The Westin Mission Hills offers locals a perfect getaway—without leaving the Coachella Valley
Our Superb Staycation
By Tracy Dietlin
Upon arriving at the Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, it is immediately obvious that this is a five-star resort.
There’s a beautiful entryway that you walk through before the lobby doors, which open to an elegant lobby with employees willing to cater to your every whim. From our arrival to check out, every Westin staff member was professional and friendly, and made us feel like royalty.
My husband and I checked in about 4:30 p.m., and we decided to check out our room before seeing what the rest of the hotel had to offer. Our suite, which had a living room/dining room separate from the bedroom, was pure elegance, from the furniture and artwork on the walls, to the plush linens. The bathroom was spacious with an oversized tub for that relaxing hot bath I was looking forward to later. We decided to sit on the patio and take in the gorgeous view while enjoying a glass of wine.
Our next stop was at the Fireside Lounge, located right off the lobby. (Please see a complete review of this fabulous restaurant on Page 14.) The restaurant opens daily at 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner.
After dinner, we decided to go experience “Sangria Sunsets” out by the pool. This is a new concept that marketing coordinator Denise Harnett came up with for locals to enjoy: It’s a free pool party on Thursday nights from 6 to 10 p.m., where you can bring the whole family, enjoy a few drinks and listen to music hosted by a DJ. We were pleased that our favorite radio DJ, Mix 100.5’s Bradley Ryan, was hosting that night. There’s a large bar at the pool with several bartenders happy to serve up a tasty blend of sangria or your favorite cocktails at very reasonable prices. I urge all locals to go and experience “Sangria Sunsets” while you still can; they only run until the end of August.
As we enjoyed a romantic late-night stroll back to our room, we realized it was easy to pretend that we were on vacation far from the desert. As beautiful as the grounds are at night, with all of the twinkling lights, they are even more breathtaking during the day, with lush lawns, cascading waterfalls, bridges and rolling green hills; you can get caught up in the awe of the property and imagine yourself at the tropical destination of your choice. (After all, we do have the palm trees to pull it off.)
If you forgot to bring anything with you, not to worry; you can buy it at The Marketplace, a gift shop/general store/Starbucks/café. It offers everything from beautiful jewelry, artwork, candles, clothes and gifts, to essentials like sunscreen, sundries, personal items, books, magazines and more. If you’re hungry but don’t have time to eat at one of the restaurants, you can grab a quick sandwich or salad, as well as a cup of coffee. What really impressed me was that they sell half-bottles of fine wine, along with a huge selection of single bottles of beer—perfect to take back to your room. The prices are surprisingly affordable.
Next door to The Marketplace is the gym. This is a spacious state-of-the-art workout facility with everything you need to stay in shape.
Outside of the Fireside Lounge is a large patio where you can enjoy your meal or a drink—or even play a game of pool while admiring the view. Around the corner is a snack bar located close to the family pool, and the Kids Club, which is a great place for the kids to hang out while the parents take in a massage or relax at the adult pool. The Westin offers daily activities for the kids to keep them happy.
There is also a kids’ Game Room, off of the Oasis Den, which features many of the newest video games, along with a few old-school classics. The Oasis Den is a large room with a pool table, a foosball table, several large flat-screen TVs and a separate bar for you to relax with friends. This is also a great location to host a private party.
Aside from having some of the best food in the valley, the Fireside Lounge also serves up entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m., with local favorite Michael Keeth performing acoustic.
The Westin Mission Hills has a world-class spa that offers several types of massages, facials and body treatments. You are guaranteed to be pampered from the moment you check in there. The Spa includes a steam room, a whirlpool, a relaxation aromatherapy room, showers and every amenity you could want following your treatments. I decided to partake in the “Soothing Senses” treatment, which included a 60-minute relaxing massage, scalp treatment, paraffin treatment, warm-stone enhancement, glass of champagne and aromatherapy, all for only $119. This is a summer special running through the end of August, and is normally a $245 value. The treatment began with my therapist asking me to choose an aromatherapy scent for my massage; I decided on orange blossom. I knew I was in for some serious relaxation when my therapist held a small ‘burden basket’ in her hands and asked me to put all of my worries and concerns in there and forget about them during my massage; she then took the basket out of the room. What a wonderful experience it was from beginning to end. I also received a lovely gift that included body butter, oil, lotion and a body scrub, along with a $25 gift card toward my next spa service. The Spa also offers hair and nail services provided by J. Russell the Salon. Of course, you must peruse the spa shop, which offers many upscale spa products, clothing and more. To book an appointment, call 760-770-2180, or go to www.spaatmissionhills.com.
After my spa day, my husband and I met with Dominic Scoles, the director of food and beverage, to talk about changes happening on the property. He told us that as of Aug. 1, the other restaurant on the property, Bella Vista, was closed, and that after remodeling, it would re-open as Pinzimini, sometime in October. During renovation, the Westin will be serving breakfast and lunch in the Oasis Den.
“Pinzimini will have an Italian concept, yet with a California feel,” stated Scoles. “We will have Italian cocktails, antipasto salads, flatbread pizzas and an interactive open-air kitchen. Our breakfasts and lunches will pretty much stay the same, and you will really see the Pinzimini concept come to life more starting with lunch and going into happy hour and dinner. We’re also going to be a little more fashion-forward and have more modern, trendy music and some classic Italian bossa-style music.”
Scoles, whose background is working at high-end resorts, and who most recently was in the Caribbean, has been with the Westin Mission Hills for about four months and is excited to be part of the team. “We have some young fresh energy and ideas coming from the Westin. They have an open mind and are looking at things with a fresh perspective.”
Scoles continued, “Denise has done a great job with “Sangria Sunsets.” She wanted to do an evening pool party that had an intimate sunset feel, where the whole family could come and hang out. We didn’t want to make it an adults-only nightclub feel, because that’s not who we are. We really are a family destination. But at the same time, we’re also the kind of place where couples like to come and maybe leave the kids home with Grandma and get away for the weekend. So it’s nice that we have the adult pool, so we can cater to both. We really have something for everyone here, and we love to cater to locals.”
Summary: If you are a local, and you’re looking for an overnight or weekend getaway and don’t want to spend the time or gas to drive out of town, check in at the Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage. It’s a one-stop destination where you can enjoy a round of golf on the Gary Player course, top-notch spa treatments at The Spa, an amazing meal at the Fireside Lounge, live entertainment, a state-of-the-art gym, “Sangria Sunsets” at the family pool, private time at the adult pool, beautiful rooms and lush grounds. I can’t think of a better way to spend the hot summer days and nights of August.
To book a reservation or receive more information, call 760-328-5955, or visit www.westinmissionhills.com.