The perfect getaway for me is admittedly a luxurious resort, but one that really takes responsibility for the environment in more ways than one, so I was delighted to find myself at the newly refurbished Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa for a cozy winter weekend.
I had never been up to the San Bernardino National Forest before and it came as some surprise that we had to drive 6,000 feet up a bendy mountain road to reach our destination. Often referred to as “The Alps of Southern California”, the delightful Lake Arrowhead village had me feeling I was light years away from smoggy LA. The lake itself is nestled into the mountains and surrounded by huge pine and cedar trees. We were fortunate enough to have perfect weather: crystal clear blue skies with a deliciously refreshing chill in the air.
Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into an up-scale, cozy ski resort. The outdoors has been cleverly brought inside with a myriad of beautiful decorative features made from wood or bark. I particularly loved the dining room walls, which are “papered” in birch bark.
You want to make sure you get a lake-view room as looking out at different times of the day had me delighting in the change of light over the lake and mountains beyond. Standing out on my balcony, staring at the still lake with just the sound of swishing pines was just what the doctor called for.
The resort boasts a really wonderful spa. After nearly boiling myself alive in the fantastic Eucalyptus steam room, I managed to maneuver myself onto a heated massage bed, where at the hands of an excellent masseuse, I drifted into Seventh Heaven thinking about how this resort is impacting the environment.
I noticed that there is a voluntary charge of $3.00 added to each guest’s bill. This money, to the tune of six figures annually, goes directly to the San Bernardino National Forest Association to help replant the forest after two devastating fires (2003 and 2007). It’s ironic that some of the first settlers in 1850 were loggers, who harvested the virgin forests for lumber to build Los Angeles. This resort takes conservation very seriously, constantly encouraging guests to use natural resources in moderation.I also love that once in the resort, everything from books sold in the little store to coffee in the coffee shop is local (where possible,) and not a chain. Much as I love my Chai Latte, I hate to see one of those ubiquitous chains in a hotel lobby.
All meals can be eaten in the excellent restaurant with huge windows and terraces overlooking the lake, however, a stack of pancakes and an organic pot of tea in bed while looking at the lake, trumped getting dressed for breakfast in the restaurant. Dogs are more than welcome here and you’ll see a lot of them in their little winter coats. Although they’re not allowed in the restaurant, they are allowed to walk on all the trails. The resort gives you a little code, which allows you into the private walking trails around the lake.
This is an all-year round resort, depending on your thing. If you love the snow, the cold months will have you and your kids sledding like crazy and only 30 miles away, you’ll find great skiing. In the heat of the summer, you can escape the suffocation and smog by escaping to the cooler Alpine air. The resort works well for families or those who want a really private/romantic getaway. The evening we get ready to leave, a couple were preparing to get married. The scenic backdrop to the ceremony was the lake. I imagined them taking their vows as the pink sun dropped behind the mountains and how they would then cozy up with all their loved ones in front of roaring fires to eat, drink and make merry – perfection.
If you happen to be looking for a lovely getaway in Southern California, with or without the kids and dogs, I highly recommend this resort. You may want to throw in a couple of extra bucks to make sure a few more trees can get planted in the surrounding forests. Oh, I nearly forgot – you can have a glass of cool milk with a skillet-sized chocolate chip cookie (baked daily,) delivered to your room after your hike – what more could a girl in need of a bit of spoiling ask for?