The JW Marriott Resort in Palm Desert, CA was great for some pain-free R&R this past weekend. It also was hands-down the most spectacular Marriott hotel I have ever visited. Clearly it’s not just a place to stay when you’re going to a destination. It is a destination in and of itself.
For starters, it offers a 360 degree view of gorgeous desert mountains. During my stay, I loved sitting on my balcony and watching the sun set behind them. Then there were the beautiful hotel grounds mimicking an oasis – replete with a lake, ponds, river, and waterfall that had ducks and swans swimming around; a golf course; palm trees; and multiple swimming pools and jaccuzis. It felt luxurious just to walk around.
The water was not even limited to the outdoor area. The lake extended into the ground floor inside the hotel, at the foot of a nine-story glass wall overlooking the hotel grounds and mountains. I enjoyed sitting in the lounge area on the lobby level one flight up, sipping my lattes from the hotel cafe (the ubiquitous Starbucks) and watching the view outside.
Speaking of views, this place is heaven for people-watchers. The hotel is built like an indoor courtyard, with all the hotel room doors opening onto a balcony overlooking the popular bar and lounge area below. There is a festive atmosphere all day and night long, with deep house music playing at all times and sounds of laughter wafting through the air.
I stayed at this Marriott location while I was doing a TV shoot in the area. The hotel generously offered me not only a complimentary stay, but also a complimentary day pass to the spa. Let me tell you, having put six intense months into writing my business plan, I really needed that R&R!
After the TV shoot, I spent a few hours languidly moving from the indoor Jacuzzi to the steam room to the sauna, out to the saltwater pool and Jacuzzi overlooking the mountains, then back indoors to start the ritual all over again. By the evening hours, I felt deeply relaxed and at ease, for the first time in months! The spa environment was luxurious and tranquil, with comforting colors, soothing music, and refreshing amenities.
As usual, this Marriott was gracefully responsive to all my high-maintenance needs: When I arrived, they de-feathered everything in the room, so that I would not have an allergy attack; they came back to vacuum, when I spotted a few feathers here and there on the floor; they brought a little refrigerator to my room upon request; and they gave me three extra blankets. All without a fuss. For those of us with chronic pain, disability, hypersensitivity, or other conditions resulting in special needs, that kindness of spirit makes all the difference in the world.
The bed was also terrific, meaning I got a good night’s sleep without having to put a stiff camping matt on top of the mattress or a board underneath it. And because there were so many pools from which to choose, I always found space to swim or relax, where I did not have to worry about people bumping into me or being noisy in my space.
I did have some anxiety about all the activity going on in the hotel, but I found that I was able to manage well without having my space invaded. Only once, on Friday night, did I end up stuck in a crowd walking down an area at the same time – which led to the usual stressful negotiations around space. But for the most part, I was able to find ways to get around the hotel grounds without having to worry about getting bumped into.
I do want to give a heads-up to people who have pain walking. The hotel grounds are huge, and if you don’t have a wheelchair or motorized scooter (which the hotel might provide; I advise calling ahead of time to ask), you might end up in pain just going from one side of the lobby to another.
I also am not sure what the experience would be like for someone in a wheelchair. I didn’t see a ramp at every place there was a staircase, but I did see ramp options in various locations. So while it may not be as convenient in a wheelchair as it is on two legs, the grounds appear to be fairly accessible. I would advise calling ahead of time to find out how to prepare for a wheelchair-bound visit. Make sure to ask about accessibility to the pool areas, because there were quite a bit of stairs (albeit short ones) there.
The doors to the rooms also might be a bit on the heavy side for people with pain. For myself, I was fine when I lightly opened the door handle, then used the weight of my body to push open the door. The good news about the solid doors is that the festivities from the lobby did not disturb a light sleeper such as myself. Although I always travel and recommend traveling with earplugs, just in case!
The last nit-picky heads-up for people in pain is that the stairs into the jacuzzis (in the main pool area) were a bit deeper than I like, although with the handrails on both sides, it was totally doable, without jacking up my pain at all. I have found that the Marriott has been consistently terrific at having handrails in just the right locations — in the bathtubs, as well as in a jacuzzi like this.
Also in the spa’s indoor jacuzzi, the spacing of the steps was great, but be careful of that final step down, which can be unexpected. It kind of sits in the center of the pool, so you’ll need to be careful not to bump into it, as you move from side to side.
Those precuations aside, as based on my own personal experience this past weekend, I give this Marriott the thumbs-up. A spa environment can leave me more stressed out and in pain than relaxed, when special needs are unaccounted for. But that was not the case at this resort. To the contrary, I left feeling refreshed and happy.
The Marriott has been and remains my #1 favorite hotel in the USA. Becuase as someone who has lived with chronic pain, limited mobility, and hypersensitivity, I can’t mess around when it comes to travel, and the Marriott consistently has met all my needs.
Thank you, Marriott, for making it safe for people like me to travel. And thanks for your support of and enthusiasm for my work. You rule.