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JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, California - Hotel Review

JW Marriott is for the Birds ... And That's a Good Thing

by Jeff Hoyt

An aerial view of the JW Marriott Desert Springs property in Palm Desert, California
An aerial view of the JW Marriott Desert Springs property in California

Prior to his campaign of conquest in Persia, Alexander the Great reached a great oasis supposedly by following birds across the Libyan Desert. Travelers to the Coachella Valley in Southern California can find an oasis as well by following the birds to the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa.

Guests at the huge Palm Desert resort not far from Palm Springs will first hear birds inside the impressive entryway which leads up to an eight-story atrium and down to the large lake that flows through the bottom floor of the hotel. The squawking emanates from cages of exotic birds near the boat landing where visitors can take a boat ride to acquaint themselves with the property. The 20-minute boat tour, which takes guests past cascading waterfalls, fountains, lagoons, fish and bathing birds, features views of the two golf courses and three of the five large swimming pools. Although the fun boat ride covers a lot, it is just a fraction of the gargantuan 450-acre resort dotted with palm trees.

All of the 884 guest rooms and suites have balconies, and many also offer views of the lake and pools and the distant mountain chain, separated by the pair of Ted Robinson-designed, eighteen-hole championship golf courses. (There’s also an eighteen-hole putting course that is good for adults and kids.) The greens are truly "green" as these courses are Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries, designed to enhance the natural areas and wildlife habitats while minimizing the potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations. So while you’re going for birdies, look out for the birds! In fact, while we were splashing around in the uncrowded pools, a momma duck and her ducklings decided to join us, thrilling the kids. Another family of ducks made its home near the pool restaurant, while hummingbirds, the symbol of the resort, buzz around the lush landscaping.

All of the 884 guest rooms and suites of the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort have balconies, and many also offer views of the lake and pools and the distant mountain chain One of JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort's two main pool complexes, located  in Palm Desert, California
A room with a view
One of two main pool complexes

All rooms are equipped with granite and marble bathrooms, separate tubs and showers, CD players, and coffeemakers. Lazy caffeine junkies will appreciate that one of the six on-site restaurants is a Starbucks. Size does matter at this large convention hotel, so prepare to do some walking, even if you’re not going outside. (One nifty alternative: the boats can also be reserved to take guests to some of the restaurants for dinner.) Most of the air-conditioned buildings interconnect, but the tennis complex/fitness center is a 10-minute walk from the hotel entrance. Take a break along the way at the pond that houses the hotel’s flamingoes. The resort features basketball and volleyball courts as well as a complete tennis program, including fifteen hard-surface, three clay and two stadium grass courts. During the hot summers, tennis players will appreciate that six of the hard-surface courts are lighted, so games can be played after the temperatures drop.

After a workout, visit Spa Desert Springs, the largest in Southern California at 38,000 square feet. Guests can window-shop along the way at the resort’s high-end stores. The Brazilian wood and limestone building features a ten-foot waterfall, saltwater pool, bistro, separate men’s and women’s hammams, steamrooms, whirlpools, saunas and three private suites, the largest measuring a whopping 600 square feet. There’s even a 50-inch flat screen TV in the men’s side.

One of our pet peeves at spas is trying to figure out how to get the right temperature in the shower. This spa is equipped with state-of-the-art Kohler digitally programmable five-head showers, making it easy to set and maintain the hot water. But it was hard to have faith in the settings, as the display read that it was the year 2004! After an invigorating massage, we weren’t surprised to see a large bird staring at us through one of the spa’s many windows.

We planned on visiting nearby attractions like The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and El Paseo shopping district, but ended up spending all of our time hanging at the family-friendly resort. Harried parents will enjoy the Kids Klub that can whisk the children away for fun activities. We got to hear our one-year-old learn a new word during our stay: "duck!"

 

 

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(Updated: 10/21/11 CT)

 


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