I just celebrated my birthday at La Quinta Resort & Spa, a 796-room oasis set in California’s lower desert, a couple of hours drive from Los Angeles, yet deliciously worlds apart.
The decades old property (circa 1926) harbors a colorful past filled with anecdotes of Frank Capra holing up there to write “It Happened One Night,” visits by Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo (guess that’s before she vanted to be alone), and other Hollywood luminaries.
While it does show it age in spots, the magical setting and ambiance make it easy to over look a few flaws. It’s just such a sweet, pleasant spot graced by stately palm trees, verdant cactus, lemon and grapefruit trees and colorful flowers and plants framed by graceful moutains setting off purple, orange and vibrant hues, capped with a covering of white snow (this time of year anyway).
The Spanish-style rooms and casitas, spread out over 45 acres and sliced into sections, each highlighted by one of 43 inviting pools, include 462 square feet guest rooms, 100 studios that convert to three-bedroom suites, eight suites with private spas and five with pool and spa. Many have fireplaces.
During our visit the place was hopping with a convention group, lots of locals, and in-house guests there to watch the tennis tournament down the street. The weather was perfect which, according to Managing Director Ralph Vick, accounts for the near capacity occupency. “When it’s this nice, people flock here from LA,” he explained. Alas like most hotels during these recessionary times, La Quinta’s had its ups and downs, but Vick is grateful that the hotel runs more than half full most of the time.
This is the in season in the Desert, before the heat turns up in May and goes on high blast in the 100s. And, it was truly idyllic. We loved our Starlight Casita ($499 a day in season which is negotiable)–room 875 on the second floor with a very private balcony, large living area/bedroom, flat screen TV, big bathroom with twin vanity sink and rain shower and tub, and big bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturizer–not the scrimpy stuff some hotels are doling out these days. However the Diva takes exception to the towels dedicated for the pool–ours were chintzy and small.
I also expressed my dismay to Vick over the $25 entry fee charged to use the Spa (unless you’ve booked a treatment) which seems steep considering there’s also a $27 resort fee that covers “self parking, local and toll free calls, a golf shuttle, WiFi in the room and use of the fitness center”.
The 23,000 square foot Spa (which doesn’t seem that large) however is heavenly but the only extra amenity is a steam room, otherwise you’ve got your lockers and showers and preening areas. There’s plenty of treatments from traditional to ancient Mexican and Native American therapies offered and lovely indoor and outdoor areas in which to await the pampering.
We both had massages which rank among the tops. My therapist, Jeremy gave me a deep tissue rub which really got in the sore spots.
When there’s a balcony and the weather’s perfect room service breakfast is de riguerer. So each morning we phoned in our order and went down to the pool to swim before it arrived. Our eggwhite, spinach fritatas were served perfect, hot and delicious, the next day the scrambled eggs and bacon couldn’t be better. The food here was pretty darn Diva-pleasing. Especially so in Morgan’s, the new restaurant on the block that opened last December, but you’ll have to come back for that review. It’s too good not to have its owns review. I will tell you it was one of the best restaurants we ever dined in in the Desert.
We also had dinner in Twenty6–a fun spot with a happy atmosphere and great eats. I had a perfectly prepared salmon ($25) with carrots and potatoes cooked exactly and glasses of Deloach Chard ($12).
There’s fun firepit tables for before or after dinner drinks, and the festive Adobe Grill where Mariachi music accompanies the Mexican meals and/or margarita drinking (served in over-sized, hand blown glassware from Guadalajara, very authentic).
We’ve been hitting the local hotel circuit pretty hard in the last few months and this is the first place where there were people, lots of them. It felt great. Many were enjoying the Mexican restaurant where tons of margies were being poured.
In addition to the Spa and its full menu of bodily exliris, there’s also a Med Spa on premises for Botox touch ups and other vanity fixers. There’s also tennis, bicycle rentals, a fully equipped Diva-approved fitness center, business center and of course golf.
Rack room rates (that means pubished in brochures but hardly ever charged, except in better economic times) begin at $199 in season and go as high as $5,000 for a presidential suite. For real bargains book in July through September if you can stand the heat.
The resort offers several tempting packages (golfers should check out the “Play It Your Way,”) on the website: www.laquintaresort.com.
Address is 49-499 Eisenhower Drive, phone: 760-564-4111 or 800-598-3828.
While most Angelenos drive down, the Palm Springs Regional Airport hosts private planes and carriers such as Alaska, America West, AA, United, Skywest and USAIR. For the best driving map from your area go to www.google.com.