Indian Wells in California is about 12 miles south of Palm Springs in an area that is just booming with money and luxury, and the MiraMonte resort is just one of four major hotel properties in the area. Indian Wells is one of the fastest growing leisure areas in California, with an idyllic winter climate sure to banish those winter blues. Some of the best golf courses in the world can be found at Indian Wells, hosting such events as the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which pairs professionals with celebrities in a five day golfing festival in February. Tennis fans are not left out however, with the Tennis Masters series at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in March, a brand new 17,000-seat facility that opened for business last year. A series of lectures have also been scheduled for this year, which kicked off with John Major in January, with others such as James Baker, David and Julie Eisenhower and Robert Ballard all set to appear. Indian Wells also hosts the only symphony orchestra in the desert, who in their eleventh season will be playing in their own 2,000-seat facility at the Southwest Community Church. The 3,406 residents have average incomes of $111,000, average age is over 60, and are 84% Republican, and no doubt thrilled at the prospect of four years of a George Bush presidency.
The history of Indian Wells is also fascinating and dates back only 150 years from itís time as an Indian village with a well. The discovery of gold along the Colorado River at Ehrenberg, Arizona, led to the opening of the Bradshaw stage and wagon routes. The Indian well became a popular watering hole along the route, but had to be replaced by a bigger well dug by the county authorities. At the turn of the century settlers started to come to the area despite the dust storms, heat and flooding, but the turning point was 1917 when Caleb Cook started a date farm. Many other farmers soon followed, but it was actor and bandleader Desi Arnaz who put the region on the showbiz map, when he was involved in the first golf course in the area, the Indian Wells Golf Club and Country Club. Celebrities soon followed Desi, with the likes of Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn all becoming regular visitors. President Eisenhower was a complete golf fanatic, and made Indian Wells his home after his days in Washington. In 1960 the first Bob Hope Desert Classic took place, and in 1967, Indian Wells proudly became the 400th incorporated city in California with its 855 residents who had an average income of $14,000. Today Indian Wells remains a well-kept oasis of wealth and privilege in the desert.
The MiraMonte is one of four quality hotels in Indian Wells, and no expense has been spared to recreate a feel of Tuscany in the desert. Fourteen separate buildings host 226 rooms and suites on 11 acres of landscaped gardens with a fantastic view of the Santa Rosa Mountains and surrounded by three golf courses. Guests at the MiraMonte are guaranteed tee times at up to 40 local courses through the concierge, who can also arrange clinics at the schools hosted by David Leadbetter, Jim McLean and Dave Pelz. If you are in the mood for a rest however, then the MiraMonte is just the ticket. Other activities to get involved in are croquet, badminton, swimming in two pools, hot air ballooning, hiking, horseback riding and four-wheel drive desert tours. Another nice touch as you are having lunch on the terrace is the roving flamenco guitarist, which additionally provides a relaxing feel.
The suites feature a Jacuzzi tub, marble floors in the bathroom, king or two queen -size beds, fully stocked bars and 24-hour room service. However what I liked about the hotel is the fact that nobody bothers you while you are there, and you really can feel untroubled whatsoever. An attractive lobby with a large bar area also gives the MiraMonte a special feel. The rates are pretty good as well, ranging from a low of $109 up to a maximum of $379 for one of the suites or two story villas. Winter is probably the best time to go, but although the temperatures in summer can be scorching, it is a dry heat and much easier to get used to.
Executive chef Robert Briskman bases his menus on the finest California ingredients possible in his menu which is loosely based around Northern Italian cuisine, with Brissago being the feature restaurant at the hotel along with the Pool Grille and Lobby Bar.
Mike Hepworth, January 2001
Tel: (760) 341-2200
Fax: (760) 568-0541
Indian Wells on the web.