Monday, August 15, 2005 | Languishing poolside in the desert sun at the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa on a recent holiday, Bill and I had but one question: Why doesn’t the adult pool have a regular waiter? Why do I have to get up, walk 30 feet, pick up a phone, dial and ask for a cold Tecate? (OK, that’s one question phrased two different ways.)

Call us spoiled San Diegans (because we are) but when you stay at a supposedly world-class resort and there is no waiter by the pool, it is easy to feel shafted. That being said, the resort – at just $79 a night for a work-week stay – was a steal and we soaked up the Palm Springs sun like felonious politicians awaiting sentencing.

Our trip was part of a pre-wedding deal to go somewhere interesting, fun or luxurious every two months or so. That schedule has gotten sidetracked, but now that we’re happily entrenched in Chula Vista we figured it was time to explore the region. And Palm Springs has a ton of hot hotel deals in the summer.

Palm Springs is an oddity. It is an odd lush of green plopped awkwardly in the rusty desert, where, for some reason, they serve a lot of seafood and Hawaiian fusion. I recommend Piero’s Acqua Pazza in Rancho Mirage even though our waiter gave us a snooty look when we went for the cheap house wine. Sit on the patio where you’ll have a nice view of a small river, good music from an acoustic guitar player and a constant source of refreshment from an overhead mister. For friendlier service, Haleiwa Joe’s Seafood Grill is everything you could want in a desert restaurant: fun, delicious and not overpriced. The Thai-fried calamari with lemon grass dipping sauce is an invention worthy of patenting. Get things started with a Sandy Snorkel – Haleiwa Joe’s take on the ubiquitous Cosmopolitan, served in a highball glass over ice with a rim of salt.

When you live in an area where 80 degrees is considered scorching, baking in an oven called Palm Springs can be oddly refreshing as long as you stay by the pool and under an umbrella. It’s really not a good idea to risk further adventures. We were almost run over by a golf cart while trying to walk around the resort in the guise of “doing something.”

Avoid the 90-minute demonstration about a timeshare villa in Hawaii, which is worth far more than the $125 we earned listening. We deserved every penny and then some. I developed a knot on my shoulder named Brian the friendly salesman, who promised to change our life, and thought I might need to stay poolside at least three more days.

The villa seemed like an OK deal if we loved Starwood hotels so much that we would never want to stay anywhere else. Even with adult pool service, I could never commit myself to one hotel operator for the rest of my life. Am I crazy? Are they crazy? I’ve always felt that a significant part of the joy I find in traveling comes from finding cool places to stay.

Brian gave us two dire warnings before allowing us to leave: If you don’t buy into this lifestyle, your kids will be teased mercilessly for never having stayed at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. (We should be so lucky to live in a neighborhood with kids rich enough to impose this type of pressure.)

It is very likely that when I die, Bill will run off with the first lady who wants to travel around the world with him. Apparently, right after my funeral Bill will realize that we never went anywhere fabulous or exotic and that it must have been my fault. Happens all the time, Brian says.

Catherine MacRae Hockmuth is a 32-year old freelance writer in Chula Vista, where she lives with her husband Bill and dog Charlie. Catherine and Bill, who met and married in Washington, D.C., moved to San Diego for the weather in July 2003. She can be reached at

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