Escaping from the city of rain meant it was easy to hop on a plane and fly to sunny California – to be precise to Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs, and Palm Desert. My first trip there also meant I took advice from all of those who had lived or visited that area whom I knew. The first comment was to not just rent a car but rent a convertible. The only one available was a red/orange Mustang.
The weather was perfect the whole week we were in the desert – sunny and 85 to 95 degrees. On the drive from and to LAX we passed fields of windmills and magnificent rock mountains that are truly awe inspiring. The contrast of the blue skies and Palm trees never stopped amazing me.
The Ritz is atop a small hill with beautiful vistas of the mountains. The staff is friendly and the facilities include a wonderful spa and several pools. There are a few exceptions to the level of most Ritz hotels – no mini bar in the room so one cannot get a club soda or peanuts when first arriving. There is a refrigerator but it is empty and the only way to have items in it is to order from room service. A very unusual process for a five-star hotel. The staff is very helpful but perhaps the hotel is understaffed since frequently it took over 20 minutes to have anyone appear to help in the dining room or pool areas. The spa was excellent and worth the big city prices.
Palm Springs is full of wonderful restaurants and also has the flagship store of Trina Turk which is full of great items. We tried several restaurants including Spencer’s and Norma’s in the Parker Hotel. Spencer’s is a delightful old world restaurant with amazing service and excellent food – the coconut shrimp, lobster potstickers, and the Dover Sole were absolutely wonderful.
If in the area, you must go. Be certain to make a reservation. It is always packed supposedly. Norma’s is a funky restaurant in a funky hotel. The entrance hall is a combination of English armour, Middle Eastern blown glass, crystal chandeliers. The restaurant has an outdoor area and the service is great with wonderful Mexican food. The chicken mole and the beef fajitas were amazing. The portions are large, however, so if you don’t have a big appetite split the main course. After lunch make certain to walk around the gardens and see the beautiful villas and the large outdoor chess set. It is a beautiful setting.
In Palm Desert is where one finds all the top flight stores of the world – Gucci, Prada, St Johns, Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few. It also has a great French restaurant, Cuistot, which has a beautiful bar as well as great food and service. Any of the luncheon salads are excellent and the specialty Wild Mushroom soup is a favorite.
When the horrible rains of the East Coast start again, if you have at least a week (two would be better) retreat to the desert of California. It is worth the trip and dealing with airports and TSA. (And please first get TSA PreCheck!)