I had the opportunity to head out to the Palm Springs area for this Memorial Day Weekend. Palms Springs is situated in the Coachella Valley, which also includes elite communities like Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Desert Hot Springs, and of course Indio famous for hosting the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival which is one of the largest, most famous, and most profitable music festivals in the United States known for headlining artists like Paul McCartney, The Killers, The Cure, Duran Duran, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. If you ever make it out to the area in April, this is one event worth checking out.
The area has been a magnet for Hollywood stars since the 1930s when Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy founded the Racquet Club of Palm Springs. In the mid-century celebrities known to stop by Palm Springs included Humphrey Bogart, John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Mary Pickford, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Jack Benny, who did numerous broadcasts of his radio show from Palm Springs. Elvis Presley honeymooned in Palm Springs in 1967 and was a frequent visitor as well since he owned a home here from 1970 until his death in 1977. Even U.S. President John F. Kennedy was a frequent guest of Frank Sinatra, and a plaque in one of the pews of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert marks the spot where Kennedy would usually sit during Mass.
Made famous by celebrities of the bygone era and with more than 350 days of sunshine per year and the warmest winters in the western US, the area draws vacationers year long. Recreational hiking and horseback riding are popular in the many canyons in the mountains that surround the valley. One of the most visited outdoor sports areas is Thousand Palms Canyon. Be warned that this truly is the middle of the desert and summer can be quite hot.
Keeping things green in this hot dry land can’t be easy and if you get a chance to drive in through the valley’s northwest entrance from San Bernardino-Riverside along Interstate 10, you will see how they generate electricity in the area. It is known as the San Gorgonio Pass and is the second windiest place in the country. Cool coastal air is forced through the pass and mixes with the hot desert air, making the San Gorgonio Pass one of only three ideal places in California for steady, wind-generated electricity. At the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, thousands of huge wind turbines spread across the desert and hills on either side of the highway greet visitors as they approach the crest of the pass and have become somewhat of a symbol of the area.
Resorts and Hotels
The area is also dotted with classy, Las Vegas-style casinos run by local Indian tribes as well as resort hotels and spas with natural mineral water wells, another reason for making it a prime vacation destination as well.
I’m always on the search for stays where I can enjoy luxury with sustainability and fresh fare dinning that offers seasonal menus and signature dishes featuring local harvest ingredients. The Ritz-Carlton at Rancho Mirage hand-selects the best of the best that California has, and brings it to the table for guest to enjoy. In a nod to locals, the local food purveyors are listed on the menus and they see every meal as an opportunity to tap into the rich bounty of local farms and orchards for dining that stays true to its roots.
The Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage
We visited The Ritz-Carlton at Rancho Mirage for a truly desert oasis experience. It is one of Southern California’s most scenic havens in Rancho Mirage. The unrivaled Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage sits 650 feet above the Palm Springs valley. Enveloped in the Santa Rosa Mountains the resort enclave features a 25,000 square foot, artfully designed spa and fitness center, cliff-side swimming and serenity pools.
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage is designed to complement its high mountain desert location by featuring natural elements reflecting the local landscape, colors and culture. It’s an elegant retreat where both palm trees and snow-capped mountain views in the winter provide a delightful visual choice. From a mountaintop overlooking world-famous Palm Springs and the picturesque Coachella Valley, the hotel’s desert surroundings are reflected in a décor that reveals natural elements of stone, wood and fire.
Upon driving up the winding Frank Sinatra Dr., you will find the glamorous entrance to the Ritz with beautiful landscape and water features. The lobby is welcoming with a cozy sitting area in front of a large, stone fireplace. Hearty succulents, colorful plantings and palm trees surround the property creating a beautiful landscape that feels indigenous to the area.
At check in, you are offered a glass of champagne and encouraged to partake in the candy bar adjacent to the concierge. Our bellman walked us to our room and got us all set up. He told us about activities, events and amenities. He also filled us in on all the attention being paid to the younger guests at the resort and the special children’s activities going on throughout the weekend.
The Ritz Kids program at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage
It’s not only a serene oasis for soaking in sunshine, but a wonderful family resort with plenty of activities for children as well. The Ritz Kids experience provides enthralling activities to reward kids with what interests them about the beauty and workings of the world we live in. Children can discover the amazing world of water, what it is made of, where it comes from, and cool ways to be responsible and save water. They will also enjoy unique programs that explore area culture, environmental responsibility and energy, recycling and sustainability, storytelling, art and much more. Activities include animal meet-and-greets, education about The Living Desert and a children’s movie theatre.
During special weekends, such as this Memorial Day holiday weekend, they have extra activities like face painting and conference rooms are set up with video games, pinball, karaoke, pool, air hockey, ping pong, foosball, etc. You can step outside and the resort lawns have games like bocce ball. They even have popcorn and snow cones, not to mention a beautiful candy bar in the reception area.
I have to mention that the kid’s dinner buffet was AMAZING! They offer very smart, healthy fun options for kids 7 to 12 years old and kids younger than seven get the buffet option for free. Our waitress was wonderful and even brought out an extra bowl of berries for our little one filled with only favorites… how did she know!
The Ritz at Rancho Mirage offers dining that serves local California fare at its freshest, with local food purveyors that include names like Mary’s Organic Chicken and Turkey, Straus Family Creamery or Frog Hollow Farms. Date Palms can be found in many locations in the Coachella Valley and Dates are always on the menu at this Ritz.
Dining venues include a visually dynamic exhibition kitchen at the State Fare offering the perfect gathering place for year-round cocktails, celebrations and outdoor space for stargazing. The Edge Steakhouse is perched atop the valley with unparalleled views and features an upscale dining experience. If you would prefer to spend all your time in water, Air Pool Bar offers outdoor poolside dining and cocktails situated in a relaxed environment overlooking the main resort pool.
We started with cocktails at the State Fare and we were welcomed with Almonds and Dates as well as Marinated Olives. A creative and refined cocktail selection leads the experience, where fresh juice and agave-based syrups enhance boutique spirits from small-batch distilleries, along with cask-conditioned and bottled carbonated cocktails hand-prepared in individual batches. The State Fare wine list focuses on California’s most interesting bottles, and its comprehensive wine collection is presented in climate-controlled, walk-in red and white wine rooms. Along with our cocktails we ordered Salt and Pepper Calamari with a subtle Avocado-wasabi aioli and Special House Fried Potato Chips – it’s not on the menu but we know about it from previous stays and simply asked for it.
For dinner we were supposed to go to the steakhouse, but got lazy about dressing up because we were enjoying sitting in the relaxed fireside patio dining are too much with the expansive terraces overlooking the gardens and pools.
We went on to order Spicy Tuna Sushi Rolls and Crab and Corn Chowder, which was an elegant crab-stuffed baby pepper surrounded by corn succotash.
As the sun began to set on the desert mountains, the hubby mentioned that he was still craving a Rib Eye and our waitress was happy to oblige. She simply had the chef at The Edge prepare for us a family style 22 oz. complete with all the trimmings – mashed potatoes, asparagus, and mushroom ragout. It was amazing. We were so full that we had to pass on desert.
We returned to our room and later that evening ordered dessert from the selections offered in the 24-hour room service menu. We decided on Black Forest Chocolate Cake and Pistachio Chocolate Crème Brulee. It was absolutely divine by our personal patio fire pit.
We opted for room service for breakfast as well, so that we could enjoy breakfast in our patio. I have to mention that the Ritz, Rancho Mirage offers a corned beef hash, unique to its environment with corn and peppers.
We had one of the Terrace Fire Pit rooms overlooking the mountains, adult lawn and pool. Many may think it not to be very private, however it is one of the more popular as well as more expensive rooms. These are fun if you want to sit out and enjoy the activities going on around the resort. The fire pits are lit each night and create a warm, glowing ambiance around the property.
The rooms are thoughtfully designed with the beauty of the surroundings depicted in the décor. Spacious layouts and indulgent bedding tempt one to forgo exploration for welcome seclusion. The luxurious bathrooms are Asian-Inspired with large soaking tubs and separate showers. Extra touches like 22“ LCD TV and lighted makeup mirrors in bathroom makes for a truly indulgent feel.
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage luxury day spa’s exquisite hillside setting, surrounded by the beauty of the Palm Springs desert and rugged mountain tops, offers the perfect retreat – where holistic and indigenous herbs and plants enhance treatments designed to awaken the senses, refresh the body and renew the spirit.
The spa environment is simply spectacular as you are welcomed into a two-story open lobby with a dripping crystal chandelier and a soothing white-on-white color palette. There are 15 treatment rooms, many with private terraces and outdoor showers along with an outdoor relaxation lounge offering refreshing plunge pools. Take advantage of the spa’s breathtaking outdoor lounge with spots to meditate.
The Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage offers a state of the art fitness center that is available for use to all guests. There are three pools on the property and one separate hot tub. The Air Pool is the resort’s main pool, the adult only pool has a spectacular view of the valley, and the kid’s pool is only 2 feet deep.
The hotel is perfectly situated only minutes from renowned shopping, dining, and sightseeing including architectural tours of Palm Springs. Palm Springs is home to one of the country’s largest collections of mid-century architecture. Thousands of homes, apartments, hotels, businesses and other buildings were designed in this fashion across the city. International mid-century enthusiasts come to Palm Springs to admire the design.
Other tours available are for Joshua Tree National Park, hot-air ballooning, the Living Desert Museum, and Palm Springs Aerial Tramway climbing to 8,500 feet. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century, takes visitors from the valley floor to the San Jacinto Peak mountain station 8516 feet (2595 m) above sea level.
At the end of the day you can rest assured that The Ritz has a convenient central location in the middle of all the surrounding cities from Palm Springs to Indio, with easy access to downtown Palm Springs, as well as to the resorts, golf courses and restaurants located near Indian Wells. You can unwind at the only resort distinguished with the coveted location of being set on a cliffside, with views of the entire Coachella Valley.