I’m hardly breaking new ground here, but after dozens of visits to the desert over the years, I finally stayed at La Quinta Resort & Club. Love!
I found myself at La Quinta near Palm Springs on assignment, covering the terrific TEDActive conference. It’s actually been kind of a cold winter by L.A. standards (tiny violin, I know), so when I pulled in to the resort — with its vibrant flowers and palm trees against the striking mountain backdrop — I truly felt like I’d been transported to some kind of paradise after only a couple of hours in the car. You’d have to be deeply jaded not to be at least a little bit awed by the density and drama of the colorful blooms that line grounds of the massive property.
In fact, the whole place sprawls over 45 lush acres — 45! So when I asked for a quiet room, I miscalculated. I was upgraded to a lovely second-floor room diagonally opposite from the meeting locations at the front of the resort, which made for about a 20-minute round-trip walk each time I wanted to grab a sweater or charge my phone. (In all honesty, I made it at least a 30-minute round-trip walk by consistently getting myself lost as all of the paths and casita exteriors look the same and I couldn’t get my face out of my technology.)
All of that said, the room was just lovely, with French doors on both sides leading out to little balconies, and a spacious sitting area. I should note that I paid just $179 (could have gotten a $149 rate if I’d been willing to commit to a non-changeable advance-purchase deal) mid-week, which seemed like a significant bargain given the gracious accommodations.
The personality of the place far exceeded expectations, though I vaguely knew going in that it was a historic property. Indeed, it goes back to 1926, when San Francisco businessman Walter H. Morgan worked with architect Gordon Kaufman to build the first grouping of quaint casitas on the site, using 100,000 hand-formed adobe bricks and 60,000 locally fired roof tiles. Stars like Garbo and Gable made it their hideaways. Frank Capra — one of my absolute favorites — even made the place his home, writing It’s a Wonderful Life in one of the casitas, from what I understand. (“Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends.” Sniff! Gets me every time.) That sense of history and character is evident throughout.
Since this wasn’t leisure travel, I didn’t have terribly much time to recreate, but I did spend about 10 minutes in a large hot tub adjacent to my room, and another 10 at a nearby pool the next day. One of the really neat things about La Quinta is that there appear to be dozens of such pools and attractions, tucked into nooks and crannies all around. I found no one else at my little personal pool. I can’t comment on the golf facilities, because nothing strikes me as more boring. Due respect to golfers.
Anyway, truly a pleasant surprise overall, and I look forward to returning asap to what I consider an intoxicating desert jewel.
La Quinta Resort & Club, California
Price: $$ out of a possible $$$$
Location: 4 out of a possible 4
Sleep quality: ZZZ out of a possible ZZZZ
Service: **** out of a possible ****
Overall grade: A