Palm Springs for March Break 2009

Dec 15th, 2008, 03:06 PM
  #1  
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Palm Springs for March Break 2009

Hello everyone!
I posted a few weeks ago and received wonderful responses. I am strongly considering vacationing at the La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs for my 12 year old son's March break. There is one caveat - it is difficult for me to get a sense of the luxury level there. Can anyone tell me how it would compare to a Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton? It sounds like it has lots of charm but is it very dated? Being from the Northeast, I like the idea of old California, which I believe LaQuinta represents. My husband can be very particular.
Secondly, which is easier, driving to Palm Springs from LAX or San Diego? Which is the nicer drive?
Look forward to hearing from you.
luckylass is offline  
Dec 15th, 2008, 08:20 PM
  #2  
ltr
 
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I can't help you out on the hotel question, but I would not fly into LAX unless the rates are really low. Ontario airport is much closer and not nearly the hassle of LAX. Palm Springs airport have some rates that are comparable to Ontario. although they have limited flights.
ltr is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 08:24 AM
  #3  
 
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Do NOT stay at La Quinta Resort.

I stayed there last May with my husband for a conference he was attending.

While the resort is beautifully located I think it is a joke that Hilton classifies this as part of their Waldorf Astoria collection. We have stayed at other Hiltons that are much nicer!

Any and all flowers that were in beds were DEAD. I understand that it is the desert but surely there is something that can be planted that is heat and drought tolerant.

The front desk staff was cordial but nothing out of the ordinary.

My overall feel of the resort as a whole was that it looked a little tired and in need of an update.

The room was nice enough but was showing signs of wear and tear and there were some stains on the carpet.

I would advise that you check out other properties before deciding to spend your money here.

janiekins is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 09:27 AM
  #4  
 
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The old town area of La Quinta is tiny, like a block. Palm Springs has many more historic areas but is more of an adult destination.

The classiest area is El Paseo in Palm Desert. If it were me I'd rent a condo within walking distance to El Paseo.
RBCal is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 09:59 AM
  #5  
lvk
 
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I agree that La Quinta is pretty far from the action. (We have friends who live there and have quite a drive to the great restaurants in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, etc.).

I think that your best bet might be the Rancho Las Palmas, as it is newly renovated, kid friendly, and close to El Paseo and other attractions.

Starwood/Westin has the Desert Willow Villas under construction right now. I'm not sure whether or not they'll be complete by March 2009, but you might want to take a look. It looks to be a very nice property.

I agree about flying into Ontario, if possible. I've never driven to PS from San Diego, but can tell you that the drive in from LAX is nothing special. It's just crowded freeways and suburban sprawl until you get to Moreno Valley.

lvk is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 10:04 AM
  #6  
 
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I agree with everything that's been said (well, with the exception of the quality of the rooms and grounds at La Quinta, because I've only been in the residential areas, not the hotel). La Quinta is FAR from Palm Springs. Anyway, Palm Springs isn't where you want to be, Palm Desert/Rancho Mirage is. I'd agree with staying nearer to El Paseo, which is a very high end shopping area (akin to Rodeo Drive), although I wouldn't care much whether it is walking distance (not much is).
sf7307 is online now  
Dec 16th, 2008, 06:51 PM
  #7  
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Yikes!!!!Trip Advisor's reviews vary dramatically on both La Quinta and Rancho Las Palmas. Reviewers cite dated, dirty rooms, bad food,etc. Then there are some raves interspersed with the negatives. I'm looking for good tennis in a relatively upscale resort that does not feel like a big hotel in a part of the country that's guaranteed warm in March. I have found out there's a tennis tournament at Indian Wells in March so that's attractive.
Can anyone recommend Rancho La Valencia in San Diego County? Is that just too cool mid-March?
All the Fodorites have been very helpful with some sharp insights,- I'm still looking for a Four Seasons type feel in the desert. Am I crazy? (just not the prices).
luckylass is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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Re Rancho Las Palmas. Were a lot of the reviews older? It used to be a Marriott, but was bought by another group and renovated, last year I think. I haven't seen it since the renovation. It always had nice grounds and pools, an adjacent tennis club, on a very nice golf course, but the rooms were just Marriott rooms (before the renovation).
sf7307 is online now  
Dec 16th, 2008, 07:09 PM
  #9  
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One scathing review was posted around Thanksgiving of this year. I have mixed feelings about TripAdvisor anyway, but it can be a useful not definitive tool. Is there a more desirable area to stay in Palm Springs in terms of general sightseeing? Shopping, while nice, is not the main draw. I'm still curious about Rancho Valencia (San Diego area) in mid-March.
luckylass is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 07:18 PM
  #10  
 
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I've gotta say, when I go to Palm Springs, which I do usually once a year, it's strictly for pool-lounging, maybe some shopping, eating, possibly hitting some golf balls, almost never for sightseeing, so sorry, I can't help you there. We did take a drive to the cute little town of Idyllwild last time we were there. Worth a couple of hours. We did go hiking in the Indian Canyons once, and years ago, took the tram (but it's cold up there, and when I go to PS, I want to be WARM). I do plan to visit the Living Desert next time because of reviews I've read on here. What kind of sightseeing interests you?
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Dec 17th, 2008, 07:35 AM
  #11  
lvk
 
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Have you considered Scottsdale, AZ, instead of Palm Springs? There are many upscale properties there, such as the Four Seasons Troon North, (www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale/) the Phoenician, (www.thephoenician.com) etc. which may suit your husband better than the CA desert resorts. We took our kids there for Spring Break in late March last year and the weather was perfect - low 80's all week.

OTOH, we were in San Diego a few years ago in early April and the weather was cool. We were in sweaters/sweatshirts the entire time. It is highly unlikely that you will get "pool weather" in the San Diego area in mid-March.
lvk is offline  
Dec 18th, 2008, 10:42 PM
  #12  
 
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I have stayed at both Rancho Las Palmas Resort (during spring break)and La Quinta (October) this year and I have a 12 year old so I think I can be helpful on this point.

Although Rancho Las Palmas resort was redone this year, we frankly thought it was a disaster for spring break. The pool area is simply not big enough for the number of guests at the hotel so people get up at 5 a.m. to save a chair. The result is then lots of fighting between guests for chair space as well as fighting over concrete space. Plus we found the rooms noisy. Finally it was very expensive and everything one ordered seemed like a ripoff-$6 cup of starbucks and $5 muffin. The plus side is its location, however many of the businesses in "The River" complex were going out of business so that factor isn't as big now. They also do not have a good workout facility.

We have stayed at La Quinta at least once a year for the past 10 years and love it, although I am glad Hilton took it over since I thought KSL ran it into the ground. Our room in October had been redone and was very comfortable. Plus you can rent a condo at the La Quinta Villas which are quiet new and they have full use of the resort ameneties. The pool situation at La Quinta is great since they have about 40 pools (which my kids also tried to swim in each one during our visits.) The resort is very Old California but in a positive way. The grounds are very large and I thought well-kept. I got a massage at the spa which I thought was very nice. They also have great workout facilities and offer classes for guests. Tennis and Golf are very good there. In the past they did have special events for children such as dive-in movies, anstronomy, arcade, contests etc, however I don't know if they will have them during spring break. In terms of whether its a Ritz Carleton or Four Seasons, I have found it on par with the Ritz Carletons (although California RC's are much lower key than east coasts' RC's.) I thought the service was excellent. Also you can rent bikes and there are some nice trails.

I don't really find the area too far from the action, the area around La Quinta has built up somewhat so there are plenty of places to eat near the hotel.

I have had friends stay at Rancho La Valencia and it is very nice. However it is about 45 minutes from downtown San Diego so that is a consideration.

In my opinion, I just find La Quinta very unique and relaxing. Other things for you do to with your child is the earthquake tour,and taking the tram up the mountain. Hope this info helps.
itsv is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 09:09 AM
  #13  
 
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however many of the businesses in "The River" complex were going out of business

I have personal [professional] knowledge of The River, and this is a gross overstatement. A few of the small stores have gone out of business, but the movie theatre, all the popular restaurants, and MOST of the stores are still fully in business.
sf7307 is online now  
Dec 21st, 2008, 08:20 PM
  #14  
 
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I stay at La Quinta 2-3 times a year. My sister was there last weekend and I am going with my family in 2 weeks. I love La Quinta - it really does have an old California feel. The grounds are beautiful with lemon trees and flowers everywhere. The rooms are built around several pools (the resort has 30 +). We usually stay in a starlight casita which is upstairs with a very large patio - perfect when you have young children. Last time, we were offered a newer 1 bedroom spa casita but we turned it down for the large patio with a view of the mountains and the pool.

We play golf, swim morning and night, go for long walks, do a little spa-ing, borrow bikes and just relax. My son (younger than yours) loves it there. There are no water slides etc. FYI.

As for luxury - I love the decor and the fireplaces but I don't think it is a five star resort. Some rooms do need updating. The fridges in the rooms are kind of old - but they aren't automatic sensor either which I like. We routinely stash some stuff in ours.

The restaurants are really good but not mind-blowing. The service is very good. There are lots of restaurants nearby (La Quinta is growing by leaps and bounds) along with plenty of upscale groceries and Trader Joe's.

I think one of the large pools has service but otherwise there is no pool service and you bring your towels down from your room.

I don't know what would be more upscale in Palm Springs. I like someone else's suggestion of Scottsdale to up the luxury-ante. I wonder if the pools in Scottsdale might be more 12 year-old worthy too.

That said, coming from Los Angeles, we love our time at La Quinta Resort and can"t wait to go for New Year's.

ReneeS is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 08:06 AM
  #15  
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Many thanks to everyone who responded with advice on Palm Springs! However, after some thought over the holidays, we are now focussing on Florida, specifically the Gulf Coast. We live in metro NYC and the rates now are very good to Fl. Has anyone ever stayed at South Seas Island Resort? If so, do you have any recommendations on which part of the resort to stay in? Any reviews? Can anyone suggest any other resorts? Again, we are a family of three (mom, dad and a 12 year old boy). We do like tennis, the beach, etc. We are looking to travel mid-March.
Look forward to hearing from you.
luckylass is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 09:04 AM
  #16  
 
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luckylass, you'll get more responses to your last post if you repost your question with a specific reference in the title to South Seas Island.
sf7307 is online now  
Jan 6th, 2009, 10:27 AM
  #17  
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Good idea! I'm relatively new to all of this. I will post it separately. Thanks.
luckylass is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:25 AM
  #18  
 
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Just to follow up since I have returned home from La Quinta -

On the resort - it seems to me they are going thru some growing pains after becoming a Waldorf-Astoria property recently. The main pool (with pool service) is closed for renovation and the entrance to the resort is being redone (it was almost finished) so there was construction noise at the front of the resort (we were near the back). We checked in on Dec 31 and it was chaotic. We were given an already occupied room and had to go back to change. That was unpleasant since we had moved all of our stuff into the room and opened a drawer to find underwear before we realized. I was able to apologize to the underwear owner when she returned to the room while I was waiting outside with our luggage while my husband and son went back to the front desk. Luckily, she was very nice.

At the end, we were overcharged for our room (650 instead of 285 a night) because the clerk canceled our reservation and booked us anew into the second room. We have NEVER paid anything close to 650 for a starlight. I have never even seen that price for a starlight. And, the hotel was practically giving rooms away closer to New Year's than we booked. We are still wrangling over the bill despite faxing them our confirmation and our amex bill showing our first night charge of 285 back in Nov. My husband sent a splendid nasty-gram today and I hope that will take care of things.

The coffee place has been reconfigured and I have to say I had to yell at the manager one morning to get my latte after the barista forgot my drink and then refused to look at me though I was polite to her several times inquiring about my drink.

The resort is still lovely and we had a great time despite the glitches (though the bill thing is another matter). We spent some time at the Hyatt Grand Champions visiting friends. Though it was really nice, we will give La Quinta another chance given how many pleasurable trips we have had there.

For now, given your desire for luxury, I'd give La Quinta a pass. I think you made a good decision.
ReneeS is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 08:36 AM
  #19  
 
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Quick follow-up -

money situation resolved and we were given a 2-night stay free for our trouble.
ReneeS is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 12:48 PM
  #20  
 
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If I were a 12 yr old, I would want to La Quinta. Its really a great place for the kids and you can have the luxury you want. The Hotel is top notch, but will not pamper you in the same way the Ritz or Four Seasons might. Forget the Las Palmas. Havent been there in years, but I found little exciting about it when I went.

Extra note- La Quinta is not far from good restaurants beside their excellent ones. I cant put into words the experience the natural beauty of the area that you will find ONLY there
FrankS is offline  

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