How the Sands Hotel and Spa Made a COVID Comeback


The Sands Hotel & Spa is close to the California vacation hotspot of Palm Springs and the location of the annual Coachella concert festival. But the resort — the first designer boutique hotel in the prominent and exclusive community of Indian Wells, Calif. — had to put some of their business on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic caused temporary closures and lockdowns throughout the United States.

Fortunately, the hotel has implemented some creative strategies to rebound as they reopened. We spoke to Olivia Prescott, Area Director of Sales for the Sands Hotel & Spa, about the unique architecture, what makes their boutique hotel stand out among the rest, and how they are navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Tell us a little about Sands Hotel & Spa

The Sands Hotel & Spa opened two years ago and is a boutique hotel with 46 guest rooms, including two suites and one presidential suite — each with a unique personality. Using a series of different color combinations, bespoke furniture, and custom textiles, designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard has provided each guest with an individual and unique experience.

The property also features the Pink Cabana restaurant and bar, a full-service spa and private wedding and event garden displaying a combination of Bullard’s Moroccan-inspired influence and a midcentury vibe that is synonymous with the desert’s everlasting allure. With that, the Sands Hotel & Spa is an exotic, luxurious, and personalized take on hospitality.

2. How has Sands Hotel & Spa handled reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Like everyone else, navigating the shifting guidelines has kept us on our toes and limited some of the services we can offer. However, we have been quite successful in adapting to the new norm.

The Pink Cabana restaurant now offers guests a dining experience in our wedding and event garden, which has been upgraded with AstroTurf, misting systems, and bamboo lanterns that suspend from its olive trees. The idea was to tie back to Pink Cabana’s beautiful and much desired interior decor and still give guests the full Pink Cabana experience.

3. Is there anything unique that Sands Hotel & Spa is doing to ensure guest and employee safety and trust now that you’ve reopened?

The whole team is temperature checked and accounted for in a mobile app daily prior to the start of their shift. In addition, there is hourly sanitation in all public areas, along with use of an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer on all poolside surfaces and loungers.

We are also in accordance with our county’s guidelines regarding social distancing, face coverings, and operating requirements. Some amenities have also been suspended temporarily in order to minimize guest to guest contact.

4. How much group business does Sands Hotel & Spa do in a typical year? What type of bookings do you specialize in?

The property produces $1 million in group business annually, which is predominantly from full hotel wedding buyouts and production shoots or photo shoots. The hotel’s design makes for a dramatic and modern Instagrammable backdrop.

5. Has Sands Hotel & Spa created any unique offerings to help with group business during 2020?

The regulations have made it difficult to promote group gatherings, so the focus has been on the leisure guest market currently.

However, since so many of us can work remotely, we have plenty of Angelinos now setting up their office poolside.

6. Has Sands Hotel & Spa had to change the style of group business to accommodate groups during the COVID-19 pandemic?

For the most part, many of our large hotel buyouts have rescheduled for 2021 and 2022, which has been promising. However, we have adapted our group offerings to include packages for microweddings. The smaller weddings still allow a couple and their immediate family to celebrate and tie the knot, while saving the larger reception for the future.

In addition, the once-popular family-style dining has been reformatted back to a plated-style service.

7. Why did the Sands Hotel & Spa start to use Tripleseat to manage group business?

If you could see my smile right now, it would be ear to ear. I cannot say enough great things about Tripleseat and how much easier it has made my day to day responsibilities.

Managing a small property requires all managers to wear multiple hats and I am no exception to that rule. What initially turned me on to Tripleseat was their ability to integrate with other services we were reliant on for our business (such as OpenTable) and how professional-looking and turn-key it was for our customers.

Initial proposals and contracts can be merged into documents that our customers can easily view, sign, and pay digitally. Before Tripleseat, this was all being handled manually previously, as larger systems were out of reach financially for our boutique operation.

8. What is your favorite Tripleseat feature and why?

For me, it’s about the intuitiveness of the software and agile ability to respond to leads anytime and anywhere via the app with various customized responses and stored sales collateral, videos, and images with a simple click.

9. How is the client experience at Sands Hotel & Spa in comparison to other hotels?

The property’s design and aesthetics are carried throughout the property from Moroccan-influenced spa services to the food and beverage experience at Pink Cabana, where beef short ribs, couscous, apricots, orange carrots, and mint tzatziki is presented in a tagine tableside. In addition, much of the tilework, textiles, furniture, and wallpaper are custom to this property created by Bullard, our designer. You can’t find it anywhere else.

10. Is there anything special that Sands Hotel & Spa is looking to do in 2021 that our readers can look forward to?

Just looking forward to getting back to business as usual. We can’t wait!

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of Seated magazine.