La Quinta Resort, nestled beneath the Santa Rosa Mountains.
Every March, the elite men and women tennis players of the world descend upon Indian Wells, California, for the BNP Paribas Open, and every March, my mother, sister and I take our annual pilgrimage to star gaze. The BNP Paribas tournament is the most attended tournament outside of the four majors, (the French Open, Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the U.S. Open) with 450,000 people attending in 2015. March is the perfect time of year to get away from what always feels like a long Midwestern winter. Palm Springs in the spring is perennially sunny and crisp with prehistoric mountains in stark contrast to the sparkling blue skies.
The 16,000-seat Stadium buzzes with excitement as the match gets tight.
The three of us are pretty hard-core tennis fans, and we go to Indian Wells to watch tons of tennis, but that doesn’t mean that we miss out on some of the great food and fun spots in the area. This year, we stayed at the beautiful La Quinta Resort, a throwback to old Hollywood, where stars who needed an escape from Hollywood but were contractually obligated to stray no farther than 200 miles from Los Angeles would stay. Built in 1926, the resort covers 42 acres and today boasts 800 rooms, ranging from charming 400-square-foot casitas to 2,600-square-foot presidential suites that boast their own living rooms and private pools. La Quinta has seven golf courses, 27 tennis courts and the pools are heated in the winter and chilled in the summer. We enjoyed our downtime there thoroughly.
La Quinta Resort has seven golf courses.
La Quinta is about a 10-minute drive from Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where the annual BNP Paribas tournament takes place. Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison bought the Tennis Garden and tournament in 2009 and has made lots of improvements. The tournament packed in almost half a million spectators last year, which sounds like throngs of people, but the crowds are managed very well. It’s so exciting to find your seat in a packed stadium and sit down to watch the best tennis players in the world. Stadium 2 is my favorite place to watch matches. Not only do you feel much closer to the action than in the Grand Stadium, but if you are hungry and lucky enough to get a seat near the windows that overlook the court, you can enjoy sushi at Nobu or a big fat steak from Chop House dining. There is nothing like the thrill of watching Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray or Roger Federer up close and personal.
In case you get thirsty watching tennis, stop by the Moët tent at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Another great thing to do at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is people watching. I admit, my binoculars serve me for watching the top players hit their big serves as well as to see who Larry Ellison has invited to sit with him in the “king’s box” that he had specially built in Stadium 1. Beefy bodyguards stand alert as the likes of Bill Gates, Gwen Stefani and a myriad of special guests sit with Larry to watch the matches. Larry Ellison’s girlfriend, actress Nikita Kahn, never disappoints with her couture fashion and sky-high platforms. It’s always a show and total entertainment to watch what is happening on and off the court.
Up close and personal at Stadium 2.
All of that spectating works up quite an appetite, and luckily there are lots of good food and drink choices inside The Tennis Garden. Aside from Nobu and Chop House, you can have a sip of champagne from the Moet & Chandon tent and fresh, chilled lettuce wraps from Satay. Outside of the venue, there are many great restaurants. Twenty6 at La Quinta serves up burgers and flat bread pizzas, and don’t miss a side of crispy leeks. But most of all, do not miss an opportunity to eat at La Brasserie, the food is beyond delicious, beautifully presented and accompanied by the finest wine selections. The Roasted Idaho Trout Almandine, is honestly the best prepared trout I have ever experienced!