DESERT OASIS: Empire expands with two new polo venues.

In the middle of the desert lies a timeless oasis. Deep blue tropical waters fill a graceful, lush lagoon bordered by sandy beaches. At the center of this tranquil expanse an exotic island beckons, while in the distance a peninsula frames the scene, its storm-bent palm trees casting cooling shadows on the shores.

You could be forgiven for thinking you’re dreaming, but you’re not. You have arrived at Alex Haagen III’s newest inspiration, Empire Grand Oasis, located just 10 minutes southeast of Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

Empire Grand Oasis, a tropical jewel, is adorned by a grass polo field positioned alongside, providing polo players with their own unique polo paradise. Plans are in the works for three more grass fields, all to be installed within the next 12 months. No other polo venue in the country will have grounds as beautiful as Empire Grand Oasis. The venue will be used for concerts, weddings, corporate events, polo matches and parties.

All of Haagen’s properties, including Empire Polo Club, are distinguished by extensive gardens, accented by impressive and elegant statuary and enlivened by luminous fountains. Empire Grand Oasis, however, takes these design concepts and intensifies them all into a new level of artistry.

Views of the surrounding desert mountains seem surreal as you explore the enchanting polo grounds, then traverse the shores of the tropical lagoon. Refreshing fountains, well-placed statuary and lush gardens add detail and luxury to this exclusive polo venue.

The sandy beach of the lagoon is spotted with shady palapas and palm trees. An island with a grass palapa and palm trees is within easy reach across the fresh water lagoon. Guests will enjoy lounging on the sandy beach or paddling around in a canoe.

At the north end of the lagoon, an authentic tiki bar sits on a peninsula with views of the mountains and the expansive Estate House to the south. A cascading waterfall just beyond the peninsula adds to the tropical ambience with its mesmerizing sound. Under the palapa roof of the tiki bar and on the adjacent lawn area, luau parties, tropical-themed luncheons or romantic evening cocktail parties can take advantage of the lush, exotic atmosphere—truly an oasis in the desert.

Less than a mile from Empire Polo Club lies Calhoun Ranch, another new polo facility in the neighborhood. Built in 2018 by Haagen, it features a tranquil lake surrounded by the area’s iconic palm trees. The wide-ranging property includes a grass polo field and a large stick-and-ball field.

Calhoun Ranch also has the benefit of a regulation indoor polo arena. On-site stabling, an exercise track and acres of pasture make this a convenient base of operations for teams competing at Empire Polo Club.

Empire Polo Club, owned by the Haagen family, was established in 1987. The club’s winter season begins with pre-season games in December. The main polo season starts in early January and continues through the end of March, offering players 1-, 4- and 8-goal leagues.

In 2010, Haagen told Polo Players’ Edition, “From the beginning, I wanted to build a polo club that would expand competition and become the place to play. But that’s not enough. I also wanted to create a comfortable place for friends and family to gather. You can’t have one without the other.”

The addition of Calhoun Ranch and Empire Grand Oasis have increased Empire Polo Club’s total acres to 468, with stabling and ample turnout for up to 713 horses. Once the three new grass fields planned for Empire Grand Oasis are completed, Empire will have a total of 16 high-quality regulation polo fields. In addition, the club is one of two polo facilities in the world with a fully lit grass polo field for night play. Between the three facilities, there are three exercise tracks and two indoor arenas.

There is also dining and entertainment options available on the club grounds. The Tack Room Tavern is a favorite watering hole and dining destination for locals and visitors. It offers live music on the weekends and Karaoke during the week. Sharing an outdoor patio with the Tack Room Tavern is the Polo Pizza Company, offering hand-tossed, gourmet pizzas and a full bar.

Empire Polo Club is world-renowned as a concert venue for the Coachella Art & Music Festival, which sees close to 100,000 people a day over six days, according to Goldenvoice. Last year, the event sold out within six hours of tickets going on sale.

The club will soon gain similar recognition with polo players and fans from around the world. The Federation of International Polo recently selected Empire Polo Club as the host club for the XII FIP World Polo Championship. Polo players from eight countries will make the journey to Indio to participate in the tournament.

“I’m excited to have the FIP World Championship take place at Empire Polo Club,” said Haagen. “Our club is a world-class polo and event facility with the capacity to handle an event of this magnitude. Our event staff has extensive experience with event set-up and management, making Empire Polo Club the perfect location for the FIP World Championship,” added Haagen.

The club will host the event jointly with the USPA and USPA Global Licensing from Oct. 22-31, 2021. It will be just the second time in history the competition has been held in the U.S. Players, rated from 2 to 5 goals on teams rated 10 to 14 goals, will be mounted on hundreds of horses from the Jornayvaz family’s J5 Equestrian organization.

“When it comes to horses, J5 Equestrian is the top organization in America and one of the most important in the world,” said USPA CEO Robert Puetz. “USPA has committed to partner with J5 to provide over 200 horses and we are ecstatic that they are able to support this significant international event ... It will be a highly-competitive tournament on an international stage.”

Haagen’s polo venues offer players and teams a first-class luxury polo experience at a fraction of the cost of other polo clubs in the country. The economical cost of living, hay and stabling in the California desert, combined with the temperate climate and striking surroundings, creates an attractive package for teams looking for a winter polo destination.

For more information about Empire Polo Club visit:

-- By Kristine Bonner and Lynn Bremner


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