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North America

Dessert In The Desert

Jonathan van Bilsen



November 4, 2012

Dessert In The Desert

I found the flight from Los Angeles to Palm Springs bumpier than your average airplane ride, but once I arrived in the luxurious resort area I quickly forgot the discomfort of the propeller driven aircraft. A short, twenty minute drive took me to Palm Desert and then La Quinta, one of seven cities that make up the vacation cluster in the middle of the California desert.

Winding through the enclave of gated communities I eventually arrived at the destination of choice: La Quinta (pronounced La Keenta) Club and Resort. Although it was the off-season (December and January prove to offer the most comfortable temperatures) the resort was still one of the most prestigious in the world. 

From the moment I stepped into the lobby, where I was offered refreshments, I felt as if I had been transported into a Hollywood Haven of the 1920’s. La Quinta was built in 1926 as a getaway destination for big-name Hollywood stars. It provided film greats like Clark Gable, Frank Capra and Greta Garbo a respite from their fans, the paparazzi and in many cases their spouses.

One such section of the resort is an area known as La Casa. It was the summer home of Greta Garbo and is complete with kitchen (where you can view her stove), furnishings and memorabilia. If you listen closely you can hear Rudee Valley crooning the songs of the era. 

La Quinta Club and Resort boasts forty-six swimming pools all surrounded by 796 rooms, divided into casitas: two and four room units built in an adobe style architecture. Most have private patios and all have fireplaces for those winter nights when the temperature drops to the low twenties (Celsius). 

The service was superior. As soon as I was checked in I was ushered to my room by golf cart. As summer is the off season it was quiet and the swimming pool in front of my casita was void of tourists. The water was warm and the thought of relaxing in the 35+ heat sounded like the perfect remedy for my stress-filled life. I threw my bags on the bed, grabbed a bottle of water, my current copy of the Focus on Scugog and stepped to the pool area. The serenity of the venue quickly drained me of haunting thoughts about the work I left behind.

I began to feel peckish and decided I would investigate one of the numerous restaurants the property had to offer. Morgan’s, a North American styled fine dining room looked inviting, but as I approached and glanced up at Adobe, which specialised in Mexican fare, I knew my decision had been made.

The recommended Margarita, which I felt obligated to sample, was superb and offered a refreshing lift to a slow and peaceful day. The food was all if not more than I expected and I found myself so relaxed I had no desire to leave. I glanced around and saw a humidor behind the bar. I walked toward the counter and was offered a selection of fine cigars. Being Canadian I longed for a Cohiba, but as these are banned in the US I settled for a Dominican (which boasted it was grown from Cuban seeds) and found the price quite reasonable. 

Evening (and the misters) had blanketed the area in a calm coolness and I decided to sit on the patio, which overlooked well-lit gardens where bright colours bloomed in all directions. As the waiter delivered my Remy I puffed gently on the aromatic cigar and found myself engulfed in total relaxation.

The next day I ventured to explore the ‘Dunes’, one of the two professional golf courses the property had to offer. The course was designed by Pete Dye and is ranked among Golf Digest's "Top 75 Resort Courses" in America. I was thankful I have photographic skills to rely on as golf is a game I should leave to those who excel at it. The courses are beautiful and well maintained. They required a degree of skill, yet made for an enjoyable passing of time. Fortunately for me, the threesome I was attached to play at a similar level and we had quite an enjoyable morning.

The Palm Springs area offers a wide array of ‘things to do’. For the more adventurous tourists one can explore the canyons by Jeep or Hummer and even climb the rocks and cliffs. There is plenty of shopping and too many golf courses to count. In fact there are so many golf courses that because each one pumps about a million gallons of water through their sprinkler system each day, the evaporation provides a high level of humidity to the area.

The 23,000 sq. ft. Spa La Quinta is a world-class "wellness" facility housing indoor and outdoor massage and treatment rooms with signature La Quinta Celestial Showers. Services combine today's knowledge with ancient treatments of indigenous Mexican and Native American cultures.

If you need to get away for a few days and enjoy beautiful scenery, excellent food, constant pampering and the finest in quality and service I would highly recommend La Quinta Club and Resort, located in the middle of the desert, 120 Kilometres outside of Los Angeles.

Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit

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