What is this resort place called?
“Mone-uh-shay” is how the name is pronounced according to the hotel staff member I spoke with who was instructed in the pronunciation of the hotel name with a French sounding final syllable.
Monache High School in Porterville pronounces the school name “muh-NATCH-ee”. Porterville is a mere 109 air miles southwest of Mammoth Lakes in California’s Central Valley. Mammoth Lakes is on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The highest mountains in the lower 48 states lie between these two California towns. By road these two towns are about 300 miles apart.
The origin of the name Monache has an interesting history.
The Native Americans who lived in the Mono Basin, the Kutzadika’a (Mono Lake Paiute), collected the abundant fly pupae that thrive there as a food source. Other tribes, who traded acorns for the nutritious larvae, called the Kutzadika’a the Monache, meaning “fly-eaters.” Yum! Monache was shortened to Mono and applied to the region and the people living there by the early explorers in the 1850s.
California’s Mono Lake is about 25 miles north of Mammoth Lakes, California on the east side of Highway 395, the major route along the eastern Sierras in California to Carson City and Reno in Nevada.
Westin Monache Resort
The location of Mammoth Lakes on the eastern slopes of the steep Sierra Nevada makes the location easier to access from southern California than the San Francisco and Central Coast of California most of the year. This is a year round resort location, but snow is king and the Mammoth Lakes location gets plenty of snow. The mountains in this area are some of the most rugged on the west coast with steep eastern Sierra slopes.
I am not a skier so I won’t comment on winter snow conditions. I can comment on the wind and this area along the eastern Sierra
Nevada is known for strong winds shooting in waves down the steep eastern Sierra slopes which can create severely windy conditions which were in effect during our travel time through the area in mid-July.
The rooms have fire places for those cold days and nights. The energy saving feature of the fireplace automatically shuts it off after up to 2 hours.
The hotel is up the road from other chain hotels down in the business section of town. Mammoth Lakes central road heads uphill right through town with businesses, markets, fast food places and restaurants and hotels on either side of the road. The area where the Westin hotel is located is also home to many condominiums. The ski resort of Mammoth is a few more miles up the road.
We spent several hours hanging out in the hotel during our stay and did not explore the area at all. This was our first night of a 2,500 mile road trip and we weren’t in the mood for sightseeing after spending the day before wandering around Yosemite National Park. This was an exploratory trip and I liked what I saw. My hope is to return to the hotel or at least Mammoth Lakes in late-September, early October to explore the environment.
Mammoth Lakes is a good central hotel location for activities and sightseeing in the Sierra Nevada around this area. There is fishing, cycling, hiking, rafting, boating, climbing and horseback riding for the adventurous. There are old ghost towns from mining days and plenty of 19th century history sightseeing. In the winter there are snow sports and in the summer the mountain trams take you over 11,000 feet and provide an opportunity for photography and visual stimulation at the top of the Sierras. There is even biking routes at 11,000 ft. in the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park if you have the stamina for alpine cycling.
Mammoth Mountain Scenic Gondola costs $23 or $29 with lunch at the mountain top cafe.
Another must-do activity is drive June Lake Loop Road for wonderful scenery.
Devils Postpile National Monument is a geological wonder of 60-foot columnar basalt that celebrated its 100th anniversary this July 2011 of Theodore Roosevelt making the landmark a National Monument. Columnar basalt is probably most familiar to people as the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Devils Postpile is a summer only destination and often scorching hot in mid-day. Private vehicles are not permitted and shuttle buses leave from about 7am to 7pm daily during the 12 to 16 weeks the monument is open to visitors.
The reception desk of Westin Monache Mammoth represents Devils Postpile.
Westin Monache Resort Mammoth has one of those dreaded resort fees ($25) tacked on for paid nights and award nights. The fee includes parking, internet, phone calls and complimentary shuttle for local vicinity. Parking is restricted on the streets in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. The parking garage is a tight fitting multi-level underground structure.
Few people were seen around the resort in the evening midweek July. The lobby is relatively small with far more space in the restaurant and bar.
This stay was a free night using my credit from the SPG Stay 3 times and earn one free resort night May 1-July 31, 2011. The room rate was as low as $170 AAA rate for a standard room. This was not a high value redemption, but I did not want to pay 12,000 points or more than $200 after tax for the night. The free resort night was a money saving choice.
As SPG Platinum I received a complimentary upgrade to a one bedroom suite with preferred mountain view.
Our room had a fully stocked kitchen with pots, pans, glasses, small refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, dishwasher and more.
The bathroom had two doors with one from the bedroom and the other from the kitchen entrance. One problem I recall is the bathroom light switch is on the bedroom wall making it necessary to turn on the light with the bedroom door open.
The room had a small balcony with two outdoor chairs.
The pool area is accessed from Floor 2 and has the feature of being within the hotel room floors. There is no need to walk through the hotel lobby to reach the fitness room and pool area on Floor 2.
The resort offers daytime poolside food and beverages. The wind was blowing strongly down the mountain and kept the pool area a bit chilly even on a sunny day in mid-July around noon when the temperature was in the mid-60s.
My final word on Westin Monache Resort Mammoth is this hotel is located in a unique place of the U.S. with remarkable beauty in the stark snow-covered mountains, pine trees and desert shrubs. This is an ecosystem with many environments from alpine to desert all within a few miles of each other. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are a formidable barrier to travel for this remote location in eastern California. An airplane can get you there in an hour from San Francisco or Los Angeles. A car will take most of the day, but the journey is really part of the experience of reaching the remote eastern Sierras that you miss when flying.
Starwood Hotels Westin Monache Resort Mammoth, Mammoth Lakes, California – category 5 (12,000 or 16,000 points/night)
Room rates are typically $150 to $200/night in summer season and higher during ski season.
Brokeass Mountain Road Trip, July 2011
Monterey, California – Denver, Colorado
- Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Road across the Sierra Nevada Mountains
- Westin Monache Resort Mammoth for year round vacations
- Even Lonelier than the Loneliest Road in America
- Earth’s Oldest Trees in Great Basin National Park Nevada
- Less extreme than 127 Hours in Utah
- Brokeass Mountain Tour eastbound – Hotel Value at High Elevation
- Brokeass Mountain Tour visits Starwood in Denver
- Driving by the 14ers South Park to Aspen, Colorado
- Top of the Rockies on the High Road to Aspen – Independence Pass 12,095 feet.
- St. Regis Aspen – Too Late to Cancel
- Aspen, Colorado to Park City, Utah: Ghost lands of Buffalo Soldiers, Utes and Dinosaurs
- The California Trail across Nevada
- Homeward Bound – Carson Pass Highway 88 over the Sierra Nevada to Monterey