My cool San Clemente friends Charlie and Chaz have two delightful dogs—a chipper Chihuahua and a chunky Chow—and I adore them all. But when they come to visit me from Orange County, my place proves not quite able to comfortably accommodate this human/K-9 quartet of friends. And so, we hightail it to Rancho Mirage’s Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, which in my humble opinion is the pet-friendliest resort in the entire Palm Springs Valley, paws down. Not only is the Westin Mission Hills the only desert resort that charges no extra fee for a puppy check-in, it’s the only one that boasts a dedicated, grassy dog park.
When Charlie, Chaz, Cherry the Chihuahua, and Chip the Chow opened the door to their room upon their most recent arrival, they found the customary stainless steel dog bowls (and placemat) right next to the pups’ Westin Heavenly Dog Bed. And when we sat down for dinner on the perfectly heated patio of signature restaurant Pinzimini for our first meal together, again, there was a Westin Heavenly Dog Bed waiting. Cherry and Chip even “ordered” off the Patio Pooch Menu, which has such offerings as a non-alcoholic Best Friend’s Brew, Crudo (biologically appropriate raw food), and Malta’s “Mutt-zoh” Balls (naturally dry dog food).
The humans-only menu was nothing to bark at, either. After starters of made-fresh-daily minestrone soup and green lip mussels baked in pesto and garlic, we segued to pappardelle alla Bolognese, prime iron steak alla Fiorentina with Tuscan marinated garlic fennel brown butter, and the famous brick oven seafood casserole, teeming with fresh lobster and shrimp in a tomato béchamel. When it came to wine, we went by the glass—letting our gloriously grape-savvy server Angel (employed at the property for decades!) trust such labels as Cakebread, Rombauer, and Duckhorn to do the trick.
While the pups noshed on their Shelbie’s Favorite Treat (a peanut-butter-and-banana-flavored cookie in the shape of a dog done), we dove into a dessert platter of many sweet delights (anchored with a hefty slice of tiramisu) prepared for us by Executive Chef Joel Delmond.
Oh, and remember: If you find yourself at the Westin with dogs on a Tuesday, you must check out Paws on the Patio, a puppy party-cum-happy hour held from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. on the Pinzimini patio. Human cocktails are 2-for-1, and doggie treats served with fresh bowls of water are free!
Following dinner, a leisurely stroll under the stars along the golf course took us to the aforementioned, illuminated dog park, where we let Cherry and Chip play to their little hearts’ content. I then let my four favorite Ds retire to their room. I trust sweet dreams were had by all. Because, after all, at the Westin Mission Hills, a dog’s life is anything but “Ruff!” www.westinmissionhills.com