When San Diegans want to take a mini-vacation from our ever-beautiful-sunshine-filled-tourist-destination (humble brag), we head to the desert. I know, this probably seems counter-productive, but sometimes we just need a little bit of peace and quiet from our constantly busy city. And, being only a three-hour drive away, Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley are just the places to do so.
Anticipating a long 24-hour travel day the following week, I recently took the chance to head out to desert for the weekend to indulge in a little rest and relaxation at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, which recently opened in May. Having taken seven years of planning and construction to bring this hotel to life, this property now marks the brand’s fourth in California.
Nestled along the Santa Rosa Mountain range on a 650-foot bluff, the resort uses natural elements that reflect its surroundings such as wood, fire and stone along with a very Southern-California-laid-back décor. The lobby’s large wooden columns, exposed beams and beige color schemes and furnishings pair perfectly with large windows showcasing desert foliage outside. There is a very present indoor/outdoor feel from the moment you arrive.
The Ritz has 244 guestrooms and suites, all with private balconies or patios. One of the nice things about their first-floor accommodations are the floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading out to the terrace, allowing for natural light to flow through. Outside, two cushioned wicker chairs and mini table make for a nice spot to sit enjoy your Nespresso® coffee in the morning (and to people watch). Some rooms also come with firepits and two Adirondack chairs on the patio. Bathrooms offers a separate soaking tub and shower, natural stone and dark wood accents and a 22-inch LCD HD TV.
Among the suites ranging in size from 900-square-feet to 1,700-square feet (The Ritz-Carlton Suite), the accommodations include separate bedroom and living areas, 1.5 baths and a sleeper sofa. In the Valley View One Bedroom, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Coachella Valley from your balcony. In the bathroom, there are his and her sinks, a powder room and separate bath tub and shower facilities.
On the Club Level, The Ritz-Carlton Club members have access to the exclusive setting where they are treated to five beverage and culinary offerings throughout the day. From daily breakfast to midday snacks and complimentary beer, wine and spirits, the lounge is a great respite from the warm Palm Springs sun. Friendly staff and concierges are also on hand to help arrange reservations and give advice on the area’s best hotspots. Be sure to hit up the sweets bar while there and snack on a variety of cookies, decadent chocolates and delicious hard candies, all laid out in glass jars along the wall.
There are two pools on property, a main family-friendly one or an adults-only option. Possibly because of it being its Grand Opening weekend, the adults-only pool was very crowded, and securing a chair was a little more difficult. As a tip, head over early and grab one of the cushioned options if you can, or reserve a cabana which includes water misters. At the larger main pool, there was ample space—and if children splish-splashing nearby doesn’t bother you—I’d recommend setting up shop there.
When it comes to dining, the hotel has State Fare Bar & Kitchen and the newly opened Edge Steakhouse. Located near the main lobby, State Fare serves American cuisine with an emphasis on Californian ingredients and fresh fare from the Pacific coast. The open floor plan works well here, with a viewing window into the kitchen and an interactive market table that features fresh charcuterie, cheeses and artisanal breads. From the HAAS avocado fries (amazing) to the can’t-be-missed Ale Braised Short Ribs and a dessert menu featuring the classic state fair delicacy: funnel cake, you’re definitely in for a treat.
Helmed by Executive Chef Bruno Lopez, the food is nothing less than brilliant. But this isn’t surprising, since the chef has garnered some much-acclaimed titles. With only 350 members worldwide, Chef Lopez is one of the designated members of Association des Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (French Master Chef), was recognized by the French government as Chevalier de L'Ordre de Mérite Agricole and is a member of the James Beard Foundation, Club Culinaire of Los Angeles, Les Toques Blanches International, Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rotisseurs and L’Académie Culinaire de France.
At The Edge Steakhouse, which opened the weekend of my stay, guests are welcomed into a glass-walled venue that overlooks the valley. Specializing in premium dry-aged bone-in meats and fresh seafood, the fine dining restaurant hopes to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the Californian desert.
Many hotel spas are destinations in and of themselves; and The Ritz’s should be no different in the coming months. Sitting on two levels, the facility is more than just a place to get a great massage. It holds 15 treatment rooms (some of which come with outdoor showers and private terraces), private men’s and women’s courtyards, an outdoor relaxation lounge with plunge pools and a fitness center. Having experienced a number of hotel spas, one thing’s for sure: not every spa is alike (or even great), even at luxury properties. Here, it feels very welcoming from the moment you step inside and a sense of serenity oozes throughout its halls. Therapists and staff are quick to assist in any way you’d like and make you feel as though your relaxation is of top importance. Book enough time to experience the other amenities within the facility before and after your treatment.
Before leaving the resort—having stopped into the Club Lounge—I was welcomed by name. This is just another way The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage makes sure its guests feel at home and like a part of the family. My stay there did exactly as I had hoped, it left me feeling refreshed and ready to take on a week of traveling. But let’s be serious, could a Ritz really ever do us wrong?