JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa from “Saved by the Bell”Jul 11th, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
This Labor Day, Lifetime is set to air The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story about the making of the Saturday morning classic which ran from 1989-1993. Um, YAY! (How did I not know about this, by the way?? Ordering it now!) While the show was admittedly as cheesy as they come, I loved it as a youngster and still find myself getting sucked in whenever I come across an episode on TV. Once I heard the news about the behind-the-scenes docudrama (thanks to my editor at Los Angeles magazine), I decided it was high time I did some stalking of the original series’ locations – especially being that one of them is right in my own backyard. (I blogged about it once before here.) During the show’s third season, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) and the gang headed out to Palm Desert to attend the wedding of Jessie’s father, Mr. Spano (George McDaniel). In the two episodes, which were titled “Palm Springs Weekend: Part I” and “Palm Springs Weekend: Part II,” the group stayed at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. Amazingly, despite an extensive remodel, the hotel is still recognizable from its onscreen appearance 23 years ago.
The JW Marriott Desert Springs is one of my favorite hotels in the Coachella Valley and quite possibly the largest resort I have ever seen. The place is massive – like 450-acres massive.
The hotel originally opened in February 1987 and currently features 884 (!!) rooms, an eight-story atrium lobby (pictured below), four pools, a 38,000-square-foot spa, twenty tennis courts, an 18-hole putting green, basketball courts, a salon, two golf courses, five restaurants, and, most importantly, a Starbucks.
The resort’s most stunning feature, though, is its massive waterway system, which guests are able to view via manned gondolas.
The main boat launch is pictured below.
Sadly, the property underwent a $25-million renovation from 2007 through 2012 and looks quite a bit different today than it did in when Saved by the Bell was filmed in 1991. It is still, thankfully, somewhat recognizable, though. You can check out a photograph of the original lobby here.
In the “Palm Springs Weekend” episodes, Jessie’s dad is said to manage the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs and the property was featured extensively in the shows. Just a few areas that were used include the front exterior;
the main entrance;
the lobby doors;
and the boat launch.
As you can see, the launch looks much different today than it did onscreen.
Mr. Spano’s wedding was held in the Marriott’s lobby, which also looks much different today, sadly. I have to say I prefer the hotel’s original design to the current one.
The resort’s Valley Golf Course also appeared in the episodes, but I did not venture out there to take any pics. (Cut me some slack – it was 110 degrees at the time. )
One of the Marriott’s former restaurants was used several times on the shows, but, sadly, during the remodel that space was completely gutted and subsequently reopened as a different eatery named Rockwood Grill.
I am guessing that the Desert Springs’ actual fitness center was utilized in the episodes’ gym scenes. Unfortunately, the entire spa was gutted during the remodel and no longer looks anything like its previous self.
I was not able to pinpoint which of the Marriott’s pools appeared in the episodes. I did track down a photograph of the Saved by the Pool pool online and the caption states that it is located at the Desert Springs Villas II (a time share community that is part of the resort), but, oddly, I can’t find a pool on aerial views that matches up.
I would really LOVE to see it in person, too, being that it is where Zack and Kelly rekindled their romance in “Part I.”
The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort has popped up onscreen several times since Saved by the Bell. In 2006, the hotel was where Kimberly Bryant got a little crazy while on vacation with her girlfriends in the third episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County’s first season.
In 2007, Chrissy Schwartz and her friends spent a couple of nights at the Marriott in the pilot episode of Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County, which was titled “Crush . . . Interrupted.”
Oddly, in the episode the group dines at Mikado, which is supposedly a restaurant in the O.C., prior to their trip. Mikado is actually located at the Desert Springs Resort, though, which means that the dinner scene was filmed during their vacation, not beforehand. So much for “reality” TV.
In 2009, Desert Springs was where Alexis and Jim Bellino spent a romantic weekend sans kids in the Season 5 episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County titled “Nothing Is As It Seems.”
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Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, from the “Palm Springs Weekend” episodes of Saved by the Bell, is located at 74-855 Country Club Drive in Palm Desert. You can visit the hotel’s official website here.