Miramonte Resort & Spa - Hotel Review
By Kim Fay
Frank Sinatra, martinis, Eames lounge chairs and golf. Try disassociating any of these things from Palm Springs. It’s nearly impossible. But although these elements feel indigenous to the area, they are actually city slickers that took the liberty of making themselves at home in the desert. Far from urban, the landscape around Palm Springs has in fact been compared to that of Tuscany. And so, when the very kitschy Asian-style Erawan Gardens closed in the late 1990s for a multi-million dollar makeover, it made sense to eschew the trendy nostalgia for retro and create an atmosphere suited to the setting.
Framed by red tile roofs, golden yellow buildings, date palms and the Santa Rosa Mountains, the Miramonte Resort & Spa was designed to resemble a small Tuscan village. Buildings cluster around small lawns dappled with hammocks, a rose garden, rustic benches and fountains, and the entire eleven-acre, 215-room boutique resort centers on a pretty swimming pool area and The Well, a charming spa. There is a feeling of intimacy; you’ll find no sprawl or inhuman scale here. That said, the standard guestrooms are wonderfully huge. Another aspect that stands out is the light: beautiful and warm as it reflects off the buildings during the day and the mountains at dusk. Because of the layout, some of the ground level rooms can be dark; ask for one that gets the sunrise, so you can savor the light over a cup of morning coffee on your private patio.
While inarguably lovely, this is not a destination for a polished (i.e. pompous) luxury experience. The attitude is tranquil and laid back, with service that feels organic rather than policy oriented. Maids greet you with quiet hellos as you walk to your room. The chief engineer can be overheard discussing the best way to nurture the mantles of bougainvillea that spread their vibrant color over the yellow walls. As for the guests, they can be found lazing in hammocks, strolling the pathways or wandering over from the spa in their robes to grab a bite to eat or iced tea on the terrace of Grove Artisan Kitchen, the resort’s small dining venue.
The Grove Artisan Kitchen serves fresh farm-to-table cuisine, featuring ingredients from local artisan growers. Chef Robert Nyerik uses fresh, quality ingredients picked from Miramonte’s own herb garden and citrus grove and blended in a culinary melody highlighted by signature balsamic vinegar, aged 18 years, and specially blended olive oil. Named after the citrus and date groves that once flourished years ago on the very land the resort rests upon, Grove Artisan Kitchen celebrates the rich history of the desert, honoring local artisan growers fortunate for the natural waters that made Indian Wells famous. For lighter fare, The Grove Lounge offers cocktails, appetizers, and entrée selections. Alternatively, dinners for up to ten guests can also be arranged in the cabanas at the Miramonte Pool.
As you arrive at the resort, you may be put off by the surrounding development. The Indian Wells Country Club sits on one side and a residential neighborhood that usurped a once lush date farm sits on the other. The Ted Robinson-designed Golf Resort at Indian Wells is right across busy Highway 111, and the good news: guests enjoy preferred tee times. But within the resort you can’t see (or hear) any of this, not even when you’re up on the terrace for a company cocktail party. Somehow, no matter when you are, views take in only rooftops and mountains. Sure, it may be an illusion, but who cares? The feeling of seclusion is very real.
Although small, Miramonte Resort & Spa offers everything a business or leisure traveler needs, including more than 18,000 square-feet of conference space, a second, smaller, adults-only pool and a friendly bar. But it is the unfussy charm, along with details such as the whimsical ceiling frescoes in the lobby, that give this property its appeal—an appeal that continues to grow under the new management of Destination Hotels & Resorts. Author Frances Mayes may have had to go all the way to Tuscany to find her happiness, but we know the truth: you don’t have to go any further than Palm Springs.
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