It's a Wonderful Life at La Quinta Resort

It's a Wonderful Life at La Quinta Resort

The historic La Quinta Resort & Club still offers one of Southern California’s best desert getaways By: Samantha Davis-Friedman
La Quinta Resort & Club has lured artists and celebrities to the desert since its opening in 1926. // © 2014 Samantha Davis-Friedman
La Quinta Resort & Club has lured artists and celebrities to the desert since its opening in 1926. // © 2014 Samantha Davis-Friedman

The Details

La Quinta Resort & Club

The feeling of discovering a hidden desert oasis begins immediately upon entering the gates of La Quinta Resort & Club. Fragrant citrus trees, sparkling fountains and colorful flower gardens make it easy to forget that Los Angeles is so close by. Perhaps this is why the La Quinta, Calif., resort has been a popular getaway since 1926. Over the years, it has served as a retreat for many travelers due, in large part, to its charming hacienda-style architecture and to the privacy of its individual white-washed casitas, marked by their signature red tile roofs and blue doors.

However, La Quinta’s casitas and perfectly landscaped grounds are not the only features of this resort that set it apart from other properties in the area.  Unlike many of the modern resorts in the Coachella Valley, La Quinta has a rich history that dates back to the early 1920s, when a businessman named Walter H. Morgan was drawn from rainy San Francisco to the area known as the Land of Eternal Sun. Morgan dreamed of creating an oasis in the desert and enlisted well-known architect Gordon Kaufman to turn his dream into a reality. Kaufman, along with dozens of local artisans and craftsmen, built a cluster of charming casitas and a small dining room using more than 100,000 hand-made adobe bricks and 60,000 locally fired roof tiles.

When movie stars such as Greta Garbo and Clark Gable heard that La Quinta was a relaxing escape from the spotlight, they flocked to the desert.  In fact, Frank Capra was so inspired by the surroundings that he referred to La Quinta as his “Shangri-La of Screenwriting,” penning his most famous screenplay, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at the resort. As word spread, La Quinta grew, expanding over time to become the quintessential California resort it is today.

In addition to the charming casitas, the 45-acre resort features 41 swimming pools so there is always a secluded spot to bask in the beautiful Southern California sunshine.  And, while it’s certainly possible to spend the entire stay relaxing at the pool, La Quinta also offers its guests 23 tennis courts, five championship golf courses and the luxurious Spa La Quinta, which combines some of the world’s best skin care products with advanced health and beauty technology.  Everyone in the family can experience the luxury because Spa La Quinta also offers a KidSpa menu and a pet-pampering suite, which is part of the resort’s signature Paws La Quinta pet program.  Guests should note that there is a 5-10 minute walk from the central plaza area to the spa, although golf cart transportation can be requested by calling the bell desk.

After a day spent at the spa, tennis courts or golf course, guests at La Quinta Resort have seven restaurants from which to choose. Options include Adobe Grill, known for its award-winning tamales, and Morgan’s in the Desert, helmed by James Beard award-winning chef, Jimmy Schmidt. Building on Walter Morgan’s philosophy that hacienda-style hospitality includes exceptional meals, Chef Schmidt incorporates his own farm-to-table cooking style, producing modern, bold-flavored American cuisine that highlights locally grown and sustainable ingredients.

With beautifully landscaped grounds set against a backdrop of breathtaking mountains, La Quinta is just two hours outside of Los Angeles, yet feels like a world away.

Note: Because the property is large, guests who have difficulty walking should request casitas close to the central plaza area.

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