May012008

Westin Mission Hills Review – Wanted: Room With a View


Hotel loyalty elite status has the primary benefit of a “room with a view”. Last week I stayed two nights at Westin Hotel resorts and one night at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. A day in Palm Springs and two days in Phoenix gave me time to see about 14 other hotel resort properties in these two winter havens.

The Palm Springs area of Coachella Valley is a string of resort towns built on the valley desert flatland at the base of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. Palm Springs merges into Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and Indian Wells. The valley is a patchwork of long straight roads with frequent and quick-changing traffic lights. I ran more lights in 24 hours trying to drive around the valley towns looking for streets like Frank Sinatra than I have in 24 years. Shopping centers, schools, public parks, and gated communities coexist with golf courses, hotel resorts, and Indian gaming casinos.

The single most prevalent observation I made in Palm Springs was the probability of being booked in a room with an undesirable location within the resort. Paying $300 per night and looking out the room window to someone’s Cadillac in the parking lot is not my idea of resort vacationing. The view of the high mountain peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains towering above the valley with the highest peak at nearly 11,000 feet is an incredible sight and the surrounding mountains are a beautiful view to behold.

San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains form a picturesque backdrop to the resort
My first hotel stay was the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage, about 10 miles from downtown Palm Springs. The hotel portion of the resort is a series of 16 two-story guest buildings. The odd-numbered rooms are ground floor and even-numbered rooms are upstairs. There are no building elevators so top floor rooms are handicap inaccessible.
Adjacent to the Guest Buildings are the Westin Mission Hills Vacation Villas located in 11 buildings to the east of the hotel buildings. The Villas are available for rent and tend to be lower priced than the hotel rooms much of the time, but this portion of the property has limited participation in the Starwood Preferred Guest program and no Starpoints will be awarded.
Fountain outside Guest Building 6, Hibiscus, near Las Brisas main pool.
My room was located above the foilage arch on the second floor of Joshua Building #8.

Golf Course View from my room #814

As a Starwood Preferred Guest platinum elite, at check-in I received a coupon for complimentary drinks for two at the lobby bar. A quick glance at the menu and $12 cocktail prices gave this amenity a $25 added value. I noticed the misspelling “Starwood Preffered” on this coupon. I also received a coupon for 15% off breakfast at the Restaurant Bella Vista, 20% off a spa treatment, and $15 off a Westin Kids Club session.
Mission Hills lobby bar

Outdoor dining at Bella Vista restaurant

About half the buildings are located adjacent to the golf course and the other buildings are situated around the three resort swimming pools. Unfortunately, most of the buildings have about half their rooms facing the resort parking lots. Each ground floor room has a patio and the rooms facing the parking lot tend to have thick bushes surrounding the patio. These rooms would have a bedroom view of a bush with a car just on the other side of the bush. The upstairs rooms have an unobstructed view of the parking lots.

My room faced the golf course and being a second floor room had the attribute of a high sloping ceiling that peaked at about 14 feet. The high ceiling gave the room a feeling of additional space.
A large part of the resort lobby was dedicated to vacation property sales and this seemed to be a common feature of the resorts in this area and Phoenix/Scottsdale.

Sunrise view from my room
The two main pools, Las Brisas and Las Hadas were in good use for the afternoon with the temperature in the mid-90s. La Paloma is a smaller adults only pool to the east of the lobby and this pool was deserted at 5:00pm when I walked by.
Las Brisas pool
All in all, the Westin Mission Hills is a pleasant resort with plenty of water activities, tennis and golf. I must complain about the $20/day resort fee. I just don’t get it when a property charges $260/night and then feels the need to tack on another $20 as a resort fee. Why not just make the price $280/night?

My words of advice are to be sure and secure a golf course or pool view room. Golf course view rooms are likely to be much quieter. I would have a difficult time enjoying myself at this resort when trying to quell the feeling I was ripped off if I were in a room staring out to a bush and the parking lots.

An all too common view for this resort.

Westin Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage (Starwood website hotel page)
Starwood Category 4 hotel; 10,000 points for a free night.
AAA 3-diamond rating
TripAdvisor Reviews #3 of 7 Rancho Mirage hotels Average price $248/night
TripAdvisor photos

I used a Starwood Preferred Guest Cash & Points award for this stay.
$60 + 4,000 Starpoints. The $20 resort fee was added to the rate and my total cost was $87/night.

The lowest available paid rate for my stay would have been $259 +10.07% tax + $20 resort fee = $305/night. (Midweek rates appear to have dropped about $50 night for May bookings. Palm Springs area has peak rates on weekends.)

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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