I have to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the news that the President of the United States is returning to the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage this month. Especially that it’s so soon after his June 2013 visit, when he hosted the People’s Republic of China’s President Xi Jinping. Viewed as an extremely successful summit, it obviously made President Barack Obama feel that Sunnylands is conducive to the kind of talks he will be having with His Majesty King Abdulla II, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, beginning on February 14, to promote peace, prosperity, and reform between the two countries and throughout the Middle East.
The former home of the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore, Sunnylands is situated on more than 200 acres in the heart of the Palm Springs Valley, and has been used multiple times in the past few years as a secure retreat center for high-level gatherings. Thus does it further the Annenbergs’ wishes to have this spectacular property function as a sort of “Camp David of the West,” where the President can meet with world leaders to facilitate international agreements.
The last-minute plans of this summit will force the closure of the facilities to the general public for about a week, but before and after, it will be open as usual. The visitor center and gardens, with no admission fee, is a lovely place to relax and reflect, do a bit of shopping in the gift shop, and have a light lunch or afternoon snack in the café. Those looking to tour the Annenbergs’ former private home—an amazing 25,000 square-foot midcentury architectural masterpiece—will want to be sure to plan well in advance and get tickets early, as virtually every tour sells out!
As usual, security at Sunnylands—and throughout the Palm Springs Valley—will be heightened during the Presidential visit. But I can virtually guarantee that locals and visitors alike will be surrounding the Palm Springs International Airport to watch the Air Force One 747 arrive and depart. I know I’ll be there, camera in hand to document what I’m sure will be another great gathering of world leaders in my hometown of Rancho Mirage! www.sunnylands.org