Yosemite National Park Travel Guide
For those of you who aren’t National Parks-savvy, we must formally announce that January is a Big Deal, event-wise, for the West Coast’s biggest NPS hotel name. Northern California's famous Yosemite National Park, and in specific the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel on the Yosemite Valley floor, has been drawing ever-bigger crowds and marquee-name chefs with its annual Yosemite’s Chefs' Holidays series, which runs for eight sessions in 2013. JustLuxe.com got a peek at the first session, which ran January 6-8, and there are seven more to go including the finale January 30-31. Look for the complete schedule on the Ahwahnee page.
The Ahwahnee, for those not familiar, was finished in 1927, and is a masterpiece of grandiose traditional Arts & Crafts architecture, with some Native American elements, plus vast sweeping interior lines that reflect the vast mountain outside. It's a Historic Hotel of America, and management company Delaware North has taken every measure to preserve that "You just stepped back 90 years in time" feeling. In the wintertime, this translates to traditional recreation activities like the Curry Village Ice Rink (opened November in 2012) and guided full moon snowshoe walks (starting January 23rd in 2013--rates around $415 per night).
We, however, prefer the newer tradition of Chefs' Holidays, in which chefs and winemakers and foodies from coast to coast get cozy and chatty, sipping all kinds of wine and whipping up delicious morsels and enjoying those chilly wintertime Glacier Point views through the window.
Staying at The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park will always be a memorable experience. For the folks that can cough up $500+ for a night's stay, they will have the memories of waking up to killer views of the park's granite Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point. Guests will also be sleeping inside a historic hotel, first built in 1927 (nearly prehistoric days for California) and designed during the Arts & Craft movement where everything had to be homemade. ("Machines are evil!" was the prevailing thought of this movement.)
Oh and if the hotel gets evacuated because of falling rocks behind it, that's even more memorable. Kinda. Three hundred guests at the hotel had to be evacuated yesterday after falling rocks, some as big as "microwave ovens", crashed into the hotel's valet parking lot.
A few winters ago, we got to go wine and dine during The Ahwahnee’s Chefs’ Holidays. We’d lived in California for nearly a decade and had never made it to Yosemite National Park. Although food and wine is a major motivator to get us to any destination, the prospect of experiencing one of the country’s greatest parks sans the thongs of summer tourists sounded way appealing. It was and now, we’re convinced that Yosemite National Park may be one of the best all-season, outdoor destinations in California.
So, we’re pretty psyched that The Ahwahnee just announced its 2009 season lineup for its Vintners’ Holiday (the wine-centric version of the Chefs’ Holiday) and we’re scheming ways to get in on the grape-fueled action.
The historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park may be unsafe in an earthquake, park officials have concluded. According to the Associated Press, a study revealed the hotel "does not meet modern seismic safety standards and risks partial collapse in a major earthquake." Yikes.
Built in 1927, the structure with reinforced-concrete walls may not be strong enough to keep guests safe during a large tremor.
Per the AP:
"Because of the localized structural failures, there is the potential for the loss of human lives," said the study by URS Corp., an engineering and construction company. "The extensive damage that is expected will likely cause the building to be evacuated after such an earthquake."
The retrofit options the consultants proposed would cost between $17.9 and $22.3 million, and would require the hotel to be left empty for two years. Park officials did not say Thursday whether they planned to follow those recommendations, but said the latest cost estimate for the project was in the $20 million range.
But one guest saw another scene in her hotel room:
The rooms ( $432.00 a night including tax ) are outdated and looked run down. Our bed sheets had many repairs made on them. When turning down the bed I found a few hairs in the bed. We had lots of ants in our room. They did not replace the toilet tissue, we had to go ask.
So despite staying at a luxury lodge, experiences like these remind you that you are still in the mountains among nature's friends...like ants.
The LA Times has a write-up of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Park, which was built in 1927 and features an interesting design combo of Art Deco, Native American, Middle Eastern and something called the Arts & Crafts Movement.
Whatever the combo, it works. The hotel has 99 rooms and a 95% year-round occupancy rate. But we are pretty sure that has something to do with the drop-dead gorgeous views it offers in the comfort of five-star luxury (think fluffy white robes, rose petals on the bed and champagne in your room).
An interesting fact about the hotel's history?:
The day after the hotel's opening night -- a private, complimentary celebration for an elite few on July 14, 1927-- hotel staff reported that the guests had stolen a remarkable number of pewter ink stands, valuable Indian baskets, rugs and even bedspreads. Much of the original décor remains, however -- items too large to steal, including linoleum walkways cut into Indian motif inlaid circles, wrought-iron chandeliers and furniture, and stained-glass windows in the Great Lounge.