RANCHO MIRAGE, CA-Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. opened a new timeshare resort Tuesday (Dec. 10) next to the Westin Mission Hills Resort.

The new property is called the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Villas, offering weekly time-shares in this community near Palm Springs.

The resort is the first Westin-branded vacation timeshare in California and the fourth that Starwood has built or under construction, according to Raymond L. “Rip” Gellein Jr., chairman and co-chief executive officer of Starwood Vacation Ownership Inc.

The new resort occupies just over 20 acres and will feature 158 two-bedroom villas, each with full kitchens, separate living room and dining room, and a whirlpool tub. The first phase, which opened Tuesday, includes 16 villas, with a second phase of 40 villas due to open in January and the balance to open in late 2003 and in 2004.

The Westin resort overlooks the Mission Hills Golf Course and when completed will feature a family pool with a water slide, a separate children’s only pool, an adult pool, private cabanas, restaurant and bar. The property will become part of a newly formed Starwood Vacation Network (SVN), an exchange program that gives members access to other Sheraton and Westin time-shares.

The new property is the latest in a series of new resorts and time-shares either opened or under way in and around Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs and other Coachella Valley communities. Among the others is a development approved for 242 villas, 40 of which are built, at Cimmaron Resort in Palm Springs; and a 255-time-share development called Star Canyon Resort that is planned for Palm Springs.

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