Sunnylands: Home of the Annenbergs...the rich are very different from you and me.
something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different. Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, the A. Quincy Jones designed masterpiece, owned by the late billionaire publisher, philanthropist, ambassador- Walter Annenberg and his wife Lee was a desert hideaway for Presidents, tycoons, power brokers, movie stars and the mega-rich of the past century. Now a non-profit center and retreat, it is know n as the "Camp David of the West".
‘Ronnie and I were never big New Year’s Eve people. But we loved the New Year’s Eves at Sunnylands,” says Nancy Reagan of the annual dinner dances that the Annenbergs—used to give at their plush 200-acre estate in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs. “They were wonderful parties. People came from all over: London, Paris, New York—everywhere.” As Lee Annenberg recalled in her waning years, “We had nine tables, and Tony Rose’s Orchestra, and, boy, did we really have fun.” Among those who made the cut: Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller, Malcolm Forbes, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Betsy Bloomingdale, and nearly the entire top rung of the Reagan administration, including Secretary of State George Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, National-Security Adviser Colin Powell, and White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker. The Reagans attended 18 times between 1974 and 1993, including all eight years that he was president
After a recent tour of the home and gardens, I could not help but think about the many important, famous and infamous people who had lounged around the pool, gambled on the golf course, savored the chef's creations, and slept in the Peach, Pink, Blue or Yellow guest rooms.
We were treated to a tour of the kitchen, and it was understandably dated, sterile, and commercial. No granite here. Strictly functional with cabinets full of the famous Minton China. I was tickled to see the custom breakfast trays for Walter and Lee, along with color-coded trays for each guest room.
One of my favorite stops on the tour were the his and her locker rooms for the golf course. Each had the original 60's bright colored floral wall paper and collections of photos from decades of famous wanna-be golfers who came to play with the Annenbergs. I especially loved the little plastic signs placed just outside the small bath-shower room~
"If you are taking a swim after golf, a shower will be most refreshing."
~ Clearly they encouraged their guests to "rinse off" before plunging into their pristine pool! But they said it in such a nice way!
You will leave with a nostalgia for the elegance of the Annenbergs, past Presidents, First Ladies, Frank Sinatra and Royalty. .. Backgammon, linen napkins, Minton China and the luxury of owning your own 9-hole golf course.
Sunnylands stays with you even after the gate closes behind you.
To schedule your tour and more info: Sunnylands.org