Getting to Palm Springs
Palm Springs is an easy drive from LA but you can fly directly into Palm Springs airport as well. You can read up on best ways to get to Palm Springs as well as general Palm Springs travel information on the web.
Rancho Las Palmas
We stayed at the Rancho Las Palmas, a resort known for its golf, spa and family-friendliness. In the last category, it certainly didn’t disappoint. The resort’s biggest attraction is Splashtopia, Rancho’s very own mini water park, with two 100-ft slides, a lazy river, water fountains and a mini beach area for the little ones. Definitely a highlight with the kids. There is also a regular pool and a jacuzzi, and the Splash Grill where you can get your fill of poolside fare: burgers, fries and shakes, delivered right to your deck chair. For those who are able to get away, there is an adult-only tranquility pool closer to the lobby and a pool in the spa. In the winter, the pools were heated to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and even though it was 50 degrees outside – not optimal swimming conditions- the pool was packed because the desert sun is very strong.
The hotel has one main restaurant where breakfast is served (kids under 3 eat free, and the breakfast buffet for kids is $10 I believe). Similarly, dinner time at Blue Ember offered a buffet for kids for a reasonable fee and included the usual suspects: chicken tenders, pasta, vegetables and cookies. Not imaginative or particularly healthy, but pretty darn convenient. That being said, the resort organizes events almost 5 days a week at the “Plaza”, the open area outside the main lobby with huge fire pits and a community-feel. On the Saturday we were there, we had the option to attend a Family Barbeque with entertainment such as face-painting and a golf-putting contest. Great for slightly older kids but still plenty of toddlers around.
I can definitely recommend the Rancho Las Palmas Spa, with its wide range of treatments, beautiful facility and well-trained staff. If you and your partner want to avail of some quiet time together, consider signing the kids up to Kidtopia, the resort’s in-house daycare, for a fee. The minimum is 3 hours but that might be just what the doctor ordered to get your rest in this vacation. There is a playground on the premises but it is far from the main lobby area (close to the 2700 building, where we were staying fortunately). It is also down a narrow flight of stairs and a bit difficult to navigate so ditch the pram.
Overall, I was grateful for the child-friendliness of the resort. It was expensive and like many family resorts, everything was available at an inflated price. The housekeeping service was also slightly erratic: we left the room at 10 am with the “Clean my room” sign on the door and returned at 4pm only to find that it had not been cleaned (pet peeve here, I was livid!). They did accommodate us and clean the room when we left for dinner but the cleaner did a shoddy job, leaving spilled milk on the table. There were also crickets in 2 rooms of our party. So my advice would be that Rancho Las Palmas is a great place to take the kids, but do not be afraid to call them out so that you get the service you are paying for.
When we got tired of hotel food (and prices), we explored the neighborhood options. Castelli’s has great Italian food, attentive and quick service, and a lively atmosphere. The portions are massive though, so order wisely.
Another Palm Spring highlight is the Desert Hills Premium Outlets with such great deals on treasured names in retail such as Prada, Bottega Veneta, Jimmy Choo, Dolce and Gabbana and DVF. They also have all your favorite mass brands like the Gap, Banana Republic and for kids, Gymboree and Toys R Us. My advice would be to focus on the luxury goods and leave the generic shopping to online (unless you are not from the United States).
You can fly or drive to Palm Springs, and it is worth it if you want to get away from the cities for a while. The desert definitely gives it an open and quiet feel, different from what you would get, say, at a beach resort. Palm Springs still fancies itself as upscale, so the prices may reflect that sentiment.