Sunday, January 01, 2006

Palm Springs on $77!

Itching for an end of year vacation with no funds to support this last minute, last hurrah of 2005, Meriam, Chaya and I started researching destination options the day we were set to take off...somewhere. Displaying our superior time management &/or procrastination skills, it took us 5hrs between planning our trip and arriving to our final destination.

A quick accessment of "last minute deals!" on the usual travelocity, expedia and pleasant holidays sites proved $1100 for 3 day advance Hawaii and Mexico packages weren't that much of a deal, and more importantly, a 3 day advance wasn't that much of 'last minute' when we were looking the day of. Discarding our wishful thinking for finding a cheap vacation at a far-flung locale during peak holiday season, we settled for a more budget-friendly road trip.
Rains up north and no realiable car for a trek beyond a two hour driving radius left us with Santa Barbara, San Diego,Temecula (apparently filled with Napa-esque wineries but we couldn't sell ourselves on the idea of vacationing in 909-adjacent territory) or Palm Springs.

We wanted sun, spa, relaxation and maybe an outdoor activity to feel less guilty for all the nutritious gas station snacks we'd be wolfing down during our car ride. Fitting our criteria, announced Palm Springs was 70's and sunny, and the visitor's bureau reassured us the desert town was packed with spas, sun-drenched poolsides & cheapo but decent, 'non-backpacker living conditions' motels galore. An online brochure declared the aerial tram taking visitors up thousands of feet up the shrub'n'dirt-covered desert mountains to a hidden oasis of hiking trails through NoCal-worthy pine trees, waterfalls and picturesque green vistas was a 'must see!' Sold!

Our online search found us the Caliente Tropics Resort Motel. Our 2 1/2 star, Tiki-inspired find looked adorably '50's Palm Springs kitchsy, was well-maintained with a pool and spa treatments on premises and located 1 mile from downtown Palm Springs. Regular double rooms started at $125 but their Deluxe King Room was $44/night-Caliente deal indeed. For $15 per person, we decided we could definitely squeeze three onto a bed--or even extravagantly splurge with a extra $15 sleeping cot.

To the desert!

Two nights accommodations: $37.20 per person
Gas: $18 per person
Aerial tram ride and hiking trail map: $21 + $1
Grand total: $77.20!

Plenty of savings leftover for a post-hiking spa treatment (Tropic's Brown Sugar Scrub Rub-Down), Las Casuelas Terraza's mango margaritas (skip the bland food for another margarita) and a new wardrobe of discounted duds at the Cabazon Outlet Mall.

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