By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer
A nice hotel room can make or break a vacation. Sure you can crimp on a cheap room, but if you’re staying more than a couple nights, you may actually save money by going with a more expensive room.
After all, you’re on a vacation, one of the rare times you can wind down and relax. A shabby room will make you wish you stayed home.
So I was very pleasantly surprised with my room at the Westin Monache Hotel in Mammoth. It’s a hybrid between the regular rooms you would find at the Mammoth Inn and the really nice condos for rent in the Mammoth Village.
We opted for a studio suite because it featured a kitchenette. With 400 to 500 square feet of space, it’s perfect for one or two people. If you want even more space, consider a one-bedroom suite with 550 to more than 800 square feet of space.
The Westin Monache is having its biggest sale of the sale. If you book by June 27, you’ll get the best rates off the season, with up to 15 percent off your stay through Oct. 15.
Our studio suite runs from $149 a night or 12,000 Starwood Starpoints. The one bedroom costs only $25 more at $174 a night. A huge two-bedroom suite begins at $269 for a 1,000 square feet of space and fully-equipped kitchen.
We love rooms with kitchenettes for the cost and convenience. Jumping out bed, we can throw together a quick, healthy breakfast. I packed juice, cereal, yogurt, bread, jelly and oatmeal in a small cooler for a quick breakfast. There’s always coffee and tea in the rooms, in this case Starbucks coffee.
Of course, you can always order breakfast from room service. But you’ll pay more than $15 for an American breakfast with two eggs, potatoes, meat, toast, juice and beverage. Or $15 for a three-egg omelet.
Just do the math, if you can save $30 a day just on breakfast. Even more, if you bring some food for lunch.
Our kitchenette had state of the art appliances. including a little dishwasher under the counter. I’ve never seen such a small dishwasher, but anytime I can get out of washing the dishes, I’m happy.
The mini-fridge was pretty small, but it had an extra large frozen food section. I don’t always use it to make ice because it’s easier to get a bucket of ice down the hall.
A two-burner stove can easily handle basic cooking, while a large microwave oven sat right above. I was surprised by the kitchen cabinets, which offered a wealth of pots, pans and dishes. All neatly arranged for your use.
The studio suite was easily a couple steps above your average hotel room. The rugs and furniture were of a higher quality. Think a new home staged for an open house. I loved the little gas fireplace. It easily took the chill off the cool nights in the high Sierras. In fact, I could still see snow on the nearby mountain tops.
The fireplace works on a timer, so you can set it for a half-hour, hour or two-hours. That way, you can safely nod off with flickering flames lighting the room. But you have to ask a bellman to light the pilot light, which is turned off between stays to save energy.
I was immediately drawn by the huge window seat under a large picture window. I found myself snuggled up in the sunlight, listening to families splashing in the swimming pool five stories below.
This cozy nook became my refuge, giving me a great place to read one of my favorite books or newspapers. I felt like an eagle, resting in its nest up in the Ponderosa Pines.
Couldn’t watch the 32 inch LCD television from the window seat, but the couch or bed were fine for that. There’s also a nice easy chair by the fireplace.
The Heavenly bed was very comfortable. You can even request a Heavenly crib for the baby. There’s even a Heavenly dog bed if you want to bring Fido. There’s also a bewildering array of bedroom pillows, so you can spend some time finding the pillow that is just right for you.
As a resident of sunny Southern California, lighting is very important to me. I like my rooms bright and cheery. While my large picture window didn’t provide as much sunlight as I would have liked, other lighting made up the difference.
A trio of three-way lamps bracketed the bed and couch. A large chandelier lit the two-person table, while a spotlight illuminated a lovely desert print over the white fireplace. The kitchen offered cool florescent lights under the cabinets as well as two cans in the ceiling.
I appreciate when you can control the room lighting. Sometimes I want mood lighting so the fire stands out. Sometimes, I just want utilitarian lighting so I can see what I’m doing.
Soft lighting in the elegant bathroom kept the glare off the tiled walls to a minimum. A lovely wooden vanity with marble top offered open storage for towels and hairdryer in a little basket. The unusual bathtub was quite deep, but narrow. And water rushed out of the silver faucet as hot as you can stand it. A rain forest shower head gently sprays water.
There’s nothing like bundling up in the fresh, thick cotton robes to sit by the fire.
There was bit of a struggle finding enough storage for all the clothes we brought because we weren’t sure hot cool it would be. But we finally got everything in the three large drawers and small sliding door closet
Checking in was quick and easy with the friendly staff in the small elegant lobby. And Los Angeles drivers have a choice of valet or self parking. Check in is at 3 p.m., with a check out time of noon the next day.
Located on Hillside Drive, you shouldn’t be surprised to find the Westin Monache sitting on a little hill. You can walk down the street or use the stairs to cross over to the bars and restaurants in Mammoth Village. Take you time until you get used to the altitude.
The Westin also has a 24-hour fitness facility, as well as a lovely outdoor heated swimming pool.