We chose Mammoth for our summer vacation on a wing and a prayer, based on a commercial that my son saw on TV (go figure). After some research Juniper Springs jumped out at us and we could not have been happier...read on for in-depth analysis!
1. Getting there...you can fly-Mammoth Airport is served by several major airlines that all seem to want to take you to LA first and then to Mammoth Lakes...what a pain! And it is expensive. Remember this is a summer review so...
Try driving! From North or South you have to approach on US 395 through the beautiful Owens Valley. If you have never been on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains then you are in for a treat. It is a side of California that most will never see. Though there are multiple routes to cross the mountains from the West, we chose to cross through Yosemite via the Tioga Pass Rd. We spent a nite in Yosemite Valley (see my review of the Lodge at Yosemite Falls), then took a spectacular drive through the high country as we crossed the mountains. Even if you don't stop in Yosemite Valley, treat yourself to this gem of a scenic drive. Once down the Tioga Rd, it was a 30 minute drive to Mammoth Lakes.
2. The town...Mammoth Lakes is small and very easy to navigate. You can drive anywhere in about 5 minutes and if you don't want to drive, there is a fantastic FREE (yes FREE) shuttle system that will take you just about anyplace you want to go in and around town. Getting to Juniper Springs was a snap as it is at the end of one of the 4 main streets in town...Meridian Blvd.
3. The property...Juniper Springs Lodge is what the sign says on the front and it is located in a quiet neighborhood adjacent to one of the peripheral ski lifts. Since it was summer, obviously the lift was NOT in operation , making this area of town even more quiet! It is made up of 2 main buildings...the main lodge is where you will do your checking in and communicating with the staff. The secondary building is about 50 yards away up a path. Both are condo properties with a variety of condo options from studio to 3-bedroom. Both buildings have splash (not lap) pools, though the main building pool is larger and both have 3 (yes-count 'me 3) hot tubs. Pool hours are 10a-10p.
There is also a gas grill in the pool patio area for all of your summer grilling needs. There were a couple of families sharing it on the 4th of July when we were there. My son was beside himself when he discovered the game room. Kids seem to congregate here like moths to the flame. There is 1 Xbox, 1 Wii and 1 Playstation, each with games that can be checked out from the front desk and each with its own dedicated big screen HDTV. There is also a ping pong table, but most kids were on the video game systems.
The workout facility...always a pet peeve of mine, was sub-standard for what I would consider a 4 star resort. 1 stationary bike, a couple of treadmills and an elliptical. Also some free weights and a Nautilus-style machine, but really nothing to get excited about. Disappointing!
4. The room...we had a 1 bedroom condo. The kitchen was clean and well-stocked, full fridge and cooktop and dishwasher. If you leave the dirty dishes in the sink, housekeeping will come in and do them for you. Nice, especially if you are the designated dish-doer at your house. The furniture did seem a bit dated, but it was clean and comfortable. The huge sectional couch pulled out to a full size bed for the kids, but once pulled out, it was a bit cramped in the living space. Even with the coffee table pushed aside, it was a tight fit to get to the deck.
Did I mention the deck...it was HUGE!!! Though all units have decks, ours was particularly roomy with a spectacular view of the mountains. Get a south facing room (one that faces the pool) and you will never be disappointed with the view!
The Master bedroom had a King bed which was a bit of a tight squeeze when walking between it and the dresser, but we survived. Both the Master and the living room had HDTV's with Directv service. >Slight pet peeve was that the rooms do not get the same channels as the TV's in the common areas. To watch the Tour de France I had to go to the conference room (usually empty) or the workout room(almost equally as empty)< Plenty of closet space in the Master, but did not have a separate bathroom. Just one bathroom for the condo, but plenty of space for a family of 4.
One thing you will notice is the lack of air conditioning in the rooms. This is not an issue in winter, but what about in summer? At 7800 ft, it does not get that hot and even if it does warm up, the mountain breeze offers relief. Evenings cool off very quickly as the evening winds kick up and with the rooms not having a ton of direct sun exposure, it is never really an issue.
5. Parking is underground and accessible only with your room card key. I liked this security feature, but the resort does hit you with the ever sneaky "daily resort fee". Whose idea was this? Just another way to jack up the fees...the resort fee was $20/day.
However...for the price we were paying (about $125/nt) I was not crying too much over the resort fee. Based on my son's video game playing alone, we got that moneys worth.
Special note: Mammoth Lakes is at about 7800 ft above sea level. That is no joke for those not raised in the mountains. Be sure to take it easy for a few days as you acclimatize and drink lots of water. The air is also very dry and the sun can be very intense even on cool afternoons. Sunscreen and a hat are key to enjoying your stay. Be on the lookout for signs that the altitude is bothering you, like light-headedness, nausea and feeling overly fatigued.
Overall, Mammoth Lakes in the summer (low season) is a bargain compared to their ski season prices. Juniper Springs was a very good resort and home base for all of our activities over the course of the week. If you like 4-star comfort and a 2-star price, choose Juniper Springs Lodge for your summer mountain getaway.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Have the Mountains at your Front Door. Juniper Springs Lodge, Sunstone and Eagle Run make up Mammoth's premier ski-in/ski-out resort. Located at Eagle Lodge and Eagle Express chairlift, these studio to three bedroom condos and townhomes offer an alpine getaway that is ideal for families. Juniper Springs Resort was recently named one of Conde Nast Traveler's top 50 ski resort properties. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Juniper Springs Hotel Mammoth Lakes
- Juniper Springs Mammoth Lakes
- Mammoth Lakes Juniper Springs Lodge