Historic Desert Island Resort in Rancho Mirage , CA., Thriving Under New Ownership

Historic California desert property, Desert Island, has been acquired and renovated by Miguel Nelson, artist and innovative experiential developer of Marivmon Productions, remerging with a world class culinary program from Chef Jon Butler, and overhauled greens on its classic Desmond Muirhead-designed golf course.

Located in Rancho Mirage, CA., the property now includes three dining establishments ranging from casual après-golf to fine dining, a piano and game lounge, and large event space.

The vintage golf course on Desert Island is a walkable 120 acres around a 25-acre lake, with ample shaded trees, and verdant grass. The formerly private course has been a destination for members for five decades and is now open to the public.

“Desert Island is a piece of golf history, a legacy course played on by a mix of old Hollywood stars,” Nelson said. “When the pandemic hit, I felt the urge to return to the desert for my next project. I fell in love with Desert Island as a unique property with excellent bones, spectacular outdoor amenities, and multiple communities coming together to enjoy its natural beauty, an ideal canvas for the unique, transformative projects I’m passionate about.

“What sets us apart, truly, is the private club level amenities that are accessible by the public. From our chef to our golf pros, every member of our team is truly best in class.”

The golf course features gentle slopes around the largest lake in the Greater Desert region, shade trees, including mature eucalyptuses, short distances between greens and tee boxes, and many personal amenities. There are refreshment stations offering beverages and food from Chef Butler at least every four holes. Luxurious trollies offer golfers everything from chilled towels to insulated water bottles. Additionally, there are no homes on property, a rarity for desert courses. 

While the course is ideal for walking, Desert Island offers new, high-end golf carts. In Winter 2022, Desert Island will launch a limited number of private memberships, accepting 100 memberships total. Members will have access to priority tee times, dining discounts, and additional club perks.  

Chef Butler’s combines fine dining with attainable elegance. Named after artist and active DI resident Frederick Doyle Penney (1900-1988), Chef Butler has created a showcase for his ingredient-driven, locally sourced menu that is constantly evolving with the seasons. The Penney features a vast rare spirits library, sunken horseshoe bar and terrace dining, with views of the lake and the mountains. A new fall menu will launch at the restaurant in the coming weeks, including highlights from Parlour’s menu. 

Parlour is Desert Island’s destination cocktail lounge, with a grand piano, a restored 1967 Brunswick pool table and a library of table games. Parlour features Nelson’s original artwork and detailed murals painted by Stacy Smith, in-house artist and designer. Parlour functions as a music lounge and game room with its own bar and cocktail menus. 

9 ½ is Desert Island’s shady refreshment station featuring snacks and entrees from Chef Butler, as well as beer, specialty cocktails, fresh-squeezed juices, craft coffee, and more. The eatery is located adjacent to Golf Shoppe, between Holes 1, 9, 10, and 18 and is open seven days a week, sunrise to happy hour and occasionally for dinner. 9 ½ expands to the Southern Verandah, a long, shaded row of tables overlooking the lake side putting green. Private dining is available for up to 65 persons.

Desert Island has a range of event spaces, including the ballroom, nestled on the top floor of the clubhouse, offering floor to ceiling views of the course, the lake, and mountains beyond. The ballroom has a standing capacity of 500 and seated capacity of 250.

Photos Courtesy of Desert Island 

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