Palm Springs: Designer Vaca 2018

I made it back home to Toronto! I left sunny Palm Springs at 40 degrees and landed in a cool 3 degrees. I actually don’t mind the temperature change as I’m not really into hot weather. I was in Palm Springs for 5 days for Designer Vaca. What is Designer Vaca? It’s sort of an anti-conference where you can…


I first learned about Designer Vaca from a designer blogger, Nubby Twiglet. It looked really cool and it was in beautiful Palm Springs! The price of the ticket and hotel was always what kept me from going but I decided this year that I would go. I wanted to meet other designers and make new friends while learning more about my craft.

The ‘conference’ is held at The Ace Hotel which is a really cute, trendy hotel. It’s definitely the perfect place to host a bunch of designers. The rooms had a ‘summer camp’ vibe going on and I loved it. The hotel isn’t cheap though, especially with the conversion from the Canadian dollar. I decided to stay at the Ace for two nights for the conference and the night before and after I stayed at the Caliente Tropics, the Caliente was half the price and right next door. The Ace was definitely cozier but the Caliente is clean, has a pool and really nice staff so it was a great alternative.

So what did we do at Designer Vaca? First, I’ll say that when I purchased the ticket I thought it was a 3 day thing because on their website it says October 24-26. When I purchased my ticket I got an email with a loose itinerary which explained that there will be a cocktail reception on the evening of the 24th so everyone can meet each other, a full day of talks etc on the 25th and a chance for breakfast with pals or something along those lines on the morning of the 26th. The itinerary did change later on, while we were at the conference. Two additional talks were added to the morning of the 26th, which they told us about via email on the 25th.

The evening reception was a lot of fun, there was a photo booth, some appetizers (not vegan & gluten friendly so I couldn’t partake) and we got 1 free margarita. I met a lot of cool people and sat around the fire until the cocktail meet-up was over at 10pm. Originally in the itinerary it said 7pm until late.. I don’t know if 10pm is late but I was ready to go to sleep anyway.

The next morning I grabbed some breakfast with a few of the ladies I met the night before. We all went to the Parker hotel to grab brunch at Norma’s. This hotel is BEAUTIFUL. The breakfast is $$$$$$$ and they don’t have many vegan/gluten free options unfortunately. My only option  was a piece of toast with berries for $18USD, which I was okay with because all the other breakfast options were almost $30USD so at least I didn’t have to spend nearly 50 bucks Canadian on breakfast. If you’re into instagram photo shoots than this is the hotel for you, just see for yourself.

Breakfast at Norma’s
The reception area at the Parker hotel

Okay, so after breakfast we started the conference talks at 10am. The first lady to speak was Arian Simone, she was so inspiring and I’d say she was the highlight of the conference. She was amazing at speaking and had a lot of really great advice. After Arian was Kathleen from Being Boss Club who was bad ass and kind of reminds me of Juliette Lewis. After those two ladies everyone broke out into ‘pods’ where we discussed things like work life balance, work flow tools, passive income etc. It was nice to hear other people’s experiences and chat with the other women at the conference. After this we had a lunch break from 1 -3, then were supposed to have another talk at 3 and then 4pm. I missed the 3pm speaker ‘cuz I was busy looking at vintage shops (I suggest Gypsy Land Palm Springs.)  When we got back for the 4:00 talk, we found out the space they had booked didn’t work out and they were moving it to the patio of someone’s hotel room.. which wasn’t going to fit over 100 people so we decided to continue the break instead of cramming in patio in the desert heat. (There was another 2 hr break after this talk from 5-7).

After our extra long break it was time for dinner and the keynote speaker. The dinner was great, it was a help yourself style layout with tacos! I love tacos so this was best case scenario for me. The keynote speaker was Sarah Dubbeldam from Darling, magazine. Sarah is really awesome and has a great message. I had never heard of her magazine but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn more about it. The night ended with the hosts jumping into the pool and everyone clearing out at 10pm. There were some last minute talks added to the following morning, however I decided to join new friends on an adventure to the Palm Springs Arial Tramway!

The tramway takes you to the top of San Jacinto Peak, this ^ was the view . It’s about 30 degree (Fahrenheit) cooler than at the floor level so I was super exited for this! We had lunch up there and did a bit of walking around. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the Palm Springs sign to take some jumping instagram boomerangs.

I loved visiting Palm Springs, all the Uber drivers were SO NICE. It’s sunny everyday, the houses are picture perfect and their design is BAR NONE. I don’t think I could live there because of the heat, but I’d love to for basically every other reason. Although, I did have struggles finding food that suited my IBS needs.

As for the conference, I wouldn’t go back again. I thought the speakers were great but I didn’t learn a lot, it would have been nice if it were a couple days with more workshops. I also got some ‘mean girls’ vibes from some of the women. I did find a few women that were really awesome and I am glad I met them but I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in high school. I think if you’re looking for a conference with endless instagram photo shoot opportunities than this might be for you, but in the end it just didn’t feel like the right one for me but I’m still glad I went.

I think my favourite thing to do while there was take pictures of cacti and typography 🙂

Well, that’s all! Maybe next year I’ll head to Adobe Max!

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