Tennis Fan? Indian Wells, CA is Your Shangri-La



    Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Photo by Scott Hendrickson via Unsplash

    For two weeks every March, Indian Wells is to tennis what Scottsdale is to baseball. Just as MLB fans flock to the Arizona desert each spring for major league vibes, tennis aficionados pilgrimage to the Palm Springs region to revel in tennis paradise. Home to the BNP Paribas Open—the best attended tennis tournament outside of the four Grand Slams—Indian Wells and its magnificent Indian Wells Tennis Garden are tennis nirvana for those who follow “the sport of kings.”   

    The Indian Wells Tennis Garden opened in March 2000, and has since become a world-renowned tennis haven, beloved by both amateur and professional players, sponsors, media, and of course fans. The 54-acre site is surrounded by the San Jacinto, Santa Rosa and San Bernardino mountain ranges. It is unbelievably picturesque and is considered one of the premier venues in all of sports, featuring the world’s second largest outdoor tennis stadium at 16,100 capacity, a second stadium with 8,000 seat capacity, and 29 regulation hard courts. The BNP Paribas Open (the largest combined men’s and women’s tennis tournament in the world) is the venue’s top annual attraction, taking place the first two weeks of March. 

    Indian Wells Tennis Garden Stadium 1

    During the two-week tourney, the scene is pure tennis heaven. In addition to watching match play, attendees within the tennis garden enjoy live music performances, panel discussions with the pros, food and beverage demos, drone light shows, fireworks, retail shopping and more. It’s fun, and it’s festive and it’s easy to see why many fans venture to the desert annually for the revelry. 

    Catherine Franklin, a former collegiate player at UCLA, attends regularly. The tourney is an annual reunion venue for her national tennis tour friends. “It’s a place that all of us can mutually enjoy,” says Franklin. “As youths, we spent weeks traveling and playing together throughout the US, and since our college days, I don’t get to see many of these women regularly. This tournament and venue are the perfect place for all of us to gather. There is so much to do beyond watching match play. It is super fun.”

    Another regular is Andrew Oliver, a recreational tennis player and fan. He and his son have been attending for 15 years. “One of the things I love about the tournament is that many of the players stay in the local hotels, just as the fans do, and you might find yourself sitting at breakfast or dinner next to one of the biggest players in the world,” says Oliver. “You get a firsthand look at how they prep, what they eat, etc. There are few sporting events where fans are allowed such access.”

    Hyatt Regency Indian Wells entrance

    One of those local hotels is the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. Perched on 45 acres of lush landscape in the heart of the Coachella Valley, the resort is ground zero for both BNP Paribas Open players and fans, who might find themselves sitting side-by-side on swimming pool chaises. It’s undoubtedly a thrill to witness some of the sport’s biggest names strolling through the lobby, or gliding down the lazy river atop an innertube within the resort’s HyTides Waterpark. The resort is also the site of the tournament’s annual posh kick-off event, Taste of Tennis. Held on the resort’s event lawn, under a canopy of lights, Taste of Tennis offers foodies and tennis fans an evening of music, camaraderie, cocktails, wine, and incredible cuisine prepared by top Coachella Valley chefs (including the Hyatt’s Executive Chef Angelo Sosa), “served” by some of the world’s top pro tennis players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Paula Badosa, Qinwen Zheng, Alycia Parks, JJ Wolf, Emma Navarro, Alexander Zverev, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Mirra Andreeva, and Alex Michelsen. 

    Hyatt Regency Indian Wells is the site of the annual Taste of Tennis event. Photo by Fran Miller

    The Hyatt property has long been linked to the region’s tennis action. Built in 1986 initially as the Grand Champions Hotel, it hosted the first Indian Wells tournament in 1987. Its 12 tennis courts, 10,000 seat stadium, 1.62-acre hospitality village, and 8,000 square foot convention center proved the ideal venue to host professional tennis competition and the accompanying flurry of fan and media attention. The resort has since been inextricably associated with what is now the BNP Paribas Open.

    Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

    Hyatt Regency Indian Wells HyTides Water Park

    Aside from tennis action, Hyatt Regency Indian Wells and its 530 rooms, 20 villas, and 23 bungalows provide the ultimate playground in any season. Ideal for couples, girlfriend getaways, multi-generational families, wellness seekers, and business travelers alike, the resort features two, adjacent world-class golf courses, a 30,000-square foot spa, Agua Serena, and a recently launched location of Kalologie Medspa offering IV hydration therapy, B12 energy boosts, dermal fillers, micro-needling, body contouring, and other such services. Seven expansive pools and pool decks provide lounging choice, and the resort’s HyTides Plunge is the largest resort pool in the region with the tallest waterslides in the desert. The three story attraction also includes a 450-foot lazy river and splash pad. 

    Chef Angelo Sosa is soon to open two new restaurants at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. Photo by Fran Miller

    Coming soon to the property are elevated dining experiences helmed by Chef Sosa, founding chef and partner in the Michelin-recommended Anejo Restaurants, author of two cookbooks, and alumnus of three Bravo Top Chef seasons. The charismatic Sosa will open a second outlet of his Tía Carmen concept, which debuted in Phoenix in April 2022. The second restaurant will be Carmocha, serving a collection of small plates and crafted cocktails.

    Whether tennis pro, amateur, or simply a fan, the BNP Paribas Open and Hyatt Regency Indian Wells make for a winning combo, year after year.  

    Photos courtesy of Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, except where noted



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