The Westin hotel group is particularly adept at creating — and maintaining — family-oriented yet kitsch-free environments that are upscale without being stodgy. The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, just east of Palm Spring’s city center in residential Rancho Mirage, epitomizes the hotel group’s philosophy. With upgrades in the works for 2020, including an on-site bowling alley, it offers a tranquil desert mountain setting, convenient location off major roads, and a cozy community feel that makes visitors feel a little less like tourists.
Most of the rooms are simple, spacious and outfitted with comfortable beds and sizable bathrooms. It’s a place where guests spend most of their time outdoors and, even with an expansive span of 360 scenic acres, all family fun essentials are within easy reach. There is a bevy of adult and all-ages pools (one with a 60-foot waterslide), kids club, the low-key luxe of its Spa at Mission Hills, its well-maintained WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio, and (most famously) its destination Pete Dye and Gary Player golf courses making it one of Golf Digest’s Top 75 Golf Resorts. There are also tennis courts, walking paths, bike rentals and access to hiking, nature trails and horseback riding a few miles away.
Just beyond the gates, several community establishments, retailers and restaurants add to its appeal as a one-size-fits-all family vacation option. The Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory is worth a visit because of its ambitious goal to be more than just a quiet place for reading, study, reflection and school field trips.
Recently, the library grew into a full-blown educational cultural center with the distinction of having its own fully functioning observatory, including state-of-the-art equipment and a docket of programs and events developed by city astronomer Eric McLaughlin. While the clear, mostly pollution-free night skies of the Coachella Valley offer optimum opportunities for regular stargazing events, the observatory team also shows astronomy films, videos, and lectures and discussion sessions with astronomy and science professionals from Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA and many other organizations. On top of everything, it is open free of charge to the public.
Nearby shopping centers, meanwhile, offer a wide variety of dining options running the gamut from casual comfort food to family-friendly splurge dining options. One of the most popular among Valley residents is Shabu-Shabu Zen, which specializes in flavorful, high-end, Japanese tapas; house-made dipping sauces and sashimi; and the interactive traditional dish built into its name. Those familiar with Japanese cuisine and young diners alike will get a kick out of the D.I.Y. experience, choosing a soup base, vegetables and proteins and cooking the components after a few minutes of instruction. Other local go-to spots include Shame on the Moon, Don & Sweet Sue’s Café, El Ranchito Taco Shop, Taqueria San Miguel and Talay Thai Restaurant.
The on-property restaurants, headlined by Tuscan- (by way of California) inspired Pinzimini, have more hits. While the menus are developed by an internationally renowned chef (Joel Delmond) classically trained in his native France, the rest of the team successfully brings appealing-sounding menu items to life — and make adjustments if something is not quite to expectation. While the pasta dishes and fish entrées are nicely turned out, brunch is the restaurant’s strong suit. Even with an abundant buffet, several original à la carte items are interestingly presented and generously portioned.
My visit to the TWA Hotel at New York JFK reminded me of how many times I have chosen to stay at an airport hotel. While the awesome architectural appeal of Eero Saarnen’s Mid-Century TWA terminal-to-hotel transformation is unique, it has become common sense to stay at a multitude of lovely airport lodgings.
Fans of country music can explore Tennessee’s rich musical legacy across all 95 counties with hundreds of landmarks and attractions on the new Tennessee Music Pathways route, inspired by the latest documentary from Ken Burns.
In a small corner of southern Italy, nestled between Pozzuoli and Torre del Greco, Naples sits along the Gulf that feeds out into the Tyrrhenian Sea and boasts some of the best of Italy — think authentic pizza and incredible Italian cuisine culture, cityscapes and historic sites, stunning coastlines and natural beauty.
By Hainan Airlines
There is something to be said for hitting a city’s most iconic neighborhoods, even if there is a steady stream of tourists milling about. On the other hand, there’s something delicious about discovering neighborhoods not yet on the tourist track.