I guess the first question has to be, “Who is Lawrence Welk and why does he have a bunch of resorts named after him?”
Well, here is the answer.
Lawrence Welk was actually a very famous bandleader who is best known for his variety show that was launched in 1955 and lasted 16 years plus many seasons in syndication. This popular TV show included music, comedy routines, guest musicians, and singers.
Even though his roots were in the entertainment industry, Lawrence Welk stumbled into the resort business in 1964. The story goes that he was driving in the north county of San Diego to potentially invest in an orange grove but instead purchased a motel and a nine-hole golf course. He later staged one of his shows there and it became an instant hotspot especially for the multitude of Welk fans.
Today there are five resorts including the original in Escondido, California which we are featuring in this story. Situated just off of the Interstate 15 freeway, this location has two golf courses, a theater, shops, vacation homes, and timeshares. The other resorts are in Lake Tahoe, Cabo San Lucas, Palm Springs, Branson, Mo., and are ranked among the top resorts in the world by TripAdvisor.com. All are still owned by the Welk family and managed by the grandson.
The Escondido resort
I have had the pleasure of visiting the Palm Springs resort and was very impressed by the grounds, rooms, and especially the pool. Although I have never stayed at the resort in Escondido, I have been there many times for either a round of golf or to the theater for one of their high caliber musicals.
Treat em like Family
Lawrence Welk himself had the reputation of encouraging his employees to give people what they want and treat each guest like family.
One example of this hominess is at the Lawrence Welk Theater in the Escondido Village. This cozy theater has some of the best productions in the area. The caliber of performances, stage décor and music is always top notch. I saw a version of The Phantom of the Opera that didn’t include the Andrew Lloyd Weber music but instead featured different songs. The new music was excellent and the production concentrated more on the story which I really liked. Bottom line, it was really good.
With just over 300 seats, there is not a bad view in the house, plus the sizable lobby is a mini museum filled with memorabilia, photos, props, and information about Lawrence Welk.
Situated around the theater and surrounding the courtyard of shops there is more evidence of “giving people what they want” in the form of cozy conversation areas. Most sections have comfortable seating that surround a water or fire feature. The cushioned chairs and couches feel like you are in the backyard of a high-end home.
In the daylight, beautiful overhead shades protect you from the sun which is known to shine hot and bright in Escondido I was actually impressed with the new look of the courtyard and how they have provided a relaxing area for people to sit while waiting for the show. It also serves as a great place to relax while enjoying a sandwich or after a long round of golf.
Speaking of golf, as mentioned, there are two different courses on the grounds. I have never played the smaller course but the larger of the two is actually one of my favorites. This beautiful course intertwines around small lakes, hills, rock formations, and passes by a few fountains. Although only par threes and fours, and shorter than a regulation course, it is still very challenging.
The Fountains course
For shopping and eating, you can find all of that in the little village situated near the theater. There is a market, a deli, a boutique, novelty shop, and for sophisticated dining, the Canyon Grille.
Even though I have never seen the inside of one of the rooms at the Escondido resort or have walked around the grounds, something tells me that it is as nice as the rest of the area. Sadly, Lawrence Welk passed away in 1992 but the Welk Group has created that homey feeling that I am sure would make their patriarch proud.
You don’t have to own a timeshare or be a resort guest to enjoy the Lawrence Welk Village. You can come out just for the day.
All you have to bring is yourself and a few friends!