Mīnerva’s: A Day-to-Night California Pool House

Mīnerva’s: A Day-to-Night California Pool House

A Plant-Forward Bar & Restaurant Paying Homage to the Activist Who Safeguarded the Beauty of the Nearby Desert Terrain.

The story of Minerva Hamilton Hoyt is a renaissance one: a desert lover turned desert activist in an admirable pursuit of safeguarding the mysterious beauty of the Coachella Valley. Born from nights spent openly under the bright constellations, Hoyt found solace in the desert’s imperfect ecosystem and devoted her life to awakening the world to its wisdom. Through numerous artistic exhibitions and by mobilizing her community's collective power, Minerva single-handedly preserved the land beneath our feet and, in turn, earned the title 'Mother of Desert Conservation.'

Mīnerva's stands as a testament to her dream, capturing the ineffable allure of the California desert through creativity and manifestation. With a menu that pays tribute to the Valley’s wonders by sourcing local, plant-forward ingredients, Mīnerva's educates guests on the crucial role of each element in the natural ecosystem. The poolside sanctuary and garden clubhouse commemorate the community that rallied around the desert’s vitality under Hoyt's guidance. Meanwhile, the discreet nighttime apothecary hints at the mysticism that enchanted Hoyt—a haven for the imperfect beauty discovered in the desert.

In this interview, Laney Langenstein, Head of Brand at Life House, delves deeper into the inspirations that guided the team in shaping the essence of Minerva at Life House, Palm Springs.


Minerva Hoyt's legacy in desert conservation is extensive. At what specific moments in her life did you find the most inspiration for the restaurant's concept? 

"There was a profound romanticism about Minerva that resonated with us. Following the transformative period after losing her husband, Minerva sought refuge in the desert, spending countless nights camping beneath the bright desert sky. She described those moments as enchanting, inspiring her to preserve its natural beauty. That compulsion undeniably transferred to us as we created Mīnerva's. We aimed to curate a space that evoked those same feelings of serenity and surrender. Consequently, our pool house was designed to truly feel open, inviting guests to yield to the elements and embrace its magnificence—dining alongside the San Jacinto Mountains. Our indoor apothecary offers a respite from the sun, with opulence that encapsulates the wonder of nights spent in the desert, moments cherished deeply by Hoyt."


Hoyt was known for her lavish horticulture installations and photo books. How did these artistic expressions influence the interior and exterior design of the restaurant? 

"At Life House, we strive to create an environment that encourages the freedom of expression in every space. Minerva's enduring vision, in turn, mirrored ours and played a pivotal role in our decision to transform the entire space into an exhibition showcasing the beauty of the desert terrain. A mural by Mojave Desert-based artist Aaron Glasson welcomes guests to our poolside dining area, where cabana-style loungers and fringed sun umbrellas are adorned in dusty desert hues. Our shaded Garden area features fire pits that beckon for starlit evenings, while our indoor apothecary serves as a treasure trove draped in desert flora. Each element subtly weaves together the eclecticism of nature’s imperfections."


How have Minerva's conservation efforts influenced the menu choices, especially regarding sourcing local and sustainable ingredients? 

"Minerva's deep commitment to desert conservation and education is evident in our menu. We drew inspiration from Palm Springs' local American cuisine, reimagining classics with a plant-forward and mindful twist. Each dish has been crafted to be sustainable, featuring locally sourced ingredients that guests can feel good about. This ethos extends to our beverage program as well. Our cocktails, ranging from poolside refreshments to evening elixirs, are crafted with ingredients grown in our garden to minimize bar waste."


Minerva was both a civic activist, community organizer, and a music enthusiast. How have you incorporated elements of these passions into the ambiance of the restaurant? 

"This facet of Minerva's personality was truly intriguing. She had a genuine love for both art and nature, fostering a community around both passions. Our team worked tirelessly to infuse these interests into our regular programming, hosting garden parties reminiscent of the events Minerva organized in Buena Vista back in 1960. Live music, in the form of nu-disco, remains a fixture for us—a nod to Minerva's time at music conservatories and her role in the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. Adaptations of Minerva's photo books are displayed throughout the property, immortalizing her work and offering guests custom Paper Shoot cameras for purchase to capture their own memories."


Are there any personal stories or experiences from the team that align closely with Minerva's life and passions, which subsequently influenced the restaurant's creation? 

"Minerva devoted nearly a decade to advocating for Joshua Tree, which became a National Monument in 1936 and a National Park in 1994. Her determination  inspired us. Our design underwent several iterations to capture the essence of the desert, and her journey reinforced the value in letting that vision evolve. Our hope is to honor her legacy and showcase the understood significance of the desert."

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