La Quinta Resort And Club
La Quinta Resort--
When we arrived, I was struck by how many young families and pregnant moms were sauntering around the resort. Moms pushed strollers and little kids fluttered about the flower gardens. Had my previous review, which touted the resortís many amenities for young families, circulated amidst the So Cal mom network? Had the word gotten out that this hide-away resort would make a perfect Motherís Day retreat?
La Quinta is made up of beautiful casitas, some of the original ones inhabited by old time stars including some well-known regulars such as Frank Capra and Greta Garbo. The casita we stayed in was spacious and right beside one of the 41 resort pools. This close proximity between the casita and pool makes it very convenient for families with kids to stay in the pool for hours and be able to go in and out as needed.
The original casitas pictured here were inhabited by stars such as Frank Capra and Bette Davis.
I found the same perfection on this visit as I did in my earlier visit and the resort was pliable enough to accommodate and please my four active children. Seasonal Activities were being offered during this May visit, including Rubber Duck Derbies in the mornings in one of the plazaís waterways; free swimming goggles for kids12 and under; and Dive-in Movie nights in the main pool, where kid-friendly movies such as "Alvin and the Chipmunks," were shown.
Camp La Quinta was also available for children ages 4-12 daily, offering pool games, arts and crafts, cooking classes and ice cream socials. Full day rate is $65.00 including lunch and runs 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Half day rate is $45.00 including lunch and runs 9:00 am to noon or noon to 3:00 pm. There is also a Friday and Saturday evening rate of $45.00 per child including dinner from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
The restaurant situation was both the same and different. Azur (the upscale formal dining) and the Adobe Grill (the Mexican restaurant) were still booming, and I found that Morganís was now renamed Twenty 6 and to my pleasure now had a full sushi bar from which one could order while eating at the bistro. The sushi bar had just opened during my stay and I ordered a delectable sashimi plate with plenty of wasabi and ginger and found it to be as fresh and good as if I were eating at a Japanese restaurant. The dťcor of Twenty 6 was different from Morganís, as it was a nouveau style without the Hollywood memorabilia of the former restaurant, but the menu was very similar and equally delicious for all of the members of my family.
One of La Quinta's 41 private pools.
The shopping village was in full swing with its upscale shopping: Polo Shop; Tennis and Fitness Pro Shop; the Coffee Market; and many others, notably Tumbleweeds, which showcased childrenís gifts and clothing. My kids all picked out their "La Quinta" shirts and toys there for the car ride back home.
During my stay I noticed that the spa was offering some special desert therapies drawing on Native American traditions including Stone Therapy and Desert Lomi Lomi massages. Extensive therapies are available such as the 6-hour Day of Restoration package. Depending on your familyís needs, most spa treatments can be found in this spa to accommodate many members, including the maternity massage for $140.00 for 50 minutes.
The relaxing lobby.
This is the kind of resort you will want to return to again and again with your family, particularly in the winter months when most of the rest of the world is cold. Here it is always temperate and beautiful. When we left San Diego, allegedly thought to be usually sunny, we left cold and dismal weather that we had experienced most of the week. When I called La Quinta the morning of our trip to inquire about the weather, the concierge informed me that the weather was "magnificent." I found upon arrival that she was completely right; it was sunny and warm and just a world of perfection. Speaking with other visitors there from throughout Southern California, others said that they too left dark, cold weather too. It is comforting to know that there is a place that is always warm and beautiful to turn to on those dark days.
While at La Quinta Resort and Club, you really donít have to leave the resort at all; my family played in the pool most of the day, walked the gardens in the afternoon, and ate very well at Twenty 6 at night. However, if you want outside family entertainment, nearby is a Living Desert, a Childrenís Museum and a well-known Aerial Tram which ascends two and a half miles above the wilderness. Many desert resorts cater to the college crowd seeking a party-hardy weekend. This is no such place. This is the quiet, perfect family utopia that is worth every penny of its cost. Letís just say that Frank Capra knew what he was doing when he came here to stay and write for weeks at a time.
Winding down the nineteen miles of highway past Palm Springs toward the small city of La Quinta, and then along the expansive, off-highway desert roads, my excitement mounted as I began to feel as if we were embarking upon a secret oasis. We arrived after dark and into the midst of the resort's quietly festive ambiance, accented by white Christmas lights lacing the trees and buildings. The resort's little village of upscale shops, known as "The Plaza"--containing everything from art galleries to a children's boutique--was alive and aglow and, even before checking in, I felt a sudden urge to hop out of the car and begin browsing.
Yet the casita to which the bellhop led us proved equally inviting. Our casita was essentially a detached, small home with a private front balcony area (very convenient for parking my toddler's stroller), replete with stunning mountain views, even at night. Tastefully decorated in an understated contemporary design, the casita (which had the largest bathroom, with tiled floors and counters, I have seen yet) contained all of the modern comforts you would expect from a top-rated resort: an icemaker, safe, in-room movies, and a lovely fireplace.
After some unpacking, we wandered toward the restaurants in The Plaza, through the resort's Old Mission style architecture and lavish flower garden. Although I had just been in frenetic San Diego three hours hence, here, I began to breathe in the Old Spanish atmosphere, and, for a moment, felt listlessly lost in time. My breathing slowed; my rigid schedule began to escape me. Even at night, the warmth and ambiance of the desert can be calming.
Neither now nor in its earlier days do the masses herd through La Quita Resort and Club, as, for one thing it is certainly off the beaten path. The resort was built with privacy and glamour as key objectives. Walter Morgan designed the exclusive club in 1926 for his impressive A-List of Hollywood friends: Bette Davis, Frank Capra, Ginger Rogers, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, and Katherine Hepburn. Each of these regulars sought refuge here from the hustles of Hollywood and sometimes stayed for months at a time; many viewed it as a second home. For instance, Bette Davis headed straight to this resort after filming Jezebel, and Frank Capra returned annually to write in his regular adobe cottage called San Anselmo (now rooms 136-138). In this cottage (now called casita), he wrote It Happened One Night, It's A Wonderful Life, You Can't Take It With You, Lost Horizon, and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. This beautiful resort is still known to attract Hollywood royalty. As I was surveying the property for this book on our second day there, my husband--although he can't be sure--believes he saw Sandra Bullock walking through the gardens, carrying a thick script.
During our stay, two restaurants, the Adobe Grill and Morgan's, were operational. (Coming, but not available during my stay was the Azur.) Although the Adobe Grill has been touted as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the desert, Mexican food was not agreeable to my pregnant palette, so we ate both nights at Morgan's (which serves American cuisine), and were thoroughly glad we did. Morgan's, with its open kitchen and Hollywood memorabilia and decór, is pricey but delivers truly excellent cuisine. The lobster and shrimp scampi I ordered, sautéed in a tomato cream sauce, was sumptuous. My husband was equally pleased with his generous portion of meatloaf. There is nothing more off-putting when visiting resorts than ordering an expensive, insipid meal--or a tasty one with such ridiculously tiny portions that you have to order multiple a la carte items. But Morgan's (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) was not this way. My husband, daughter, and I sat outside under the warm desert sky, about a yard away from a cascading waterfall, with all of the tables alit with small candles, and enjoyed a meal so perfect that we both, rather uncharacteristically, ordered the exact same items the following night.
On our first morning at the resort, we took our toddler for an early walk through the resort. Her start-and-stop pace enabled me to savor the geological contrasts surrounding us. We were dramatically enveloped by the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains which evoke a distinct desert feeling, yet the resort is set amidst lush gardens. If we walked all day, we could not have seen the entire forty-five acres of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees contained therein. My daughter reached for oranges in the trees, as we passed through colorful flower gardens and trellises of climbing bougainvillea.
The architecture throughout the resort is an elaborate Spanish Mission style of the highest taste. The lobby as well as the buildings throughout the estate are decorated with colorful murals; high-planked ceilings; hand-painted Mexican tiles; elaborate, decorative fireplaces; and old-fashioned chandeliers. The longest running resort in the Palm Springs area, La Quinta Resort and Club is made up of 640 guest rooms and suites situated in Spanish-style casitas.
On the sportier side, the resort offers a premier tennis club with twenty-three courts of varying surfaces (ten lighted for night play), twenty-five private pools (yes, seriously!), and thirty-eight whirlpool spas. I had my workout in their state-of-the-art Fitness Club which contains Life Cycles, Life Step, Life Stride, and Paramount equipment. Not only did I get a top-rated workout, the Club proved quite child-friendly (see Baby/Child friendliness section).
After my workout on our second day at the resort, my family and I spent some time shopping "The Plaza." We lounged through the Polo store; the women's boutique; spent a great deal of time in Tumbleweeds, the upscale children's boutique; and ended up in the coffee shop sipping lattés. Although we were miles and miles from any major cities, everything we needed was right there in the resort. I understood why Bette Davis and her contemporaries would never feel a need to leave.
After packing our bags into the car and checking out on our final morning, I stood out front of the lovely lobby and inhaled a final breath of the history and glamour I had vicariously acquired during my stay. Just as Frank Capra would come here to complete his screenplays, this resort exudes the feeling of a private retreat made especially for you to complete a goal--a personal project, a romantic rendezvous or simply a need to relax. As with the meal at Morgan's that seemed so perfect as to be uncanny, somehow the resort itself seems also carved perfectly toward the tastes of the individual. In only two days there, the resort felt remarkably like home.
Parents and youngters will enjoy shopping at Tumbleweeds, a replete, upscale children's store in La Quinta's "Plaza Shops"
La Quinta Resort and Club, to me, represents Shangri-La. It is a place where everything fits together perfectly, just as it would in a perfect world: the understated yet tasteful room, flower-laden grounds, the high-tech gym, the swanky shopping, and yet, the simultaneous sensitivity to baby-friendliness. If perfection bothers you, if you are a philosophical anarchist, beware of this resort. However, if you are a romantic at heart; if you, like myself, crave sublimity, here is a flawless land toward which you should head. You will feel, if only temporarily, that you are living life in its ideal state.