At Home & Away In Gaye Straza’s Palm Springs



WHO: kai Founder Gaye Straza

WHERE: Palm Springs


Our kai obsession is just a fact that people who love us accept. We couldn’t count the times we’ve leaned in for a hug and had the recipient either swoon over the scent, or recognize it, fondly, by name. There’s something mysterious about how a single fragrance could captivate such a broad swath of women (and men) year after year. And while there are any number of reasons for this, we’d offer up that it is because it’s the perennial accompaniment to all good things. kai is vacation bottled – the vial that always fits into your carry-on and hitches a ride on your travel-ready wrists. But it is equally representative of home – the fragrance making your couch curl-ups or gatherings with friends sweeter. In essence, kai allows ‘home and away’ to relax into beautiful coexistence.

Gather was built on the assumption that there’s room for you, the wide-eyed, inquisitive traveler who jumps at the chance to hop on a plane, but is equally enchanted by the comforts of home. Travel isn’t merely about those 3 nights / 10 days / 3 weeks away — it’s about what shifts within you as a result. Even if only minimally, that experience is something you get to take with you, to revisit again and again whenever you wish. It honors what you saw, ate, heard and felt, and therein lies the chance to have travel catalyze a richer ‘at home’ self too.

These two sides of the modern woman, who loves to be both at home and away, fascinate us. We want to know what you’re packing to go where and why, and what tokens, talismans or ideas have remained with you long after you’ve returned home. It’s the reason we got started on this little project to begin with; the call to adventure we wanted to answer. So, who better to kick off a new series celebrating these two halves of a whole than the scent sorceress unwittingly underscoring our memories all along?

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By kai’s subtly tropical nature and its ‘made in Malibu’ designation, you’d think Gaye is all about the beach. And while she does indeed love life by the sea, Palm Springs will always have a piece of her heart. It’s the place where she met the love of her life, saw her parents thrive and shared some of her happiest memories; it’s the place she returns to again and again for throwback glam, surprise weddings and of course, killer chicken taquitos.



“I’ve been visiting Palm Springs for as long as I can remember, so my memories of the desert are endless. We rode our bikes everywhere as kids – the fun and the innocence was beyond.  My parents had a weekend home and it was always packed – music blasting, water volleyball and bocce games, charades, my mom playing Dean Martin’s “Volare”on the piano while my dad belted out the words…”


“I married the love of my life in Palm Springs at The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn, a tiny boutique hotel that hosted the likes of Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Marion Davies. The rich history there is palpable! We rented the whole place and told our 60 guests to get dressed up as if we were having our first annual Christmas party. I think besides Peter and I, maybe a handful of people knew, but everyone else was shocked – especially my mom. When she saw us standing with the officiant, she thought we were going to sing a Christmas carol for everyone!”

The Willows

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“I’m not a person who loves big hotels – the smaller and more intimate, the better. Check out The Willows and Colony Palms. The Willows only has 8 rooms – some even have fireplaces.”

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The Willows, 412 West Tahquitz Canyon Way | (760) 320-0771

Colony Palms Hotel, 572 North Indian Canyon Drive | (760) 969-1800


“I love Birba for the great vibe and consistently amazing food. Koffi is my Saturday or Sunday go-to after a walk with the dogs, and you can’t forget The Original Las Casuelas for Mexican food. It’s the real deal. If you’re looking for more than great food, their sister restaurant, Las Casuelas Terraza, has a real bar with a fun house band to dance the night away.”

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Birba, 622 North Palm Canyon Drive | (760) 327-5678

Koffi, 1700 South Camino Real | (760) 322-7776

The Original Las Casuelas, 368 N Palm Canyon Drive | (760) 325-3213


“I think most people look to Trina Turk for iconic Palm Springs style. In my search for my summer must-have one year – always a black one piece swimsuit – I popped into her store after failing everywhere else. One of the associates looked at me like I’d gone mad and said “we don’t do black”.  I walked out empty handed that time, but she really nails the desert Pucci-meets-mid-century modern thing. I’ve since found some really fun pieces there.”

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Trina Turk, 891 North Palm Canyon Drive | (760) 416-2856


“I never pass up the kai-inspired treatment at the Hyatt Indian Wells, and I love massages at The Colony Palms and Andreas Spa. I also get nails and facials done by two lovely women – they’re incredible!”

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Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Indian Wells, 44600 Indian Wells Lane | (760) 776-1234

The Spa at Colony Palms, 572 North Indian Canyon Drive | (760) 969-1800

Andreas Spa, 227 North Indian Canyon Drive | (760) 327-5701

Nails by Mayra | (760) 797-5975

Facials by Doris | (760) 413-4910


“Hiking around at the top of the Aerial Tram is a must in my eyes. If you’re adventurous, you can hike into Idyllwild from there. It’s so quiet up there – a different world than Palm Springs in a 15 minute tram ride.”


Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 1 Tram Way | (760) 325-1449


Sundress: Good In Bed – Bag: Vintage – Bracelets: Cartier, Jill Willard

“Spring or fall is the time to be in Palm Springs. Summers and winters are really severe, so I’d rather wait for the beauty and newness of those two changing seasons. If I do happen to be there in the summer though, the nights are heavenly! It’s so warm – no sweater necessary.”

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Hat: Lola – Swimsuit: Adriana Degreas

“My Palm Springs suitcase is packed with a new one piece and a variety of hats. I live in A.G. and 7 For All Mankind denim. I’m loving my James Perse tie shorts with a big fat belt and platforms. And Calypso St. Barth loose linen button downs and sun dresses always make the cut.”


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Top right: 7 For All Mankind denim, Calypso St. Barth blouse, Manolo Blahnik heels, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Jill Willard bracelets, Modus Rio belt. Lower right: Calypso St. Barth button down. Hat attack from left: Shady Brady, Christy’s by Tony Merenda, Harbour Island beach shop, Lola.



“Peter surprised me with this incredible Hermès cuff in Paris. And these YSL platforms have traveled the world with me. They are probably 20 years old and have been re-soled 100 times but I’ll never get rid of them – they’re so comfortable!”

“My favorite kai products are the perfume oil and the body butter – so luxurious. Kai was really just a fortunate accident that has been the learning curve of my life. I have no professional training or background. I know what I like and what I don’t like, and seeing that I’m allergic to almost every fragrance I’ve ever tried, I decided to have one made just for me never intending to turn it into a business.”

“My sunscreen is Supergoop! until we come out with one for the kai range. I go for a blush that works as a lip/eye/cheek stain, as well as mascara and any lip gloss I can get my hands on. Add a great facial, mani-pedi or massage and I’m in the mood to chill! If I’m not reading something by the late, great Dominick Dunne (I’m rereading all of his novels now), or John Grisham, then it’s something spiritual or self-helpful.”

“Palm Springs has always been about non-stop parties with family, the best of which was the costume party my parents would have on New Year’s Eve. There was always a ridiculous amount of food. The incredible memories I have are impossible to forget and I try to recreate them today.”

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“I keep night blooming jasmine in a bowl by our bed for the sweetest of dreams. I’ve always loved the earth tones you see in the desert, so my furniture in Malibu is mostly neutral pieces combined with beach-y accents.”

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“I often crave the delicious chicken taquitos from Las Casuelas with their super-secret ranchero sauce – we’re talking so secret that they used to not even let you take it to go! I managed to deconstruct the sauce to make my own version, and now love to recreate this dish at home. It’s the perfect taste of a great Palm Springs restaurant.”


“I am a traveler of the world.  It’s probably my favorite thing to do and everywhere I go, I’m searching for flowers and scents indigenous to that area.  kai was based on the flowers I grew up smelling on summer holidays to Hawaii. I’m on the hunt at present for ‘kai 2’.”


“Good business is all about small, smart growth in my mind; not rushing things, not being greedy and not being everywhere. The best pieces of advice I ever received are from my dad: be generous, never look back and think positively – you want to be timeless, not trendy. He’s the smartest business man I ever met.”


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“I’d want to see Tori Praver’s ‘At Home And Away’ – hands down. I believe she splits her life between two locales as I do, though I’m a bit envious hers includes Hawaii! Love her whole vibe, and she seems to be mad for the ocean like I am.”

Looking for more icon inspiration? See the full Gather collection.

© At Home & Away in kai Founder Gaye Straza’s Palm Springs.