By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
INDIAN WELLS, CA – As the summer turns to fall, the winter, and the days get shorter, there is one place in Southern California ready for its peak season. The Palms Springs area is known for its mild weather and as the perfect place to be in the winter months. The large swaths of migrants known as “Snowbirds” are re-gripping their golf clubs and buying new sandals, as they happily leave the snow and ice for the sunshine and warm air of the Coachella Valley.
And although it doesn’t snow much near the San Fernando Valley where my family lives, we still packed up the car and headed east to spend the weekend down in the desert. The drive was just over two hours, a pleasant jaunt with the wife and kid, and just long enough to enjoy arriving and stretching out a little bit before we checked in to the golf resort.
There is a plethora of places to stay down in the desert, and we chose the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells right off of Highway 111. The property exudes an air of sophistication, and we could tell it was going to be a really nice weekend the minute we stepped foot in the resort. This was the place that hosted the Chinese President and America’s own Barack Obama, so if it’s good enough for world leaders, it would do just fine for the Thomas family.
I always like staying at fancy resorts, because everyone is so happy to be there, and the staff is always so attentive and accommodating. As we checked in my wife noticed the “Arnold Palmer Bar,” which had a large ice-filled container of ice tea alongside another large ice filled glass container of lemonade. This way you can mix and match your percentage of ice tea and lemonade ratios to make the perfect Arnold Palmer suited to your liking. After seeing this, I knew this was the ideal place to stay and enjoy the weekend in Indian Wells. We checked into the resort and were off to relax in our room.
The Hyatt Regency Indian Wells is built in the center of two golf courses, and the back nine of the Celebrity Course meanders around the property. You can sit at the bar and watch the golfers tee off at number 10, and the last two holes of the Celebrity Course circle the villas and convention center. The entire layout is really well done, and gives you a feeling of being welcome wherever you happen to be on the property.
Our room was perfect for our little crew, with two king beds and the sofa was also a hide-a-way bed. Our thoughts were that me and my wife would each get a king bed, and little George would sleep on the sofa bed. But little kids have different ideas than their parents, and it was still fun to fantasize about a well-executed vacation with little boys going to bed at eight sharp.
We were up on the fourth floor, overlooking the pools and practice putting green. They also have ping pong tables and a couple of water slides to satisfy the youngsters and those who are young at heart. We could hear the laughing and squeals of happiness from our balcony, so it wasn’t long until we were off to explore the pools and property around the resort. As we popped into the pool area, we noticed there were seven om total, creating a de facto resort within the resort. You could rent cabanas for the day, there was a restaurant and several different sized pools varying in water temperature. There were also a couple of water slides and one pool had a basketball hoop so you could play that classic American game, water basketball.
There is a lot to do and see in the Palm Springs area, but the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells seemed to have it all, and there was really no reason to leave the resort. On Friday night we ate at the casual Agave Sunset bar and lounge. This restaurant located right off the lobby has an impressive menu and an extensive list of wine and cocktails. We opted for the cheeseburger and carne asada tater tot nachos, and both were delicious. This was a great option as it took us five minutes to walk to the restaurant from our room. And when you have a pregnant wife and 1 ½ year old son, convenience is one of the top factors you consider when dining out.
The commute to the restaurant was so desirable, the following night we dined at the fancy and award-winning Lantana Restaurant. My compliments to the chef, as everything on the menu looked and sounded great, but the shrimp and scallops that I finally decided on were phenomenal. My wife had the braised beef short rib over a creamy polenta, and said the meat essentially melted in her mouth. We also started with a fantastic wild mushroom flat bread and calamari, and had an unforgettable (no, really!) side dish of lemony, mustardy roast brussels sprouts alongside our main courses.
It was a great place to eat, and we dined outside by a fountain and waterfall. Even little Georgie loved eating at the restaurant, as he colored and took in the sights of happy people eating out while on vacation. The calamari was his favorite – we devoured it too, as it was cooked just perfectly by the chef. Chocolate lava cake and creme brulee made a decadent and delightful end to a long, leisurely dinner on the patio.
On the Sunday I got a round of golf in. The two golf courses are within walking distance of the resort, but I drove over there and it took me about 45 seconds. The Indian Wells Golf Resort is one of the top places to play down in the desert, and they have two regulation length courses to choose from. I played the Celebrity Course, as they were reseeding the Players Course and it was closed for a couple more days.
The playing conditions were ideal, and the rye grass they were over-seeding with was perfectly grown in and wonderful for hitting golf shots off, even at my modest level of play. They also have a nine-hole putting course, which is great for introducing the game to youngsters. Little George chased me around probably 72 holes one afternoon as we played loop after loop. The entire facility is top-notch, and will not leave you disappointed at all. I happily to stay at the Hyatt Regency for a week while just playing those two courses over and over again.
Everything about our weekend in Indian Wells was delightful. The drive out and back was no big deal, and once we checked in to the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, all our cares were swept away for a few days. There is plenty to do for all generations and family members, and the restaurants are second to none. The seven pools, two golf courses, and myriad of activities will make you so glad you chose this property for your time down in the desert. I am certainly looking forward to visiting again for another splendid weekend in Indian Wells.