As the thermometer climbs along with the price of fuel, the wheels of my mind are turning, trying to find fun and inexpensive activities for the traveler on a lean budget.
I found the perfect day trip for parents with teens or college students on a lean budget. I have a small group of friends looking forward to this little getaway.
One of the best-kept secrets is the pool at Pala Casino Spa and Resort, which has a great deal.
Swimmers can rent one of the 12 cabanas for $65 during the week and $85 on weekends, from 9 a.m. to noon or 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Or one can try the Complete Cabana Package, where for $100 on weekdays and $150 on weekends, one can enjoy the fun, poolside, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This includes a poolside luncheon for four.
The Spa and Cabana Package, at $230 per day, can be enjoyed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
With this package, one gets 25-minute neck and shoulder massages for two and lunch for two by the pool.
All cabana packages include up to12 beverages, already placed in the cabana's refrigerator. All cabanas are equipped with television, refrigerator, Internet modem access (not wireless access), a safe to store valuables, daily newspapers, ice and towels.
To rent the cabana you can do one of two things: get a room at the hotel or get a spa treatment. Here is a quick list of prices for parents and college graduates.
A basic haircut for men starts at $35. For women, the basic wash and cut starts at $45. The final price will depend on the length of hair and the style requested.
To reserve cabanas and spa time, call 877-946-7252 or telephone the spa directly at 760-519-2189.
Make sure to book both at the same time and remember to reserve the cabanas at least a week in advance during the summer months.
Another perk is the pool is a short walk away from "Choices Buffet." Choices is an apt name for the many decisions there are to be made regarding one’s meal.
The chilled seafood bar includes oyster on the half shell, shrimp and crab on ice. On some special nights, lobster is featured.
For my fellow meat-eaters, the prime rib and pork belly are prepared perfectly.
Choices is a lovely place for weekend brunch, where all the usual breakfast favorites can be found: From scrambled eggs, to specialty omelets, to Eggs Benedict.
It also features a large salad bar with homemade salad dressings and a variety of pasta, chicken and seafood salads.
For those who crave sweets, the dessert bar has more than 80 selections, including a guest favorite, the cheesecake lollipop.
You will note the chocolate sculptures that adorn the dessert area. These are the creation of pastry Chef Albert Cruz.
The property also has a coffee and dessert house featuring the Chef’s pastry talents for those of you unwilling to dive into the culinary “all you can eat” pool.
Alcohol is served at the casino bars and restaurants until 1:30 a.m. If you wish to have a Bloody Mary with your Sunday brunch, it costs $4.50 for the standard bar vodka.
Here’s a tip: if you sign up for a free Privileges card, your lunch price Monday thru Friday is about $15, rather than the standard $19 or so. Dinner costs about $20, rather than $25 and brunch is $17, instead of $21.
Choices buffet is run by Executive Chef Robert Camerota, past Chef of the Year in Bon Appétit Magazine.
Pala Casino Spa & Resort is at 11154 Hwy 76 in Pala.