Princess Cruise Line to Run Desert Hotel : Joint Venture Constructing $120-Million Country Club Resort in Cathedral City

Times Staff Writer

For many years, the ocean and the desert have shared literary allusions and imagery. Dunes are "waves of sand," for instance, and camels are "ships of the desert."

It is not too surprising, then, that a company whose basic work is sending passenger vessels across the high seas should become involved in the operation of a modern desert caravansary.

The jump is not too great, though, because Princess Cruises' oceangoing craft are floating resorts (as in "The Love Boat") and the $30-million Desert Princess Country Club & Resort and Desert Princess Hotel, now under construction at Vista Chino Avenue and Landau Boulevard in Cathedral City, is planned to be one of the largest and most luxurious resorts in the Palm Springs area.

The whole $120-million project Elizabeth G. Williams, President of Watt Industries/Palm Springs, as a joint venture with Gibralter Savinghs of California. The $30-million hotel structure is being built by by Watt High Rise Inc. under the supervision of Austin J. McReynolds, president.

Princess Cruises, Resorts & Hotels of Los Angeles will be the hotel's operator; the company now operatesVacation Village in San Diego and Vista Serena at the Channel Islands Marina, Oxnard, and has the Alacante Hotel under development in Garden Grove.

Raymond A. Watt, chairman of Watt High Rise's parent corporation, Watt Industries Inc. of Santa Monica, said the new, 385-acre complex will be "the first totally planned resort in the Palm Springs area that combines the facilities of a world-class hotel, the attraction of a fine country club and golf course and the opportunity of owning a jewel-like condominium in a magnificent desert setting.

"We think the Desert Princess Hotel will prove to be one of the most desirable vacation and meeting destinations in the western United States,"

The hotel was designed by the architectural firm of Gin Wong Associates to appeal equally to the resort-minded vacationer and the business person seeking first-class meeting and convention facilities in a recreational environment, the developers said.

Therefore, the complex will include an 18-hole golf course, a country club and tennis courts, which are being developed by Watt Industries/Palm Springs, sited for the convenience of the hotel's guests.

Wong sited the hotel itself to take maximum advantage of the surrounding desert views and to reflect its desert setting with walls of light tan stucco, windows of bronze glass and a roof of terra cotta tile.

The entrance will be marked by a 35-foot-high pyramidal porte-cochere and water wall. On ground level inside will be two restaurants, an entertainment lounge and a lobby bar overlooking the pool deck and golf course. Additionally, there will be 18,300 square feet of ballrooms, prefunction areas and meeting rooms.

The 300 guest rooms will be contained in three four-level wings enclosing three sides of the swimming pool and pool deck. Most rooms will have balconies with views of the mountains and golf course; those on ground level, facing the pool, will function as lanais.

There will be landscaped parking for more than 500 cars and the resort will be completed by 1,020 condominiums built along the fairways and 40 swimming pools.

General contractor for the hotel is Baldi Brothers Constructors, and the Newport Beach office of Cannell & Chaffin is designing the interiors.

Completion of this modern "ship of the desert" is scheduled for November.

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