California Swing

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The Amenities: La Quinta is by no means lacking on the spa and tennis sides with, for example, world-championship tennis courts in hard top, clay and grass. A rich pro shop, sunken court, Olympic-sized swimming pool and the Spa La Quinta surround the historic clubhouse, once a gracious estate, and the resort has been consistently rated in the top 20 by Tennis Magazine. Spa La Quinta’s ambiance draws inspiration from the desert’s quiet landscape, the riches of Tuscan-style designs and therapies practiced by the area’s Native American ancestors. Open-air private showers and tranquil outdoor resting space by a kiva fire make it a focal point for guests. The spa also offers the Yamaguchi Salon. A wide variety of eateries await, from the Mex-inspired Adobe Grill and the hipper, more bicoastal Twenty6, to the court-vantaged Centre Court Cafe and PGA West’s three golf course clubhouses, which not only have eateries but host meetings, parties, and other events. In particular, the health and racquet club features a state-of-the-art fitness facility.

The Scene: Desert athletic is the motif here. If guests are not playing on the greens or sunning around the pools, they are taking complimentary fitness and yoga classes, powerwalking the ample grounds or shopping in the nearby El Paseo district.

Rates: Average rates start at $225 per night. A Best of the West package ranges from $179 to $479 depending on the season (summer is the low season) and comes with a stay in a Resort Casita, unlimited golf for one on La Quinta Resort’s courses or the resort courses at PGA West and a $50 dining credit.

northern california The Property: The California Wine Country cannot be overlooked when it comes to California golf vacations. The most notable among the options is Meadowood in the hamlet of St. Helena. With its own executive golf course and croquet lawn (upon which players are required to be attired in white), Meadowood’s 250-acre setting is a bucolic, neatly developed, former Christmas tree farm that practically leaps out of the pages of “The Great Gatsby.” The golf division is famous for its programs employing the legendary hickory golf club for challenging games in the tradition it was meant to be played. There are 85 meticulously appointed, private country-style cottages, as well as suites and lodges set in soothing, private woods and containing plush furnishings, elegant fireplaces, classic white wicker on the porch and luxurious bed coverings. Bathrooms feature deep-soaking tubs; coffee makers and toasters come in handy for quick breakfasts.

The Greens: Meadowood is not a golf resort per se. Rather, it offers the golfer the chance to exquisitely experience Napa in its cultural and viticultural richness, without abjuring the quest for the holy hole-in-one. The 2,014-yard, par 31 course brings a 60.9 course rating for men and a 60.8 course rating for women. There are only nine holes here and as a walking course it offers five par 3 holes and four par 4 holes and can be played well and comfortably in less than two hours. The pros on staff emphasize as much the history and Scottish tradition of the game as they do the power-play. Hole 2 provides a noted challenge: a 180-yard par over two ponds. Guests, however, are encouraged to step back in time and enjoy the game for what it should be: genteel and relaxing.

The Amenities: The Heath Spa at Meadowood brings personal pampering and skin care in a cozy cottage by the pool area. Croquet, tennis, hiking and bicycling can also be accommodated. Fitness classes are offered and a personal trainer is on staff. The property is a 10-minute walk to quaint St. Helena, with its culinary establishments and precious notion and clothing boutiques. Wine and dining are embedded into the property’s amenities with wine tastings and private winery tours on site and a choice of fine or casual dining. The Restaurant at Meadowood is a culinary showplace in its own right and features California wine country cuisine with a comprehensive list of Napa Valley labels. For casual dining, the property offers The Grill with terrace tables for a view of the fairways and croquet lawns, Napa Valley wines and freshly brewed iced tea and lemonade on tap.

The Scene: Meadowood exudes the elegance of a bygone era. It does not take much to imagine guests in white seer-sucker suits and tatted brocade skirt sets arranging a game of croquet. Nights are quiet and serene, a time for playing cards in the cottage by firelight or on the cottage deck.