Outdoor activities are the primary reason people head to Mammoth Lakes, California. Skiing and snow sports in the winter and hiking, biking, fishing, and other outdoor recreation in the summer. I headed there for neither of those things – I was there to attend a small conference – and still found the area full of spectacular scenery with a laid back mountain charm. The Westin Monache Resort is located at the foot of Mammoth Mountain, a well-regarded ski destination, and in the midst of the shops, restaurants, and bars of the Village at Mammoth. It’s a casual vibe that is the perfect blend of mountain charm and Westin luxury.
If a ski chalet grew up and sprouted several dozen rooms, it approximates the ambiance of the Westin Mammoth. The circular driveway drops you off at the front door and a lobby full of lodge-like charm. The lobby is attractively decorated, has chairs and couches for seating, and also has amply stocked fresh water and glasses. BUT – and this is a big one in my book – there’s no fireplace. A mountain resort needs a fireplace in its lobby!
Check in was smooth as silk and I was then directed to another table to check in for my event, pick up my gift bags, and get the meeting itinerary. Then it was off to my room to get settled in.
I stayed in a deluxe studio suite, the entry-level priced room, with a King bed (Heavenly, as Westins are known for) and a double sofa bed that wasn’t used. The room was a melange of rustic mountain lodge decor with accents of color. Think wood and neutrals with a pop here and there of color.
Room highlights for me were a full kitchen (two burners, microwave oven, refrigerator, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, and most small appliances that you could possibly want), a gas fireplace (yes, I turned it on even though it was pushing 80 degrees outside), and a large window seat, perfect when I wanted to read for awhile, but it was also large enough for a child or small adult to sleep there and look out at the stars. I don’t think it’s billed as a sleeping area, but if you’re traveling with a family, it’s an option to consider.
The bathroom had the usual upscale Westin amenities and products, along with a rain shower and a hand-held shower wand. One frustration, however, was limited counter space. The only place that I could put my toiletry and makeup bags were on the back of the toilet, and even then they didn’t quite fit and fell off frequently.
Many guests took advantage of the hotel’s pet-friendly policy. Every time I left my room – for a meal, to attend an event, to walk around a bit outside – I ran into guests with dogs. The pups seemed to be enjoying their stay as much as their owners. A lot of hotels are pet-friendly, it seemed like the Westin Mammoth embraced the policy more than I’ve seen in other places with information about how to have a great dog-cation.
For guests unwinding at the hotel, there is an outdoor pool, two hot tubs alongside, and spa/fitness area, and workout room.
It’s an easy walk to Mammoth Village, down the stairs at the hotel, across a courtyard, down another set of stairs and across the street. The gondola for the mountain is also right there. If you’re unable to navigate the walk or wish to venture a little farther away, a complimentary hotel shuttle is available. You won’t always want to cook in your kitchen.
I had dinner and drinks one evening in the hotel restaurant, Whitebark which combines traditional menu items with a creative and tasty flare. The restaurant and bar have an open layout, giving a spacious feel to Whitebark. The 30-something-year-old chef brings his Filipino heritage and his California background to the flavors on the menu. I highly recommend the Burrata and Proscuitto salad, as well as the Brussel Sprouts.
Mixing up your menu choices, there are lots of restaurants in the Village, including some good ethnic choices.
While I visited Mammoth and stayed at the Westin during the summer season, the area is very well known for its skiing and snow activities. I took the gondola to the top of the mountain and was impressed with what it looks like during the summer; I can only imagine the challenge of heading down once there’s snow on the ground.
During the ski season, typically November to June, the hotel offers ski and snowboard rentals and can book lift tickets and lessons for guests. The property offers a ski valet that will take care of your skis, pick them up when you’re heading out, drop them off when you return. It will keep your room clutter and snow free.
Also offered seasonally in the evening, is the Westin Kids Club for kids 4-12 years of age, A variety of arts and crafts, games, videos, and other activities are provided under close adult supervision. It’s a chance for the adults to plan an evening of night skiing or just a little break away from family togetherness.
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If you’re flying into Mammoth, you’ll arrive at Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) with flights from southern California and also the Bay area. Commercial flight service is limited, at the time of my trip there was one round trip a day out of LAX. The Westin Mammoth is about six miles from the airport, and complimentary airport shuttle service is available.
The Westin Monache Resort at Mammoth is located at 50 Hillside Drive, Mammoth Lakes, California. Summer rates start around $200 and vary greatly by season and local festivals. There is also a $25 resort fee. Underground parking is free. As rates vary greatly with season and local events, don’t forget to check the online booking sites such as Hotels.com or others.