The 10 Freeway in California is a straight shot from the Pacific Ocean to Palm Springs (and beyond). After driving east of downtown Los Angeles, much of the drive becomes, shall we sat, less than interesting. Auto dealerships and strip malls dominate the flat landscape for a while, and then – just when the boredom threatens to tip over into annoyance, the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa comes into view.
The Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa is really quite an interesting sight. It’s the tallest building between LA and Las Vegas, and it’s right off the freeway, so you can’t miss it. This 4-Diamond, 27-story hotel features a “port cochere” structure at its base, made to look like a desert blossom (and the hotel is, in fact, in the desert). However, to me, the port cochere resembles an abstract phoenix – fitting, since the jobs and tax base created by the casino, resort and spa have helped the Monongo tribe of Mission Indians so tremendously. Walk under this port cochere and you are instantly immersed in the 148,000 sq. ft. casino, with four restaurants, a food court, and three nightclubs. The hotel desk is professional and courteous – if you arrive early and your room isn’t ready, they’ll allow you to relax in the spa or even take a dip in the pool while you wait. The management was kind enough to host the 2007 Travel Media Showcase, and early arrivals were well tended-to.
The rooms are really quite nice here – plasma televisions, wifi, extremely fast food service (my lunch came in 15 minutes!) and luxurious bedding. My favorite surprise in the guest room, however, was the large, gorgeous bathroom. The shower alone was so huge, it could easily fit a family of four. My two complaints about the room are that the curtains are very difficult to close, and the batteries in the TV remote needed to be changed. These are minor quibbles, however. I was impressed by the accommodations, and by the luxury amenities in the rooms at the Morongo.
I was also impressed by the Sage spa. The treatments here incorporate local, organic ingredients into the spa treatments (such as sage, hence the name of the spa). Even better, guests of the hotel can use the sauna and steam room at no additional cost, and can stay as long as desired. Attendants supply spa guests with complimentary fruit and water – a nice touch. Those of us who enjoy a nice hotel spa treatment can appreciate how refreshing it is to not be nickeled and dimed for everything!
And, of course, there’s the casino. You can’t miss the casino, of course; it’s the center of activity on the ground floor. It’s a little smokey and pretty loud – the blackjack, pai gow poker, and craps tables are especially popular at night – and locals frequent the casino as much as do hotel guests. Okay, time to ‘fess up: I lost money at the casino. However, one of my travel companions left up 25 dollars, and another actually won 300 dollars at the slots! If you enjoy gambling, the Morongo casino will provide a good time. Not to mention that the 300 bucks more than supplies gas money for the long drive back to Los Angeles.
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