be gloriously unpredictable and holds a multitude of secrets. So if you find yourself taking a late night stroll on one of the many golf courses in the Coachella Valley, don't be surprised if you encounter some unexpected company…and don’t forget to wear a watch.

Photo credit to tikiarchitecture.blogspot.com

Halloween Fun in the Coachella Valley!

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                    rsz fb img 1476082672873

It’s The Palm Springs Locals favorite time of year! Halloween brings the desert cooler weather, pumpkins, costumes and all kinds of thrills and chills! It’s the holiday when everyone can cut loose, dress up in a costume and be a kid again, or at least act like one. The Coachella Valley is bursting with all kinds of ways to celebrate this spectacularly spooky time of year. So get ready to get your scare on, and have some Halloween fun in the Coachella Valley!

                        

Idyllwild Haunted Hotel/Ghost Town- Admittedly, Idyllwild is not in the Coachella Valley per say, but it is a beautiful and well regarded fun mountain get-away from the desert floor (only 35 minutes or so). The adorable mountain village boasts Halloween themed fun through the month of October, that has been procuring screams for well over a decade. The Ghost Town is located by town hall, where a temporary structure is erected by a multitude of volunteers who bring their talents to the project that benefits local youth in Idyllwild, “It really brings the community together”, says event rep, Nathan Dejarnette.

The Haunted Hotel and Ghost Town produces chilling fun for guests as they meander through different themed rooms such as the Doll Room and Spider Suite, among other creepy living nightmares. The ghostly fun runs from 7pm to 10pm every Friday and Saturday night through October and of course on Halloween. Tickets are $8 per person for a single entrance and $10 for all of you hard core freaks who want to enter more than once. For more information and tickets visit www.idyllwildghosttown.org.

Escape Room Palm Springs- For a unique, interactive experience, Escape Room Palm Springs is the place to be. This year round attraction is the only one of its kind in the Coachella Valley, bringing thrills and chills, while highlighting survival and competitive instincts.

Opened since February 2016, Escape Room Palm Springs is the creation of computer and game savvy, Mark and Dominique Fruchtman. The concept is to bring a group of people together in a themed room, give them clues to decipher a puzzle, so they can escape the room in an allotted amount of time. Twisted fun! There are four different rooms, the Saw Room (inspired by the horror film, for adult ages 18 and up), the Dark Shadows Room ( help a vampire back to his coffin before dawn), the Mystery Room ( Da Vinci Code meets the Twilight Zone) and the Titanic Room ( find the key before the ship sinks). The rooms are described as walking onto a movie set.

As a special for Halloween for the month of October, the Saw Room is modified into a "Scary Saw Room" where something or someone may be lurking in what is usually an actor/staff free zone. Extra twisted!

Escape Room Palm Springs is opened Tuesday through Friday nights from 6pm to 9:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 9:30. Tickets are $30 per person. It is great for families, friends, couples, and even business groups. The attraction ups the ante in Coachella Valley amusement for not only Halloween, but all year round. 

For more information and tickets visit www.EscapePS.com or call 760-779-8888 for private parties.

Big Horse Carriages Haunted Carriage Rides- Give yourself up to the Halloween spirit with a tour of downtown Palm Springs in a horse drawn carriage. Clippety-clopp your way into haunted tales of Palm Springs with your ghostly guide. Tours run from 8-10pm every weekend through October. Reservations are suggested as space is limited to the living……muah, ah, ah. For more information call 760-660-8860 or visit www.bighorsecarriageco.com

Halloween Carnival & Pumpkin Patch- Light hearted spooky Halloween carnival fun for the whole family awaits you at this community event. Enjoy free trick or treating, carnival rides, games, haunted house, hay maze, beer garden and much more! The event takes place at the Westfield Shopping Mall in Palm Desert on October 14-16 and 20-23. The carnival opens at 5pm on Fridays and 11am on Saturday and Sunday, a minimal entrance fee is required. For more information visit www.facebook.com/HalloweenCarnivalandPumpkinPatch .

Elvira’s Congo Room Halloween Party- Hang out with the original “Mistress of the Dark” at the hip and historic Congo Room inside the Caliente Tropics Resort in Palm Springs on Wednesday, October 26th from 6pm-9pm! Wear your best Elvira costume and compete in the costume contest! DJ entertainment and drink specials plus photo opts with the “Mistress” will make this a great Halloween celebration. Tickets are $10. For more information call 760-322-7353.

Village Fest Halloween- The weekly Palm Springs Village Fest gets a bit ghoulish on Thursday, October 27th from 6pm to 10pm in downtown Palm Springs. Bring the kiddies down for trick or treating with vendors, face painting, crafts and so much more including a Haunted Bus provided by Sunline Transit. Get there early before the candy runs out! Entrance to the Village Fest is Free! For more information visit www.villagefest.org .

Boo!Seum- Dress up in a costume and have goofy fun, at the not-so-spooky kid friendly Halloween event at the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert in Rancho Mirage on Saturday, October 29th from 1pm to 4pm. Kids can sticker treat (a candy alternative), play games, do a scavenger hunt, participate in a costume parade and do science experiments in the Haunted Lab! Great interactive fun for kids! Admission is $9.95 per person. Pumpkin Carving is available for an additional $10 (registration required for the pumpkin carving only). For more information visit www.cdmod.org .

2016 Halloween Harvest Festival- Do some safe-o-treating at this family friendly event in Palm Springs at the Pavilion Parking area at Sunrise Park on Saturday, October 29th from 6pm to 10pm. Enjoy live DJ music, carnival booths, games, refreshments and more! Tickets are $5 for ages 13 and up, and $3 for kids 4 to 12. Game tickets are .25 each or 5 for $1. For more information call 760-323-8272.

BB’s Halloweekend Bash-It is the deserts biggest Halloween bash hands down! The event takes place at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown Palm Springs. Get ready for a party with 3 dance floors, a pool area, 6 huge rooms of entertainment, DJ’s and live bands. And as if one night of scantily clad costumed men and women wasn’t enough, BB has extended the festivities of hot Halloween Hedonism to 2 nights…Friday, October 28th AND Saturday, October 29st….from 8:30pm to 2am both nights. For tickets and more information visit www.partywithBB.com    

Halloween on Arenas- Halloween comes alive at this annual celebration on Arenas Road in downtown Palm Springs on Saturday, October 29th from 6pm to 10pm! Revel in live entertainment with performers, Kristine W., Keisha D., Marina Mac and many more. Enter to win up to $1000 in cash and prizes at their costume contest. A $5 donation is suggested for the event and VIP tickets are available for $60 which include a hosted bar featuring Kettle One vodka, microbrew tastings and a gift bag. The event benefits the Desert Aids Project, Greater Palm Springs Pride, LGBT Community of the Desert and the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus. For more information and VIP tickets visit www.halloweenpalmsprings.com .

Terror Fest- The Date Shed in Indio presents Terror Fest on Saturday, October 29th from 8pm to 2am! The event takes guests to the brink of terror with 5 stages of music, live art and visuals, The Path of Terror and the Haunted Spirits Garden! Food trucks will deliver gruesome goodies. Tickets are $15/$20. Visit www.dateshedmusic.com for pre-sale tickets and more information.

Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade- Now you might be asking, what is Halloween-ish about golf carts? Well, usually nothing, unless you’re talking about scary drivers…Ha! But this year’s theme put the parade in the running as it will be, “Golf Carts, Ghosts & Glitter”. The 52nd Annual Golf Cart Parade rolls down swanky El Paseo in Palm Desert on Sunday, October 30th. It is a yearly craved event by locals and visitors alike. Watch decorated golf carts sponsored by local businesses and organizations blaze by at a snail’s pace, while enjoying vendors, Kids Zone and the beauty of El Paseo. The event is Free to enter, and the vendor’s booths open at 9am with the parade starting at 12pm. For more information visit www.golfcartparade.com .

Living Deserts Howl-o-Ween- Have a Halloween adventure with your family at the wondrous Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Palm Desert on Sunday, October 30th from 10am to 2pm & on Monday, October 31st from 6pm to 8:30pm. Dress in your favorite costume! Kids 12 and under will receive a trick or treat bag to stroll down the trail to collect candy from the many treat stations. Fun includes, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin decorating, face painting, a monster maze, live entertainment and animal encounters with Living Desert Zookeepers. Tickets are $10 per person, members are Free. For more information visit www.livingdesert.org.

There you have it, a variety of ways to enjoy the Halloween season in the Coachella Valley. Choose one, or choose them all, there is something for everyone!! But whatever you do, have an awesomely spookalicious time and get more treats than tricks. Boo!!

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