If you are looking for a romantic getaway that will startle your loved one, the Ahwahnee hotel is the right kind of setting to do just that. In fact, almost every visitor, tourist who has been to this hotel nestled among Yosemite's natural wonders, remains very impressed and stays with their mouth open. They just could not believe that such two beauties could co-exist so well to complement and enhance each other's attraction and service. Such was my experience each time I go to Yosemite. Ever since the time I attended a conference at this hotel, I have remained humble in front of its rustic beauty, elegance and beauty. Living in the great Central Valley of California, I have always found it interesting to have such superb wonders in my backyard. That's the kind of jaw-dropping experience I want to introduce to my kids, family members and friends who visit me from time to time. Remember that you don't have to stay at the hotel to take in and appreciate its splendor. If costs are a concern, there are free interpretive tours that you can go on once you get there. It's worth taking part in them!
What will hit you first: The Ahwahnee's Exteriors
Where does the name come from?
Ahwahnee comes from the Miwok Indians who called Yosemite Valley "Ah wah ni." It loosely translates, "large gaping mouth." Just as I mentioned my experience above, this is the same kind of renaissance and enjoyment you will experience once you stand on the well-kept grounds of this hotel.
Even though Ahwahnee is celebrating its 75th year this Summer, it still stands and looks grand. In fact, since it was built in the 1920s, a few years after the National Park System came into existence, Ahwahnee has not ceased to exert its mystique on visitors' minds. The first things you are going to notice are its massive steep, granite stones and concrete. Until you get close to the six-story, three-wing hotel, you will tend to believe that you are looking at the exterior walls made of redwood. According to the history books, this hotel was built on the site of a large stable. There is no doubt that there is some type blending of the exteriors with the rustic environments in which it settles.
Rooms: There is no bad room in this huge hotel
Once you get inside, you will have a new appreciation for space and view. In fact, based on the tours that I have been on, I can tell you that if you choose to spend a few nights there, you won't feel disappointed at all by staying in a bad room. No such things exist. To the credit of the hotel's management team, it is said that there is no big difference between what the rooms look like before and now. In fact, the rooms on the main floor look the same as when the hotel opened on July 14, 1927.
I can easily remember the ornaments, the geometric designs, adorn borders, beams, rugs and stained glass windows of most rooms. With my group, I was standing right in the dining room looking out the windows while paying attention to the tour guide. The room that impressed me the most was the Great Lounge that truly reminds you of the 17-century era and aura of elegance and pomp. Just take a look at the oak tables, writing desks etc.
Ahwahnee attracts celebrities as well as dignitaries from near and afar
Ahwahnee continues to play its magic in the minds of many famous visitors. In the 1950s, the "I Love Lucy" stars stayed at the hotel. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball truly had a ball at the Great Lounge. They stayed there while they were filming scenes for the movie, "The Long, Long Trailer."
Ask any tour guide or concierge or hotel employee, the list of the names of past, current celebrities who have stayed at the hotel won't seem to stop. Well, for confidentiality reasons, some of them may hesitate a while. Once they remember that most of them have volunteered to sign the hotel's register, they will start talking. On any good day, they will tell you about Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, Humphrey Bogart, Shirley Temple, Boris Karloff, Judy Garland, Clint Eastwood, Charlie Chaplin, Bing Crosby, Mel Gibson, Charlton Heston.
In 1983, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip stayed at the hotel's sixth floor. President John F. Kennedy, his family members and his entourage stayed there. All of these people are attracted to the hotel for its great views and environments.
Service and costs
You can expect to find the kind of service offered to patrons at upscale hotels. In fact, for the type of money you are willing to pay, you can expect superb services. The employees, bellmen are very nice and helpful. They are good with children as well as elderly visitors. They will help you get to your room and make sure that you have everything you need for your stay. Keep in mind that the rooms start at $336.00. Most of them get filled out way ahead of time. At any given time, you will be sure to meet vacationers from other countries, mostly European countries. Tourists from Japan and Korea can be found there too. You can hear many languages around the 350-seat hotel dining room. You can always buy a ticket and join the crowd for this elegant dinner. Many companies organize special functions there. I attended two conferences there. If you are around Yosemite for the Christmas season, you will not want to miss the Yorkshire Christmas dinner-pageant. Tickets are hard to find if you want till the last minute though. But it would be such a treat to your partner if you could leave your tent and head out to the hotel for this high-spirited meeting.
Ahwahnee hotel has Yosemite all over it
From the exteriors to the interiors of the hotel, you will be immersed in a great journey that will soothe and appeal all your senses. If you just want to enjoy the cool mountain breeze and sun, just head out to the back patio. Soak up as much sunshine as you want and feel reinvigorated and ready to head back home. More importantly, you will be in awe once you get into your rooms.
If you go to Yosemite National Park, Ahwahnee is a must-see place.