PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS California’s largest spa, multiple pools, two 18-hole golf courses, and an upcoming renovation are among the dozens of reasons that this resort attracts both business and leisure travelers year-round.
PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room on the random dates we checked start at $156
CONTACT JW Marriott Desert Springs Palm Desert Resort & Spa, 74-855 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert, California 92260, Phone +760-341-2211, https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ctdca-jw-marriott-desert-springs-resort-and-spa/
WHERE IS IT Approximately 30 minutes from Palm Springs airport, this sprawling resort is actually in Palm Desert, one of the nine communities that make up the greater Palm Springs area. Rental cars are needed to get around although Uber and Lyft are popular in the area. Best of all, parking is included in the resort fee.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Surrounded by lakes, tall palm trees, and splashing fountains and waterfalls, this resort surprises guests with beauty at every turn. Best of all, the motor boats that operate during the late afternoon and evening hours take visitors from the lobby to various points around the resort grounds. The atrium lobby features a variety of exotic birds that guests can interact with unless they are busy sampling the chocolate-covered marshmallow lollipops available by reception. There are so many restaurants, bars, and spots to relax and take in the desert heat that even a few days are hardly enough time to do everything you wish. A property renovation is currently underway overhauling the lobby and public area décor with a fresh, modern twist.
Guest rooms will also see a new look with hardwood floor foyers, pillowtop beds with leather headboards, new bathrooms (many of which come with deep soaking tubs and sliding doors that open to the room), and new dining tables that double as desks. The work should be complete by the end of 2019 (updates in the lobby will be finished by the end of this year). All rooms are charged a nightly $35 resort fee to cover parking, gym access, in-room bottled water and Internet, and even one-hour tennis lessons.
ROOM FACILITIES Guest rooms, even those not renovated, show an elegant and restrained style that is famous among JW Marriott properties. Patterned carpeting and hardwood furnishings bring a residential touch, and wide desks with ample drawers and power outlets are perfect for those with business to do. Oversized king or queen beds feature thick duvets, a quartet of pillows, and bedside power and USB outlets attached to the alarm clock. Refrigerators are great for keeping drinks cold, and all rooms have coffeemakers and bottled water. Turndown service arrives nightly to replenish water and towels. Bathrooms are bright with wide vanities stocked with ylang ylang-scented toiletry products from Aromatherapy Associates.
Glass shower stalls feature multiple nozzles, and soaking tubs are a great way to cool after a day in the heat. This is one of the largest resorts in the area, and it has the most meeting facilities of any hotel meaning that walks to some rooms could be long. Like many Marriott properties, the hotel offers guests staying at least two nights the option to forego housekeeping in exchange for a dining credit or bonus Marriott Rewards points as part of an eco-friendly initiative.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are some great restaurants around Palm Desert (Cork & Fork near the hotel immediately comes to mind), but there is plenty of onsite dining to keep guests well-fed. Mikado is the popular Japanese teppanyaki restaurant open daily for daily for dinner (it has a great sushi and sashimi menu, too). There’s another sushi bar in the lobby, which is adjacent to the popular lobby bar where live entertainment draws the crowds on weekends. Rockwood Grill is open for three meals a day, and it even has a takeout menu for those that want fresh salads, burgers, or appetizers to enjoy elsewhere. Its outdoor patio is especially lovely in the mornings for breakfast before the sun begins its daily scorching routine. Oasis Bar and Grille serves fresh salads and sandwiches poolside (the weekend tacos and tequila menu is a must), and servers roam the pool areas delivering cocktails and other refreshments. Over at the spa, a bistro menu includes health-focused fare including sushi and lighter dishes. Golfers love Fisherman’s Landing Bar & Grill, which is a casual spot for fresh seafood, burgers, and beer with great views of the greens. A Starbucks in the lobby is popular with plenty of takers each morning especially if they danced the night away at the onsite night club.
LEISURE FACILITIES Five swimming pools keep guests cool and relaxed including the three Oasis pools at the center of the resort that see the most action. In the summer, people wade around with drinks as the music creates a party scene most weekends. The springs pool is quieter and gets more shade while the spa pool is a haven of its own open only to those with a spa treatment. A fitness center is open 24 hours a day and included in the resort fee for all guests. As California’s largest hotel spa, this is a huge draw for the resort with several dozen treatment rooms including many reserved for couples or set up like small residences with fireplaces, lounge areas, and private entrances. Relaxation facilities are separated between men and women and include whirlpools, saunas, and a variety of scented steam rooms.
Two 18-hole golf courses keep many of the conference groups busy, and as they are owned and maintained by the resort, they are easier for guests to book a tee time on the spot. Tennis courts (a one-hour lesson is part of the resort fee), a beauty salon, fitness classes, and a daily bird chat with an on-staff expert round out recreational amenities. A printed guide available at reception lays out the week’s rotating list of activities.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Free wireless Internet works well everywhere around the resort (including by the pools), and the conference facilities here are massive with enormous ballrooms that can be divided into smaller sections and several breakout and boardroom setups. The meetings team is known for putting on creative activities that can be tailored to group interests. A business center offers Internet and printer access.
VERDICT The resort is a destination unto itself with more activities and dining options than most others in the area. Its landscape and scenery are straight out of a postcard, and the Audubon Society has even recognized the grounds as a bird sanctuary. Don’t miss the flamingos at the main entrance that greet guests as they arrive and depart.
(Pictures by The JW Marriott Desert Springs Palm Desert Resort & Spa)
By Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels. He travels more than 400,000 miles a year criss-crossing the globe to report on hotels, airlines, loyalty programs, and all things travel.
You can find more from Ramsey at http://www.ramseyq.com/, on Twitter – @dailytraveltips and Instagram – @dailytraveltips