This past June of 2005, my boyfriend and I braved the blazing Palm Springs summer heat and trekked out to the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in search of a tranquil, relaxing weekend getaway to the California desert. Despite the weather, we had a wonderful weekend at the Esmeralda and left feeling pampered, rested and serene --- ready to face the Monday blues back at work.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE RESORT:
- Located in upscale Indian Wells, CA, which is about 13 miles from central Palm Springs.
- Features 560 rooms and suites, 3 pools, a full-service spa, and 2 on-site restaurants.
- Completed a $31 million dollar renovation in 2002.
- Listed as one of the "500 Greatest Hotels in the World" by "Travel & Leisure" magazine.
The interior of the resort is very open and airy and centers around a sweeping, twisting staircase located in the center interior "courtyard" area of the resort. Once you walk this staircase down from the lobby to the lower level of the resort, you will find the exit to the pool area (pool area discussed further in a below section). The pool is surrounded by a floral-laced mossy green man-made lake that encircles the resort. Overall, it is a pretty environment --- not the most amazing and beautiful hotel grounds I've witnessed in my travels, but certainly comfortable enough.
For our stay, we had originally booked one of Esmeralda's standard rooms. When we arrived at the room, we found it to be clean and comfortable with well-appointed modern furnishings. However, after a short while in the room, we realized it was very noisy as our room was facing the pool area. When we telephoned the Front Desk to let them know this problem, they were extremely kind and apologetic and before we knew it, we were upgraded to a Suite! The standard room was lovely, but the Suite was naturally even more so ... we were even greeted by a complimentary bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries (I was told these could also be requested free of charge for "special occasions"). The Suite was spacious and featured a very large dual-sink bathroom and a balcony overlooking the lake surrounding the resort. Bathrooms feature products by Bath & Body Works (the ladies will be pleased!). The beds at the resort (both in the Suite and the standard room) are very comfortable and clean --- we slept very well. The hotel's 2002 renovation shows in the updated, modern furnishings and contemporary design of the rooms.
The Esmeralda features 3 adjacent pools that surround a center Pool Bar where you can order food and drinks. One end of the pool is geared towards younger children as it features a simulated shallow "beach" for them to play in. There are also cascading waterfalls that flow into the pool on the opposite end (the adults mostly hang out here). Rounding the perimeter of the pool are a few jacuzzi hot tubs in little gazebos. There are plenty of lounge chairs and also a booth to rent floating devices, rafts, etc. We were initially worried about the many children that were in the pool area and the potential noise they might incur, but we soon found that the pool area is large enough and features enough secluded areas to avoid any noise issues.
We had the opportunity to experience the on-site Spa Esmeralda and had a wonderful time. The Spa is full-service, beautifully designed and very quiet and serene inside. The staffers are very friendly and accommodating. The interior mens' and womens' locker rooms are nicely decorated, very clean and adjacent to secluded "relaxation lounges" filled with comfy couches and recliners, soothing music, assorted beverages and magazines. Behind the spa, you can enter the private outdoor area, which features more lounge chairs and a hot-and-cold tub --- a divided jacuzzi tub that is cool on one side and warm on the other. There are also several shaded outdoor cabanas if you would prefer an outdoor massage. Prices for services are typical spa prices. Overall, we found the Spa Esmeralda to be one of our favorite highlights of our weekend stay --- it was truly a relaxing and pleasant experience.
The Esmeralda features two full service on-site restaurants (the classy Italian "Sirocco" and the casual outdoor "Charisma"), a coffee bar called "Cafe Biscotti", and the "Las Estrellas Lounge", which features live music, drinks and appetizers. There is also full room service and poolside food service. We ate at "Sirocco" our first evening and loved it --- the restaurant was beautiful and elegant and the authentic Italian food was delicious. The prices at "Sirocco" veer toward the higher end, but is well worth it --- I believe the restaurant was voted "Best Italian Restaurant" in the Coachella Valley by Zagat in 2005. The next day, we ordered poolside service and had a surprisingly good, affordable and filling lunch by the pool.
The resort is a very child-friendly place and offers several complimentary daily activities for kids. I believe there is also a perpetual promotion that "Kids Eat For Free at Dinner!", so you can see that the resort makes an effort to accommodate the children set. For the grown-ups, there are two Ted Robinson-designed championship golf courses adjacent to the resort.
LOCATION & NEARBY ATTRACTIONS:
The resort is located in a quiet suburban town and thus doesn't feature that much to choose from when looking for entertainment outside of the resort. I suspect most people who visit the resort plan on staying mostly inside the grounds, so perhaps that is not a big factor. There are a few chain restaurants nearby, but nothing spectacular. We had travelled a few times to central Palm Springs before and had fallen in love with downtown Palm Springs, which features a bevy of interesting restaurants, shops, and bars. From the Esmeralda, our drive down there was a good 20 minutes (it's about 13 miles away), so that was a bit of a detraction. Indian Wells is a lovely little community, but if you are looking for more action outside your resort, I must admit the location of the Esmeralda isn't optimal.
It is advisable that you drive your own car or rent a car to utilize during your stay --- most visitors do. I don't believe the resort offers a shuttle around town and public transportation might be a headache, especially in the Summer heat.
WEATHER & SUGGESTED TRAVEL TIMES:
The area is extremely hot in the summer months and if that bothers you, I would definitely avoid travelling here during that time. The heat really is scorchingly excessive. To avoid the arduous weather, I'd recommend travelling to the Esmeralda in the earlier Spring months or in the Fall. You would probably avoid the children-heavy family crowds that frequent the resort in the Summer.
The Renaissance Esmeralda is a lovely resort and should certainly be considered if you are travelling to the California desert. The hotel's relatively recent renovations make for comfortable living and the prices are very affordable for a four-star resort such as this.
Hope this has been helpful! Happy Travels!
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- Also Known As:
- Renaissance Esmeralda Hotel Indian Wells
- Renaissance Esmeralda Resort And Spa
- Renaissance Indian Wells
- Indian Wells Renaissance