This is where things get interesting and my well designed plans had to change at the last minute. When I designed the itinerary it all looked hunky dory on paper but in reality maybe not so much.
First of all after sitting in heavy traffic around LA we finally made it to the Four Seasons Aviara Resort, located north of San Diego and just outside the centre of Carlsbad. This proved to be a lovely resort and just what we needed for some chill out time in the sun. I have to be honest, I wasn't taken with Carlsbad, maybe it just wasn't what I was expecting. I had in my mind a quaint little beach town but instead this is a busy spot with a main road running through it. The beach we visited didn't live up to expectations either. The Four Seasons Aviara sits next to the Park Hyatt Aviara which was impressive and we very much enjoyed a bite to eat from the bar menu. Pizza Port was a novel place to eat in Carlsbad. You order a pizza and then pick up your beer separately from the bar before finding a seat on the communal wooden tables. No shortage of atmosphere here, it was absolutely buzzing! Spending the time mostly relaxing in resort, after four nights it was time to move on to Palm Springs.
Hilarious, the curse strikes again. How can it rain in the desert in the middle of the summer. Well it can and it did. Arriving at the newly opened Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage (see my review here) the heavens opened and we literally sat on our terrace in disbelief. Time to make a trip to the Outlet Village. Thank goodness the next day this stunning resort was once again bathed in glorious desert sunlight and a day by the pool was in order. I can definitely recommend Aloha Hour at Roy's in Rancho Mirage, great value drinks and delicious bar snacks. Palm Springs is another place that surprised me. It was much bigger than I had anticipated and split into various desert cities of which Rancho Mirage was one. I wish we had stayed longer here but after two nights it was time to leave.
Setting off early to head up to the Grand Canyon we hit a huge traffic jam. This part of the journey was always going to be dubious. It was a long drive to stay over for one night. Sitting on the interstate it had to be a quick decision, would we make it in time for sunset? Deciding we wouldn't, it was a quick turnaround and off to Vegas instead. I was very impressed with the Mandarin Oriental (review to come) who immediately rearranged our reservation and added on an extra night. With the power of the internet I then cancelled the hotel we were supposed to be staying in at the Grand Canyon.
I think it would be true to say I have never seen anything like Vegas. My husband warned me beforehand that I might not like the madness of it but it just made me laugh. I mean where else do you see a couple in full superman outfits with no one batting an eyelid. Only in Vegas! I did enjoy the serenity of the Mandarin Oriental which offered a calm oasis in the middle of all the chaos. Love by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage Hotel is definitely worth a visit. Great music, dance and acrobatics add up to a stunning show. Obviously restaurants in Vegas are plentiful, Julian Serrano at the Aria had my vote although the air conditioning was harsh.
And so the road trip ends. It was a shame not to see the Grand Canyon, maybe we should have taken a helicopter flight from Vegas. No regrets. But even after changing plans, it certainly provided a memorable trip. Now just a few nights in New York before the flight home but that's another story...