Miguel Nelson

Miguel Nelson on Revamping Desert Island Country Club

We chat with Miguel Nelson on how he seized the moment and saw his vision through at Desert Island Country Club.

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Miguel Nelson

Desert Island Country Club owner Miguel Nelson kicks back at The Parlour.

Miguel Nelson has created art and experimental social spaces for more than 20 years and wields a portfolio of venues around Los Angeles. During the pandemic, he visited the Coachella Valley looking to add an outdoor space, and was surprised by the beautiful and relatively hidden Desert Island Country Club. 

“When you set foot on property, everything is framed by this lake and the mountain views and this beautiful golf course,” Nelson says. “The entire clubhouse is floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap all the way around, looking out to these views. I had to pinch myself.”

Nelson seized the moment and went to work on his vision for the property, starting with a returning of the clubhouse to the glamorous vibe of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’80s. The club began regaining its popularity when it opened The Penney restaurant, Parlour cocktail lounge, and 9½ Bar + Kitchen (between holes 9 and 10). 

Next, Nelson will upgrade the golf course, which is open to the public but plays like a private experience; a small number of memberships are available to nonresidents.

The city of Rancho Mirage has approved Nelson to build a boutique resort with 34 casitas and 11 private villas as well as a yoga pavilion. “We’re also going to have an epic swim club,” Nelson says. 

Nelson envisions Desert Island as a unique and luxurious experience for residents and visitors — and a signature part of his legacy. “This entire project for me is a performative sculptural land art space,” he says. “That’s my lens.”