In a recent New York Times article, Peter Haldeman, takes a look at Palm Desert’s Marrakesh Country Club. Peter writes that for roughly 45 years, the main draw of this private residential community, sitting in the bowl formed by the San Jacinto Mountains and the Santa Rosa Mountains, was its 3,619 yard, Par 60, Ted Robinson-designed 18-hole executive golf course. But these days it’s as much a mecca for worshipers of high design by architect John Elgin Woolf. Woolf created Marrakesh’s 364 pink and white villas and 14 pink and white pool houses, situated in the community’s 14 neighborhoods, in his signature Hollywood Regency style, a mixture of Greek Revival, English Regency, Versailles and movie set designs.
For history buffs, Marrakesh Country Club's origins go back to 1967, when Johnny Dawson, an amateur golfer, who played the Masters Tournament seven times and won the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship three years in a row, and a golf course architect, who also developed Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage and Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, leased 155 acres of land in Palm Desert. Inspired by the property’s similarities to the Atlas Mountains-ringed city of Marrakesh where he’d served in World War II, Dawson conceived of a new club with a Moroccan theme. The community’s salmon-pink palette was suggested by Morocca’s rosy sandstone walls, and its hilltop clubhouse was placed to overlook the villas like a kasbah. After that, designer Woolf’s trademark Hollywood Regency style, offering elegant scale and symmetry, dramatic entrances (often a pair of tall Pullman doors puncturing a mansard roof) and perfectly proportioned rooms punctuated by neoclassical columns and elliptical windows took over.
Today, in the Los Angeles real-estate market, Woolf-designed houses are considered trophies. Recent owners of the designer’s homes include the producer John Goldwyn and his husband, the hotelier Jeff Klein, designer Nate Berkus, night life impresario Sean MacPherson and Jill Tavelman Collins (the former wife of Phil Collins and mother of Lilly) who bought a Woolf house in Beverly Hills last fall for $12.5 million, 40 percent over the asking price.
The one, two and three-bedroom duplex villas at Marrakesh can still be had for under $400,000 and offer deep courtyards, tiered mansard roofs, tall, skinny front doors ,10-foot interior ceilings, closets the size of bedrooms and airy atriums off the master baths. Until recently the club leased the property it sits on from a private owner, but in fall 2015, it bought the land. Since then, property values have surged, along with the ambitions of local remodelers who have been erecting high hedges against their neighbors, installing swimming pools in their courtyards and turning their atriums into outdoor showers.
Other than golf, Marrakesh offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, from friendly tennis games on the community’s two lighted tennis courts, reclining on a poolside lounge chair at one of the 14 pristine pools, exercising at the community’s state-of-the-art fitness center and dining/socializing at the 20,000 square foot Clubhouse’s two restaurants and bar.
To read Peter Haldeman’s original article and view the accompanying photos, courtesy of The New York Times, please visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/fashion/palm-springs-marrakesh-california.html?_r=0