HISTORY

Learn about the origins of La Quinta Resort & Club, the original and quintessential Palm Springs resort, now a famed retreat home to championship golf.

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1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

Scroll over the dial or use dial iconto explore our timeline

1926
The Queen of the Desert

Walter H. Morgan opens the La Quinta Hotel on 29 December 1926. Across 1,400 acres of land, the retreat features 20 guest casitas, an open-air glassed dining room and three courtyards.

1926
Golf in the Valley

Morgan brings the golf industry to the Coachella Valley, and the hotel grounds include the area’s first nine-hole course. The course is open to the public for a daily green fee of $1.

1926-1930
Hollywood’s Playground

The resort enjoys a successful first season, and word of the luxury escape spreads to Hollywood. Soon Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and Shirley Temple are escaping to La Quinta.

1931
End of an Era

In April 1831, Walter H. Morgan dies, leaving behind his legacy and luxury resort. Attorney and La Quinta Hotel investor, B.J. Barder, takes ownership.

1934
Capra’s Writing Paradise

Movie director, Frank Capra, and co-writer Robert Riskin pen ‘It Happened One Night’ at the hotel. Thereafter, Capra returned frequently to his ‘Shangri-La for scriptwriting’.

1937
The Perfect Serve

The hotel adds six tennis courts and a pro shop. The first pro tennis coach is Fred Renker, training legends including Gary Cooper, Lana Turner and Jane Wyman.

1942-1945
Doors Close on the Desert Retreat

Gas and tire rationing contribute to the hotel’s closure in the spring of 1942 for the duration of World War II. The cottages were locked and the pool was drained.

1945-1946
La Quinta’s Fire Reignites

Chicago hotelier Arnold S. Kirkeby purchases the hotel, selling it three months later to John Balaban. The Hollywood elite return, and a private airstrip is installed on the grounds.

1953
An Elite Escape

Other celebrities discover the desert hideaway – thanks to the advancements in air travel. Ginger Rogers marries Jacques Bergerac in front of the resort’s waterfall.

Mid 1950s
Golf Returns to La Quinta

Balaban sells the hotel to Chicago attorney Leonard Ettleson, who plays a pivotal role in the golf course expansion. The entire hotel is painted pink, Ettleson’s wife’s favorite color

1957
Tee Time

Ettleson and his associates develop La Quinta Country Club golf course. The course is a hit with golfers and celebrities, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

1960
Presidential Seal of Approval

The Eisenhowers make many visits to La Quinta Hotel and enjoy the La Quinta Country Club, where President Eisenhower’s brother maintained a residence.

1972
Golf Expansion

Ettleson contracts with golf professionals Ernie Vossler and Joe Walser Jr. of Landmark Land Co. to advise him on the creation of another golf course behind the hotel.

1977
A New Beginning

In July 1977, Landmark Land Co. purchase the hotel from Ettleson, with interest in the potential of the undeveloped land stretching from the hotel to the hillsides.

1980
The Most Challenging Desert Course

La Quinta Hotel Golf Club opens with two 18-hole championship courses designed by Pete Resort Mountain Course and La Quinta Resort Dunes Course.

1980-1984
Guests of Honor

The former home of Dorothy Arzner is renovated, and The Frank Capra Banquet Room and The Eisenhower Suite are named after their former guests. During this time, the resort is one of only two hotels on the west coast to be honored with a city’s name; the City of La Quinta.

1986–1987
The Western Home of Golf in America

PGA West opens Pete Dye’s TPC Stadium Golf Course, followed by the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Courses. The resort continues its tradition of hosting major golf tournaments.

1993
New Name, Same Legacy

La Quinta Hotel Golf & Tennis Club is renamed La Quinta Resort & Club. Though the name is changed, the exclusive culture of the resort remains.

1998
Spa Services

The resort adds Spa La Quinta, a 23,000-square-foot retreat with 37 treatment rooms. The Spa Villas are also built, bringing the total number of guest rooms to approximately 800.

1999
Staying the Course

The addition of another PGA West course – the Greg Norman Course – gives La Quinta Resort & Club guests 90 holes of championship play, each with challenging, but fair design.

2006
Birthday Milestones

Celebrating its 80th birthday, the legendary La Quinta Resort & Club is considered one of the top resorts in the world and an oasis for relaxation in the lush Coachella Valley.

2009
Iconic Eatery

Originally built as The Dining Room in 1927, Morgan’s in the Desert – La Quinta’s signature restaurant, opens in January.

2009
New Restaurants are on the Menu

The year ends on a high as Ernie’s Bar & Grill opens its doors. The restaurant offers relaxed dining, complemented by views of the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.