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I adjusted my grip and shifted my gaze to a tiny red flag off in the distance, its image swimming in and out of my vision due to the heat of the 115-degree day.
Pulling back, I propelled the driver forward and “swoosh.” But looking down, I noticed — with a slight cringe — that the golf ball hadn’t left its perch atop the tee.
Luckily for me (and my family, whose flushed cheeks were either a product of the soaring temperature or pure embarrassment at my game), we were alone at Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Ranch Golf Course, which — at 214 feet below sea level — is the lowest professional course on Earth.
Even more luckily? After a few more holes, our sweaty crew was able to pile into an air-conditioned van and head 1 mile up the road to our own oasis — The Oasis at Death Valley, that is.
The Oasis complex is located within Death Valley National Park in Furnace Creek, Calif., and includes two hotels: the AAA Four Diamond, 66-room Inn at Death Valley (formerly The Inn at Furnace Creek) and the family- and group-friendly 244-room The Ranch at Death Valley (formerly The Ranch at Furnace Creek), which is located adjacent to the golf course.
The Oasis complex is owned and operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the largest park management company in the U.S. Although it has gone through many evolutions in its 90-year history, it most recently emerged from a $50 million restoration that completely gutted and refreshed The Inn’s guestrooms and public spaces; The Ranch; the golf course; and various public-access spaces, including the Spanish-style Mission Gardens, which is located across the street from The Inn.
Because The Ranch was still under construction during my June visit, my family spent most of our vacation at The Inn, whose unique blend of old-meets-new honors the area’s history while still providing guests with modern-day comforts.
Dark wood accents are sprinkled through the lobby, which features new furnishings, fixtures and flooring. Western-style art — including original Frederic Remington sculptures — take guests back to the days of the American Old West, and a new library off the check-in desk has replaced a high-end gift shop, providing guests with a cozy nook and free access to books and board games. Meeting spaces are perhaps the most unique, at least design-wise: The Oasis Room, The Big Horn Room and The Gold Rush Room are the only spaces on property to feature the original stones walls from the building’s development in 1927, and they were sourced directly from the (formerly unregulated) national park.
Both The Ranch and a new casita-style accommodation option (which will be located next to The Inn) are set to debut in the fall, but clients can currently stay in several room layouts at The Inn, including single-, double-, suite-style and accessible options.
These spaces were clearly redesigned with the area’s history in mind. Warm tones, desert-themed photographs, wooden furniture and a decorative stone fireplace gave my Standard King Room a classic look and added a cozy vibe, yet the amenities I’ve come to expect from a modern hotel, such as USB charging outlets, were plentiful.
The recently refreshed The Inn at Death Valley features a classic look with updated features.Credit: 2018 Xanterra Parks & Resorts
The writer stayed in a Standard King guestroom at The Inn.Credit: 2018 Xanterra Parks & Resorts
The on-site fitness center is located next to the pool and features basic equipment.Credit: 2018 Xanterra Parks & Resorts
The on-site restaurant, The Inn Dining Room, follows an Old American West theme and features Frederic Remington sculptures.Credit: 2018 Xanterra Parks & Resorts
A new casita accommodation option will be available beginning in the fall of 2018.Credit: 2018 Xanterra Parks & Resorts
In the summer, Death Valley's extreme daytime temperatures can reach above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite this, The Inn works hard to cater to guests who, like us, chose to spend our vacation here during the summer. Most days, we were up and exploring the park at the break of dawn, as the property is only 3 miles from the National Park Service's information office and within a short drive of several Death Valley attractions including Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America); the Devil’s Golf Course salt flats; and Zabriskie Point, which provides stunning sunrise views at dawn.
We’d return around noon, seeking a soothing reprieve in The Inn’s 87-degree spring-fed pool. There were several other advantages to spending the day on-property, too, including access to an air-conditioned poolside fitness center and the on-site Tranquility Spa, which offers a range of massage treatments (I opted for the Desert Hot Stone Massage, and walked out in a heavenly, trance-like state afterward).
But perhaps the best part of our time at The Inn had to do with the hotel’s staff, all of whom were friendly, attentive and eager to connect with their guests. For example, Javier Villela, a bartender, performed an original, hospitality-themed rap called “Ride With the Wind” for my family one afternoon and Jim, our server at dinner in The Inn Dining Room, made sure to always greet us by name, recall our drink orders each night and engage us in conversation about the area.
Despite its location in Death Valley, we returned home feeling rested, refreshed and oh-so-alive.
The DetailsThe Oasis at Death Valleywww.oasisatdeathvalley.com