We took a brief hiatus last weekend from the hometown Halloween hullabaloo as it was C’s big 10×4 birthday! I can’t bring myself to type it because I honestly can’t believe it myself. That and I am headed there eventually, too, and sooner than later or so it shall seem (!). Ah, who am I kidding. What’s in a number? Not much. Especially since it’s not as though we can let our age slow us down. We have a rowdy five-year-old to raise after all! And since T thinks I’m all of 32 – bless his heart – well, it really doesn’t matter to him how old we are either. Besides, if we believe all the hype, 40 is fabulous, right, RMT’ers?!
To celebrate C’s milestone birthday, our family headed east on I-10 to our favorite local getaway destination. Though we didn’t stay at our favorite resort out in La Quinta, we did discover a great new spot thanks to a free room offer we scored. Given that the room was the get-one from a previous buy-one when we stayed down in San Diego for a date night earlier this year, it’d have been hard to have found fault with too much really. But thankfully, the stay exceeded our expectations.
Part of the SPG family of hotels, the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa in the Rancho Mirage area of Palm Desert mixes classic local flavors and decor with a more modern take on luxury and hospitality. The resort offers entertainment of all kinds, from a complimentary game room for the kids (see my Facebook page for a more complete photo album of our experience here), to a full 18-hole golf course and spa for the adults. A true family resort, the Westin Mission Hills really does have something for everyone in your traveling party.
Of course, no resort in this area of Southern California is complete without a fantastic poolside experience, and the Westin Mission Hills definitely delivers to this end with a huge splash! First, see the water slide. This slide is for anyone 42″ and taller (kids 42-47″ must wear a life vest, which is provided by the resort). And of course we all took a ride on the slide, or in T and C’s case, several dozen rides. I just went twice, so no picture of me… maybe next time!
The staff also were great about hosting games for the kids all weekend long. I don’t know if this is a usual practice or just something that they did because of it being the weekend before Halloween. Either way, T loved the games. He’s finally at an age where he wants to play them, and he actually now is able to listen to a short set of rules, which helps him with doing well at the games, too! He got a lot of liberties with the Witch Hat Toss, and everyone left that one with a small goodie bag for playing.
However, the pool dive, swim, and grab game definitely was a game where he had to compete with the other kids for a chance at a prize. And guess what? T won his age group! Yay!
For the most part, we dined on property for the weekend. Lunch Saturday was at Pinzimini, the resort’s newest restaurant. We had a quick sandwich-pasta-pizza spread capped with a lovely birthday dessert of a lemon custard tart with pistachio gelato. It was the perfect pastry present for C since he doesn’t like chocolate much and he loves pistachio anything. Breakfast Sunday morning was at the same restaurant, and the menu offerings ran from local flavors to the more traditional. I had a very tasty chilaquiles dish, and C had a hearty Southwest breakfast omelet. They also offer a “super foods” menu for those more inclined to start the morning out slightly lighter and healthier than we did. We later enjoyed a late lunch bite poolside, one of the ways we treat ourselves when on vacation.
And a special surprise came from in-room dining when we got back from a night swim to a wonderful birthday snack of chips, salsa, and beer. Again, while we might have hinted to the hotel that we had a special birthday, we never mentioned what sort of things were C’s favorites. Who knew that Edgar at the hotel’s front desk knew C so well (and T, too, with the chips and salsa)?
We did leave the hotel property for an extra-special birthday dinner for C at – what else – a teppanyaki restaurant! “Cooking on the table” is something we started enjoying together while on vacation at another favorite family vacation spot, and what better occasion than a birthday to partake in a little restaurant entertainment. We’d learned about Hibachi Japanese Restaurant during another weekend earlier this year, but we never got over there on that trip. I am glad we made the time on this trip for Hibachi. For under $20 per person before 6:30 p.m., diners can enjoy a five-course meal of miso soup, salad, a hot shrimp appetizer (basically grilled shrimp on the teppan table), choice of entrée protein with mixed vegetables, and a scoop of ice cream for dessert. We thought we would get an amount of food commensurate with the lower price tag, but oh no-no, RMT’ers. Please do not foolishly order additional sushi appetizers like we did because the course dinner portions are generous. Generous meaning C’s steak was easily 12 ounces and the shrimp appetizer was about 2-3 jumbo grilled shrimp per person. I easily (and sadly) left two-thirds of my chicken teriyaki. Even T’s kid’s meal was enough for two kids his age.
C had a great birthday weekend, and T and I enjoyed sharing this special time in his life history with him. There won’t be another 40th birthday, so it was important for us to acknowledge this one in a remarkable way. C, I know I joked a lot on that day that you didn’t look “a day over 40,” and then the day after I said that you DID look a day over 40. But trust me when I say that, jokes aside, I really don’t care how old you are or what day it is or where we are together. Love you, babe, and here’s to 40+ more fantastic years!
Note: We got our buy-one-get-one-free room deal after C signed up online for the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) rewards program. About six months after signing up, C received an e-mail offer to buy one night, get an awards certificate for future use at any category 1-6 property. After the Westin confirmed our booking, they offered us an additional opportunity (for a small fee) to upgrade to a suite for our stay. Just a healthy disclaimer that the “free room” mentioned herein was something we earned from our own purchase activity and was not a gift from Sheraton, Westin, or SPG directly.