PALM DESERT, Calif. -- It's been described as a cruise ship on land, an oasis in the desert. The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is one of the top resorts in the West and one of the most fun as well.
"A lot of resorts promote various luxuries, but we feel what sets us apart is the Luxury of Choice," says KC Kinsey, director of marketing and sales for the JW Marriott Desert Springs. "Once here all you have to do is choose."
While I would encourage visitors to venture out into the greater Palm Springs area if they visit, you could also just park yourself at the JW Marriott, which pretty much has everything covered, from golf to exquisite dining to relaxing by the pool. Here are 10 things I really like about this resort:
1. Desert Springs Golf Club
Foremost for the traveling golfer is the JW Marriott Desert Springs has two enjoyable golf courses that were recently renovated to the tune of $3 million. Designed by Ted Robinson, both the Palms Course and Valley Course are championship level and in impeccable shape. There's lots of water and bunkers, but generous fairways make both courses very playable. The par-3 holes on the Palms are particularly strong. There's also a putting course on the property.
2. The JW Marriott Desert Springs layout
Where else can you take a water taxi from the hotel lobby (which was recently renovated)? Maybe Hawaii, but it's a little less common in the desert. Kudos to the atrium layout of the hotel, the waterfalls and the meandering waterways, which are all visible from the center of the hotel.
3. Great dining and entertainment
I really love the breakfast buffet at Rockwood Grill, where you can get everything from fresh lox and mangoes to custom omelets. There's also great seafood at the newer Fisherman's Landing, Mikado Japanese Steakhouse and a terrific sushi bar. Rockwood's overall theme is farm to table, while the theme for the beautiful Blue Star Lounge adjacent to the lobby overlooking the water is grain to glass. And for nightlife, be sure to check out Costa's Palm Desert Nightclub, where in lieu of live music, there's a DJ and dancing.
4. Tennis on three surfaces
If you're like me, you like to get in tennis and golf at the same location, and the JW Marriott excels in both. The resort's award-winning Desert Springs Tennis Club offers 15 hardcourts, three clay courts and two grass courts (yes, like Wimbledon), as well as expert instruction, drills and a full-service tennis shop.
5. TaylorMade Performance Lab
Even if you don't buy any golf clubs, going through a fitting at the TaylorMade Performance Lab, one of just a few around the country, is an educational and fun experience that is sure to improve your game. Full service not only includes the simulator and launch monitor, but also a 3-D motion analysis system that captures an avatar of your swing. Of course, the lab's Master PGA Professional can also provide a custom fit set of clubs sure to improve your game.
6. Largest spa west of the Mississippi
At 38,000 square feet, the Desert Springs Spa is the largest in the West. Incredibly, the spa can do up to 600 treatments a day in the 38 treatment rooms, but you never get the feeling that it's crowded. An extensive treatment menu incorporates ancient healing methods, and exotic ingredients from locally grown citrus and dates. There's a saltwater pool, men's and women's locker rooms, as well as the spa bistro, a great lunch option.
7. Rooms with a view
Whether it's out on the golf course or looking back down into the atrium, the resort has 883 rooms (51 suites) in addition to its golf villas, making it the largest JW Marriott in the West. All comfortably appointed with the latest technology, room service and amenities, it's what you would expect from a hotel of this caliber.
8. Meeting space
The JW Marriott Desert Springs can handle just about any size group, from small groups to a medium-sized convention with its 75,000 square feet of meeting space that underwent a $2.5 million renovation in 2012. The resort recently hosted the Patrick Warburton Celebrity golf event to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which included a gala of top-notch entertainment in its large ballroom.
9. Unique shopping and experiences
There's something for everyone here, including the latest fashions, souvenir gifts and even Harley-Davidson motorcycle rentals. Yep, if you've got a license you can rent a hog for less than $200 a day.
10. Swimming pools, movie stars
Okay, there's no guarantee you'll see movie stars around the resort's extensive pool area, which includes the Oasis Poolside Bar and Grille, but it's the spot to be, especially when the temperatures rise above 90 degrees.