The June 7 – 9, 2013 visit of Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China to Rancho Mirage’s legendary Sunnylands estate garnered much-deserved worldwide attention due to the historic nature of this first meeting between the two world leaders. The presence of the presidents in the Palm Springs Valley created quite a stir for those of us who reside here or happened to be in town, with thousands poised to see Air Force One’s arrival at the Palm Springs International Airport, and streets lined with both supporters and protesters as the two heads of state made their way to Sunnylands.
With 12 days notice, the talented team that oversees all aspects of the Sunnylands properties—along with master event producer Richard DeSantis of Event Management Productions—pulled together everything that would be needed to host such an auspicious gathering. Security was a given. But what and how to feed everyone was a bit more challenging! Eric Wadlund, executive chef of Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs, was brought on to oversee the food and beverage offerings. With hundreds of support staff, reporters, and security personnel, food was served 24 hours a day, and at one point five buffets were up and running. Bobby Flay was chosen to create the menu for the honorary dinner of the presidents and invited dignitaries, and his lobster tamales, Porterhouse steak, and cherry pie were more than well-received. We hear Obama cleared his plate!
By all accounts the visit was a rousing success, with media outlets from around the world reporting on our beautiful neck of the woods—or desert, as it were. (President Obama even found some time for a round of golf on the private 9-hole course). The 200-acre Sunnylands estate—the former home of the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore—and the Sunnylands Visitor Center and Gardens, will be closed for the summer, but they’ll ready to greet the public again beginning September 5, 2013. Don’t miss this stunning Rancho Mirage attraction in the heart of the Palm Springs Valley.