Things I LoveU.S. TravelWining/Dining


I don’t know about you, but I would be very happy to have my 65th birthday (several years away!) marked by a night at the luxurious and gorgeous Ritz Carlton in Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs area) with two of my besties, who also happen to be my sisters. And so it was last month as we three marked this milestone for Margie, the first-born (sounds so much nicer than “oldest”) of the “Michaels” girls …
Here we are in the “olden” days, from
left to right in reverse order of age
Margie and I both know what it is like to be born in such close proximity to the end-of-the-year holiday season — middle of December for her and early January for me. Middle sister Janie drew late September, which occasionally intersects the Jewish holidays, but not as challenging from a planning perspective.  My suggestion was an over-nighter on the exact date which turned out to be splendid as the desert area had not yet geared up for high season.  With an Amex Platinum booking, we scored a gorgeous and large room at a great rate; the hotel had vacancies so this was the perfect time.
The reflecting pool; enormous Christmas tree and the desert in the background


Lovely (and delicious) amenity delivered to the room
Main lobby area
The biggest question was whether we hit the Desert Hills Premium Outlets (in Cabazon) on the way in or back.  The latter was the winner so we could maximize our time at the resort and take advantage of the all the niceties offered.  This property has been around for many years, but Ritz Carlton took charge a few years ago with a major re-do and it is splendid.  Who doesn’t like being greeted at the concierge with limitless candy options for a great way to start (offered noon-5pm daily!).  The gingerbread house on display — complete with the iconic Palm Springs Aerial Tram fully functional via pullies — was really impressive.  The hotel’s decor is soothing, with traditional desert colors blended in with plenty of both Christmas and Hanukkah cheer.  Their State Fare Bar & Kitchen is open all day, with very good food and service, and captures the beautiful views from nearly every table.
Well, maybe just one ….
The tram cabins went up and down via pullies
My sisters went off to enjoy the beautiful spa — I was plagued with both a bad back and vertigo, neither of which I would allow to get in the way (especially the shopping part).  We reconvened for a wonderful dinner at Roy’s near the hotel.
The restaurant’s treatment of Margie was especially attentive, with both a happy birthday message awaiting her and a delicious birthday treat.  Again, traveling during “the calm before the Christmas-New Year’s storm” proved fortuitous from a service standpoint.
“Surf & Turf”: shortrib & butterfish combo
Spicy grilled shrimp & rice
Wonderful Malbec brought
along from home
Hard to believe we had epic fights growing up — well, two of us anyway
Long forgotten!
As for how we fared at the outlets, well some things just aren’t meant for public consumption. Suffice to say, we did our share to help the economy. What I can share is that the outlets are among the best out there.  Not only does nearly every major “designer” brand have its own store, the other end of the pricing spectrum is there as well — Forever 21.  I’m not quite sure how that store could lower its prices more than they are normally, but they do. The mall is very well staffed, organized, clean, and welcoming.   The staff at the individual stores that we encountered were also very helpful.  I rate it “worth a look” at the very least.


Happy birthday once more to my big sis!