Opened in 1926, this early Spanish style gem is the longest running resort in the Palm Springs area. Nineteen miles east of Palm Springs and 120 miles east of Los Angeles, La Quinta Resort first became famous as a paparazzi-proof hideout for Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and Frank Capra. After writing most of his hit movies there (such as "It's A Wonderful Life"), Capra eventually made his "Shangri-La of Screenwriting" his home, and visitors can still rent his cottage, the San Anselmo suite. In spite of state-of-the-art upgrades over the years, La Quinta retains the retro grace and charm of a golden age of Hollywood desert sanctuary.
Set against the spectacular setting of Santa Rosa Mountains, the resort is situated in a grid of private casitas. These cottage-style suites and guest rooms, named after saints, are arranged around courtyards containing pools, furnished cabanas and spacious play areas. Everywhere you look the eye encounters pristine lawns, citrus groves and flowering bushes.
Casitas feel like private homes featuring king-size beds, lush carpets, multi-channel TV, and massive bathrooms with stall shower, Jacuzzi tubs, and colorful Mexican Talavera tile highlights. For the kids, some genius built a 1400-square-foot, two-level playground, featuring a spiraling slide, monkey bars, a slanted honeycomb climber, a fun zone and lots of crawl spaces. If they can't have Disneyland, La Quinta is hardly a downgrade.
Morgan's in the desert, La Quinta Resort's signature restaurant spearheaded by celebrated chef and restaurateur Jimmy Schmidt, offers contemporary American cuisine inspired by the bounty of the Coachella Valley. An exciting list of vintage cocktails and handcrafted spirits, as well as California boutique wines and artisan beers, complements the farm-to-table menu. Menu highlights include spice crusted prime sirloin beef carpaccio, roasted split spiny Santa Barbara lobster, pan roasted breast of duck and foie and rack of pistachio crusted Colorado lamb.
Other dining options include La Quinta's TWENTY6, a casual all-day dining venue offering modern American bistro fare. Bar TWENTY6 is a lively spot that offers small bites, classic cocktails, California wines and draft beer. The resort's Adobe Grill serves fine Mexican cuisine. In a spacious setting full of antique copper cooking artifacts and handblown glassware from Guadalajara, you'll get unforgettable classics: lobster empanadas (masa turnover filled with lobster, roasted Poblano peppers and manchego cheese) and torta de maiz (cornmeal crèpes layered with cheese, roasted peppers, chorizo and fresh corn, served with salsa ranchera). Not to be missed is the fresh guacamole prepared tableside.
The 23,000-square-foot Spa La Quinta is a top "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. Humans aren't the only ones getting pampered at La Quinta Resort. As a part of its extensive pet program, the resort has introduced the canine massage by a certified animal massage practitioner.
It is more than fitting that the namesake of La Quinta is the resort itself. This sequestered desert area boasts a spectacular vista of mountains and landscapes unfettered by civilization. Aside from numerous golfing sites it's an ideal location for jeep rides through the rocky terrain, ballooning and horseback riding. The resort has even teamed up with Thermal Motorsports Track & Club, an invitation-only racing club, to provide guests with luxury experiences and exclusivity.
No wonder the great Garbo dreamed of La Quinta when she desired a respite from celebrity life.