257 S. Patencio
Palm Springs, California 92262
A long way from Tangier, nestled in the heart of a Southern California desert, at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, lies an unmistakably Mediterranean experience, Korakia Pensione.
A Moroccan inspired breakfast inn, which consists of two halves (the Moroccan and the Mediterranean), was lovingly re-created by former owner Douglas Smith. With an abundance of architectural elements as well as the whisper of the Mediterranean, Korakia has been internationally recognized by the Times of London and published in many books as one of the top small hotels in the world. Now owned by a boutique hotel group, the Korakia continues to welcome the Palm Springs Photo Festival each year.
Today, Korakia is the WORKSHOP HEADQUARTERS for the Festival. Many of our workshops use Korakia as a location for photography because it is a spectacular location for visual people. Most of our Workshop instructors live and work in the suites – meaning classes are held in a casual and intimate environment, in the suite, on the terrace, around the hotel.
A brief history of the hotel:
Dar Marroc – The Moroccan Villa
Built in 1924, The Moroccan villa, originally named Dar Marroc, was the former hideaway of Scottish painter Gordon Coutts. The villa served as the venue for Coutts to re-create his earlier life in Tangier by employing a wide variety of architectural features that promoted a Moroccan decor. Visitors to the brilliantly whitewashed villa are greeted by such unique elements as the distinctive keyhole shaped grand entrance that houses a set of ornately carved wooden double doors that are further enhanced by its crenellated battlements, which flank the roof of the grand entrance.
A visionary with a dream to re-live his art-filled Moroccan days, the flamboyant Coutts did not stop with the recapturing of his physical existence in Tangier with Dar Marroc, but his social existence as well. He would often be found regaling tales in his studio, demonstrating his artistic and intellectual breadth with such visiting artists as John Lavery, Agnes Pelton, Nicolai Fenshin and Grant Wood. Dar Marroc quickly became the hot spot for the art community. It is rumored that even Winston Churchill has painted in the villa’s Artist Studio, which today still retains its original pine floors and turret windows.
After Coutts’ death, the Moroccan villa had fallen into disrepair. In 1989, Douglas Smith, a leading California architectural preservationist purchased the Moroccan villa and began the process of renewal. Smith returned the villa to its original splendor by removing the Astroturf and linoleum that covered the house’s old stamped concrete floors, revealing the high ceilings that were covered in acoustic tile and then removing the boards that covered the front entrance. Infusing the villa with a Grecian flavor in homage to his earlier experience in the Greek isles (where he owned a successful cafe) and changing its name to Korakia (meaning “crows” in Greek), Smith was able to give the disheveled Dar Marroc an astonishing transformation.
J. Carol Nash Mediterranean Villa
Continuing in the tradition of Dar Marroc, in 1997 Smith went on to complete the renovation of the early screen star, J. Carol Nash’s Mediterranean villa. The 1930s Nash property blends the charm of Southern Europe with North African accents throughout its structure. The main house boasts an impossibly romantic five-room suite, high wood beam ceilings, and indoor/outdoor bathroom (with a stone bathtub made for two) and a massive fireplace. The villa additionally houses five other guest suites as well as surrounding bungalows.
Using a variety of textures and colors, the outdoor area of the Nash property lends an exotic feel to its poolside experience. Guests residing in the Nash House can dip into the mosaic-tiled pool via a palm thatched sun porch, while others may obtain access via a stone path from the street. Within the sun-drenched pool area itself, the villa and the bungalow’s exterior walls greet visitors with a vivid blend of earth-tone hues, that range from deep ocher and rusts to tawny yellows and stone.
The Villas Today – Korakia
Today, the legacy of the original historic Dar Marroc (now the Moroccan villa) lives on. Visitors see an ambitious restoration that brings renewed life to the original villa, creating a Moroccan-inspired hideaway. What the art community once favored during the ‘old Palm Springs era’ continues. Korakia remains a popular rendezvous for an eclectic crowd, including renowned actors, writers, producers and photographers.
The unique environment has become a favorite photo shoot location for the fashion brigade, which includes fashion doyenne Donatella Versace, top photographers, Annie Liebowitz, Bruce Weber and Mario Testino. As well as supermodels/actresses Milla Jovovich, Tatjana Patitz and Yasmeen. Dramatic photo spreads of Korakia have also graced the pages of such leading consumer publications as GA, Jane, Arena, Vogue, Elle, Marie-Claire and their European counterparts.
With citrus blossoms, olive trees, oleander bushes, date palms, bougainvillea vines, gorgeous Moroccan fountains and stone waterfall spread across the Korakia courtyard area, every aspect of the restored villa has fulfilled Smith’s intent to evoke the literary and artistic ambiance of Korakia’s halcyon days.
During the festival week, many of our top sponsors hold court in Korakia’s Sponsor Suites. Plan to stop in and see the latest gear and products while you’re attending our Opening Reception or the Workshop Program. Samy’s Camera will be in their suite this year with discounts on many of our sponsor’s products as well as other cool gear you may have been thinking about. Festival discounts make it a perfect time to pick up the objects you desire at Samy’s suite.