High above the city, in a breathtakingly beautiful spot, the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz- Carlton, Rancho Mirage stand poised. The wait was longer than anticipated, but now that renovation of this esteemed luxury resort is complete, the Ladies and Gentlemen in its employ welcome the opportunity to serve ladies and gentlemen from near and far. “We have a purpose,” says Doug Watson, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, “and that purpose is the genuine care and comfort of our guests. It is our highest mission.”
The renaissance of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage bestows even more cachet on a city already steeped in superlatives. Tennis, golf, and spa enthusiasts have long flocked to this well-managed, scenic desert community and now have even more reason to do so. Guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage as well as the greater community are invited to dine at the resort’s signature restaurant — State Fare Bar & Kitchen — whimsically named for its strict reliance on natural ingredients from California farms. This fall, The Edge steakhouse opens on the property, featuring an upscale dining experience and unparalleled views of the valley. “Rancho Mirage is distinguished by having, once again, the only five-star resort in our valley,” says Mayor Iris Smotrich.
As it is with many desert hotels, corporate meetings are an important part of The Ritz-Carlton’s value proposition. “What gives us a degree of separation is our tailoring,” says Watson. “Our Ladies and Gentlemen provide genuine care and comfort in a refined and relaxed manner so that the learnings and outcomes of these meetings can take place differently. We know from studies that if we perform well, the end user will have a better result and the return on investment, for them, will be much higher.” The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage takes great care to protect patrons’ privacy as well. An illustration would be the boardroom with its own private elevator that allows meeting attendees to come and go discreetly.
The vision of The Ritz-Carlton brand is to create life’s most meaningful journeys. It is what the carefully selected and extraordinarily trained employees of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage strive to do for all guests of the resort. “We are Ladies and Gentlemen who serve ladies and gentlemen,” Watson says. “That’s our motto.” Staff is the most important resource in the hotel’s service commitment. “You can have a nice view, but unless it’s enabled by our Ladies and Gentlemen, then it’s irrelevant. That’s the way The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage sees the world,” Watson concludes.
Meanwhile, slightly further down the road, the community’s view of a key shopping center is about to change. Local residents and seasonal visitors have been frequenting the venerable Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center at the corner of Bob Hope Drive and Highway 111 for years. While the exodus of Vons may have decreased the number of times people actually need to stop in, destinations like CVS Pharmacy, Wells Fargo bank and the many other neighborhood-serving businesses on the premises remain a big draw. Still, there’s no question room for improvement exists and the good news is the shopping experience at Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center will soon be significantly enhanced.
Recently, the property was acquired by an affiliate of Paragon Commercial Group out of El Segundo, California. Although a relatively young company, Paragon’s management team is a seasoned group of developers who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. They’ve handled projects in communities like Brea, Fullerton, Vista, Seal Beach, San Marcos, San Pedro, and Santa Barbara, many of which entailed redevelopment of neighborhood shopping centers. They’re no stranger to the desert either, having successfully developed the new Walmart Neighborhood Market at Fred Waring and Highway 111 and a Provident Bank in La Quinta.
“We’ve been analyzing the Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center for about four years now,” says Erwin Bucy, principal of Paragon. “We’re familiar with the trade area and recognize the quality of the location. We’ve come to know the needs and wants of the tenants.” Paragon prides itself on being a relationshipdriven company and it was their solid relationship with CVS that proved integral during initial project negotiations.
During any remodeling project, there’s bound to be disruption. No way around it. Yet shoppers fearing a gap in their ability to patronize this particular CVS Pharmacy can put those worries aside. One of the reasons Paragon has proven to be such a great fit is their particular expertise in redeveloping existing shopping centers with operating tenants. For most occupants, Paragon ensures business as usual while their surroundings are undergoing a major facelift. Although the CVS will be relocating to a more prominent position fronting Highway 111, the old location will continue to operate until the day the new store (complete with drive-thru!) is open and ready for business.
The glide up to that most welcome CVS Pharmacy drive-thru window will be aided by a new access point leading into the shopping center from Highway 111. This convenient new entry and exit is critical to improved circulation within the development and will benefit both shoppers and tenants. Demolition of certain structures up front will open the line of sight to anchor stores situated farther back on the property and exciting new retailers have signed up for the opportunity. Rancho Mirage residents can look forward to gaining a Hobby Lobby and a Stein Mart that in Bucy’s opinion will be very positive additions to the development. “A great shopping center has a balance of local, regional, and national merchants — the mix is essential,” he says.
“It has been a privilege to work with Paragon on this long-awaited enhancement of the Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center. When completed, this updated shopping, service, and dining destination will rival any in our valley,” says Council Member Ted Weill.
Changes are in store for neighboring restaurant and theater complex The River as well. It was recently sold and plans are being developed for its refurbishment. All these wonderful upgrades and additions prompt a certain civic pride. Fortunately, the city of Rancho Mirage has the foresight and patience to prevail.
— June Allan Corrigan
G. Dana Hobart
Richard W. Kite, Charles Townsend, Ted Weil