Until I moved to Southern California, I never quite got “the desert.” I’d been to Phoenix and Tucson on tennis vacations. Meh.
The first two times I visited the Palm Springs area were on company business, retreats during which the main activities involved golf, beer and poker. Maybe some tequila as well, though I can’t recall, so almost surely tequila was involved. Those visits, however, were in the summer months. Scorching three-digit temperatures and an unrelenting sun drove most year-round residents to become nocturnal creatures.
Just recently, I visited La Quinta Resort & Club, built in the 1920s, because the folks there had been so gracious as to open the Havana Club Cigar Lounge. This, among other attributes, further distinguishes La Quinta as perhaps the best and most cigar-friendly resort in “the desert.”
You see, the Havana Club is not just a place where you can smoke a cigar. It is also a barbershop where the straight-razor shave lives and recently delighted one visitor, who had never experienced such close grooming before, to expound, “I want to do this every day!”
His wife was very happy as she had given him the shave and haircut as a gift.
All this now happens in what used to be a real estate office that was not bringing in revenue, explained Jim Pedone, La Quinta’s marketing director. So, the resort’s executives went out and recruited a barbershop entrepreneur, known mysteriously only as “Mrs. Kim,” and put together a two-chair tonsorial parlor that houses a very decent sized humidor owned and run by Pasadena tobacconist Anto Kamarian. Kamarian also owns the cigar business at all nine of La Quinta’s world-class golf courses, as well as the resort’s Morgan’s restaurant.
was my barber. I got a very fine haircut, beard trim and a neck and
shoulder massage. The haircut runs a very reasonable $20, plus $10 more
for the beard trim. The massage ($25) is done with one of those
old-style hand-vibration contraptions that definitely helps take the
edge off. So did the cigar and rum I enjoyed on the patio after the
haircut. I smoked an Oliva Serie O and had a Gosling’s Black Seal on a
couple of rocks.
The cigar selection far outstrips the choices of rum, but I’m hoping the bar will evolve in that regard. While I was smoking the Oliva and chatting with regulars, the store’s manager walked out with a Davidoff Special ‘T.’
“Anto wants you to try this one,” she said.
That became my after-dinner cigar in the courtyard just outside of Morgan’s where I had just finished a superb prime-grade Certified Angus Beef New York strip steak and a Vizcaya rum (this time with a lime wedge, cuz, wow, that’s sweet rum).
I sat by a fire-pit, that just helped warm up the mild night.
dinner, I just sort of floated back to the room, wondering when I might
need a haircut again.
For more on the resort, check out this feature we ran last year.
Havana Club Cigar Lounge (& Barbershop)
La Quinta Resort & Club
49-499 Eisenhower Drive
La Quinta, CA
Cigar lounge open daily, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. (760) 777-5839.
Barber shop open daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (760) 777-5835.
Cigar lockers: $500 per year