California California Hotels hotel reward category Las Vegas Hotels Marriott Hotels Marriott Rewards (replaced by Marriott Bonvoy)

I gambled and won! Fairfield Inn Tehachapi, California is great Marriott Rewards Category 1 hotel award.

We needed to escape from Las Vegas before the deluge. The temperature was 110 F at 3:00pm in the afternoon and Kelley’s most common phrase was “Don’t Touch Me! I’m too hot.”

Four hours after we left Las Vegas, a summer monsoon dropped record-setting rain on the city with major lightning and street flooding.

Monterey was a drive too far at 500+ miles and 9 or 10 hours. Tehachapi or Bakersfield are the two places about midway on the drive, but Bakersfield in California’s San Joaquin Valley would simply be trading 110 degrees for 105 degrees and driving a moving truck through the city of 350,000 to locate a hotel was more than I was willin’ to consider.

Tehachapi is a small town in a mountain valley at 4,000 feet elevation, immediately west of the Mojave Desert, the 200-mile stretch of rock, sand and Joshua Trees that lies between the glitz of Vegas and the orchards of the San Joaquin Valley in bountiful California.

I checked room rates and the Holiday Inn Express, two Best Western hotels and Fairfield Inn had room rates at $95 to $125 before tax.

  • Best Western Mountain Inn 16,000 points (Tier 3)
  • Best Western Plus Country Park Hotel 20,000 points (Tier 4)
  • Hoilday Inn Express Tehachapi 20,000 points (IHG Rewards Club Category 3)
  • Fairfield Inn Tehachapi 7,500 points (Marriott Rewards Category 1)

The mindset that a category 1 hotel means something deficient about the property is the totally wrong attitude to hold when it comes to hotel quality. ranks Fairfield Inn Tehachapi highly with #2 of 9 hotels and 2013 Certificate of Excellence.

I walked into the hotel room at Fairfield Inn Tehachapi, California and my expectations were totally blown away by the room I booked for 7,500 Marriott Rewards points to bypass the $140 after tax room rate last night.



I only had 6,000 Marriott Rewards points in my account. The website offered the option to buy 2,000 points for $25 to complete the points booking.


With a confirmed hotel booking sitting 240 miles west of Las Vegas, Kelley and I skipped out on our second night at the MGM Grand. The hotel room was too warm despite running the AC on maximum for 24 hours and the cool central coast of California was calling us homeward bound.

So like Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, I got behind the wheel of the moving truck carrying her mother’s possessions we retrieved from Denver earlier this week and headed west out of the dustbowl of Las Vegas to reach the promised land of our Pacific Ocean coastal home.

Fortunately, unlike the Joad’s, the Penske moving truck has totally functional air conditioning to alienate me from the 112 degree Mojave Desert air temperature of late afternoon rather than needing to drive at night with the windows rolled down.


Tehachapi, California is a place I have come to know over the past decade by necessity. This four season mountain valley town at 4,000 feet elevation is the midway point of the 500-mile drive between my home in Monterey, California and Las Vegas, Nevada.


Tehachapi sits at the junction of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the San Emigdio Mountains. Tejon Pass marks the San Emigdio Mountains to the southwest where Interstate 5 takes travelers between the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles.

The Tehachapi Mountains are 4,000 to 8,000 feet and separate the San Joaquin Valley from the Mojave Desert to the east. In winter months the Tehachapi Pass tends to be the only way to to reach Las Vegas from California’s Central Valley over a mountain pass road not surrounded by snowbanks. From Tehachapi, Highway 58 West descends down the mountains 35 miles into Bakersfield. To the east, the road drops ten miles into the Mojave Desert.


Tehachapi is familiar to me through song and literature. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath original 1939 book cover depicted the Joad’s looking down from Tehachapi Pass to the lush San Joaquin Valley of California surrounding the then small farming town of Bakersfield.


Long before reading The Grapes of Wrath, I knew the name Tehachapi from the 1970s Little Feat song Willin’. That song played in my head repeatedly as I drove the moving truck across the Mojave Desert to Tehachapi last night.

I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me: weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’, to be movin’

Willin’ Lowell George – Little Feat


Fairfield Inn Tehachapi Executive Room is basically a junior suite with two tvs, couch and chair and patio balcony. The design of this room is chic.


This room at the Fairfield Inn exceeded the room where we stayed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in every way. Microwave, a refrigerator that was not locked, a bathroom 50% larger, a couch, a balcony deck, two TVs with a remote control that actually worked, more TV stations, and an air conditioner that chilled the room so low in the first hour, we turned it off for the night.

And the tree-covered mountain views are more to my liking.


The indoor pool certainly does not match the immense MGM Grand pools complex, but at least this pool stays open from 6am to 11pm. Though no women were walking around the Fairfield Inn Tehachapi pool in butt-patch bikinis and high heels; a common sight in Vegas.


Breakfast at Fairfield Inn Tehachapi

The complimentary breakfast at this hotel exceeded the offerings at the Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites and TownePlace Suites where we have stayed frequently on this road trip.


Fresh fruit with bananas and apples, Jimmy Dean microwave bacon, egg and cheese biscuits, cereals and juices with a couple of hot items.


Fairfield Inn Tehachapi lobby.


More lobby seating.


Business center in lobby.


Hotel Market.


Breakfast room.

Hotel value for frequent guests.

Tehachapi tends to be a place where people drive through on their way to or from Las Vegas. I am surprised to see Marriott Rewards lists this hotel at category 1 for only 7,500 points when there are two Best Western hotels adjacent to the Fairfield Inn at higher categories in the Best Western Rewards system. These three hotels are located on the Tehachapi main street near the historic part of town with shops and restaurants. I have stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Tehachapi directly off Highway 58 before and that is also a relatively new hotel just a few years old, but a couple miles drive into the town if you want to eat somewhere besides Denny’s.

I have stayed in category 1 hotels before with Hilton HHonors, SPG and Hyatt. Most of those category 1 hotels were dropped from these chains within a couple years of my stay,

Fairfield Inn Tehachapi is the first category 1 hotel where I have stayed that I thought to myself, this property is too good a deal to remain at a category 1 hotel.

I recommend you check in and check out Fairfield Inn Tehachapi if you are driving Highway 58 through Tehachapi, California.


Related Posts:

I have written about Tehachapi several times over the past few years. There are several things to see and do in the area and I have never really spent enough time in town to take advantage of the sights.

There is Indian Point Ostrich Ranch.

For rail enthusiasts there is the Tehachapi Loop, a 19th century engineering marvel built by Chinese laborers which opened up development of Los Angeles. Here is my May 2013 post Trainspotting on the Tehachapi Loop.

Cesar Chavez National Memorial (Loyalty Traveler May 7, 2013) is a few miles west of Tehachapi. The back road off Highway 58 links Cesar Chavez National Monument to Tehachapi and passes by the Tehachapi Loop with some great places for mountain vista photos.


  • Wendy July 20, 2013

    I would have been out of Vegas immediately if the AC in the hotel room did not get the room down to 72 degrees. Its been in the 90’s here with very high humidity levels. I’m in hibernation mode staying in my home with the AC set on 72 degree. So I stay nice and cool.

  • Andras July 20, 2013


    I think it is an excellent idea to highlight some of the award resumptions at the low “value” levels. I would love to some other ideas similar to this. Great post!

  • Kate July 20, 2013

    Agree with Ric. Thanks for bringing up a great reward value for so few points. We have been staying at a Category 1 Fairfield Inn in South Boston VA for family reasons and it is a very pleasant hotel with consistently very pleasant staff. It is not always about the posh experience.

  • Chris July 20, 2013

    Cool post. My family and I stayed in a Marriott 1 property up the road from Tehachapi in Turlock California, and had a very similar very positive experience.

  • Lark July 20, 2013

    Nirvana! 🙂

  • Ron July 21, 2013

    Bloggers frequently extol the virtues of very expensive properties. Everyone has different tastes and “aspirations”, but I don’t often see the value in paying exorbitant rates for a room in which I’m spending little time … at night, when views matter little. Bloggers squeal about hotel point devaluations, but such devaluations often only or mainly impact upper end properties. Yet, there are often great values in nice, comfortable properties such as this particular Fairfield Inn, whether paying in currency or points.

  • Nick July 21, 2013

    Nice post. I also find the Marriott portfolio to be the most consistent, particularly in small towns they are usually within the first few spots on Tripadvisor. Hampton Inn’s are consistent as well but the good ones don’t offer the same value in points. And you can pick up a Megabonus night with Marriott. Marriott’s weakness to me is in the big cities where their properties tend to be dull vs the competition. Their aspirational resorts don’t blow me away either. Marriott makes a good backup program though.

  • Ric Garrido July 22, 2013

    I have spent the past five years squealing about the loss of category 1 properties in SPG, Hyatt and Hilton. Marriott has done the best job at maintaining low category properties in their reward categories.

    Upper Upscale and luxury hotels are places I prefer to try and find low rates rather than spend a high amount of points for a reward night.

  • James July 22, 2013

    ‘wherever there’s free status and food, I’ll be there…’

  • Ric Garrido July 23, 2013

    Great quote from a literate man. I am the ghost of Tom Joad working the road one hotel at a time.

  • Jamie July 31, 2013

    Great redemption! I agree with the other commenters that it’s great to hear about cat 1 properties.
    I guess I should give Marriott a second chance in the small towns we are often driving through, with kids. We stayed at a Fairfield Inn near council bluffs Iowa once and the room had a icky mildew smell, and though I didn’t make a big deal about it, the manager didn’t seem too concerned when I told him. We’ve been steering toward Hamptons, HI-X or independent motels since then.

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