La Quinta Re­sort & Club

De­li­cious Desert Des­ti­na­tion

Golf Vacations - - Contents - by Terry Ross

So-called snow birds from the colder cli­mates of the US and from Canada have long flocked to the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia desert re­gion dur­ing the win­ter for the sun­shine, mod­er­ate tem­per­a­tures, out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and of course golf when most of the north­ern re­gions are sit­ting un­der snow and freez­ing tem­per­a­tures.

So-called snow birds from the colder cli­mates of the US and from Canada have long flocked to the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia desert re­gion dur­ing the win­ter for the sun­shine, mod­er­ate tem­per­a­tures, out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and of course golf when most of the north­ern re­gions are sit­ting un­der snow and freez­ing tem­per­a­tures.

Long as­so­ci­ated with Palm Springs on the western edge of the Coachella Val­ley, this en­tire desert re­gion-- ex­tend­ing 45 miles and en­com­pass­ing nine ci­ties--has long been known for its win­ter golf and re­sorts.

The most iconic of the re­sorts in this re­gion—and per­haps still the best with its mix of ameni­ties, golf cour­ses and ac­com­mo­da­tions—is the La Quinta Re­sort & Club lo­cated on the east­ern end of the val­ley in the city of La Quinta—which was named af­ter the re­sort—so you know there is some in­ter­est­ing his­tory right away.

This fa­mous re­sort just cel­e­brated its 90th an­niver­sary last year with a $22 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion with up­grades to just about ev­ery­thing about this des­ti­na­tion re­sort that sprawls over 45 acres be­neath the Santa Rosa moun­tains and is a mem­ber of Wal­dorf As­to­ria Ho­tels and Re­sorts group. With 620 guest rooms and 98 in­di­vid­ual vil­las, the La Quinta Re­sort & Club is a grand re­sort with an in­ti­mate feel. It just re­ceived a four-di­a­mond rat­ing by AAA.

If these mod­ern up­grades were not enough, the his­tory of the re­sort is like some­thing out of a novel. Back in the 1920’s, San Fran­cisco busi­ness­man Walter H. Mor­gan was drawn to this area and wanted to build a tran­quil re­treat. He pur­chased 1,400 acres from the lo­cal Cahuilla In­di­ans with the idea of cre­at­ing a ha­cienda-style get­away in the cov­earea of the val­ley that was known as the La Quinta Ho­tel. Af­ter Mor­gan opened his cre­ation in 1926, the La Quinta Ho­tel be­came a well-known es­cape for the stars of Hol­ly­wood and many oth­ers work­ing in the thriv­ing movie in­dus­try. Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Mar­lene Di­et­rich and Clark Gable were among the stars of the day that spent time there, and Frank Capra found cre­ative in­spi­ra­tion for many of the films he wrote and pro­duced. He penned “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” while re­sid­ing in one of the re­sort’s ca­sitas that of­fer pri­vacy and seclu­sion from the out­side world.

Golf’s be­gin­nings in the Coachella Val­ley are also syn­ony­mous with the La Quinta Ho­tel. Mor­gan built a nine-hole golf course on the grounds of the ho­tel at the cost of $50,000. De­signed by Nor­man Beth, the La Quinta Ho­tel course was the first such fa­cil­ity in the Val­ley and was also open to the pub­lic—at the cost of $1 per round.

The La Quinta Ho­tel was closed dur­ing much of World War II while the mil­i­tary req­ui­si­tioned the fa­cil­i­ties and grounds for its use, and with it the orig­i­nal golf course was aban­don. Af­ter the war, the La Quinta Ho­tel again be­came a fa­vorite of the Hol­ly­wood set again. Gin­ger Rogers mar­ried French ac­tor Jac­ques Berg­erac there in 1953, and a pri­vate airstrip built shortly af­ter the war made it even eas­ier for celebri­ties and other dig­ni­taries to visit. Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower and his wife made many win­ter vis­its to the ho­tel, and his first pub­lic re­cep­tion af­ter leav­ing of­fice in 1961 was at the La Quinta Ho­tel.

Fast-for­ward to the La Quinta Re­sort of to­day and the charm and el­e­gance is still there with a mod­ern makeover. Those op­u­lent suites that celebri­ties and pres­i­dents have oc­cu­pied are still used for spe­cial events or just get-away re­treats.

The in­di­vid­ual ca­sitas and 41 pools and hot spas that adorn the prop­erty

give vis­i­tors a feel of a smaller, in­ti­mate set­ting, and the new land­scap­ing and pa­tio fea­tures have given the re­sort a fresh look.

Din­ing choices now in­clude Mor­gan’s in the Desert—their sig­na­ture restau­rant; Twenty6—an Amer­i­can bistro; the Adobe Grill fea­tur­ing au­then­tic Mex­i­can cui­sine and breath­tak­ing views of the Santa Rosa Moun­tains; the Cen­tre Court Café next to the main pool and the tennis/fit­ness cen­ter and the Mar­ket­place with baked good and sand­wiches to go.

The well-equipped Fit­ness Cen­ter has classes and per­sonal train­ing op­tions, and the tennis cen­ter fea­tures 23 courts on both hard a clay sur­faces--with lights for night play. The Spa La Quinta of­fers a full menu of ther­a­pies and even a pet mas­sage pro­gram for ca­nine vis­i­tors—some­thing that the re­sort is very fond of.

In fact, the re­sort prides it­self on its ac­com­mo­da­tions for its four-legged guests, and those vis­it­ing with their pets can look for­ward to rooms with dog­gie beds, bowls and treats in front of a fire­place when you check into your room. Even doggy-bag sta­tions are lo­cated around the lush gar­dens and grass of the re­sort grounds, which are adorned with cit­rus trees, roses and Bougainvil­lea dur­ing the sea­son.

In ad­di­tion to the many meet­ing and ball­rooms rooms that have hosted some of the big­gest events in the desert, the many bou­tique shops along the Plaza area of the ho­tel near the main en­trance of­fer many shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences.

And of course, a world-renowned golf des­ti­na­tion like the La Quinta Re­sort & Club has plenty of op­tions to hit the links, with cour­ses de­signed by names like Pete Dye, Jack Nick­laus and Greg Nor­man. Two of the cour­ses avail­able to guests are now used for the PGA Tour event now known as the Ca­reer Builder Chal­lenge, but was the Bob Hope Clas­sic for half a cen­tury.

The La Quinta Re­sort Moun­tain and Dunes cour­ses are two of the most highly-rated re­sort cour­ses in the na­tion and have hosted events such as the PGA Tour Qual­i­fy­ing School, Se­nior Skins Game, the World Cup of Golf, the Cal­i­for­nia State Open, the women’s NCAA Cham­pi­onship and the PGA Club Pro­fes­sion­als Cham­pi­onship.

The Moun­tain Course is spec­tac­u­lar with its soar­ing peaks and el­e­va­tion changes as it winds through the base of the Santa Rosa Moun­tains and is one of the most scenic cour­ses you will see. With its eight com­bi­na­tion of tees rang­ing from 6,666 yards to the or­ange tees at 3,745 yards this course can ac­com­mo­date a wide-range of skills and abil­i­ties. The fi­nal three holes on this course--start­ing with the Par 3 16th that can play any­where from 167 yards to 89 yards down the moun­tain from an el­e­vated tee and is a vis­ually stun­ning hole; the Par 4 17th at 446 yards from the back tees and Par 5 18th at 504 yards are some of the best holes you will find.

Just down the road inside PGA West, the TPC Sta­dium Course and the Jack Nick­laus Tour­na­ment Course are ranked among the finest tracks any­where and have hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and Din­ers Club Matches, among other top events, and are cur­rently in the ro­ta­tion for the Ca­reer Builder Chal­lenge that is played in Jan­uary each year. The Nor­man Course, which also al­lows walk­ing, is a very de­mand­ing test of golf at 7,200 yards. All five of these world-class cour­ses are open to pub­lic play, but guests at the Re­sort are of­fered pre­ferred tee times.

Even though the La Quinta Re­sort & Club still re­tains its early 20th cen­tury charm, the new ad­di­tions and up­grades to this clas­sic desert re­sort cer­tainly help it ap­peal to to­day’s trav­el­ers.

For more in­for­ma­tion: www.laquintare­sort.com

TPC - Sta­dium Hole #17

Ha­cienda Living Room

Hide­away Suite

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