By DENNIS WYATT
Nothing says romance quite the way that lunch or dinner and a night’s stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel in majestic Yosemite Valley blanketed in February snow.
One step inside the elegant lodge rising from the valley floor in granite and sugar pine and you can see why the historic lodgings are considered the crown jewel of hotels within the national park system.
The best part is you can gaze at sites such as El Capitan from your bedroom winter, take a late evening stroll by the Merced River, and wake up refreshed in luxurious rustic surroundings and go for a short hike on the valley floor while Yosemite is wearing its white winter coat.
Splendor doesn’t come cheap. A night’s stay in one of the 99 elaborate rooms featuring unparalleled views ranges from $379 to $1,100 a night. You can take in the grand public spaces that include the Great Room with its roaring fireplaces and stunning stained glass windows without being a paying guest. There is also the Dining Room with its stately 34-foot-high beamed ceilings held in place by polished sugar pine pillars.
This is not the place for slumming or spurs of the moment decisions, though, if you plan to dine. There is a strict dress code and reservations are critical. There is also a ore causal bar and café at the Ahwahnee. Breakfast? Don't miss the eggs Benedict, a sumptuous take on a classic. There's also a more casual bar and cafe, with a menu that includes soups, sandwiches and salads.
But if you’re looking for a repertoire of culinary treats to go with the Yosemite scenery, your best bet is the Ahwahnee Grand Brunch served Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are cold and hot foods as well as seafood and eggs your own way accented with fresh baked Ahwahnee signature breads with in-house gourmet desserts served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The cost is $49 for adults. Kids are $15 but if this is supposed to be a romantic who cares about kids. Information about room reservations, meal reservations for the elegant grand dining room and other information go to www.yosmeite.com
The Ahwahnee opened in 1927. It was extensively renovated last decade. Yosemite’s archives were researched to select textiles, colors and accessory items that are complementary to those used in the hotel between 1925 and 1942, which was established by National Park Service Historians as the “period of historic significance” for the hotel based on a comprehensive evaluation of the hotel’s history.
The results of the grand hotel’s renovation are evident immediately upon arrival with the replacement of the boardwalk leading to the main lobby. Once inside, visitors are greeted with a wide variety of upgrades and refurbishments, which incorporated historically relevant materials. Refurbishment was conducted in the guest rooms, hallways, Great Lounge, lobby, Dining Room, kitchen, public restrooms and exterior.
An emphasis on simplicity, understated elegance and colors found in nature was paramount in the redesign of the guest rooms.
Throughout the renovation, materials were selected for furnishings, textiles, lighting and accessories from American companies, several of which supplied the hotel in 1927 and are still operating today.