Car Review: 2021 Lexus LC 500
Daycation to Margaritaville in a Japanese V8
I took a trip to the new Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs with my companion: a 2021 Lexus LC 500 - the fastest way to get Cheeseburgers in Paradise.
By Reed Berry
Sun, Jan 3, 2021 12:00 PM PST
“Fins to the left. Fins to the right.”
There’s a feeding frenzy in Palm Springs tonight!
No doubt about it. All the land sharks and faithful “Parrotheads” (fans of legendary musical performer Jimmy Buffett,) including yours truly, are heading to southern California’s Coachella Valley to check out the new Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs, the first Margaritaville Resort on the west coast.
If you’re unfamiliar with the music of Jimmy Buffett, the song "Margaritaville" was released in 1977, and the rest is music – and business – history. The song was an instant hit, receiving a tremendous amount of airplay on radio stations. Most songs, even chart toppers, have their moment and eventually fade away but, 43 years later, the song and laid-back lifestyle it represents are more popular than ever.
I’ll bet that not many performers write a song and expect it to evolve into a business empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but that is exactly what Margaritaville has done. There are Margaritaville-branded margarita blenders, footwear, bicycles and other colorful "merch,” as well as Margaritaville restaurants, casinos and even retirement communities, operating under the name Latitude Margaritaville. And now, Margaritaville Resorts are popping up in popular travel destinations throughout the U.S. and around the world.
Getting to the resort today will be half the fun, if not more, as I am driving a gorgeous 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible. It’s sleek, powerful and colorful and, with the top down on this beautiful sunny SoCal day, it seems like the perfect car for my Margaritaville adventure. This car has major eye appeal inside and out. Clearly, Lexus has spared no attention to detail.
The leather-trimmed seats are very comfortable and all controls are within easy reach. In some convertibles that I’ve driven, the switch to lower and raise the top has either been hard to find or placed overhead. In this car, there is small door on the center console that lifts up to reveal the control switch for the convertible top. Lexus has turned a simple switch into a clever accessory that blends seamlessly into the stylish interior.
As I make my way along Interstate 10 through San Bernardino, I have encountered some of the freeway traffic that southern California is famous for, but I don’t really mind because I can pass the time and get in the proper mood for my arrival at the resort, by listening to Radio Margaritaville on Sirius XM Satellite Radio on the awesome audio system in the LC 500.
And we’re not talking just any audio system, this is a Mark Levinson 13-speaker, 915-watt Reference Surround Sound Audio System. The sound is actually optimized to suit your particular driving situation, whether the roof is open or closed. And, of course, the high-end infotainment system in this vehicle has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as Amazon Alexa integration. There is a navigation system with a big 10.3-inch high-resolution split screen.
As the traffic clears, I am now able to fully enjoy what’s under the hood in the LC 500. A 5.0-liter 32-valve V8 engine is paired with a super efficient 10-speed automatic transmission. I also appreciate how harmoniously everything works together in this car. Needless to say, there is plenty of power, but I also have a good feel of the road and, thanks to outstanding suspension system with MacPherson struts in the front and multi-link rear suspension, I am enjoying a nice smooth ride.
The drive from L.A. to Palm Springs isn’t particularly scenic, as you will pass the same retail stores, fast food restaurants and car dealerships that you would see in any city. But, as you get a bit closer to your destination, things start to get a little more interesting when you reach the city of Cabazon. There is a popular outlet mall there, as well as Hadley Fruit Orchards. Hadley is a must-stop whenever I'm in the area because they have outstanding dried fruits, delicious baked goods and one of the richest, creamiest date shakes I’ve ever had.
This unique city is also the home of Cabazon Dinosaurs, a roadside attraction featuring two huge steel and concrete dinosaurs, one completed in 1975 and the other in 1986. The dinosaurs may look familiar because they’ve been featured in a number of television shows, music videos and movies, including “Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." Inside one of the dinosaurs is a creationist museum and gift shop. It's fun for the whole family and a great spot for pics, too. If you’re feeling lucky, Cabazon is also home to the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa.
After leaving Cabazon and getting back on Interstate 10, I will veer off onto Highway 111 for the last few miles of my trip to Palm Springs. I will not need to avail myself of the LC 500’s navigation system to find the resort because I already know exactly where I’m going. I’ve been there many times before. Margaritaville Resort may be new, but the iconic 21-acre property is not. Formerly, it was Palm Springs’ legendary Riviera Hotel.
Opened in 1959, the Riviera was frequented by showbiz A-listers of the era, such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. The resort attracted top name performers, as well, including Desi Arnaz (yes, TV's Ricky Ricardo) and his Orchestra, Sonny & Cher and Bob Hope. Yes, the Riviera hotel was THE place to be in Palm Springs back in the day.
Arriving at the Margaritaville Resort, I like what I see. They have left the striking mid-century modern resort largely intact, changing only the décor and color scheme to fit the Margaritaville theme. The resort was, and still is, comprised of many two-story buildings and connecting hallways that encircle a huge swimming pool.
In the lobby, you'll know you've arrived in Margaritaville when you see an art piece featuring a huge flip flop and an old-time beverage can pop top because, according to a line from the song Margaritaville, "I blew out my flip flop…stepped on a pop top." An eye-catching chandelier made of upside-down margarita glasses is a nice touch, as well.
If you get a bit hungry, there are a variety of dining options, including casual dining in the Come Monday Café or upscale dining in the JWB Grill (opening soon.) You can also grab a quick bite along with a beer or cocktail poolside at the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar. While the bar is closed during my visit due to COVID restrictions, I can only imagine how enjoyable it will be to “chill" and have a drink with friends when it reopens.
As you can imagine, rooms here are a bit pricey, with a standard room at around $239 per night. That comes in just under $300 with taxes and fees. But the rooms are quite spacious, very comfortable and they have a very relaxing bathroom with an oversized tub big enough for both Frank and Lola. (A reference to yet another Buffett song.) But if you’re not yet comfortable with hotel stays at this point, just come for the day. Palm Springs is the perfect daycation because it’s a relatively short drive from just about anywhere in SoCal and there is so much to see and do throughout the city, as well as here at the Margaritaville Resort.
As I drive through Palm Springs prior to my return to Los Angeles, I realize that what keeps bringing me back is the natural beauty of this desert oasis. I've been coming here since I was around 10 years old and it still has the same look and feel as it did then. Another thing I realize is that I am certainly getting a lot of looks in this Lexus LC 500. It could be the stunning Flare Yellow paint color, or it could just be that it’s a great looking car overall. The one I’m driving is priced at around $112,000, so it’s a nice fit in this affluent neighborhood.
In the late 1980s, when conducting a face-to-face interview with newly-elected Palm Springs Mayor Sonny Bono during the first Palm Springs International Film Festival, I mentioned that I have always considered Palm Springs my home away from home. He said that he had always considered it his, as well. When asked, “Now that you live here, what is your home away from home?” Mayor Bono replied with a smile, “I guess I’ll have to find a new one.”
When you need a quick getaway to relax, Palm Springs is the place to be. From museums and horseback riding to clothing optional resorts for sun worshipers, there’s something for everyone here. A good thing just got even better with the addition of Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs. And remember, regardless of the time you arrive, “It’s 5 o'Clock Somewhere.”
Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs is the first on the west coast, but there are more to come. Watch for the opening of two Margaritaville Resorts in San Diego in 2021, one in the Gaslamp Quarter and the other on Mission Bay.
For more information on Margaritaville Resorts: http://www.margaritavilleresorts.com
For more information on the LC 500 and other Lexus vehicles: http://www.lexus.com
About The Author
Known professionally as "The Traffic Guy," Reed Berry has been a driver safety educator for over 30 years. Reed has conducted traffic school classes and suspended license workshops throughout California, and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences and corporate events across America. He has appeared on radio and television programs both in the U.S. and internationally to discuss safety-related issues. A contributor to LA Car since 2003, Reed Berry is a member of Motor Press Guild, the Los Angeles Press Club and SAG-AFTRA.