Rancho Mirage Travel Guide
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Wine glasses: not pictured
The Coachella Valley, home to dates, intense heat, plastic surgery, and (related) a lot of ladies who lunch. But one brave hotel is stepping up a gear, offering ladies not lunch, but afternoon golf and – to help your aim – booze.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas is starting a Women, Wine & Nine program, in which ladies can come in for a glass or two of wine and nine holes at the Rancho Las Palmas Country Club, every Thursday between 4.30pm and 7pm.
But aside from lounging by the pool, grabbing drinks at the bar at State Fair or napping in your guest room, there's something else you must do during your stay--hit up the spa.
We realize that for serious jet-setters and luxury hotel enthusiasts, this was already on your agenda for Palm Springs as desert retreats and massages go hand in hand. However, the Ritz-Carlton is serious about not just relaxation but tranquility and inner peace.
It is always a bit surreal to step inside a hotel or resort that you've spent months or years hyping up--you know how we do it--poring over renderings, searching for possible opening dates, hunting for room amenities and cycling through the reservations system to find out the opening rates for different room types.
But when we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs last month, that strangeness was heightened because the resort took more than seven years to open.
In fact, the resort was mostly finished in 2008 but then the financial crisis hit and since one of the hotel's backers just happened to be Lehman Brothers (RIP), the Ritz-Carlton was put on hold. The hotel was locked up--but fully secured and with air conditioning--for the next seven years until new owners (and money) were found to finish up the resort.
It finally opened for real in May. And yes, some of the rooms look exactly like the initial room renderings we saw back in 2007.
Yet despite all those years hidden away, half-finished and neglected, the resort has emerged as a bright, shiny desert gem.
Hotel Pools / Rancho Mirage Hotels / Family-Friendly Hotels / Hotel Amenities / Omni Hotels / Palm Springs Hotels / → All Tags
When we were writing about Palm Springs all last week, we were trying to stick to hotels in Palm Springs itself. But as well as the 10 in town that we already mentioned, there’s another desert pool that deserves a mention: that of the Omni Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage.
We say pool – but actually, it’s a waterpark. Yes, a hotel with its own waterpark. Splashtopia Water Playground is 2 acres of family-friendliness, with a sandy beach, 100-foot waterslides, a 450ft ‘lazy river’ (traversable by inner tube), a ‘cliffside’ Jacuzzi, water play zones with sprinklers and fountains, as well as an adults-only pool, Azure. As if that wasn’t enough, they also have ‘dive-in movies’ every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, featuring animated family-friendly films, like Frozen and Despicable Me 2.
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About a year ago we asked the question whether the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage, hovering in hotel-limbo since the ’08 financial crisis, would ever recover to the point of having an opening date and welcoming paying guests.
Our answer is here today: the hotel will actually, finally, truly open on May 15, just over a week after fellow chronic delay case the Shangri-La at the Shard. 2014 is proving to be quite the good luck charm for these hotels.
This year will be the five-year anniversary of the big crash of 2008, a financial crisis that hit the hotel industry – like so many others – hard. All the hotel openings these days notwithstanding, many a project was scrapped as a result, long before they started breaking ground.
Yet, some others got caught in the middle, stuck in a weird kind of hotel-limbo: well on their way to completion, but without any sight of the moment when the finishing line, and paying guests just beyond, will be reached. Case in point: The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage.
The view from our first room, 525
As you may have noticed, we’ve been on a very pleasant mission the last few weeks of bulking up our portfolio of Palm Springs hotel stays. We’ve always preferred boutique in PS, but this past weekend we (ok our budget) opted for some chain resorts. Thus it was that $79 thrown in Hotwire's direction found us driving up the palm-lined pathway to the Westin Mission Hills Resort last Friday night. Here’s what we found.
The carpark was a slight walk away from reception, but the charming valet team allowed us to leave our car up front as we checked in: gold star. We walked through a series of beautiful archways with sculptures and fountains to reception: gold star. Reception itself was stylish: gold star.
And then we were checked in by a lady who couldn’t have seemed less interested in us if she’d tried (no attempt at charm, no rundown of the resort fee, no enquiries as to our room preferences – but she was kinda intimidating so we didn’t dare voice our own). A gold star disappeared. Worse still, when it came to navigating to our room, we realised we were in the building beside the carpark. Another gold star disintegrated.
And the room itself – 525 – made us break out the negative gold stars. For a start, it was clearly one of the worst rooms on the property: ground floor, gloomy lighting and a view consisting of the carpark and, behind it, the main highway. There was a lengthy notice about the importance of safety and security on property left prominently in front of the TV, which put the wind up us, seeing as we were a) female and b) traveling alone. Oh, and it stank like it hadn’t been aired in a couple months. We returned to reception to see if they could do better.
We love autumn for lots of reasons, but one of the biggies is for the onslaught of sales. But it's not only clothes and back-to-school supplies that are up for deep discounts; some hotels get in on the sale action, too. Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa will throw its fall sale September 12 to 19.
The seven-day sale will get you a 30 percent savings on a room at the Rancho Mirage hotel in the Coachella Valley. That translates to rooms starting at $189 a night midweek.
It’s time to relive all those adolescent afternoons spent wandering around Raging Waters to win some hotel prizes. Two of the KSL Group’s Southern California Properties, La Costa Resort & Spa and Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, have started a "Summer’s Sliders Cup Race" that offers hotel guests prizes for the fastest time down the resorts’ 100-foot water slides.
Sliders Cup races take place at each resort every Thursday and Saturday at 5:00pm, and run June 18-September 7. Prospective competitors will be separated into age groups: 7-10 years, 11-14, 15-19, and 20 and over. So all you college kids home for the summer, time to really shine and put your parents’ friends to shame.
It's no surprise to us that the Agua Caliente Resort Hotel, part of a casino complex in Rancho Mirage, California, has a bunch of dazzling lights. The surprising bit is that the whole lighting system in the new hotel is so high tech and at the same time, clean and green.
The fiddly details are that the hotel have used special LED cove lighting on 14 floors and this lighting has a bunch of advantages: it lasts longer, so they don't need to get staff up to change light bulbs, and it's easy to choose different light "colors" with this technology so you can get the atmosphere you're after.
On top of that the lights are also more energy saving than traditional light bulbs. Since we only usually notice hotel lighting if it's particularly bad, the Agua Caliente Resort probably has the kind of lighting we'll never notice, but we do notice that it's eco-friendly and tip our hats to that.
The newest Ritz Carlton in Southern California is set to be the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage, near Coachella Valley which will open in December 2007.
Never mind that the real Clinique La Prairie has taken the Ritz-Carlton brand to court for opening what they say are knock-off La Prairie spas in their hotels, the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage will have its very own La Prairie spa.
Judging from the description, the spa will be pretty spectacular and it should be since the 24,000 sq.ft. spa cost $25 million to build:
The spa structure will be nestled into the hillside, tucked into the earth on multiple levels. The entrance will be artfully screened by a low wall and vine-covered trellises, which create a quiet, private entry courtyard, subtly allowing guests to de-compress as they enter the spa. Nearly two-thirds of the treatment rooms will have private terraces, with natural rock outcroppings and outdoor showers.
An outdoor pre- and post- treatment relaxation area, with natural rock and a plunge pool, will be set into the hillside, emphasizing a direct connection with the landscape. The facility and surrounding area boasts several unique light, exterior and water elements that remain consistent with the area's inherent beauty and relaxing atmosphere.
The 244-room resort will open in December while the spa and the residence units will open in May 2008. The hotel will start taking reservations in September but beware this Ritz-Carlton is asking for a $25 daily resort fee when you stay there.
According to the official press release, Ritz will sink about $500 million into gutting and renovating the place into a 244-room resort with an internationally-branded spa and of course, 154 luxury residential units.
While the press release dished out all the sordid construction and design details (sample line: "The hotel's façade will be transformed through the integrated use of multi-hued stone and rich, highly-saturated colors that mirror the inherent beauty of the area's desert surroundings."), a tipster emailed us the real dirt:
It appears they have demolished the entire former Lodge, which after a few years of neglect and awful reviews had just started to pour money into refurbishing the place. Apparently being the wedding locale for that Bachelorette show didn't bring them what they hoped for. Having stayed there last time when it was a RockResort, I'm sure the Ritz can only improve things.
What hasn't the toxic reality TV shows like "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" ruined? Hotels, you may wanna rethink your guest stint on "Flava Flav's Search for a Woman, Cycle 61".