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Palm Spings has always known its past; its present and future have proven trickier. The place was once a weekend getaway for Hollywood stars and studio execs. (Name-dropping is a local pastime: Bing Crosby golfed here, Frank Sinatra drank there…) A number of newly refurbished boutique hotels celebrate that era, all of them smart redesigns of historic properties. Still. Frank may have lived here, but Sonny Bono was mayor. For every hip-again hotel, there’s a tacky souvenir shop—one sells hypercolour merchandise exclusively—and a vacant patch of sand. Last year’s real-estate meltdown dashed the city’s revitalization hopes, slowing or killing developments that would have given the downtown core a boost. It’s just as well. That odd mishmash of cool and tacky, old and new, is precisely the appeal of the city of 43,000 (75,000 in winter). There’s also the weather. Two hours after takeoff from YVR you’re immersed in dependable sunshine under endless blue sky. Question to ponder while sipping: how do weather forecasters make a living here?