Hello Coachella Valley

After my hike at the Grand Canyon, I made my way back to Las Vegas for a week and a half to catch up on a bunch of errands and appointments, then arrived at the Tempo team house in Long Beach to settle down for a little bit and rest up from my road trip.

However, after sticking around there for a week and a half, I started remembering why I hate Los Angeles, and ended up just staying indoors and working all day. Realizing that this isn’t a healthy lifestyle, and trying to continue the trend of exploring the outdoors and being more active, I decided to take an impulse and unplanned trip to Coachella Valley, best known for containing popular vacation des­tinations like Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Indio.

I wouldn’t really consider this to be a part of my road trip, and I’m only staying here for a day (as opposed to the week that I usually spend in major cities during my road trip) because I need to be back in Los Angeles County tomorrow to attend a small Christmas gathering.

My plan was to drive from Long Beach to Palm Springs, go hiking, then head to Palm Desert and check into my hotel. I ran into an obstacle with that plan because it rained a lot and there was flash flooding on a lot of hiking trails, so a few that I wanted to go to were closed to the public. However, I eventually managed to find one near the Agua Caliente Tahquitz Visitor Center and hiked the South Lykken Trail. I’d say that it was moderate in dif­fi­culty with some fairly steep areas, but the sweeping views from the top were very rewarding.

South Lykken Trail in Palm Springs, California

South Lykken Trail in Palm Springs, California

South Lykken Trail in Palm Springs, California

South Lykken Trail in Palm Springs, California

South Lykken Trail in Palm Springs, California

South Lykken Trail in Palm Springs, California

After coming back down from the summit, I took the half-hour drive from Palm Springs to Palm Desert, seeing Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage along the way. I’m not sure if the roads were emptier than usual because it’s Christmas Eve (though I would feel like a desert vacation destination like this would actually be busier during a holiday), but the drive was very smooth and refreshing.

My impression of this western rim of the valley is that it actually reminds me of the Las Vegas suburbs, but more polished, better taken care of, and with a higher attention to detail. The rows of palm trees lining the streets, the succinct but visually pleasing desert landscaping, and the clean neighborhoods made me happy to be there. People regularly ask me where I would live if I didn’t live in Las Vegas, and even though I’ve only been in Coachella Valley for half a day, I’m thinking that Palm Springs or the neighboring cities might be a strong contender to take that spot.

 
My hotel of choice for this one-day trip was the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa. I’m usually not the biggest fan of resort-style hotels because I prefer barebones lodging that is clean, simple, and straightforward, but due to my eligibility for a great deal on a room at this property, I decided to give it a try.

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort

I wanted to try some food from an in-house restaurant, but didn’t want to go through the hassle of going directly to the restaurant and waiting to be seated on a nearly-sold-out holiday night, so I instead requested it to be delivered to my room. I ordered some Skuna Bay salmon with sautĂ©ed mush­rooms and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, with a side of chimichurri sauce, and iced tea for my beverage.

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort

My experience here was as expected—I wasn’t really a fan. With the long walk from the self-parking lot to the entrance (it was literally a quarter mile in each direction, which I later found out through my fitness tracker when it told me I had walked half a mile when I made a round-trip back to my truck because I forgot my charger), long wait times to check in, and constant noise coming from the hallway due to a plethora of guests with children, it made me miss the simple-but-reliable Fairfield Inns and SpringHill Suites from my recent road trip.

If I wasn’t able to qualify for the special heavily-discounted rate on this hotel, it absolutely would not have been worth it for me, as I noticed that rates were going for ~US$700 for the night. I spent (and will spend) a majority of my time out and about exploring Coachella Valley and never truly got to experience and enjoy the resort aspect of the hotel.

If I was a very regular visitor to the area and ended up hitting all the tourist spots, then a resort like this would be a nice way to keep things fresh, but for someone like me who has a massive list of things I want to see here for the first time, a resort like this is a horrible lodging selection if all you need is a clean and safe place to sleep overnight.

With that being said, I’ll be heading out tomorrow morning for another hiking trip in Palm Springs before making the two-hour drive back to Los Angeles County in time for dinner. If it wasn’t for that plan, I definitely would’ve extended my stay here, and I look forward to coming back sometime soon to see if I’m fallaciously tunnel-visioning on only the nice parts of Coachella Valley, or if it’s actually as nice as I think it is right now.

 

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