Well-Priced Luxury in the California Desert

My first question was how many gardeners were on staff. Set on 11 verdant and flowering acres in the desert, Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, CA is chock full of hummingbird-laden flora and trees bursting with lemons the size of grapefruit that line its winding walkways.  Twelve two-story villas surround two pools

Twelve red-tiled, two-story "villas" (with names like Villa d'Este—an Italian Mediterranean theme runs throughout) house 215 guest rooms, each with either a terrace or a small walk-out space. Odd-numbered rooms are on the ground level. There are 192 Luxury and Superior rooms, 18 Dolce Suites, four Villa Suites and one Presidential Suite, with views of either the manicured grounds or the Santa Rosa mountains. Fans of sinking into a deep sleep will love that all beds now are Sealy's Desert Dream Bed, which has six layers of foam plus a pillow top. All rooms also have new carpet, drapery, linens and furniture.

On second floors with a step-out "balcony," Superior rooms are 300-350 square feet whereas Luxury rooms are 350-400 square feet and come with either a patio or a real balcony. Running 400-480 square feet, Dolce suites have a separate seating area with second TV, a sofa bed and an oversized terrace.

 A Dolce (or junior) suite

A private candle-lit entrance and terrace welcome clients to the 600-square-foot one-bedroom Villa suites. Inside they'll find a living room with a sofa bed, dining area and bathroom with oversized Jacuzzi tub and walk-in glass shower.

We hear that among other VIPs, "talent" (aka the world's top tennis players) stays in the resort's Presidential suite during the annual Pacific Life Open (the region's other big event is the Coachella music festival; book at least three months in advance for travel during these spring events). This 1,078-square-foot one-bedroom suite has a living room with floor-to-ceiling windows, a dining area, second bathroom, wet bar, Bose stereo, library and balcony. The master bathroom comes with a skylight, elevated Jacuzzi tub, separate bathroom and bidet, TV and his-and-hers closets.

Depending on the day of week, season and compression in the valley, room rates can dip as low as $109 (summer midweek). More usual prices are between $200 and $400. A $16 resort fee includes valet or self-parking, local phone calls, 24-hour fitness center, shoe shine service, Wi-Fi, incoming and outgoing faxes, daily newspaper and in-room coffee. There's a 10 percent commission; GDS code is DN. Agents with questions or VIP requests may contact Annette Said, director of travel industry sales and marketing, at 760-568-4082 or asaid@destinationhotels.com.

The Well Spa

Not named for the concept of wellness but for the actual water wells that lent their name to the town of Indian Wells, the Well Spa is an intimate spa with nine indoor and four outdoor treatment rooms. As guests are introduced to the 14,000-square-foot spa, they are handed a coin to throw in the well, which is near the waterfall-grotto pool and Watsu pool. Signature treatments, inspired by Tuscany, include wine soaks with grape seed extract and a Mediterranean massage, which employs basil, orange and lemon essential oils. Another signature treatment is the Pittura Festa (Painting Party): Colored mud and clay are painted on body, face and hair, followed by a facial massage.

Since the spa is small and 30-40 percent of clientele are local, it's best to book spa services simultaneously with the room. Contact Director of Spa Operations Jennifer Di Francesco, 760-837-2336, jdifrancesco@destinationhotels.com.

Another reservation clients might appreciate is a pool cabana; they can be reserved through the concierge. A good thing to know is that there's a second, smaller, pool, along with a heated pool with jets at the back of the resort.

The property also has a golf concierge, who may be reached at 760-837-1629 or miragolfconcierge@destinationhotels.com every day except Sunday. Golf is extremely popular in this area, which gets 350 days of sun a year (currently, there's been no rain since July 2005). Miramonte guests have the opportunity to book a round at the Indian Wells Golf Resort across the street two months in advance and for $155 instead of $170.

There are two dining options at the Miramonte as well as 24-hour room service. The main restaurant, the bar and the lobby have been refurbished, with changes including decor and layout.

The resort now has 18,000 square feet of meeting and event space, with the addition of a new 6,000-square-foot ballroom. With this facility, Miramonte expects its percentage of group business to increase from 55 to 65 percent.

Indian Wells is 30 minutes from the Palm Springs airport.

Miramonte Resort & Spa is part of the Destination Hotels & Resorts group, which also includes the Royal Palms Resort & Spa in Phoenix and Teton Mountain Lodge in Jackson Hole, WY.

By the way, there are only nine—talented—groundskeepers.

FastFacts Miramonte Resort & Spa Address:

45-000 Indian Wells Lane
Indian Wells, CA92210Phone:760-341-2200 Web site: www.miramonteresort.com