It is fun to go back to a place I once lived and stay in a hotel like the Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert. The picture was taken from my room on the Presidential Suite floor looking down on the lobby. It was impossible to fit the entire lobby into the picture, but the water dock for the gondolas begins where the bottom of the picture ends. Yes, you can ride on boats that will take you on a waterway tour of the property, or take a boat ride to dinner at one of the restaurants.

This immense resort has lakes, a gorgeous spa, fairways and gardens; it is like a Shangari-La in the middle of the desert. The popular lobby bar is an impressive place to meet a date or business associate, with views of a water fountain and the waterway on one side and a resplendent Christmas tree on the other. There is a small Starbucks outpost and a small sushi bar adjacent to the main lobby, so you can grab some caffeine or a California Roll as you get your Champagne at the bar. Service was a bit slow during the holiday season, but it was friendly for the most part (aside from the bartenders who seemed to only be able to see waitstaff).

Rooms are spacious, with views of the green fairways or shimmering lake, and they come with all the fluffy towels, robes, and amenities you would expect from a 4 star resort, including an in room safe and mini-bar.

I have been to the Resort many times but this was the first time I paid for a room here and I bought my room through Priceline, offering $75 a night ($92 with tax). Buying my rate through Priceline worked out very well since I checked the price and found the same room was $199 a night as a MEMBER of the Marriott Rewards club through their resort website. The only fly in my Chardonnay for my stay here was the front desk Supervisor advised me of a MANDATORY $25 resort fee and $12 self parking fee which was in addition to my prepaid room rate. When I told her I did not want to use any of the included amenities covered by the resort fee, she removed the charge from my room (I did not even bring my laptop, so I could not use the wireless WiFi, and I did not even bring a bathing suit to be able to use the spa entry).

This resort is literally a self contained paradise with good restaurants, shops, spa, nightclub, cafe, and fairways all onsite; just be sure to bring along some nickels and dimes to pay for the fees they will add to your bill during your stay.