North America

California Swing

written by | Posted on May 1st, 2009

California has resorts up and down the coast that keep duffers in the game, whether going for the gold or just for the weekend.

The Property: An hour north of Los Angeles, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa dallies in a mid-century world of slow streets and known neighbors and magical terrain hidden by forests of eucalyptus and oak. The property offers 308 spacious accommodations in mission-meets-British countryside decor. Many of the rooms and suites have fireplaces and private balconies or patios overlooking the golf course and nearby mountains. Dogs are allowed here and have plenty of acreage to explore. All bookings come with complimentary valet parking, free newspaper, and access to fitness classes, pools and the driving range.

The Greens: The Ojai Valley Inn brings an incredibly beautiful setting, even for the multitude of unforgettable lodgings along California’s glorious coast. It is the site of one of California’s first great golf courses, set within the old Ojai Valley Country Club. Architects George C. Thomas Jr. and Billy Bell sculpted this course in 1923 from the natural terrain. It is an 18-hole championship course proven popular among plenty of pros and celebs, for both exhibition play and competition. Course designer Jay Morrish considerably enhanced Thomas and Bell’s work in 1988 by strengthening the greens and course. Distance from the blue tees is 6292 yards; it’s a par 70 course, rating of 71.0, a slope of 132, with six par 4’s over 400 yards, and three par 3’s of over 200 yards. In a redesign after WWII, two original golf holes designed by Thomas were lost. In 1999, the Inn reintroduced the “Lost Holes.” These have now been fully restored, along with their original layout.

The Amenities: Ojai Valley Inn puts as much focus on spa as it does on golf. Active non-golfers can start the day with a brisk complimentary power walk and then attend classes in yoga, stretch and balance ball throughout the day. An artist cottage that might just as easily be found in Provence is the venue of special sessions in mandala painting, intuitive life charting and personal aroma blending. The spa pavilion provides the pampering and private pre- and post-treatment sanctuary spots, with a health food canteen on hand for fresh drinks and smoothies. A large family swimming pool offers food and beverage service, as do two other adult pools. There is also a tennis program and the resort’s innovative children’s program. Bicycles are available to rent for $5 per half day or $9 per full day.

The Scene: The property is both alluring and laid-back, like an exclusive country club. The town of Ojai remains charming and quiet, a good place for having coffee and reading at a well-worn book shop or meandering in and out of stores that seem to be caught in another century. The property places a focus on women’s wellness weekends and male-bonding golf escapes with intermittent programs and promotions.

Rates: A Family Golf package requires a minimum 3-night stay and children (under 18) get their own room at no extra charge. It features unlimited golf for the duration of the stay and adds a golf lesson from one of the PGA professionals on staff, plus a spa treatment. Rates start at $605 per night through Sept. 3, 2009.

the desert The Property: Opened in 1927, the sprawling La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs has not lost its luster. Long the quarry of the silver screen set, the Hollywood glitteratti still show up and lose themselves on the property’s 45 acres with 796 casitas, suites, villas and vacation homes, seven restaurants, a choice of championship golf courses, award-winning spa, 23 tennis courts, 41 sparkling pools and 53 hot tubs. This Waldorf=Astoria property has all the amenities to lure couples and families. Casitas are private and have fenced yards, pets are welcome and year-round children’s programs make everything possible. Accommodations skew quite upscale with plenty of space and thoughtful amenities that take advantage of the resort’s longevity in hospitality.

The Greens: Guests can choose from a menu of more than half a dozen top courses run by the resort. La Quinta’s 9-year-old PGA West Greg Norman Course extends 7,156 yards with par 72 and is desert-ensconced, with fairways squeezed by buffer areas of decomposed granite. The La Quinta Mountain Course, designed by Pete Dye in 1980, is 6,756 yards, par 72. Being both beautiful and fun, it earned 70th place on Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” list. The La Quinta Dunes Course, also Dye-designed, extends 6,747 yards, par 72. It has grassy mounds, railroad ties and elevated greens. The PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course is 7,126 yards, par 72, and represents Nicklaus’ no-holds-barred designs of the late-1980s. Pros consider it a tough, muscled, but underrated course for the area. The PGA West Stadium Course, weighing in at 7,300 yards, par 72, features relentless obstacles but is a top “must-play” public course also on the “Top 100 Courses” list.