Palm Springs Weekend: Day 1
Palm Springs holds a special spot in my heart. Although I am normally not fond of extremely hot and humid weather, Palm Springs brings back memories of my youth – shirtless in pool parties and dance floors; drinking and eating wantonly with no physical (fat) manifestation; and meeting tons of new friends. That was the past, and the present is so distinct: I am almost never shirtless (or in attendance) at pool parties; and the dance floors my feet touch are mainly from weddings. Two things remain though: I still meet new friends and I still eat (good food) and drink (wine) in wanton disregard for the calories that no longer just effortlessly evaporate.
My sisters love Palm Springs, and I am, by default affected and involved by their love for the city. In the past few years’ visit with family, we stayed at hotels and our activities centered on downtown and the Palm Springs tramway. This year, we decided to visit Palm Springs for my sister’s birthday on Memorial Day weekend. She had a simple1 wish: All she wanted to do was relax and be with family… in the most beautiful celebrity house with a pool, jacuzzi, and a view of the mountains.
She got her wish: Movie star weekender quality on a movie star cost, naturally. Although my other sister and I at first politely protested, we simply relaxed to it (as it wasn’t our birthday weekend) and at the end of it all, one must choose what brings happiness. But a valuable lesson – happiness could be more affordable, especially when one plans ahead of time.
For trips not in close proximity to Wine Country, we normally bring our own wine bar with us. Most of the wines we brought flew in with me from Northern California or the Central Coast: Mondavi, Peju, Berghold, Franciscan, and San Antonio Winery wines made it to Palm Springs via LAX. My sister and brother-in-law brought some of their Wine Club stash from South Coast Winery. The birthday celebrant brought wines she purchased at Target because of their pretty color and bottle design. Thou shall not judge.2
As loyal patrons, we love dining at Fleming’s whenever the city we’re visiting has one. I asked for a nice corner table and got a good spot indoors, but of course we ended-up asking to be seated outdoors where it was a bit balmy. My sister wanted a “true Palm Springs feel”4 and so outside we went. The General Manager was accommodating and we were seated in our new table in a few minutes. There was only one other couple seated outdoors at the time of our movement, and throughout the night, in fact, only one other table was occupied in our area.
My initial fear in seating in an area almost exclusively our own was being forgotten by our server, especially since he was managing other tables inside. Sure enough, there was a wait for his arrival, for the decanter to arrive, for the bubbly to be chilled, for our order to be taken and served, and for dessert to arrive. Although we were initially tolerant and relaxed about our reaction to the service since we were in no hurry, patience eventually wore off and we had to speak with the General Manager. We tried to avoid this, however, we reached a point of no return when an unexpected inefficiency in service dramatically affected our dining experience. Fortunately, the General Manager was exceptional in his commitment to customer service. He listened, he understood, and he made amends. And all the stars were in their proper order again… well, eventually.
Fleming’s makes fine dining in value possible and permissible. They maintain an aura of elegance, while still projecting an approachable way to experience fine dining. What makes the dining experience even more spectacular at Fleming’s is that most of the locations we have visited, especially Beverly Hills (and now Palm Springs) have management that are truly committed to excellent customer service.