Happily “Wastin’ Away in Margaritaville” Palm Springs

As the lyrics to Jimmy Buffet’s song ‘Margaritaville’ begins with “Nibblin’ on sponge cake,” guests have a variety of dining venues inside and outside at the resort, starting with his Come Monday Cafe, a nod to his 1974 song on his Living & Dying in 3/4 time album.

Menu items include Avocado Country toast; lightly roasted stone fruit bowl on cottage cheese with berries and honey; a variety of burgers and salads. Across the way at JWB (James Williams Buffett) Grill guests can sit on a stool at the rollup bar with a counter to enjoy a Pina Colada with fresh seafood specialties, grilled meats and other fine dining fare. Outdoor tables and chairs are placed near a performance platform on the semi-covered outdoor patio for guests to experience live music with their meal.

Walking through the resort I noticed more references to Buffett’s “Margaritaville” song:

“Watchin’ the sun bake
All of those tourists covered with oil (there are two pools at the resort)

Strummin’ my six string
On my front porch swing (In the lobby are two front porch swings)

Smell those shrimp, they’re beginnin’ to boil” (at JWB Grill and Bar)

Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville
Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
But I know, it’s nobody’s fault”

“I blew out my flip flop (the hotel has a 13′ blue flip flop at the entrance of the hotel)

Stepped on a pop top (displayed next to the flip flop)

Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home” (hotel offers complimentary cruiser bicycles for guests to take for a spin around Uptown and Downtown Palm Spring)

But there’s booze in the blender (at the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar)
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on” (a variety of frozen concoctions include vodka ‘Banana Breeze’, fruity Margaritaville Silver Rum ‘Don’t Stop The Carnival’ and ‘Daiquiri’s Too Fruitiful’.

Make a reservation for the Chill-Out Suite, offering a large sitting area with a sofa bed, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and separate ensuite bedroom with a stand alone deep soaking tub allows guests to ‘chill-out’ after a day exploring the greater Palm Springs area.

Right now the resort is offering 20% room rates on certain days, and specials for guests who spend three of more days. If you aren’t familiar with Jimmy Buffett and his songs, you soon will be after staying at the Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs.

Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs was also featured in JustLuxe, Luxe Beat Magazine, and Not Born Yesterday.

Mother’s Day Getaway at Renaissance Esmeralda

Last year Mother’s Day was spent #saferathome. Now that many moms have received their vaccination, it’s time to splurge and take her somewhere special. For those who prefer not to fly to Mexico or Hawaii, the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa is centrally located between Palm Desert and La Quinta in the city of Indian Wells. The views of the Santa Rosa Mountains, along with the warm weather, and the largest swimming pool in the region, make this resort an ideal vacation paradise for the entire family.

Approximate two-hour drive east of Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, is 23 acres of lush Mediterranean-inspired grounds surrounded by a championship golf course, beautiful gardens, waterfalls and surrounding lakes. This desert oasis was built in the late 1980s, as the Stouffer Esmeralda, with a nod to the legendary “Esmeralda Necklace” that was showcased at the property. This necklace was a symbol of elegance and luxury, with the promise to bring good health, happiness and blessings to all.

Marriott International acquired the resort in 1997 to launch the luxury Renaissance Brand. Not only did they redesign the swimming pool, they also refreshed the oversize guest rooms. Many feature a private balcony with scenic pool, mountain or golf course views.

The Renaissance Esmeralda features 560 rooms, including 103 suites that include the Presidential, Governor, Ambassador, Executive and Studio suites. Guest rooms range from 420 to 2,879 square feet and feature:

  • 300-thread count sheets
  • Hairdryer
  • Double sinks set in a marble vanity
  • Spacious closet
  • Temperature monitoring system
  • LCD televisions
  • Refrigerator
  • In-room safe
  • Clock radio
  • Keurig coffee makers, offering coffee and tea

Enjoy breakfast with your mom as she chooses her favorite morning beverage and farm-to-table breakfast at the poolside Cava restaurant offering outdoor and indoor dining. The lemon ricotta pancakes are the resort’s specialty menu item.

Afterwards if mom is a golfer, the 36 holes of championship golf at the Indian Wells Golf Resort is adjacent to the resort. Discounts are available to resort guests through the purchase of golf packages. Tee times may be reserved through the Golf Resort directly. The “Shots in the Night” experience at Indian Wells Golf Resort opens a half-hour after Sunset Thursday through Saturday nights.

For the yoga mom, join her on the grassy lawn at the Olive Grove Yoga Central for one of the morning and evening yoga sessions at the resort. The schedule begins on Monday at 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., Tuesday at 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. There is no class on Wednesdays. Thursday there is a 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. class and a 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. class. Friday the class is from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and on Saturday there are two classes. The morning class is from 9a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and another class at 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday’s class is at 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

If mom deserves a relaxing day at the Spa Esmeralda, it’s currently open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Located on the lobby level, the full-service spa features 11 indoor treatment rooms, eight treatment cabanas, and one indoor couple’s suite. There is a men’s and women’s steam room and relaxation lounges. A door leads out to a garden courtyard with a plunge pool in the spa garden.

A fun way to see Indian Wells is by bicycle. Ask the front desk for a cruiser bike and map to follow a 4-mile loop along paved bike lanes, citrus trees and some of the most expensive real estate in the Coachella Valley.

Afterwards, bask in the sun by the sandy beach pool. Since you are celebrating Mother’s Day, reserve a poolside cabana for the day. Not only will you have a private area, but the cabana staff will present a cooler filled with iced water and a plate of fresh fruit. Lunch and beverages can be ordered from the lounge chairs and delivered to the cabana.

Later in the day, the resort atrium offers The Place Lobby Bar to enjoy an evening cocktail or glass of wine with hummus and vegetables, a sandwich, burger, pizza or slice of flourless chocolate cake.

Activities within a short drive include:

  • The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
  • Desert X 2021 – outdoor art exhibits
  • Canyon Jeep tours
  • Hiking, biking, running trails
  • Mountain biking in the Santa Rosa Mountains
  • Hot air balloon offering a bird’s eye view of the desert
  • Joshua Tree National Park

Click here for special rates available now through mid-June starting at $159 – $389. Summer specials from mid-June to August start at $129 – $199.

What’s new at Greater Palm Springs

For those looking to change your attitude and latitude during the pandemic, set your GPS to Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), a Southern California wellness and relaxation resort oasis.

As the warm summer sun cools down in the evening, blue skies above majestic mountain views is the backdrop for poolside cocktails and al fresco dining among swaying palms.

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Map courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB

Greater Palm Springs launched a destination-wide health and safety pledge to welcome visitors back. They released a new music video: a reimagined version of their song “Find Your Oasis,” which was originally released 2018. Celebrating local artists and popular attractions throughout the destination, the catchy song celebrates the region’s wide-open spaces, beautiful desert and eclectic creative community that has attracted visitors for decades.

To ensure visitors will be able to truly relax and feel safe throughout their stay, the CVB launched the “Greater Together, Safer Together” pledge, with Greater Palm Springs tourism businesses committing to  increased health and safety protocols.

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Photo courtesy of GPS CVB

A pledge has been signed by more than 200 local businesses and stakeholders including Lulu California Bistro to attractions such as the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, As the region continues to prepare to open for business, more are expected to participate.

During a virtual zoom event this week, Scott White, president and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau and Joyce Kiehl, Director of Communications shared, “We are excited to welcome visitors back to our cities, and we want them to feel confident that our tourism partners have taken every precaution to ensure a safe and healthy stay. This pledge unites our cities and our communities around that assurance, and gives us a clear benchmark for sanitation standards, which is our absolute top priority.”

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Photo courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB

Hotels, restaurants, attractions and retail shops are upholding the latest standards established by the State of California and CDC. Disinfecting protocols, physical distancing guidelines and employee training guidelines among others are clearly outlined. Businesses that have signed the pledge will recognize it with badges on their websites and social media channels, so guests can feel confident at every step of the experience. See HERE.

“After spending a few months in self-quarantine, we think many people may welcome a break from their own homes to see new spaces,” said Jeff Miraglia, chief creative officer of Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Additionally, we know that as travel resumes, travelers are seeking places where they can enjoy nature and outdoor recreation, which our desert valley has in abundance.”

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From agriculture to architecture, the 9 regions in the Greater Palm Springs area are getting creative during these uncertain times. Did you know that the Coachella Valley is the Date Capital of the World? The region supplies 95 % of the dates grown in the U.S. Coachella Valley. When COVID hit, farmers were left with excess produce, so Farmer Mark and Palm Springs Restauranteur Tony created a CV Harvest Box filled with fresh produce and started delivering them right to Coachella Valley residents doors every Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. The dates from AZIZ Farms are plump and sugary sweet.

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Take a safe car tour to explore Mid-Century modern architecture with Kurt Cyr, founder of the Palm Springs Mod Squad. During the summer pandemic, this local celebrity designer and mid-century modern expert recreates his popular Essential Tour of Palm Springs for social distancing. Your guide will lead the tour in real time in the Mod Squad van, followed by guests in their car listening on their smartphones.


BuzzBox Premium Cocktails are made in the city of Indio. There are 9 pre-mixed, premium cocktails that include Perfect Margarita, Hurricane, and Cuban Mojito. Each cocktail is packaged in a perfect serving portion, in recyclable, green and energy efficient designed boxes. There is a spout to pour and another for a straw to chill, sip and enjoy while camping, hiking or romantic sunset picnics.

Check out the Greater Palm Springs CVB site to see hotels, shops, restaurants and activities reopened and ready to welcome you back.




The Savvy V Palm Springs Reopens

Just in time for the summer, V Palm Springs is thrilled to welcome back guests to the re-imagined modern 140-room resort. It’s a free-spirited hotel with a blend of savvy and sophisticated style offering the quintessential desert experience – sunshine, palm trees, refreshing beverages and warm summer nights.


Located along E. Palm Canyon Drive and within walking distance from Palm Springs shops, restaurants and museums.


The desert-inspired design and open-air layout set near the San Jacinto mountains provides a breathtaking backdrop for the relaxed vibe scene.

New health and safety practices have been added to the V Palm Springs already strict safety protocols based on WHO, the CDC, and local, county and state offices.

Alcohol based sanitizers are placed throughout the hotel for guest and staff safety. Guests and staff are required to wear masks when checking-in and checking-out.

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Guest rooms offer two Queen beds or one King size bed with 300 thread count linen, down comforter and pillows. The bathroom has a bathtub or shower, two bathrobes and luxury amenities. Inside the room is a 47′ flat screen TV, mini fridge, in-room safe and hair dryer. Some of the rooms have private patios.

The hotel has a flexible cancellation policy where guests can rebook in the immediate future without penalties.

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The all day Polynesian-inspired ELIXIR Pool Bar & Grill offers a variety of Asian-Fusion and Pan-Asian dishes and a wide variety of vegetarian options now served in closed Bento boxes. Guests will now receive disposable menus, napkins and cutlery.

Their classic Tiki cocktail, whimsical drinks, and frozen beverages are served in sealed disposable cups with a straw. These will keep guests cool, refreshed and relaxed along the pool deck setting.


Outdoor poolside dining has been arranged for appropriate social distancing. Servers and bartenders will wear masks, gloves and appropriate PPE.

Pool lounge chairs and day beds are placed further away from each other on the pool deck.

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I stayed at the resort in 2016 to review the resort. Here are my reviews (pre-COVID-19):

JustLuxe  V Palm Springs

Dine and Travel New boutique hotel in Palm Springs – V Palm Springs

Luxe Beat Magazine Luxury Boutique V Palm Springs


Les Cactus – Palm Springs newest resort

Walking into the newly renovated boutique hotel, Les Cactus, I noticed a framed “Les Cactus” record album of the 1960’s French rock ‘n roll artist Jacques Dutronc behind the reception table.


Centrally located in the welcoming Warm Sands neighborhood, the historic 1930’s property has been refreshed by LA-based hotelier Matthew Kurtz in partnership with local hoteliers Richard Crisman and Jeff Brock.


Together they deliver a cheerful adult-only boutique hotel with hip design elements, in a private, quiet and comfortable setting. The soothing design interior rooms, and plenty of inviting outdoor space allowing guests to relax, unwind and soak up the Palm Springs sunshine.


Guests will instantly feel at ease while checking-in at the whimsical lobby, as they are offered a Modelo beer or glass of wine with their room assignment. Nearby is a grand piano for guests to play for others, and colorful books are displayed on shelves and tables for guests to read.


The whimsical pineapple theme dining area is next to the open kitchen.


Throughout a stay, guests can open the refrigerator to grab a Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt, bottle of sparkling water or pour a glass of chocolate oat milk.


Next to the refrigerator are wicker baskets holding bags of chips and popcorn, and glass jars filled with gummy bears and cookies.


Checking into room 16, we appreciated the touch lock system, instead of a key card or key.


The clean and spacious room has a king-size bed, flat screen television, lit night stands, charging outlets, and an updated bathroom featuring black washcloths labeled “makeup”. Inside the shower there are large bottles of “Further” soap labeled “Wash Your Outer Spirit”, shampoo “Hair Has Soul, Cleanse it” and “Awaken Your Follicles” conditioner.


The room offers a high ceiling and large window adding brightness into this historic motor lodge type room. There is a kitchen and a back door leading out to a rock garden, and outdoor parking lot. This room is ideal for guests who bring their well behaved, under 35 lbs furry best friend. Les Cactus does add a pet cleaning fee is $100 per stay.


In the morning from 8 to 10 a.m., a staff member sets out warm croissants, fresh fruit, coffee and tea. There is a bowl of oranges to cut and squeeze for fresh orange juice. Guests can sit outside at one of the umbrella tables, or take their breakfast to the pool area or back to their room.


Activities throughout the day include swinging in one of the three hammocks, swimming in the heated pool, and lounging on comfortable lounge chairs. There are plenty of pink and white striped plush towels, and pink, or green and white striped umbrella for guests seeking shade.


For those looking for a private massage, there is a massage room near the heated kidney shaped whirlpool. Stairs lead up to a few chairs up on a small rooftop deck offering views of the resort during the day and stargazing in the evening.


Other amenities include pink Les Cactus bicycles with wicker baskets to borrow for a spin around Palm Springs.


In the evening, guest sit in Adirondack style chairs with soft blankets around a fire pit sipping another Modelo or glass of wine before or after dinner in Palm Springs.

Les Cactus is ideal for a golf getaway, couples weekend trip or girlfriend getaway. It’s also available for a buyout for a small wedding or wedding guest destination. 555 S. WARM SANDS DR, PALM SPRINGS, CA,     HELLO@LESCACTUSPS.COM


Desert Luxury at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage

The Ritz Carlton resort in Rancho Mirage offers an array of amenities and services for guests all year round. During the summer when the heat rises to 100 degrees, the elegant room rates drop. As the sun sets and the temperatures cools, guests gather at both swimming pools and on the recreational lawn. Activities include swinging a golf club at the putting green, aim and throw at ladder ball and building Jenga towers. A staff member leads a Serenity under the Stars yoga class on the Vista lawn, while another staff member takes guests on a sunset hike for spectacular views. Mountain bikes and hiking maps are also availale. On Friday and Saturday evenings the staff hold an informative stargazing astronomy experience.


Walking into the lobby of this desert oasis near Palm Spring, the concierge desk offers an array of complimentary candy for guests to enjoy during check in and throughout the day from noon to 5 p.m.


Entering room number 1334, I slid open the sliding glass door and stepped onto the balcony with two chairs and a table. Looking out, I appreciated the palm trees, desert, majestic mountain and the main pool views. The spacious room features a king size bed with Frette luxury bed linens, 55-inch LCD flat-panel HD television, mini refrigerator and small sitting area. In the closet there is a safe, two plush white hooded bathrobes and slippers.


Inside the oversized bathroom is a custom designed 19-inch HD television with a remote control on the bathroom vanity. One can watch their favorite television show while taking a warm soaking bubble bath using luxurious Asprey bath amenities. There is also a marble tiled shower.

Dining at State Fare Bar & Kitchen for dinner, the menu by Chef Bruno Lopez is an ode to California-sourced food and wine. The upscale dining venue overlooks the Coachella valley, and offers an exhibition kitchen. There are tables outside for al fresco dining.


On Wednesday through Sunday, The Edge Steakhouse is open in the evenings for dinner serving premium dry-aged prime steak and fresh seafood paired with wines from all over the world. The glass window cliff side setting offers spectacular sunset and twinkle light views.


Walking back to my room, the Reflection Fountain had three large blue orb balls that changed shades as they floated on top of the water.


The next morning I went down to the reception area for complimentary morning coffee and tea before joining others for a staff member guided morning hike. There are more than 20 miles of mountain and hiking trails originating right from the hotel. For guests who prefer to hike on their own, the concierge desk has towels, bottled water, apples and a hiking map to guide guests on three different trails from the resort. The Jack Rabbit is a moderate 0.9 trail, the Roadrunner/Bighorn overlook trail is a 1.5 moderate hike and the Chuckwalla Trail is 1.6 miles with steep drop-offs.

Ready for a swim in the main pool, guest already rented many of the cabanas. They are available for the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cabana package includes a dedicated cabana attendant, seasonal fruit bowl, bottled water, sunscreen, two personal lounge chairs, flat screen television, resort WIFI, refrigerator, personal safe, ceiling fan, misters and electrical outlet.


Other resort activities during the day include a visit to the famous Jose Eber Salon, an indoor spa treatment, and workout in the fitness center. Nearby desert activities and sightseeing include air conditioned Modern architectural tours of Palm Springs, and taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to soar up to a cooler 8,500 feet mountain to dine, hike and explore under towering pine trees.


The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage is conveniently located to the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) and 60 minutes from Ontario International Airport (ONT). It’s two hours from the Los Angeles (LAX), Orange County (SNA) and San Diego (SAN) International Airports.


Stay here during Greater Palm Springs dineGPS Restaurant Week.

For reservations go to http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/rancho-mirage or call (760) 321-8282.

This review was published in JustLuxe on June 1, 2019.

dineGPS Restaurant Week is a Real TREAT

It’s Restaurant Week in Palm Springs to La Quinta! This year there are over 120 casual to fine dining restaurants launching special value lunch and dinner menus from May 31 to June 9, 2019. Two-course lunches are priced at $15, $20 and $25. Dinner menus offer a choice of three items starting at $29, $39 and $49.


While attending a preview of the Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week “TREAT your heart out” at the luxurious Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage, President and CEO of Greater Palm Springs Scott White, welcomed over 200 guests to a festive evening showcasing some of the desert’s favorite chefs and eateries participating this year.


This year $1 will go to FIND Food Bank for each reservation booked on dinegps.com. FIND regional food bank helps nourish thousands of hungry Coachella Valley seniors, hard-working adults and school aged children.


At the entrance of the event, the LA Roller Girls welcomed guests before entering a large ballroom to kick-off the event featuring the participating restaurants:

La Quinta

Solano’s Bistro is a chef owned and operated restaurant in Old Town La Quinta. Dine inside or out, while ordering from the $29 Dinner MENU. 78075 Main Street Suite 105. Phone: 760.771.6655.


Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewery is known for salads to steaks, bbq pulled pork sandwiches, craft beer & cocktails. During dineGPS they are offering a $20 Lunch MENU and $39 Dinner MENU. 71800 Highway 111 Suite A176, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. 760.346.8738

Catalan Mediterranean Restaurant located in Rancho Mirage. Chef Drew Davis prepares a variety of Spanish-infused dishes in a rustic yet modern setting. 70026 Hwy 111 Rancho Mirage, CA 92270.(760) 770-9508.


State Fare at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage – Chef Bruno Lopez and his team made a watermelon mint gazpacho, fish ceviche with caramelized sweet potatoes and a tender veal shank with celery root puree. During Restaurant Week they are offering a $20 Lunch MENU  and $49 Dinner MENU68900 Frank Sinatra Drive. Phone: 760.321.8282.


360 Sports at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage – Lively Sports Bar is offering a $20 Lunch MENU and $29 Dinner. At the event they made a raspberry cocktail with Absolute raspberry vodka, fresh lime juice, topped it with ginger beer over ice and garnished with a balckberry and lime wedge. 32250 Bob Hope Drive. Phone:  888.999.1995.

Indian Wells

Chef Paul Hancock crafts unique and unexpected pairings to delight the taste buds at Citrus & Palm at the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa.  Order from the $20 Lunch MENU and $39 Dinner MENU45000 Indian Wells Lane. Phone: 760.341.7200

Palm Desert


AC3 Restaurant & Bar features Chef Andrew Copley’s passion for new American cuisine. He is offering a $39 dineGPS Dinner. Here’s his menu45350 Larkspur Lane. Phone: 760.227.3400.
Palm Springs


Lulu California Bistro is offering a $20 Lunch MENU and $39 Dinner MENU. 200 S Palm Canyon Drive. Phone: 760.327.5858

Grand Central Palm Springs is offering a $20 Lunch MENU and $29 Dinner MENU160 La Plaza. Phone: 760.699.7185

Bon Appetit during TREAT Week – Visit Greater Palm Springs.



YAPPY Hour at the Westin Mission Hills

As the sun sets at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, guests bring their dogs out of their dog-friendly guest rooms and walk along the paved and grassy golf course paths, to socialize with other guests during “Yappy Hour.”

The Westin Mission Hills is an upscale dog-friendly resort that caters to canine guests year-round.  Dogs up to 50 pounds are welcome to stay in guest rooms for no additional fee. Upon check-in, the resort will collect a refundable $100 deposit in case of damage to the room. Dogs have the opportunity to sleep in a signature Westin Heavenly dog bed and have miles of lawns and paved walking paths to explore while on a leash. There is even a special “pooch menu” for dogs dining with guests on the patio of Pinzimini and Fireside Lounge.


Through their partnership with Animal Samaritans, the resort presents an adoptable dog in the lobby. The furry and friendly pooch lives in an elaborate doghouse, which is a replica of the hotel. Guests of the resort can sign up at concierge and front desk to meet, walk and play with a new four-legged friend.

While adopting a dog on vacation might seem like an unlikely choice, visitors throughout the country and Canada have adopted 120 furry friends in the last three years.

The best time of the year to visit Palm Springs and the surrounding communities is from late October to May. The temperature is pleasant and cooler than during the summer months. However on August 24, the resort is having a special reunion for the guests who have adopted dogs through their program. The resort’s bartenders will create cocktails with names like the Salty Dog, made with New Amsterdam Vodka and grapefruit juice; the Frisky Chihuahua Margarita made with jalapeno-infused tequila and the Pit Bull made with tequila, orange flavor liqueur and grapefruit juice. Guests can pair their drinks with appetizers, while four-legged furry guests receive house-made dog treats.

This reunion includes speeches and a special screening of The Secret Life of Pets at the resort. Vendors from local pet stores and pet foundations will join this celebration, providing supplies and information about adoption.


Tom Scaramellino, the General Manager at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa adopted his dog, Wyatt, through this partnership. Various employees of the hotel have also found their beloved pups through the program. “Guests love being greeted with a furry friend in the lobby. When you travel often, you leave many important facets of your life at home, and our program allows guests to enjoy some puppy love that might have been left behind.” Scaramellino said.

For more information, visit westinmissionhills.com.

This articles was featured on August 6, 2018 in LuxeBeat Magazine.


Summer Fun at La Quinta Resort & Club

When director and writer Frank Capra arrived to La Quinta Resort in the 1930s with his wife Lucille, he worked on his script “It Happened One Night.” The film went on to receive an Academy Award. The beauty and tranquility of the resort brought him inspiration and luck in his writing. He and his wife returned for many winters while he discovered new creative prose for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, “Mr Deeds Goes To Town” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Capra fondly called La Quinta the “Shangri-La of Screenwriting.”

Frank Capra Casita

I’ve been told that he found his creative inspiration staying in the San Anselmo casita. Since Capra and his wife Lucille spent many winters at La Quinta, the resort has honored the 450-square-foot cottage The Capra Suite. It offers the luxurious Waldorf Astoria bedding on a king-size bed, among authentic Spanish-style detailing, a wood-burning fireplace, cozy sitting room and over-size windows. Nearby is a special memorable bench with their names on it too.

Word spread about this desert playground and soon Gretta Garbo drove twenty miles beyond Palm Springs “to be alone.” Clark Gable as well as, Presidents Taft and Eisenhower and some of the weatlhiest families including the Crockers and the Vanderbilts vacationed at the resort built in 1926.

The view and pool from Starlight Casita #246

Many of the historic casitas, and newer suites, villas and vacation units are surrounded by green lawns, flower gardens or clustered around one of the 41 pools and hot tubs.

During Mother’s Day vacation we stayed in an elegant Starlight casita #246. Walking up a flight of stairs we approached a secured door. Opening it with our room key, we unlocked the door and were transported to a private lounge patio with a large conversation couch, cocktail table, dining table with four chairs and outdoor fireplace. It’s ideal for morning breakfast, napping in the afternoon, and sitting outside in the evening to stargaze while the fireplace is aglow with small flames.


Inside our casita offered a King-size bed with Waldorf Astoria sheets, a fireplace and sofa that can be converted into a bed. The double sink bathroom has a deep soaking tub and seperate shower. There is a small bar with a refrigerator and self coffee service. The Mexican accent tiles give the casita character and a custom design.IMG_3444

To elevate my Mother’s Day I had a 3:30 p.m. facial appointment at the 23,000 sq. ft. luxury La Quinta Spa. My aesnitician Joy pampered me for 80 minutes. Besides facials other treatments include Body Renewal, Sun Worshipper Rituals, Mommy-to-Be Offerings, a variety of massage experiences and skin care treatments.

The next morning we woke up and rented the resort’s bicycles for a four-mile paved bike path ride along the Santa Rosa Mountains. Rentals are available near the Tennis Pro shop. The resort has 23 hard and clay court tennis courts. There is also a large fitness center, bar and cafe by the main family pool.IMG_3519

Working up an appetite, we dined for brunch at Adobe upstairs at The Plaza across from the resort’s entrance. Fountains, flowers and a Mission Bell are in full view when dining al fresco. Guests were enjoying tableside guacamole and salsa and Adobe Grill’s famous margaritas. Executive Chef is Marco Aguilar makes a delicious chicken mole, Taco Salad, Sopes Benedictos and chile relleno.  We finished with a delicious bread pudding dessert served with dried fruit and mole ice cream. IMG_3551

For those looking to get away and just chill, La Quinta Resort & Club is one of the best  for mental and physical therapy.

My review of La Quinta Resort & Club was featured in JustLuxe – Celebrities flock to Luxury La Quinta Resort & Club

Play a Round of Golf and Tennis at Westin Mission Hills

During October through April the community of Rancho Mirage offers the ideal weather and temperature for sports enthusiasts to play a round of golf or a few hours of tennis. One of the best resorts offering both experiences is the Westin Mission Hills. The resort offers two championship golf courses designed by Pete Dye and Gary Player. Both well-groomed courses are set among a picturesque desert setting with gorgeous mountain views. They are fun and challenging for golfers of all skill levels.

Every morning at 9 a.m. and afternoon at 2 p.m., the Westin Mission Hills offers an 45 minutes to one hour golf clinic for $25. It’s a great way to experience the championship Pete Dye golf course. The tune-up lesson comes in handy before or after a round of golf. Professional golf instructor David Curtis meets guests at the Pete Dye Driving Range. There is a bag of Callaway clubs and about 50 golf balls per participant to hit. Curtis patiently helps each guest find their correct tempo by teaching a proper four-step fundamental swing.

After golf, unwind from a busy week by staying overnight at the Westin Mission Hills resort. Starting on Friday night at sunset, guests are welcomed near the lobby with a complimentary sangria and small bites. Beer and wine is also available for a nominal cost. Guests have multiple dining options at the resort prepared by Westin’s James Beard honored Executive Chef Joel Delmond. Breakfast, lunch and dinners are served inside Pinzimini and the Fireside Lounge. Both locations offer patio dining for al fresco meals.


Looking for a good night’s sleep, Westin Mission Hills offers plush Heavenly Beds with high thread count sheets, two down and/ or feather pillows and a lavender spray for aromatherapy.

On Saturday mornings, there are tennis clinics, private lessons and games arranged at The Westin Mission Hills by Director of Tennis, Kevin Connolly. With over 25 years of coaching experience, he offers an array of fun tennis oppotunities on the beautifully landscaped seven-court comples. The Westin Tennis Club is home to a celebrity charity Desert Smash Pro-Am tennis tournament. It’s held before the annual BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Hollywood celebrities and professional tennis players play for charity while entertaining guests and spectators.


The resort is also pet friendly. Dogs up to 50 pounds are welcome to stay in guest rooms for no additional fee. Upon check-in, the resort will collect a refundable $100 deposit in case of damage to the room. Dogs have the opportunity to sleep in a Heavely Dog Bed and have miles of lawns and paved walking paths to explore while on a leash. There is even a special pooch menu for dogs dining with guests on the patio of Pinzimini and Fireside Lounge. It can also be ordered through room service.

For guests who left their dog at home, the Westin Mission Hills offers an Adopt-a-Pet program in partnership with Animal Samaritans. Inside the reception lobby is a dog available for walks, cuddles and adoption. To date the Westin has found forever homes for 97 dogs. Their goal is 100 found homes by the end of 2017.

This review was featured Dec. 14, 2017 in JustLuxe – Click here to read this on JustLuxe


Weekend Fun at the Westin Mission Hills

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.

3 Fun Holiday Fun Activities in Palm Springs

Looking for some festive fun during the holidays? Palm Springs and the surrounding communities are filled with colorful lights and fun parties to put you in a cheery mood. Here are 3 fun events and sights to see during the holidays and into 2017:

Sunrise in Indian Wells - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Sunrise in Indian Wells – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Miramonte’s Naughty and Nice Party

The boutique Miramonte Resort and Spa is hosting a Naughty or Nice Party on Dec. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. Bartenders at Vineyard Lounge will prepare exclusive Naughty or Nice cocktails, while Executive chef Paul Hancock mingles with guests while making Naughty + Nice Bites.

Chef Paul Hancock - Photo by Jill Weinlei
Chef Paul Hancock – Photo by Jill Weinlei

Share your sins with Santa and he will wipe the slate clean! Be sure to wear holiday attire for fun Photo Booth memory pictures. Each naughty guest will be entered to win a $50 bar credit, while nice guests can win a $50 The Well spa credit. Make a $25 donation to enter the party and proceeds will benefit the FIND Food Bank.

Sit by the fire on cool nights at Miramonte Resort - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Sit by the fire on cool nights at Miramonte Resort – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Stay overnight with holiday special rates. Nestled at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains and dotted with fragrant olive, orange, lemon and cypress trees, the two-story hotel is spread out among 11 acres of land decorated with brilliant pinks and peach Bougainvillea flowers.

Miramonte is located in the heart of the Coachella Valley between La Quinta and Palm Springs. This popular desert town is now a global destination for locals and guests watching elite tennis players compete at the BNP Paribas Open in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It’s also an ideal location to stay while attending all of the music festivals – Coachella, Stagecoach and Desert Trip.

Morning hike to start the day - Photo of writer.
Morning hike to start the day – Photo of writer.

One of my favorite activities was hiking with the General Manager Mark Jeffrey. He and his dog Derby (a friendly lab) led guests on a dirt path to a cross on top of a hill. While looking out at exquisite views of the Coachella Valley, another hiker shared with us that Frank Sinatra had this cross installed up on top of the hill as a tribute to his mother. It was a moderate 4.1 mile hike, ideal to get your 10,000 steps in for the day. Hikes are available based on Jeffrey and Derby’s availability.

Miramonte Resort & Spa – 45000 Indian Wells Lane Indian Wells, CA 92210 (760) 341-2200 – http://www.miramonteresort.com.

Holidays at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Listen to holiday music at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Mountain Station on Dec. 9, 10, 11, 16 with local high schools singing holiday carols at the Pines Cafe Stage. Take a ride to the other North Pole on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to visit Santa. There will be free candy canes and photo opportunities for the kids. During Dec. 17 to Jan. 1, 2017, the first tram up each day will be at 8:00 a.m., the last tram up will be at 8:00 p.m. and the last tram down will be at 9:45 p.m. Usually the top during this time of the year, has a beautiful blanket of snow.

The new tram cars rotate 360 degrees on a cable to the top on San Jacinto state park wilderness - Photo Jill Weinlein
The new tram cars rotate 360 degrees on a cable to the top on San Jacinto state park wilderness – Photo Jill Weinlein

On December 25 and Jan. 1, 2017, buy a Ride ‘n’ Dine tickets to ride the Tram and dine at Pines Café (a cafeteria-style restaurant). This ticket begins at 8 a.m. (rather than the usual 4:00 p.m.) Dinner service begins at 11:00 a.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m. Combination tickets are $36 for adults and $23.50 children (ages 3-12).

From Desert floor to snowy forest - Photo by Jill Weinlein
From desert floor to snowy forest – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Peaks Restaurant will begin serving their regular menu along with traditional holiday favorites at 11:00 a.m. on December 25, 2016 and January 1, 2017. Reservations are recommended and may be made by either calling 760-325-4537.

The most amazing holiday light and sound show in Palm Springs- Photo by Jill Weinlein
The most amazing holiday light and sound show in Palm Springs- Photo by Jill Weinlein

One of a kind Robo (Holiday) Lights 

There are some exceptional people living in Palm Springs, and artist Kenny Irwin Jr.’s is one of them. This talented man is passionate about putting together recycled materials into art. His gift started as young as 2 years old. Throughout the years, he has made and installed around his family home and yards, one of the most spectacular art and holiday light shows in Palm Springs. He flips the switch to inflate huge holiday decorations and almost one million lights of every color. His unique art and sci-fi creations feature gigantic metal robots, mini rollercoasters (not for humans), lookout towers, water features with huge rubber ducks, and an aviary filled with doves and pigeons. Irwin reminds me of a young Walt Disney with genius ideas about a new land for others to experience. I hope one day Irwin’s dream of creating his new park for others to come visit comes true. Donations are welcome at the front of the house in the Movie Colony section of the city.

Address: 1077 E Grannie Valmont, Palm Springs – Hours 4 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. now until January 3, 2017.

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