The ancestral family barouche being deemed unsuitable for the journey to Palm Springs mandated that we fire up the long base Mercedes saloon car for the journey. And off we went in search of the salubrious sun, crystalline air and Brobdingnagian palm trees only this California desert oasis can promise. And soon enough, the rocky, arid Inland Empire began to give way and we were embraced by emerald green grass, towering palms and mossy olive trees. We had arrived at our destination: the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains.
We felt a bit like Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon must have felt the moment they discovered King Tut’s tomb: we were overwhelmed by the inspiring beauty of the place that embraces the spirit of the desert yet offers spontaneous discoveries at every turn. Here were 23 acres of exuberant tropical gardens, cascading waterfalls and azure lakes, a pool with a sandy beach, oversized cabanas and oodles of space to just roam about and relax.
And relax we did over the next two days and nights, while also pursuing every high-energy activity this storied resort has on offer. An early home to Hollywood icons from Bob Hope to the Rat Pack, the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa recently underwent a major refreshing. While still mid-century in many of the best ways, it has been infused with imagination and millions of dollars. The result is a fresh infusion of light and majestic touches like a grand staircase, bubbling indoor fountain and renewed palatial lobby plus, tasteful, ridiculously comfortable rooms and suites with captivating views of the golf course, pool and mountains, an intimate, full-service spa, fitness center with weights and Peloton bikes, hair salon, several commendable restaurants, a children’s program, and much more.
While we weren’t louching about in the resort’s very indulgent terry cloth robes, we were attentively kept hydrated and fed by the anything-you-need staff in our private poolside cabana while our six-year-old granddaughter built sandcastles. We could have enrolled her in the resort’s thoughtful Camp Esmeralda where skilled counselors teach arts and crafts, ceramic painting, slime making, coloring and all the things kids love.
At night we supped on casual, comfort food like burgers, Caesar salad chicken wings and poke. We quaffed craft cocktails like kings and queens in The Place Lobby Bar, attacked the groaning breakfast buffet at CAVA and had the occasional mai tai at the H2O Pool Bar.
When we felt the need to move more vigorously, we turned to ping pong but could have done so much more: the resort is surrounded by two 18-hole championship golf courses. But if golf is not your passion, there are tennis courts, canyon jeep tours, yoga, hiking, running, hot air ballooning, bike rentals, and the largest pool in the desert. We were in heaven, the whole family, including our granddaughter, who marveled at the soaring atrium, hot tubs and plunge pools.
Of course, we had to drop in on the Spa Esmeralda for a couple’s massage, body scrub, and facial, optionally performed in the spa’s intimate garden.
We spent our apres-dinner nights stargazing warmed by the fire pits around the pool. For fun, we visited Desert Glow, the resort’s very inventive arcade gaming experience where the whole family played interactive video games, bowled, shot baskets and avoided the tempting but scary escape room.
Our whole experience at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa was perfect in every way, a quality stay thanks to the team of hardworking, no-request-is-impossible “Navigators” who effortlessly and happily guide guests to the resort’s every treasure, some quite unexpected. We can’t wait to go back. Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, 44-400 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, (760) 773-4444, www.renesmeralda.com.
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