Whenever we go to the desert we stay at the northern end. La Quinta is a favorite, the JW Marriott is less wonderful but still good, the Westin is good as is the Miramonte. Every time we go (which isn’t as often as it used to be) we think we should stay in Palm Springs; preferably somewhere we can walk because Palm Springs is fun and we are fun (or at least we used to be).

My family needed a weekend together. 2013 has been a lot of work for Mr. G and I had two objectives for the Labor Day weekend:

  1.  Get Mr. G too far from the office for him to pop in to work
  2. Have time together as a family

Friday afternoon I packed the kids up (plus a kid) and we left for the desert just before the end of the work day. It was a minor miracle that we had Mr. G home before 8pm and I was positively giddy at the thought of three days of family time. It was in this spirit that a great weekend was had by all because staying at the Viceroy was not cheery in and of itself.

In the interest of simplicity I’ll go ahead and just give you a rundown of our experience there and you can decide what part of it would work for you.

Friday 8pm (give or take 15 minutes): We check into the hotel with three children and are told for the first time that though there are three pools only one of them allows children. This would have been important information to have when booking a room for five.

While checking in she explains to us that our two room villa has a pull out sofa and if we’d like it made up we should tell housekeeping. I ask her to please have housekeeping make the bed now. We all started our day at 6am.

Friday 9pm: We have dinner on site. I order an appetizer of diver scallops and a watermelon and feta salad. The scallops are excellent, the watermelon salad has strawberries added, they are sugared, I cannot recommend this dish. My daughter and her friend each have a salad which they enjoy, chicken caesar I believe and my husband orders steak, it is overcooked. My cocktail is delicious and being with my family has me too delighted to care about overcooked meat.

Friday 11pm: We return to the room and the sofa bed is not made. It does however have a urine stained mattress pad on it. My son sits on the corner (he is not yet 90 pounds) and the bed collapses. I call the night manager who is horrified at the state of the pull out bed and since housekeeping has left for the evening I put Alexander in bed with myself and my husband because I cannot keep my eyes open one more minute.

I am secretly delighted that my son is snuggling me, that is how much my family needs this time together.

Viceroy Palm Springs

Saturday 2am: I’ve been pushed off the bed one too many times. Snuggling is for suckers. I sleep on the sofa, not the sofa bed but the sofa. I am spending $850 a night before taxes and fees to sleep on a urine stained sofa. Even I can’t spin this into something quaint.

Also, it’s hot. Their air conditioners only go down to 74 degrees. That’s too warm for me to sleep soundly.

Saturday 9am: I go to the front desk and smile and try to be nice but really I want to nap and cry. They upgrade our room to a two bedroom villa with a den so Alexander doesn’t have to sleep in a living room. We are heading out for the day so we pack and they are going to move our belongings. We pack, we are optimistic. We leave our things piled at the door and when we return they will be in the new room, so they say. I have breakfast and order soft poached eggs, they are hard poached, I don’t complain because I really want to enjoy my family vacation.

Saturday 4pm: We go to our new room. Everything is there but the bed is still not made for my son. I think they hate my son. We hang out at the family pool. The waiters are doing their best but there are three pools and one of them isn’t packed with drinkers. Service is dismal, it’s 100 degrees and they keep running out of drinking water and towels.

Saturday 6pm: The sofa bed is made but in order to pull it out there’s a yellow chair that must first be removed from the room. I wonder how an interior designer selected the chair. I also wonder how the interior designer selected the same table and chairs for each and every breakfast nook; the chairs are too big to fit under the table. It’s not only not attractive but it’s uncomfortable.

The guest relations manager has sent us a fruit plate and some fizzy water. This delights everyone and he is very likable. He is also, I suspect, very busy.

Saturday late: I’ve left my personal pillow in the other room. Security and I go over there. It has been used, the bed has been very very enjoyed. I am down one pillow. Enjoy the Frette sheets; I know I did. This almost makes me cry.

Sunday breakfast: overcooked eggs.

Sunday afternoon: The kids order burgers poolside with nothing on them. They’d like them done medium rare with a side of truffle fries. We get well done burgers with everything in the world on them and regular fries. After almost an hour the server returns and brings us one burger (still well done) but plain with truffle fries, Alexander had left the pool some time ago so obviously he didn’t want a replacement burger. There was no talk of taking anything off the bill. I have a hard time faulting the server, he’s got an incredibly difficult job and though not particularly competent he is lovely. I like lovely people so I tip generously; it is over 110 degrees today.

We return from the pool and go to the room where every bed has been made except my son’s. This hotel hates my kid and now I’m starting to hate them. I let the front desk know.

Sunday night 10pm: We return from dinner and no one has made my son’s bed. I accept defeat.

Monday morning: I order my eggs poolside, they come quickly and they are soft poached but in a terrine of egg water. I sigh and dump the water on the tray knowing that this is as close to satisfaction as I will ever get at the Viceroy. The girls have dressed up a bit and taken themselves to breakfast at the lobby restaurant, this is a treat for them.

I check out and the bill is for $3,500. Let that sink in.

We call for bell service and they don’t have proper bell trolleys. The very abbreviated version is that because they use a handcart (maybe the interior decorator didn’t want a corporate feel?) a bag with a bottle of wine and my brand new Chloe shoes broke. I dove through the broken glass and was able to save the shoes but my one week old Nike Free Runs are garbage, my bag is garbage and our bellman was stuttering and stammering and offering to replace everything. Mr. G and I were consoling him and explaining that it wasn’t his fault; it’s the hotel not having proper equipment. We were telling him how we absolutely were going to accept nothing from him (he was trying to make it better personally – maybe it was my shrieking My $600 shoes save them!) maybe other guests had demanded odd things of him before. Now we’re consoling the bellman, shoving $10 bills at him (yes, I’m still tipping it’s over 100 degrees and he’s working) and loading the car.

I go to find the girls as it’s been 20 minutes or so and they have nothing. Not even a glass of water. According to the waiter there was a party of 8 there before them. According to my girls they’d been there 15 minutes or more before the party of 8 came in.

We left. We paid. We had an absolutely lovely three days together in spite of the best efforts of everyone at the Viceroy Palm Springs.

And no, we won’t be back. Even for an admittedly delicious vodka drink.