New Beginnings


From the time of its opening in 1926, La Quinta Resort & Club (CA) has been a haven for aficionados of the finer things in life. Hollywood legends like Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Frank Capra and financial gurus such as Cornelius Vanderbilt IV and William H. Crocker are among the storied guests who have flocked to the Palm Springs-area retreat since its inception. Throughout its history, the property has undergone continual updates and grown from an oasis of just 20 casitas to an expansive resort that includes 796 casitas, suites, and villas; vacation rental homes; seven restaurants; nine championship golf courses; an award-winning spa; 23 tennis courts; 41 pools and 53 hot springs; and more. In the grand spirit of the resort’s ongoing quest to offer its guests the best, a renovation of Spa La Quinta was unveiled this spring.

The centerpiece of the 23,000-square-foot, 38-treatment-room spa’s renovation is the reinvented spa lobby, which now welcomes guests with a wood reception desk embedded with backlit, etched mirrors and a 200-
gallon saltwater fish aquarium flanked by two large wall fountains. The retail area has also been refurbished and reconfigured with a bronze-inset ceiling. Crisp cream awnings accentuate the front entrance, which is anchored by the resort’s original 1926 urn-style fountain. The fountain, however, is now encircled by stepping stones with inspirational words, such as Beauty, Harmony, Joy, Life, Light, Love, Peace, and Power. “The design intention was to create a more modern, open, light, and airy environment,” says spa director Leslie Johnson. “We aimed for a look that would welcome spa-goers upon arrival and make them feel immediately relaxed. Our focus was to blend aspects of La Quinta Resort’s Spanish architecture with Palm Springs’ modern style. The space comes together with a mix of metals—bronze, copper, and silver—along with dark, light, and medium wood finishes.”

The spa menu also received an overhaul. The new menu features custom massages, skincare, and body treatments inspired by both exotic and indigenous ingredients, as well as special spa experiences for children and young adults. Highlights include the Seduction of the Senses ($255, 90 minutes), a restorative facial choreographed to music evoking the tranquility of the sea; Native Elements ($145, 45 minutes), a body treatment that includes a rubdown with Spanish sage, lime essential oils, and Dead Sea salts and a soothing massage with African shea butter and Egyptian geranium cream; and California Essential ($180, 75 minutes), which includes a body brushing, an avocado-infused wrap, a eucalyptus oil inhalation, and a massage. “The spa menu was designed to simplify the guests’ treatment selection experience,” says Johnson. “Many services offer native desert elements from around the globe with choices that are sourced from florals, botanicals, spices, and fruit.”

In addition to fresh interiors and an updated menu, the adjacent salon is now managed by La Quinta Resort staff and features newly installed equipment, including two new shampoo bowls and six new pedicure stations. New products have been introduced, as well, including Davines and Hero for hair, SpaRitual for nails, and La Bella Donna mineral cosmetics. A new salon menu offers enticing hair- and nailcare options, including the refreshing Open Your Eyes Pedicure ($75, 60 minutes), which involves immersing the feet in eucalyptus-infused water, an Indonesian ginger scrub and mask, and a leg massage using Asian-inspired techniques.

Even pups can get in on the pampering act at this pet-friendly resort. The spa now offers canine massage performed by certified animal-massage practitioner Tom Galligan, who devised a menu of pet massages. Options include a standard doggy massage and a duet massage for the pet and owner offered in a separate Canine Suite.

Though the spa transformation is already enticing guests from around the globe, Johnson and her team of 60 are working hard to spread the word. Among the marketing efforts are monthly events that highlight the product lines and offer education, complimentary mini treatments, gifts with retail purchase, and drawings. Plus, treatment series and specials from all service categories are available on less busy weekdays, which now contribute to one-third of the spa’s monthly occupancy. To entice members, weekly e-blasts promote spa events and specials that are value priced beyond the normal membership discount. “We have had to redefine how we choose to conduct our business and who we are within the spa community, as well as create new levels of service standards to grow and expand our business,” says Johnson. “Inventory optimization and staff productivity are key factors in creating a profitable business. We have been able to successfully generate a total spa profit in the mid-to-high 40 percent.”

Though Johnson and her team are working hard to adapt to today’s ever-changing business climate, one thing that hasn’t changed is the spa’s stunning setting, which Johnson believes will keep guests coming back for decades to come. “The breathtaking Santa Rosa Mountain vistas inspire oohs and aahs as guests enter Spa La Quinta,” she says. “This true spa oasis, with its indoor and outdoor environments, conjures up the mysterious beauty and spirit of the desert, evoking a sense of timelessness and a quiet spirituality found in nature.”

Owner: Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Spa Director:
Leslie Johnson

Opened: November 1998

Renovation: April 2011


72% female

28% male


23,000 square feet;
38 treatment rooms


aromatherapy, body treatments, chromatherapy, cosmetic dentistry, couples’ treatments, energy work, facials, fitness, guided meditation, hair and scalp treatments, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, LED therapy, makeup application, massage, nailcare, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, reflexology, salon services, sunless tanning, tai chi, waxing, yoga


California Essential
($180, 75 minutes)


Sea Creations
($255, 90 minutes), a skincare service that incorporates smooth conch shells and pearl-infused products, and Seduction of the Senses ($255, 90 minutes), a facial choreographed to music


Babor, Davines, Epicuren, Hero, La Bella Donna, SpaRitual


EarthLite, European Touch, HydraFacial by Edge Systems, Life Cycle, Life Step, Life Stride, Paramount ETX, Precor, Kashwére, SpaSoft, Yeah Baby


Kaveh, Desert Lifestyles (Palm Springs, CA)