ICONIC

The luxe life

Renovated in style

Peek Inside: Marrakesh Golf and Country Club

There’s an unmistakable undulating pink brick wall along Portola Avenue in Palm Desert. As you pass you might catch a glimpse of the small Middle Eastern-styled guard house, or perhaps a peek at the low slung country club just beyond. Most of us don’t get to see much more than that.

When developer Johnny Dawson, well-known back in the 1960s for the Eldorado and Thunderbird country clubs, first saw the empty landscape in Palm Desert that would become the site for Marrakesh Golf and Country Club, he knew he had discovered a superb desert location. Dawson envisioned an exclusive golf and social community with spectacular Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountain range views, set within the ambiance of a Moroccan walled city.

Pink walls, pink glow

He was most excited by the pink glow that would arrive over the desert at dusk each day, perfectly blending with the pink structures that would become the clubhouse, plus 364 condominiums wrapping around the golf course. Ground was broken in 1967 with the Marrakesh Country Club opening two years later. Dawson brought in world-renowned architects to achieve his vision, including Hollywood Regency master John Elgin Woolf, Richard Harrison of modernist firm Wexler & Harrison whose focus would be the clubhouse, and acclaimed golf course designer, Ted Robinson.

The private, gated, privately patrolled, member-owned club provides full membership to condominium owners, and it takes the invitation of a member and club approval to attain non-resident membership status. Visitors leasing from a condominium owner seasonally may also obtain membership privileges during their stay. The 18-hole, par-60 Executive Golf Course to this day is considered a remarkable place to play. Marrakesh also offers two putting greens, bocce, croquet, pickleball, tennis, and 14 swimming pools and spas, each with a stylistically unique pavilion in mid-century Modernist design.

Substantial renovation

Whether residents are golfers or prefer other activities, Marrakesh’s Modernist clubhouse is the perfect place to spend time with family and friends. Featuring casual and formal dining rooms, a bar and comfortable lounge, the clubhouse was renovated in 2023 by famed interior designer Tom Scheerer. Thankfully, he maintained the main entry on a rise with the stunning mountains behind in the distance, with Islamic gardens fronting the clubhouse with a fascinating ascending ribbon of flowing water that instantly catches your eye upon arrival.

The interior of the renovated clubhouse now features a wall of photos honoring the founding members, but this smoothly evolves into a quiet elegance that is not often experienced elsewhere. The striking curved hallway that draws guests into the bar is decorated with grisaille mural wallpaper, where the artist use shades of a single color to create a distinct atmosphere. Mirrored walls make for a more expansive feel to the space.

Marrakesh features four types of homes, each designated by letter A, B, C or D. With individual entrance courtyards, white mansard roofs (also known as French or curb roofing), and architect Woolf’s famous French door entryway.

Morroccan influences abound

Much like the houses, adjacent structures including the poolhouses with turreted gate kiosks and obelisks attached to the serpentine walls are painted in Marrakesh’s trademark pink. Woolf also designed the community’s streetlamps, which are frequently said to resemble the set of Hello, Dolly!

Long recognized by Marrakesh residents and visitors, the phrase, “It’s hard to have a bad day in a pink house” is often heard along with a smile and a wink. There is also, naturally, an exquisite Marrakesh wave that has been a part of the club since its opening. While the country club is known best for its incredible architecture and pink buildings, its active and energetic community is extremely close-knit and admittedly sophisticated.

Art, high quality furnishings, memorable culinary experiences, and a love of Modernist desert architecture are embraced here. The heralded renovation of the Marrakesh Country Club’s clubhouse positively positions this unique and historic club for decades to come.