This expansive resort attracts active families with golf, tennis, and sun-drenched pool play.
Located in the heart of Palm Desert, the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is a desert playground. With a world-class tennis program plus two golf courses and three pools, there’s plenty to attract active families or families who simply want to soak up the reliable desert sun. The sprawling resort is also home to several imported birds including Chilean flamingos and serves as an Audubon-certified bird sanctuary.
Desert Springs is an expansive resort with 884 rooms. Whether you book a standard room or suite, all rooms feature a private balcony. Rooms have standard amenities and spacious bathrooms with easily-accessible tubs for little ones. Nightly turndown service includes chocolates and tomorrow’s weather forecast, which - with an average of 350 sunny days a year - is usually pretty darn nice! Rates start at $166/night during low season; during high season, rates start at $293/night.
There’s a daily resort fee of $35/night that covers recreation, recreational classes, self parking, and WiFi.
KidTripster Tip: Check the hotel’s website for special promotions that may include resort credits.
KidTripster Tip: For a quieter stay, request a room away from the atrium. We enjoyed a room that overlooked the pool.
The heart of the resort is The Springs pool area, which is actually three pools - casual, lap, and high-energy zone (aka kids!) - plus two hot tubs. The pools are ringed in loungers and comfy cabana couches with oversized shade umbrellas and are open until 11 p.m., providing some late-night entertainment for the kids.
Of course, Palm Desert is known as a golfer’s paradise. The resort boast two 18-hole championship courses; the Palm Course is the more family-friendly of the two. Rental carts are equipped with GPS systems to make play quicker. Each guest can participate in one complimentary, daily golf clinic. And to encourage family play, kids (15 and under) golf for free with a paying adult after 3 p.m. My son’s favorite hole? Picturesque number 17 which is actually an island with its own waterfall!
KidTripster Tip: Desert Springs participates in Marriott’s Family Golf Festival, a one-day event held worldwide with free instruction, clinics, interactive golf games, and prizes. Check with the pro shop for the next event date.
KidTripster Tip: Ask the bell hop for putters and balls to play the free, 18-hole putting course (not mini golf, but still appropriate for kids) around the main entrance of the hotel.
Is tennis more of your family’s game? Desert Springs is rated as one of the top tennis resorts in the world! The resort’s tennis facility is extensive with 15 hard, 3 clay, and 2 grass courts. The resort fee covers one hour of hard court play and two racquet rentals per day. Quick tips from the tennis pro are free; a lesson is extra (unless you beat the pro, then it’s on the house!). And get this - every Saturday (late December through April, 11 a.m.), the tennis pros perform choreographed tennis tricks to music, billed as “The Harlem Globetrotters of Tennis.” After the show, there’s a short carnival and raffle prizes. Kids love it!
If you’d like to play badminton, basketball, bocce ball, croquet, frisbee, horseshoes, soccer or volleyball, ask for equipment at the tennis center; again, it’s all included in the resort fee, so challenge the kids to a game! Croquet is pretty much the only game where I can still beat my teenaged sons.
If you’re looking to escape the kids for an hour or two, head to The Spa at Desert Springs, offering a full menu of spa treatments plus an adult-only saltwater pool. The resort’s fitness center is generously equipped (including some rather fancy Italian workout machines), and guests can take a free, daily fitness class. The resort is also designated as a weight loss Biggest Loser Resort, where any guest can benefit from a daily educational class. Check at the desk for a schedule.
To see KidTripster’s recommendations of what to do outside of the resort, click here.
The beauty of visiting Palm Desert is that you can enjoy nearly every meal al fresco. To ensure your comfort in the evening, several of the restaurants have outdoor fit pits, offering both warmth and ambience in the winter months.
For breakfast, the hotel offers a continental breakfast, starting at $19/person or a breakfast buffet, starting at $28/person, at Rockwood Grill. For a less expensive option, you can head to the on-site Starbucks. Rockwood also serves American cuisine for lunch and dinner. Kids’ menu entrees include healthy, organic options with plenty of fruits and vegetables for $10. Or if you have insatiable teenagers, opt for the Friday and Saturday dinner buffet with prime rib, crab, and made-to-order pasta. And leave room for the dessert buffet. It’s probably better that I don’t reveal how many desserts my youngest son piled on his plate!
You can find seafood in the desert at Fisherman’s Landing. The restaurant has a sports bar vibe and is a good lunch option. The kids’ menu here is limited, but Baja-style fish tacos are fresh and delicious.
The Lobby Bar is a hopping place with drinks, food, and live weekend entertainment from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Families are welcome, but know that it can be a sensory overload.
My family most enjoyed the crowd-pleasing Mikado Japanese Steakhouse. The experience starts with a boat ride (yes, boat ride) from the hotel lobby to the Teppanyaki-style restaurant, where knife-wielding chefs prepare dinner in front of you while telling jokes and flipping shrimp into your mouth. The alcoholic drinks are served smoking and bubbling. And dinner ends with green tea ice cream. While it is a pricey meal, it’s memorable.
KidTripster Tip: Eat at Mikado early. The boat only runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (though it’s just a short walk, if you miss the boat).
KidTripster Tip: Want to have a parents’ night-out? The resort has a list of in-room childcare services for kids (ages 4-12), but know that these services haven’t been vetted by the resort. After dinner, you can head to Costas Nightclub for some dancing and live music.
To see KidTripster’s recommendations of where to eat outside of the resort, click here.
Photo courtesy: Mikado Japanese Steakhouse
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is located 12 miles from the Palm Springs International Airport. The resort does not provide a shuttle service. Tax fare will run you around $50 each way.