The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho MirageAug 19th, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage recently re-opened after what amounted to countless delays and an almost eight-year closure. A few years prior to its shuttering, when it was known as The Lodge at Rancho Mirage, the resort hosted the nuptials of Bachelorette Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, and I had been itching to stalk it ever since. The Grim Cheaper and I had actually stayed at the property a couple of times, long before Trista and Ryan’s wedding and long before I ever had a blog, but, unfortunately I never took any pictures, so, for me, the grand unveil could not come soon enough. When the hotel finally did re-open a few months ago, I ran right out to stalk it. Sadly though, it no longer looks anything like it did when Trista and Ryan tied the knot there a little over a decade ago.
The 24-acre resort located at 68900 Frank Sinatra Drive was originally constructed in 1988 as the seventh hotel in the Ritz-Carlton chain. In 2001, it was sold to Vail Resorts, Inc. and was renamed The Lodge at Rancho Mirage. The décor and design largely remained the same as it was during the Ritz days. During that time, the property was awarded several distinctions, including one of the Top 500 Hotels in the World by Travel + Leisure, one of the Top 100 Golf Resorts in North America by Condé Nast Traveler, and Highest Rated Resort, Palm Springs Area by ZAGAT. Despite the success, Vail Resorts sold The Lodge to Gencom in 2005. The site was shuttered the following year and arrangements made to fully renovate it and re-open it once again as a Ritz. Things did not go according to plan, though, and the project was halted in 2008 when Lehman Brothers, which was backing the renovation financially, filed for bankruptcy. The property was subsequently left vacant for the next five years until a new development company stepped in. Construction resumed in 2013 and, after several delays, the redesign was finally unveiled this past May.
That redesign turned out to be a complete gutting. Sadly, the resort no longer resembles its former self in the slightest. And while the remodel is undeniably beautiful, I much preferred the look of the place in its old state.
I am of the opinion that a hotel should embrace the city it is located in. If I am staying in a hotel in New York, I want to know I’m in New York. If I check into a resort in Seattle, I want to know I’m in Seattle. While some desert elements were incorporated into the new design of the Ritz, nothing about it says “Palm Springs” to me. The place has more of a generic feel. Walking through the lobby, I felt as if I could have been anywhere – Arizona, Pasadena or even Hawaii for that matter.
I was completely obsessed with the hardwood flooring, though. Gorge!
The outside remodel was also disappointing. The resort’s exterior space used to be much more open, with green rolling lawns as far as the eye could see. Today, the property is partitioned into several different areas and, while each section is beautiful, I prefer a sprawling look.
One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the view. The Ritz, which sits atop a 650-foot bluff, still boasts some of the best panoramas in the entire Coachella Valley.
Trista and Ryan’s wedding, which was televised by ABC (of course), took place on December 6th, 2003. The lavish affair cost a reported $4 million, with some 30,000 roses flown in from Ecuador and Holland for the occasion. The Lodge was shut down to the public for a whopping four days during the event. You can check out some photographs of the nuptials here.
The couple was married on The Lodge’s east lawn, in a spot adjacent to the resort’s popular wedding gazebo. Sadly, that gazebo, and the entire lawn area, in fact, were dismantled during the renovation. The former location of the gazebo is denoted with a pink arrow in the image below and the area where Trista and Ryan’s nuptials took place is denoted with a pink “X.” You can check out some photographs of what the east lawn used to look like here.
That same spot post-remodel is pictured below. While it used to consist of a large sprawling lawn, today it is made up of a pool . . .
. . . and a large AstroTurf (I know, gross!) lounge area.
It is also now surrounded by hotel wings on three sides (one of the wings is a new addition) and, therefore, not as open as it once was.
Trista and Ryan are hardly the only celebs to have stayed at the resort. A few of the other luminaries who have walked the halls include Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, former president Gerald Ford, John Travolta, Bruce Springsteen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kathy Ireland.
On an exciting side-note – this Thursday morning at 8 a.m. PST, I will be a guest on my favorite desert radio show, “The Bill Feingold Show Featuring Kevin Holmes” on K-News 94.3. (That’s me with Bill “Bulldog” Feingold below.) You can listen to it live online here.
For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Los Angeles magazine online. And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, aka the place where Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter got married, is located at 68900 Frank Sinatra Drive in Rancho Mirage. You can visit the resort’s official website here.