Omni Hotel & Resort | Rancho Las Palmas
I chose the location for our mini Spring Break-within-a-Spring-Break more or less randomly: I googled “best hotels for families in Southern California,” which led me to learn about what a Lazy River was, which led me to the website for the Omni Hotel in Rancho Las Palmas – right outside Palm Springs, and just a three-hour drive from our house.
So I booked two nights at the Omni, and now I am going to tell you all about this place, because it’s glorious. I had such a good time, in fact, that I took only a handful of photos – hence the sadly sparse photo coverage below. But I think, on balance, that speaks (very) well for the place.
I booked a single King bed because what, like they weren’t going to sleep with me anyway? The rooms are pretty basic – but clean. I loved the beds – they had poufy, fabulous pillows and a not-too-heavy, not-too-light comforter.
I booked the room with the lamest view (essentially a mini patio with a view of…a hedge) because I figured we’d spend next-to-no time there, and I was right – although if my kids were slightly older and more independent I would have absolutely splurged on a poolside room with a balcony, so I’d be able to keep an eye on them without fighting for a deck chair.
This is clearly the main draw of the Omni: an on-site water park that features two water slides, a big, shallow main pool, a mini “beach,” a splash-play area, and a Lazy River, where you can spend hours floating along in your inner tube, happy as a sunburned little clam (I got sunburned, obviously).
First, the cons: The deck chairs fill up fast. If you’re planning to spend the day camped out there, your best bet is to get there fifteen minutes or so before the gates open at 9AM so you can get on line (really) to grab a couple of the shady spots by the Lazy River or main pool. You’ll be able to find something later on, but on the day we showed up late we were relegated to a single deck chair in the full sun next to a bug-filled bush, and it was not pleasant.
But here is why I’m so obsessed with Splashtopia: Because it’s exactly big and exciting enough to keep kids entertained for days…but not so big and exciting that it freaks out parents of little ones. You simply can’t really get lost, or in especially major trouble. My kids took huge strides in terms of their independence on this trip, because there were so many lifeguards present – and the space was so nicely contained – that I felt comfortable letting them go off an adventure on their own for a bit, because a) I could almost always see them anyway, even if they couldn’t see me, and 2) the layout of the park is such that they could easily come back and find me whenever they wanted. It was super cool – and meant that I got to go on waterslides and float around with them a ton, but also got to read a book (!).
As a sidenote, the cabanas – which you can rent by the day – look like a great option for groups. I saw lots of families vacationing with other friends with kids. (And might have gotten a little sad about this…but then I went down the waterslide again, and got over it.)
The Other Activities:
Of course, Splashtopia isn’t the only feature of the resort – there’s also (allegedly) an adult pool, a golf course, and as a couple of bars, but I didn’t get to check those out for obvious reasons. I did, however, sample the more kid-friendly activities, such as the arts & crafts sessions, the ping-pong tables, and – coolest of all – the nightly outdoor movie screening, during which you can float around in the pool or hang in the hot tub while you watch.
I also did a lot of wandering around the completely spectacular grounds – especially at dusk, when they were pure magic.
Little weirdos being weird
The food was good! Like, surprisingly good, considering that the bulk of what I ate was served poolside with little packets of ketchup as accompaniment. In the reviews I’d read before booking the hotel a lot of people complained about the service by the pool, but I found it to be no problem at all (I mean, unless you’re a total jerk who wants what he wants NOW, and can’t wait a hot second).
The on-site restaurants were a much more upscale alternative to the grill by the pool – there’s live music, stunning views, and food that’s as good as any hotel cuisine I’ve had.
Well, yes: it’s expensive (although admittedly, it’s probably at its most expensive during Spring Break). I picked Tuesday and Wednesday nights because they were the cheapest, but this still ran me about $400 a night, not including food and activities and such (Splashtopia is included, but things like arts & crafts aren’t).
But you know what else is expensive? Going to a waterpark. And the fact that everything we wanted to do, and eat, and drink was right there – plus the fact that the resort was seriously beautiful and gave me that magical I’m On Vacation feeling whenever I was strolling the grounds, hanging with baby ducklings or sitting by fire pits or just watching the moon rise through the impossibly tall palms – made it feel not just “worth it,” but beyond. For a full-family experience with a luxe vibe, the Omni seems pretty unbeatable.