Five golf courses, 23 tennis courts and 41 pools: A review of the La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria in Palm Springs
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Every year I am faced with the question of where to cash in on my annual $250 annual Hilton resort credit provided by my Hilton co-branded credit card. This year, I decided to bundle a trip to Los Angeles with a quick getaway to the Coachella Valley and booked a stay at the La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria.
The resort opened in the 1920s as a hideaway for the Hollywood elite. Nowadays, the 45-acre resort is a haven for sports buffs and anyone in need of some R&R in the desert. Little did I know that this would end up being my last vacation before being grounded due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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The hotel isn’t quite as pricey as some other Waldorf Astoria properties. Room rates typically range between $200 to $500 per night, with the lowest rates often found during the warmer summer months. Award rates tend to range between 50,000 to 80,000 Hilton Honors points, which equates to $300 to $480 based on TPG valuations.
This property is especially attractive for those with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card like me. Hilton classifies this property as a resort so you can use the card’s up to $250 annual resort credit here. As long as you don’t book an advance purchase or nonrefundable rate, you can use the credit toward your room rate (in addition to incidental charges such as meals and spa treatments).
Aspire cardholders could also book through HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard (or over the phone using the code ZZAAP1) to receive up to a $100 credit for incidentals at the property on stays of two nights or more. On top of all of that, Aspire cardholders earn 34 points per dollar (a 20.4% return) on stays here booked directly through Hilton (14 points per dollar for paying with the card and an additional 20 points through the card’s automatic Hilton Diamond status).
The property charges a $35 nightly resort fee. I am not a fan of such fees, but this property was a legit resort and the benefits were tailored to its clientele, including valet and self-parking, fitness and tennis club access (not use of tennis courts), daily fitness classes, PGA West shuttle service, golf bag storage, driving range access and daily bottled water in the room. You can avoid this fee (and still enjoy all of the inclusions) by booking your stay using your Hilton points instead of spending cash.
The La Quinta Resort & Club is at the foot of the Coachella Valley’s Santa Rosa Mountains in the city of La Quinta (which was named after the resort in 1982). It’s in a residential area, a roughly 35-minute drive from downtown Palm Springs. The area is best known for its many golf courses, but you’ll also find unique shopping and dining options at Old Town La Quinta (one mile away), scenic hiking trails, museums and the Empire Polo Club (about five miles away).
The resort is about 20 miles away from Palm Springs International Airport (PSP). Major gateways Ontario International Airport (ONT) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are about 90 miles and 150 miles away, respectively. The best way to get around is either by Uber or if you’re driving from Los Angeles, as I did, your own car.
I was immediately wowed by the long tree-lined driveway. Once through, I was greeted by friendly valet attendants who asked me if I’d like to valet park and then be driven to my room in a golf cart or self-park, both of which are included in the resort fee. I went with the latter.
There were separate check-in lines for elite members and general guests, but neither had a wait when I arrived at 1 p.m., ahead of the official 4 p.m. check-in time.
Right off the bat, the agent acknowledged my Hilton Diamond status, thanks to my Hilton Honors Aspire Card, and offered me a citrusy welcome drink made from fruit grown on the property. I was then informed that I’d been upgraded to a two queen Spa-Villa Studio room and provided a letter outlining the Diamond benefits, along with some almond toffee for my welcome gift. However, I was disappointed that the complimentary breakfast for Diamond members came in the form of just a $15 daily credit per guest as that wasn’t enough to pay for the continental option like it’s supposed to.
Accommodations ranged from casita-style rooms to duplex-style studios to fully equipped residential-style villas, some of which were privately owned. In other words, there wasn’t just one big building that housed all the rooms. The standard casita-style rooms looked decently spacious from the outside.
However, as I mentioned before, I was upgraded to a 450-square-foot two queen Spa-Villa Studio.
The property was massive and I frequently had trouble finding my room, both by car and on foot. I was given a map and knew that my room was located near the spa, but I could have used more signage.
All of the Spa-Villa rooms were in lovely Spanish-style buildings that contained two units each. The studio rooms were located up a flight of stairs. This wasn’t mentioned during check-in or on the hotel’s website but is something to keep in mind for people with limited mobility or those who need help with their bags and plan on driving directly to their rooms.
The Spa-Villa suites, on the other hand, were located on the ground floor.
When I opened the door to my studio, there was a living area with a sofa bed and TV. Although there wasn’t a door, the separation from the main sleeping area made the room feel more like a suite than a studio.
To the left was the main sleeping area and minibar. There were no snacks for purchase. While Keurig machines are usually a nice feature, it felt a bit cheap here considering Waldorf Astoria properties typically have Nespresso machines. Also, the coffee cups were made of paper, not porcelain.
Oddly, the refrigerator was not at the bar area, but rather beneath the living room television. In it were two complimentary bottles of water.
The bedroom had two queen-size beds, another television, a desk, a seating area and a fireplace. While not luxurious by any means, the décor suited the hotel’s history and surroundings.
The beds were comfortable, dressed with a sheet, duvet and four fluffy pillows.
Waiting on my bed was a welcome note and a small tile so that I could take a piece of the hotel back home.
Between the beds was a nightstand, which had built-in AC and USB outlets. The alarm clock radio also had two USB ports.
Across was a television on a stand. I’m not a big TV watcher, but it seemed too small for me. The room as a whole could use a technological overhaul. Unlike most Waldorf Astoria properties, there was no in-room iPad.
The desk was decently sized and clutter-free. Although not built into the table, there were power outlets nearby.
My favorite feature of the room was the see-through fireplace that turned on with the flip of a switch. There was also a comfortable chair and ottoman beside it.
The Spanish theme of the hotel carried through to the bathroom, which featured hand-painted Talavera tiles. As with the rest of the room, the bathroom felt a bit dated but was well-maintained given its age.
It offered two sinks with plenty of counter space, a walk-in shower with a single wall-mounted showerhead, a bathtub and a separate WC. The focal point of the bathroom, however, was the tub-level fireplace.
As is the standard at Waldorf Astoria properties, the bath products were Tuscan Soul by Salvatore Ferragamo, which smelled fresh and light. Aside from mouthwash and vanity kits, there weren’t any other amenities like dental kits or bath salts. There were only two bath towels and two pool towels provided (most pool areas weren’t stocked with towels) and the presentation wasn’t very appealing.
There was a large walk-in closet, which would have been nice for a longer stay. In it was a safe, iron, ironing board and extra bedding, but no robe or slippers to speak of, which was expected from a hotel of this caliber.
The room also featured a large balcony with two chairs and beautiful mountain views.
Food and beverage
The resort offered several food and beverage outlets. They were primarily all located in the main plaza area near the lobby.
Twenty6 was the hotel’s main eatery, open for breakfast lunch and dinner. It offered a relaxed family-friendly vibe and served modern American comfort food.
I came here for my complimentary breakfast that I get as a part of my Hilton elite status (remember you can get Hilton Gold or Diamond status simply by having a cobranded credit card). As I previously mentioned, at this property, that came in the form of a $15 daily credit, and unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to pay for the continental option like it’s supposed to.
The restaurant offers a breakfast buffet during some parts of the year, but during my stay, only a la carte was available. Shortly after being seated, I was offered a complimentary berry smoothie shot, which was extremely refreshing.
My companion and I enjoyed our omelet and huevos rancheros. I was disappointed though to discover that the orange juice that the menu described as “freshly squeezed” was actually bottled, especially considering all of the blooming orange trees throughout the property.
A short walk away was The Marketplace, a cute cafe that served espresso drinks, tea, bottled alcoholic beverages, pastries, pizzas, packaged salads, snacks and more. I could have also used my breakfast credit here.
Around the corner was the hotel’s signature dining outlet, Morgan’s in The Desert. It was the fanciest option on the property and priced accordingly. Open only for dinner, it offered rustic, farm-to-table American cuisine.
The atmosphere was warm and there was a chic yet cozy bar area. Although I didn’t have the chance to see it at night, there was also an outdoor patio that I would imagine to be very romantic when the string lights and fire pits are lit.
Located on the upper level of the plaza was Adobe Grill. It served Mexican cuisine and was open for brunch and dinner. The restaurant’s known for its fresh tamales and margaritas, but it’s a bit on the pricey side, as can be expected at a luxury resort.
Just outside of Adobe Grill, on a hill at the center of the plaza, was the Top of the Plaza bar. It was a great spot for after-dinner drinks and offered terrific views, though again, was a bit on the high side so be prepared for that. There’s also live music here on the weekends.
Room service was available from 6 a.m. to midnight. I sampled the wild mushroom pizza and a side of fries, which arrived in around 45 minutes and hit the spot after an afternoon at the pool.
It looked like there was a bar at the main pool area, but it wasn’t open during my stay and there was no staff walking around to take orders. Also, none of the smaller pools spread across the property (more on those soon) had phones to order food, which I thought was a missed opportunity.
The highlight of the resort was its amenities. Although I sometimes couldn’t find my room, I never had trouble finding a place to take a dip. There were a whopping 41 pools and 53 hot tubs spread across the property. Regardless of what type of accommodations you were staying in, you were always steps away from a near-private pool. All pools were heated to a comfortable temperature. My only two quibbles were that there were no towels by the casita pools (pool towels were provided in the room) and there were no phones to order poolside food or drinks.
There was a large main pool located near the tennis courts. It offered private cabanas and looked like it offered poolside service during at least some parts of the year, but not during the time of my stay. There was also a small splash pool for children.
Unlike the casita pools, there was no shortage of self-serve towels at the main pool.
There was also an adults-only plunge pool located near the original casitas. It offered cabanas for rent and various lawn games. The resort partnered with Veuve Clicquot to offer an Après Swim experience here Thursdays through Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Health and wellness were a big focus for the resort. Guests had access to a large fitness center equipped with everything every piece of equipment you’d need for a workout, as well as refrigerated towels and water bottles.
As a part of the resort fee, guests also had access to four to seven group fitness classes a day, including yoga, spin, aqua fitness and pilates. I participated in a spin class during my stay and broke a sweat.
Behind the fitness center were 21 hard and clay tennis courts, which could be rented for an additional charge.
The resort offered five renown golf courses, three of which were at PGA West, designed by golfing legends Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. Resort guests had access to a complimentary shuttle to the courses, complimentary bag storage, driving range access and complimentary range balls. However, I stuck to using putting green located near the adults-only pool.
Although I didn’t indulge, there was a spa that offered a full range of treatments, as well as a salon.
I spent a great deal of time exploring the resort’s grounds, which were perfectly groomed and filled with various types of citrus fruit trees which guests can treat themselves to while exploring.
There were also several boutiques, including a Polo Ralph Lauren, located by the main plaza area for those looking to do some shopping on-site.
Both valet and self-parking were included in the resort fee. I chose to self-park and never had trouble finding a spot near my room.
Wi-Fi was included in the daily resort fee. There was no login required, but it was very slow and didn’t reach all parts of the property. With speeds measuring just 5.95 Mbps download and 2.72 Mbps upload, I needed to use my phone as a mobile hotspot to get any work done.
Unfortunately, the service fell a bit short of expectations from a luxury property associated with the Waldorf name. During check-in, I was told that I could message the front desk at any time via the Hilton app so shortly after arriving at my room I sent a message to request slippers and a robe. That request went unanswered so I decided to call instead as I also had a maintenance issue in the room. Although someone picked up right away, it took multiple calls and several hours for the items and maintenance worker to arrive. There were also some minor housekeeping snafus, and unlike other Waldorf Astoria properties, there was no turndown service.
As long as you set your expectations accordingly, you can have a great stay at the Waldorf Astoria La Quinta Resort & Club. While the hotel didn’t offer the same level of opulence you might expect from, let’s say, the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, it also had a much lower price tag and could be booked using the Hilton Aspire’s annual resort credit. The rooms could use a refresh and the service could be improved, but the property as a whole was beautiful. If you want something more modern or more centrally located then stay at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, but if you’re looking for more privacy or a place where you can stay entertained without leaving the resort, then the La Quinta Resort is a solid choice.
All photos by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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