jw marriott desert springs

Ice Breaker

The lead bartender at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa has been connecting with guests for 29 years.

Neal Turnage Current Guide, Hotels & Resorts

jw marriott desert springs


Jaime Orellana

Lead bartender
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
74855 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert

For Jaime Orellana, lead bartender at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, it’s not about the drinks. It’s about the culture. His abiding interest in learning about different walks of life and a yen to create meaningful connections with guests have kept him on the job for 29 years and counting.

That longevity has generated more than a few memorable experiences. One of Orellana’s favorites is a surprise wedding proposal he helped to engineer in 2010. The couple, now married, has returned every year since to celebrate the occasion with him. It’s moments and visitors like this that most warm the heart of the El Salvador native, who says he was initially drawn to the desert to visit his father. “I fell in love with the place,” Orellana recalls. “I didn’t want to leave.” When he discovered the hotel, he found a remunerative reason to stay.

While he has worked his way through almost every food and beverage venue on-site (there are 10), it’s the resort’s Oasis Poolside Bar & Grill where he feels most at home — and where he dreamed up a cocktail, known as The Matador, that’s still on the menu today. Deceptively elementary, it’s wicked refreshing, Orellana says. “Patrón Silver, OJ, and pineapple juice shaken and served over ice.”

The freedom to create combined with a natural affinity for human interaction continue to drive his desire to come to work each day.

“My story is simple,” Orellana muses. “I’m a good listener. My dad taught me that. It opened my heart and has made all the difference.”

Jaime recommends:

Orellana loves taking visitors on a hike along the Bump and Grind trail in Palm Desert or to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, combining his love for being outdoors with a passion for physical fitness.