Beautiful Palm Desert, California - great food, scenery ... Deal of Day: Antigua
PALM DESERT, CALIFORNIA – I remember once reading a friend’s Facebook page. She was talking about visiting the American Southwest and remarked on how ugly the desert was.
Maybe it’s my Mom and Dad’s influence, since they loved the desert. But comments like that, to me, are the height of ignorance. The beauty of the desert takes a bit of looking. It’s not immediately in front of you like a rainbow or a deserted beach. But it’s there. Especially in the evening hours, when the light dances on the mountains and the sun shoots its dying, golden rays out over the landscape and the shadows deepen and the birds come alive and the animals come out into the cool, life-giving air.
I used to come to this part of California’s Coachella Valley for various golf tournaments when I worked in the sports department of the Star. Now I come for sheer pleasure; for the bright, pink-red bougainvillea and the orange-tipped flowers of the spiraling, towering ocotillo cactus and the dry air and the palm trees that climb into the blue, dry air of the desert.
Oh, and the golf. And the food. And the weather and heat.
On the dining front, Las Casuelas has several places in the valley serving good Mexican food. The one my Dad and I went to is in Rancho Mirage, near the fun, outdoor River shopping centre. There's a strolling mariachi band with good margaritas and nice if not amazing Mexican food. It’s hugely popular with families, with dining under the stars and white lights strung on the massive trees overhead. Certainly there's nothing like it in Toronto.
The other night we dined at Pacifica Seafood on El Paseo, a pretty street that’s lined with boutique shops and outlets such as Lulu Lemon, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Bahama’s and the requisite Apple Store. Pacifica makes pretty good cakes, although they could use a bit more zip. The chowder was good, and the scallops on the half shell were a meal in themselves, topped with crème and cheese and spinach and baked in the shell. I also tried the calamari, which was an enormous plate for something like $14. There was a nice, spicy sauce with green onions as a base but the Vietnamese dipping sauce tasted like unalderated fish sauce, with none of the requisite sweetness to balance the pungent fish sauce base.
If you're so inclined they have a vodka night once a week with 152 varieties. And also a half-priced wine night on Tuesdays (God Love America). They also make a nice tasting menu for dessert with small bits of crème brulee topped with berries, a chocolate lava cake (yum) and a so-so raspberry cheesecake.
We had four appetizers and a shared dessert and a bottle of fabulous New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for $99, so it's not unreasonable for a pretty spot.
I didn’t get there this time but Thai Smile, with several locations in the valley, has the best Tom Yom soups I’ve had anywhere.
For breakfast, you gotta try Sherman’s Deli. Again, two locations. Both with fabulous, filling deli foods; blintzes and bagels and all that, plus excellent eggs and a fabulous sausage made with chicken and apple that I start thinking about the minute I cross into Palm Springs from L.A.
We had a few nights at the Embassy Suites on Highway 111 (the main drag) in Palm Desert. They have nice enough rooms and a good pool with a hot tub. The service was a touch spotty. The housekeeping folks forgot to give us towels one day. As in no towels at all, which makes it interesting when you get out of the shower. We called down for some and they delivered them when we were out for a while, but merely tossed them on the table instead of hanging them up in the washroom, which is bizarre.
Like most if not all Embassy Suites, there’s a free breakfast that includes pancakes and omelets and eggs made to order, plus the usual breads/pastries/fruits and yogurt and cereal. They also have a free happy hour from 5:30 to 7:30, which is great as it’s such a a nice time of day here; with the deepening shadows and beautiful, golden light in the air and cooling temperatures.
We didn’t play any of the beautiful, tough courses out here such as PGA West as we wanted to start slow and my Dad and I aren't as young as we used to be. We found a nice, executive course called Oasis (see photo) that was very nicely landscaped, with lots of water and flowering bougainvillea and palm trees and excellent conditions, and a longer executive course called Woodhaven that was okay but not so visually interesting. Woodhaven was $69 including a cart and I think Oasis was $45 including a cart. Good deals on mostly tidy courses with nice mountain views and good conditions.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
- BONUS: ACV Privileges offer personalized check-in/check-out, beach towel in room, 25% spa discount (excluding products) and more!
- All-inclusive 7-night stay at the 4-Star The Verandah Resort & Spa located in Long Bay, Antigua
- Includes return airfare from Toronto to Antigua and round-trip airport/hotel transfers in Antigua
- Accommodations in a Hillside suite, featuring 1 king-size bed and 1 queen-size sofa bed and Kitchenette facilities. Maximum occupancy: 4
- Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, and unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
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- The Verandah is the perfect place to visit for honeymoons or vow renewals
- Antigua is a breathtaking, serene island
- Valid for travel on May 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 & 26, 2013
- Pricing (Rates are per person, plus tax and includes all tips, taxes and service charges):
Other DATES and GATEWAYS available.
Call us at 1-855-687-5925.
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is 100% non-refundable at time of booking