It turns out diamonds aren’t just a girl’s best friend. They’re pretty cozy with Rancho Mirage, too. How do I know? Because the Automobile Club of Southern California has just unveiled its list of eateries and accommodations that scored its Four-Diamond rating for 2017.
Per the organization’s website, “One of the hallmark services AAA offers travelers is the AAA Diamond rating system, which has helped set high industry standards and is nationally recognized as a trusted symbol of quality. Each year, AAA’s inspectors review more than 28,000 hotels and nearly 30,000 restaurants in North America to make sure they meet AAA’s exacting quality standards.”
To rate Four Diamonds, restaurants must feature “distinctive fine dining and creative preparations, skillfully served, often with wine steward, amid upscale ambience.” Hotels must be “refined, stylish, with upscale physical attributes, extensive amenities, and a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail.”
Of the 120 resorts and hotels chosen for the illustrious Four Diamond rating from coast to coast, three of our own stellar resorts made the cut. They are Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa (www.hotwatercasino.com), The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage (www.ritzcarlton.com/ranchomirage), and the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa (www.westinmissionhills.com).
Of the 63 restaurants honored, the victor within our city’s walls was Wally’s Desert Turtle (www.wallysdesertturtle.com). Clearly, this truly exceptional eatery—about to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018, and which was begun by Wally Botello then bequeathed to his son Michael and his beautiful wife, Nicole—keeps doing things supremely right almost four decades after it opened its gilded doors. I personally can’t wait to see what returning Executive Chef Pascal Lallemand—who was born and trained in France, and who then toiled in American kitchens from Austin and Aspen to Detroit and Palm Springs—will bring to Wally’s his second time around. After working at The Parker, Pascal joined the Botellos at Wally’s from 2006 to 2014, when he attempted to retire. The pull back to Wally’s was clearly too tough to resist. Welcome back, Chef!
And congratulations to all our local winners of The AAA’s Four Diamond Awards. I’m sure none of this comes as any surprise to you. It certainly doesn’t to me. I’ve known for years that two of the things we do best in Rancho Mirage is eat and sleep well.