Surf resort in Palm Desert approved, man-made waves expected in two years

Tired of the crowds at your local surf spot? Soon, you’ll be able to catch waves in the desert, about two hours away from the salt-water ocean.

The DSRT Surf Resort was recently approved by Palm Desert city leaders, bringing planners one step closer to developing Southern California’s first artificial, new-wave surfing getaway.

The major milestone for the DSRT Surf Resort – one of four man-made wave pools proposed for the region – was reached with a unanimous vote by the City Council and means the team behind the project, Desert Wave Ventures and Beach Street Development, can aim to have shovels in the ground by summer.

The project is said to be the first luxury surf resort of its kind in the world.

“We received unanimous approval, no speakers in opposition,” said Marco  Gonzalez, one of the project partners.  “I think it speaks to the work we did on the community side, environmental side and how we worked with city staff to make this project as good as it came out.”

Plans are underway to create an adventure getaway called DSRT SURF a resort-style destination in Palm Desert that would be Southern California’s first artificial, new-wave surfing destination. (Artist rendition courtesy of DSRT SURF)

Gonzalez said the developers plan to hire locals for jobs on site for everything from engineering to management and work with the local high school and other community groups on access.

“It’s a pretty monumental feat to provide something that’s good for the community, in terms of use, jobs and economic revenue,” he said.

The idea of man-made waves pools is not a new concept, with attempts as far back as the ’80s. But instead of mimicking the ocean, early waves rushed like a river toward a surfer, making them more novelty waves. It was only in recent years that technology caught up to provide surf-worthy rides.

In California, the only wave-pool open is Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch near Fresno, which has a price tag in the tens of thousands and is difficult to get into.

During the pandemic, interest in artificial waves skyrocketed as more people took up surfing and surf travel came to a halt, with plenty of Southern California surfers flocking to the BSR Surf Resort in Texas to ride the new kind of waves.

At the DSRT Surf Resort, the goal is to blend the beach and the desert, creating a resort-destination getaway that is more than a day trip, amusement park experience – something no other man-made wave footprint has yet to do, its developers say.

DSRT Surf Resort will occupy 17 acres within Desert Willow Golf Resort, city-owned land developed in 1998. It will have a 92-room luxury hotel, 83 residential villas and a 5.5-acre surfing lagoon powered by Wavegarden Cove technology.

The pool would be able to hold 60 to 80 people in the water at any given time, spread between five or six different peaks.

The Wavegarden Cove technology has settings for barrels, long intermediate rides or soft beginner waves. Size, shape, height of the wave, length, frequency, power and speed can all be customized.

Gonzalez said surfing will be done by session, with a mix of levels.

“All of that will be on a schedule,” he said.

Some reservations will be set aside for people staying in the hotel and others will be for people who own residential units. Others slots and sessions will be open to the public to rent out. Prices have not been announced.

Wavegarden has been a leader in creating man-made waves, with its first project, Surf Snowdonia, opening in the United Kingdom in 2015. Since then, it has built pools around the world, including in Australia, Switzerland and Brazil.

The DSRT Surf Resort will be the first using the technology in the United States.

In considering the region’s continuing struggles with water, developers of the DSRT Surf Resort said it is implementing a unique “turf for surf” program to offset all surf lagoon water use by converting 20 acres of turf on the golf courses to drought tolerant landscaping.

The surf program would use the same amount of water as the golf course being removed, making it a “net zero” operation, Gonzalez said.

In addition to the surfing lagoon and the Desert Willow golf courses, the surf center will feature a surf academy for lessons, rentals and retail. The hotel will have swimming pools, hot tubs, restaurant and bars, as well as other amenities including a BMX pump track that skateboards can also be used on, putting greens and a pickleball court.

The next step is to work on construction drawings and getting engineering and groundwork plans complete.

“If everything goes well, we will be grading the site before the end of the year. We’re hoping to break ground this summer,” Gonzalez said.

Estimated opening is end of 2023. More info at

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