Because there simply always seems to be so many amazing things to do, places to go, and wonderful people to meet in the communities of the Greater Palm Springs Oasis, I have only just found the time to take the tour of the world-famous midcentury modern Sunnylands, the former winter estate of U.S. ambassador and publishing mogul Walter Annenberg and his wonderful wife Leonore.
After the death of its owners, this once-private home—one of the most spectacular in the world, designed by A. Quincy Jones in the early ’60s—and adjacent property were willed to the Annenberg Foundation, which now offers the beautifully restored facility for use in high-level political, economic, and diplomatic conferences. When not in use for these kinds of affairs, lucky souls are granted access to it, and experience a pristine property that few ever get to see. Since March 2012, 90-minute tours for small groups of seven individuals (who make advance reservations and pay the relatively small admission price of $35) are led by expert guides. And what an insider’s look it is!
For starters, the house is located on over 200 acres, complete with a private 9-hole golf course, multiple lakes and streams, and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The main house is about 25,000 square feet—over 6,000 square feet of which is occupied by the luscious open living room alone—and has but one bedroom…the “master,” of course.
The original artwork that was part of the couple’s vast collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Meticulously reproduced digital doubles have now been hung in their original locations. But don’t fret, there’s an abundance of original works still on display that will dazzle and delight, including a collection of Steuben glass pieces that knocked my socks off. The adjoining guest rooms, game room, nearby and swimming pool—not to mention the drive through the grounds—are just a few of the many eye-catching treats in store.
And don’t forget that the visitors center and gardens next door to the main property are open to the public free of charge, as are a luscious café and gift shop. Tickets for the home tour sell out fast, so be sure to plan ahead. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the Palm Springs Valley, you do not want to miss out on this one! You’ll be amazed…