Casa Cody Gets New Life

The historic resort is renovated and ready for you. 

By Kevin Perry

History and destiny go hand-in-hand. Echoes from the past resonate into our present-day perspectives and guide us forward to a more enlightened future. The dynamic between legacy and advancement is on full display at Casa Cody, the oldest operating resort in Palm Springs.

“It’s been this sort of hidden gem for so long, and it has so much potential,” beams Carolyn Schneider. She is the President and Partner at Casetta Group, the organization responsible for renovating Casa Cody into its latest incarnation. “We love Palm Springs and there are so many amazing, beautiful, historic hotels here. So we feel like we’re in really great company and we’re excited to give Casa Cody a new life.”

The painstaking makeover has spanned over two years. Unlike other hotel renovations, the goal is not to make each room conform to cookie-cutter uniformity. Quite the opposite: each residence must preserve its unique appeal yet add to the cohesive story that unfolds as you stroll the estate.

Various features of Casa Cody have earned the designation as Class 1, which is the highest level of historic protection attainable. Updating the resort requires precision and patience, delineating the façades from the connective tissue of the resort. “We aren’t changing any of the historic pieces, any of the exterior; that all stays the same. Our main focus is on refreshing the interiors and then smoothing some of the pathways and landscapes.”
Schneider’s task is akin to a wartime doctor performing surgery on a minefield. One wrong move could veer the project from preservation to peril. Speaking of battle imagery, Casa Cody welcomed General George Patton’s officers when they trained in 1942. Palm Springs doubled as North Africa so that the soldiers could acclimate themselves to our desert heat before heading off to the frontlines.

Reaching further back in time, Casa Cody was the stomping ground for Olympic athletes during the 1932 Los Angeles games. Delving even earlier into history, the resort shimmered like a beacon for Hollywood royalty like Charlie Chaplin during the silent era of cinema.

The ringleader responsible for controlling the chaos of military heroes, showbiz icons, and sports luminaries rubbing elbows with each other was none other than Harriet Cody. Harriet’s husband was an architect whose cousin happened to be Buffalo Bill Cody. When her hubby died, Harriet was left to run Casa Cody alone, evolving with the times no matter how turbulent they became. She even tried her hand as a stable manager, renting horses to notable Western movie stars like Tom Mix to make ends meet.

Harriet Cody, 1925, Palm Springs Historical Society.

The whirlwind nature of Casa Cody’s versatile history is reflected in the bones of the property. From the taboo romanticism of such guests as Anaïs Nin to the regal esteem of opera star Lawrence Tibbett, the resort is a cacophony of complementary styles. “One of the most exciting buildings on property, I think is the Adobe House, which was built in the early 1900’s,” narrates Carolyn Schneider. She recounts how Harriet Cody “came from Hollywood and had a bunch of friends in the arts community, and they used Casa Cody as a place to perform and hang out, so the Adobe House I would say is one of the more exciting elements. Guests can stay in the Adobe House and just experience it by walking the grounds, seeing it.”

The organic majesty of Casa Cody serves as an aesthetic ribbon tying together its disparate and delightful contours. But there is an unexpected benefit to leveraging outdoor spaces to their full potential. Exteriors provide the perfect gathering spots for the current pandemic era in which we find ourselves.

Adobe House

“Casa Cody is such a great and ideal safe-space,” explains Ms. Schneider. “There are no interior corridors. All of our properties are focused on bringing that outside in, and really being able to experience the nature of the environment where we are.”

Once you migrate indoors, the safety protocols move with you. “Each room has a UV sanitizer in it and we’ve limited housekeeping to departures-only or on-request, and sanitizer and masks are available for all the guests.” Schneider details how these COVID considerations honor the vintage surroundings by instituting unobtrusive innovations from the digital era. “We have a texting system so that if guests don’t want to really have much interaction, they can just text the front desk for anything they need and be able to check out via text too.”

But according to our best guess, you won’t want to leave. Casa Cody is open for bookings at the end of January 2021, ensuring that the New Year will embrace old-school charm. Welcome to history in the (re)making.

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