Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa

Cynthia Dial

“Welcome to Renaissance Esmeralda,” greets Charlie, the bellman with a grin as wide as a corridor and warm as the temps, as my daughter and I checked in. Escorting us to Room 3071, he cheerfully inquired, “Is your family name Marriott?” He goes on to explain that ours is one of only 20 rooms with pool view and oversized balcony at this Marriott resort.

Cynthia Dial

Located in the heart of a valley in Indian Wells and surrounded by Palm Desert and La Quinta, our first view of the seven-story, 560-room resort on approach to Highway 111 was impressive. Set on 23 acres near the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains and surrounded by the greenery of surrounding golf runs, the lobby entrance is at the end of the long, palm-lined driveway, Indian Wells Lane.

Debuting in a new look after a multi-million dollar re-imagining, it reminds us of old Hollywood along with today’s modern conveniences. Entering under three crystal chandeliers, a peek emerges from among the two curved stairs leading up to the balcony level, the centerpiece of the resort-pool (the largest in the desert) and the surrounding pool deck.

Cynthia Dial

The outdoor gathering area at the Renaissance Esmeralda is the center of the resort, so a day relaxing in the pool is mandatory and, if possible, inside a beach cabana. “I’m Coco. Follow me to South Beach,” says the cheerful host. “South Beach,” the name of our designated home for the day, is one of the property’s eight chalets (accommodation: six) set on the sand. It’s become our go-to place for people watching, reading books and enjoying our holiday cocktails like Cubas Libres and Mai Tais from H20 Pool Bar.

Featuring such incentives as Spa Esmeralda (11 indoor treatment rooms and eight outdoor treatment cabanas), a 4,600-square-foot fitness center equipped with Peloton bikes, plus table tennis, cornholes and much more, it’s tempting to simply stay put. But it would be a mistake not to leave the beach-like suburbs of the Renaissance and explore the desert, let’s go.

Cynthia Dial

Just steps away are the 36 holes of championship golf at the Indian Wells Golf Resort, one of the few properties in the area that has two courses – Players Course and Celebrity Course – ranked in the Top 25 “US National Courses” by Golf Week magazine. It also offers a “shots at night” encounter. It houses the Putting Experience Course and Glow Golf Range, both of which open shortly after sunset three nights of the week.

Desert Adventure Red Jeep Tours (Palm Desert) If you’re looking for an educational, adventurous and out-of-doors activity, there’s no better way to explore the famous San Andreas rift area than in an outdoor jeep.

Living Desert Zoo & Gardens (Palm Desert) – Named one of the “Top 10 Zoos in America” ​​and described as a “wonderful wilderness” here the residents are observed closely and personally. Australian Adventures features Down Under treasures such as wallabies, kookaburra, parrot and cockatiel. The zoo’s latest addition to the scene, Rhino Savanna, displays a pair of African black rhinos, Nia and Jaali.

Cynthia Dial

Shields Date Garden (Indio) – Located on the same site since 1924, this date farm offers a little bit of everything. While the garden’s winding path through the 17-acre farm provides cardio, there’s also the 350-calorie legendary date drink. And for souvenirs to take home, there are packed dates, date bread, date butter, and even date crystals (an exclusive specialty product invented by Mr. Shields).

Sunnyland Center and Gardens (Rancho Mirage) – This former winter home of Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonor has a illustrious past having, over the years, hosted US presidents, royals, and Hollywood celebrities. Set on 200 acres, it’s possible to tour the nine-acre desert garden designed to replicate an impressionist palette by strolling the walking paths, enjoying bird watching, and even taking yoga classes in the park—free of charge. With advance reservation and entrance fees, it’s also possible to learn about the property’s history during a tour of the 25,000-square-foot modern mansion.

BMW Performance Center (Thermal) – Here, it is possible to get behind the wheel for precise steering instructions in cornering, braking, skid recovery, sweating and accident avoidance; Or better yet, take off as a professional chauffeur rider on an exhilarating ride around the track.

Cynthia Dial

Shopping begins at El Paseo, the desert equivalent of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive.

Chrissy’s on El Paseo (Palm Desert) – Let’s just say the boutique hosted me in: “Would you like a glass of roses?” Owner Chrissy Armstrong showcases an eclectic mix of costumes—from exclusive made-in-Israel jewelry and Sabina Bach resort outfits to Chanel-esque jackets in black and white—all accompanied by an iced drink.

Body Deli (Palm Desert) – Organic and vegan, these locally produced products are preservatives and additives. Developed by beauty chefs Margaret Scarin Clark and David Anton Parker, the line features more than 200 skin and body care products in a selection of 12 fragrances with one of the most popular being Crème De La Rose, a rejuvenating face moisturizer.

Cynthia Dial

Plunging into the art scene is as easy as a stroll through the Melissa Morgan Fine Art Sculpture Garden (Palm Desert), a half-acre outdoor gallery located near the end of upscale City Street. Palm Desert is so dedicated to the arts that even its average extravagant one-mile strip is peppered with outdoor art. And if you’re in the mood to make a purchase (especially contemporary art), the Melissa Morgan Gallery of Fine Art is nearby.

Consignment Store (Palm Springs) – With four buildings filled with desert collectibles sourced from its wealthy and famous residents, it’s well worth a stop for treasures to be discovered. My longtime favorite sighting has been Olivia Newton-John’s ukulele, signed, of course.

Cynthia Dial

Vegas-quality entertainment can be found within minutes of Renaissance Esmeralda at IW Live, the showroom of the Indian Wells hotel. By presenting a variety of live shows from Monday to Saturday, I am convinced that our introduction to one of the new talents of the Sahara, Marc Antonelli, will one day give us the opportunity to say: “We saw him when.”

Cynthia Dial

Souvenirs are plentiful, but here are a few specials. The Place (Renaissance Esmeralda), perfect for an evening dinner around a fire pit, achieves total perfection by choosing grilled chicken with mashed cauliflower. A stop at TQLAS (La Quinta) is rewarded with delicious jalapeno margaritas, street corn, and their signature shrimp taco. The patio in Trilussa (Cathedral City) is the “where” and the faggioli pasta soup, followed by the basa filet mignon with a caper-lemon sauce is the “what.”

Cynthia Dial

On weekends, look no further than JC (Palm Desert) Café for brunch and their choice of Five Benedicts. Evening dinner on the terrace of Pacifica Seafood Restaurant (Palm Desert) is highly recommended, starting with bacon-stuffed Coachella dates, followed by the restaurant’s signature dish, sugar-marinated salmon and ending with a chocolate lava cake (if you’re lucky enough to be there) when he adds it Chef Luis Zamora to the menu).

Cynthia Dial

Filled with all the requirements of a well-appointed getaway and every element of a weekend getaway about “me,” look no further than Renaissance Esmeralda in Greater Palm Springs. It is the recipe for renewal.

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