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September 28, 2008|Valli Herman; Hugo Martin

A resort springs to life in Borrego

Something grand is about to bloom in the tiny desert town of Borrego Springs, and it's not a cactus flower. It's the Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa, formerly La Casa del Zorro resort, which was owned for 47 years by the Copley Press newspaper chain. The reborn site will operate as a luxury destination resort and spa focused on healthful but sometimes decadent living, said Joseph DeNucci, president and general manager. Why change the name? "We didn't want to relaunch something that never was," he said. "This isn't just a new and improved Casa del Zorro. We're doing something completely different." The property closed June 30 for renovation of the 44 poolside guest rooms and 19 private casitas. The $10-million price tag also included upgrading five swimming pools, six tennis courts and an archery range. The resort is scheduled to begin accepting guests in November, with a January grand opening. Info: (800) 824-1884.

-- Valli Herman

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Donner hike

This year's annual Donner Party hike will feature six routes and a presentation by Mark McLaughlin, a historian known as "the storm king," who will discuss weather and how it has shaped history in the Sierra Nevada in the last 30 years. The events, sponsored by the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, will feature hikes on Saturday, followed by a barbecue lunch and a lecture by McLaughlin. The events mark the catastrophe that became known as the Donner Party tragedy in the winter of 1846-47, when pioneers traveling west were stranded by snowstorms, cut off from provisions and struggled to survive -- some resorting to cannibalism. On Oct. 5, history buffs can join a more leisurely walking tour. Cost for the hikes, $45 per person; walking tour, $10 per person. Info: (530) 587-8808, www.truckee.com.

-- Hugo Martin

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Got budget tips?

In today's climate, saving a buck can mean the difference between making the trip and staying at home (and who wants to do that?), so we're asking for your help. We'd like to hear your best budget travel ideas, whether they involve how to save for a vacation, how to avoid blowing your budget on the road, where to find the best hotel rates or airfares, how to find good, inexpensive food or where to find fun, low-cost entertainment, either in the U.S. or abroad. To send us your ideas, go to latimes.com/budgettips. Please include your name and city of residence and phone number (the phone number is for verification only, not publication). If chosen, your tip will appear in the Oct. 26 Travel section.

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For more travel news, go to latimes.com/travelblog.

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