A Desert Oasis
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
Story and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Greg Aragon
ince opening in 2004, the luxurious hotel at Morongo Casino Resort &
Spa has become an icon in the desert. Standing 27 stories tall, the
giant sweeping structure is an oasis of relaxation, casino fun, and
I recently snuck away to Morongo for a memorable day
and night of spa indulgence, poolside lounging, shrimp fajitas, blackjack
and much more.
Morongo Casino is an oasis in the Palm Springs Desert
My getaway began when a friend and I rounded a bend
on the 10 Freeway just west of Palm
Springs and saw the majestic casino tower protruding from the desert
floor. The next thing we knew, we were checking into a gorgeous suite
overlooking the San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountain ranges and desert
landscape surrounding Palm Springs.
Located on 19th floor, the suite came with a big comfy
king bed, mini bar, large flat screen TV, office area with free wireless
Internet, and a big window overlooking the desert valley. The room also
featured a beautiful bathroom with a walk-in glass shower.
Our suite featured a luxurious bathroom with walk-in
Besides our quarters, the resort features 310 deluxe
rooms and suites, and six secluded casitas next to Oasis Pool. All rooms
are softly colored in desert hues and beautifully appointed with quality
hardwood furniture and artwork. They offer free high-speed Internet,
two phone lines, 27-in. plasma TV and mini bar.
After checking into the room, my first order of business
was a visit to the resorts Sage Spa. Named after the fragrant
white sage that grows throughout the hills and canyons on Morongo Indian
Reservation, the spa offers 14 treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi
and cold dip to pamper yourself.
Sage Spa is named for the fragrant white sage that
grows in the local hills and canyons
I choose a stimulating deep-tissue massage. The 50-minute
rub left my muscles loose and my entire body rejuvenated and prepared
me for an incredible lunch at T&T -Tacos Taquila restaurant.
Located next to Sage Spa, T&T is an exotic delectable
world of vibrant colors and delicious aromas. The place was created
by renowned chef Richard Sandoval and T&Ts Executive Chef
Saul Ortiz to give diners an authentic Mexican cuisine experience with
dishes such as classics like carne asada, al pastor and alambre tacos.
Our meal included shrimp ceviche with citrus broth,
anise tomato, tomatillo, cilantro, sesame seeds; and an appetizer platter,
with chicken tamale, shrimp quesadilla, nachos, beef flautas, guacamole.
This was followed by shrimp fajitas and traditional carne asada with
steak, chile morita salsa and poblano rajas.
We washed it all down with couple tasty and powerful
Pineapple Margaritas with Herradura Silver Tequila and Dutch Orange
Curaçao, shaken with fresh lime and pineapple juice, and mixed
with Monin pineapple chipotle syrup, and a dash of Tabasco chipotle
Morongos Oasis Pool is the place to be wet
fun in the sun
After lunch we relaxed on the banks of Morongos
South Pacific Islands-inspired Oasis Pool and Water Park. Here, with
warm sun rays shining down, we sprawled on a sandy beach, napping, crawling
in and out of the heated pool and sipping iced tea. The area also offers
two spas and an exciting waterslide and lazy river.
Back at the room, I changed into my James Bond sports
coat and then hit the 150,000-sq. ft. casino. Featuring 2,000 slot machines
and 85 table games, Morongo Casino is the next best thing to Las
Vegas and its a lot closer. While here I played blackjack
and my friend hit the quarter slots. After an hour of gambling, we took
our $20 winnings up the elevator to the 27th floor of the resort, where
we experienced Cielo, Morongo's signature restaurant.
Morongo Casino boasts 2,000 slot machines and 85
Photo Courtesy Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
Sparkling high above the desert floor, Cielo is visually
stunning, with large windows overlooking the desert and chandeliers
that change colors throughout the evening to echo the brilliant oranges,
blues, purples and golds of the nightly sunset.
The Pacific Coast steak and seafood restaurant celebrates
an eclectic Californian fare. Our dinner began with apple martinis and
crab cakes, followed by a giant porcupine shrimp with saffron
basil tomato risotto appetizer.
Sparkling high above the desert floor, Cielo is
steak and seafood restaurant
For the main course I had memorable San Francisco-styled
Cioppino seafood stew with halibut, prawns, mussels, clams, lobster
scallops, and crab in a tasty tomato broth, served with sour dough bread.
I am a big fan of this soup and this rendition holds its own against
most that I've sampled.
Morongo lights up the desert night in brilliant
My friend went with the pan seared Chilean Seabass,
with grilled asparagus, potato puree, lemon beurre blanc and capers.
Tender and fresh as the ocean, the fish was perfect and went well with
a white wine. While eating we watched the sunset behind San Gorgonio
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa is located at 49500
Seminole Dr. Cabazon, 92230. For more info and reservations, visit www.morongocasinoresort.
com or call (800) 252-4499.
Springs Aerial Tramway; Fall
Fun in Santa Monica; 4
Seasons Hotel, Westlake Village; The
Grand del Mar; San
Luis Obispo; Palm
Springs Aviation Museum