I picked the best weekend to drive out to Palm Springs to stay at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage. The day I arrived was the beginning of the Cathedral City Hot Air Balloon Festival and a dozen trucks were on the Pete Dye resort course setting up for the Pinzimini Balloon Glow Dinner.
Arriving on a Friday night, we joined others for the weekly “Hello Weekend Reception” in the Oasis Courtyard. It’s a new hotel tradition, every Friday night for guests to get into the vacation mood. The hotel staff serve complimentary sangria and light appetizers. Beer and wine is also available at a nominal fee.
Afterwards we walked over to the Master’s Plaza and found our table near the three- piece jazz and funk band. As the sun set, the hot air balloon flames lit the course providing a light show. Various stations were set around the outdoor patio displaying an array of Tuscan-inspired flavors from the resort’s Pinzimini buffet. Each guest received a glass of sparkling wine to pair with a variety of salads, antipasto dishes, entrees, carving stations, side dishes and desserts. One of the most talked about dishes was the Polenta with Fontina cheese, foraged mushrooms, herbs and veal jus. After dinner they cleared the tables next to the band to create a dance floor for guests.
Walking back to our room, we learned about the Westin’s Pet Adoption Program and met Coco. Launched in May 2015 in partnership with Animal Samaritans. The Westin assists in finding forever homes for one dog at a time. Coco is their 97th hosted dog and resides in the main lobby in a wooden kennel with blankets and dog beds. Guests can sign up at concierge throughout the day to take Coco for a walk and bond with this furry friend. The Westin hopes that by the end of 2017 that 100 dogs will have found homes due to this program.
On Saturday morning we were up early to go for a balloon ride. There were a dozen seven-story high colorful balloons inflating on the golf course. Guests watched or climbed into baskets to go for a ride. The one hour experience was $200, however guests could also ride a tethered balloon for $25. Climbing into a balloon with pilot Rolando, we soared up above the resort and floated peacefully to Palm Desert enjoying exquisite views of the Coachella Valley.
Afterwards, we visited the Las Brisas pool with a waterslide and rented three bicycles for one hour tour around the property. There are paved pathways that weave along Bob Hope to De Valle. Afterwards we took a quick dip and slid down the curly waterslide before lunch at the nearby Pinzimini.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, on the weekends they offer a full breakfast buffet until 1p.m. The James Beard honored Executive Chef Joel Delmond has been working at different Westin resorts for 35 years. He makes a SuperFoods breakfast and Italian-style lunch and dinner. During lunch we enjoyed a Portobello burger, chicken panini, pizzas and salads.
Afterwards I participated in the daily 2 p.m. “All Aspects” golf clinic. Our instructor David Curtis patiently taught us how to find the perfect grip, and showed us a four step swing. Located on the Pete Dye Driving Range, the one hour lesson includes a bag of clubs, bucket of balls, instruction and all day driving range privileges for $25.
At 4 p.m. on the weekends Westin staff members bring fishing poles to the Swan Lake and families can bait a hook with chicken and try their luck in catching a fish. The hour long session is complimentary to hotel guests.
At 6:30 p.m. we had a “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” reception with the musical artists starring in Gooves at the Westing Jazz Concert and Dinner. I was excited to hear the featured guest Deniece Williams. In 1984, she had two number-one songs that included “Let’s Hear it for the Boy.” It was featured on the soundtrack of the movie Footloose, and climbed to number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Other musicians included Michael Paulo & Friends with Jazz all stars Gregg Karukas, Freddie Washington and Land Richards.
The next morning after breakfast at Pinimini we took a Bee Apiary Tour to learn the importance of honey bees and how Chef Joel nurtures and lends his bees to farmers to pollinate their crops.
The Westin Mission Hills offers special weekends all year round. To learn more about the resort, click on this link – The Westin Mission Hills.