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Zan Thompson

Standing Tall in the Lap of Luxury

February 21, 1988|Zan Thompson

Magic Johnson could have practiced layups in the shower if there had been a hoop. It was immense, its walls, floor and ceiling faced with cafe au lait- colored marble walls. There was even a built-in bench where he could have chatted with a few friends. By turning a couple of buttons, the shower transformed itself into a sauna, but I chose not to do it because the directions sounded too state-of-the-art for me.

As for the living room, it was big enough for the entire Laker team. Barbara Maple, my friend who lives with her husband, Earl, on the ocean side of the Balboa Peninsula, joined me for four days at the Terraces, luxury condominiums at the Vintage Club in Indian Wells. Bit and Marianthi Lansdale are Vintage Club members and suggested that we might like the Terraces. We did.

This is the enclave snugged into a cove in the Santa Rosa range. There are cottages and houses all around the two golf courses at Vintage. The condominiums are for people who might not be able to stay as long or who want to go to one of their other houses. Mountains, desert, beach, Gstaad and Paris are just a few places where the Terraces guests might flit.

The condos have gained renown for their concierges and I wish I had one of my very own. There are two of them at the Terraces. It was Mickey Elliott who saw us in. He had put bagels and butter, cream and fruit in the refrigerator and a pound of freshly ground coffee on the counter by the coffee maker. There were also soft drinks.

Elliott was an interesting young man who is working on his doctoral thesis in theology. He went to Loyola Marymount where he studied theological ethics, history and political science. He put a high gloss on his education with a couple of years at Boston University.

He was raised in the Palm Springs area and loves what he does. "We try to slow life down, not speed it up," he said. "We like to think we are helping people return to Old World values when pace and speed were not important."

The other gentleman is named Frank Patti, and he has a wide hotel background, having worked for a while at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

"I love the people I help. These people don't pretend," he said. "What do they have to pretend about? They say, 'Could you?' not 'Would you?' "

Patti has spent 15 years in the valley and loves it. "We become almost part of the family. A man will call me and ask, 'Frank, do you know where I put my golf clubs?' And I'll say, 'Yes, they're in the guest room closet.' "

For one woman who was alone on her birthday, Patti arranged for two youngsters who work as clowns to visit her and make her laugh and they all had ice cream and cake.

"I love to come to work. It's like having a large and endearing family," he said.

The view from the living room window where we stayed sweeps from snow-topped Mt. San Jacinto clear over to snowy Big Bear. The clubhouse is directly opposite the window, looking over lakes and cascades of water.

There are two golf courses, the mountain course and the desert course. Both are beautiful. The desert course is dotted with native plants, cacti and wild flowers, and everywhere is that unbelievable green of a pampered golf course.

Dennis Nordling is the assistant course manager. In the summer, the basic grass is Bermuda, but when it turns surly and brown in the winter, they seed both courses with rye grass on top of the Bermuda.

There are two holes, 16 and 17, on the mountain course spaced by lakes and freshets of gurgling water. Nordling said they are two of the most photographed golf holes in the country. The mountain course is one of the top 100 courses in the United States and in the top 10 in California.

Barb and I wandered over to a section called El Paseo, which is filled with alluring shops. In one, we found big white, fluffy Easter rabbits, dressed and bonneted in blue or green or woodrose. We looked at the price and agreed that it was ridiculous and, besides, what would we do with large stuffed rabbits? We both have granddaughters but we didn't dream of such frivolous expenditures.

We talked about the stupidity of women in resorts who would spend that much money. That night, we were almost late for our dinner reservation at Sorrentino's, which Mickey Elliott had made for us. Why were we almost late? We had to go back and get the silly rabbits.

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