Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dodge Ridge—Pinecrest Lake Resort--February 17-20, 2013

Pinecrest Lake Resort
Well, the kids had a week off so we left on the Sunday of Presidents' Day weekend to ski at our beloved Dodge Ridge Ski Resort. This time I planned far enough in advance to stay at the Pinecrest Lake Resort   (, a collection of rustic 2 and 3 bedroom townhouses, 2 and 3 bedroom cabins and motel rooms walking distance from Pinecrest Lake itself. All the townhouses and cabins have cable TV, linens and full kitchens. The townhouses also have gas fireplaces and dishwashers. The townhouse also does appear to have a sofabed allowing it to sleep two more people. The motel rooms have two queen beds, cable TV, and daily maid service. Those staying in the cabins and townhouses are asked to complete some very light housekeeping duties prior to departure, like take out the trash and strip the beds, so it's really light. My family of five always stays in the two bedroom townhouse. It's not like there is easily accessible food around Pinecrest Lake in the winter. Being able to cook to us is essential.

Two side by side units at Pinecrest Lake Resort
We paid $250 per night plus a 10% Tuolumne County room tax—so I guess $825 for three nights, or $275 per night. Fifty dollars of that was charged when we made the reservation and then the rest was billed 30 days before we arrived. Rates for the rooms vary by season and day of the week but the 3 BR townhouse were like $15 more and the cabins about $20-30 less, and the motel rooms were about $155.So what did we get for our $275 a night? Here it is:

My review of Pinecrest Lake Resort:

The staff at the front desk is always warm and inviting and seems to remember us as we come each year.
There is parking in front of each townhouse unit. There is supposed to be one spot per unit, but as some of the units are three bedrooms, you can see how one unit might wind up occupying two spaces. For a short time we had no space to park, but this was quite short lived as a car or two departed for dinner or the grocery store. We had no additional problems with parking. In all truth, you are not even supposed to park there during the winter, because they want to be able to plow it, but this has never been enforced in all the time that we have been there.

The two bedroom townhouse unit has very basic but adequate furnishings.  There are two bedrooms upstairs; a master with a queen bed and another with two twin beds.  There is also a sofabed downstairs which my daughter said was uncomfortable, so she wound up sleeping on the unfolded couch for two nights.  The bathroom is also upstairs.
There is a gas fireplace downstairs which provides some heat but very little ambiance.  There is no woodburning in any of the units.

One of our biggest complaints about this place in the past was the lack of a decent television. It was a tube TV barely 20 inches that was so old that you couldn't even plug in a DVD player and watch your own movies. We were happy to see that our unit was now equipped with a 27 inch flat screen TV! Hurray, PLR! Ah, but alas, the living room design is not conducive to a wall mounted TV. The only place to put it was on the wall opposite the living room sofa—about 20 feet away! You would really have to pull hard chairs up from the small table and the kitchen to get closer and really watch the TV. We wound up watching our own movies again, huddled around our computer which we put on the coffee table.
The kitchen is spacious and well lit, but poorly equipped. One nice addition this year was wine glasses! The kitchen had no pasta server (who doesn't eat spaghetti on vacation??), no salad tongs, no blender, and not one covered pot (good luck making rice!). We bring our own non-stick frying pan. There are only enough dishes to get a family through one meal, which means it is likely that you are running and unloading a half-full dishwasher twice a day. There is no ice maker (ice trays only) and no garbage disposal.
The outside has a deck with a spacious picnic table and the upstairs bedroom has a balcony, which of course we have never used, since we only have come in the winter.

There is no cell phone reception if you are with AT & T. Wi-fi is available for 11$/day or 5$/hour. C'mon guys—just provide it. I think this is nickel and diming.

One thing that does bear mention is that all five of us had showers after skiing and there was plenty of hot water.

Pinecrest Lake Resort has a reservation and cancellation policy unlike any other. During peak times (winter and summer), the last day you are allowed to cancel is 60 days in advance. I'm lucky if I've gotten organized enough to make my reservation that far in advance! After 60 days prior to your arrival, if you cancel you are required to pay the amount IN FULL, unless the unit rerents, minus the 25$ non-refundable deposit. We find this to be a huge deterrent in booking here. It is possibly the strictest cancellation policy I have ever encountered.

There is a little general store that is open in the winter from 9am to 6pm. There is also the lovely Steam Donkey Restaurant (, where Garrett will direct you with a smile to your table and get your drinks going and Connie will attentively wait your table. There is also a little coffee stand called "The Serene Bean," but don't count on your espresso fix every morning. At least in the winter, it is very infrequently open. Maybe just on weekends or holidays…

For $275 a night you get sparse furnishings, a poorly equipped kitchen, a lame TV, a lame fireplace, no internet access, and heaven forbid you need to cancel. No brainer, right? Well, the truth is the jury is still out! About a month ago, we stayed in a VRBO rental in Cold Springs, which cost us a hair less and was bigger. I asked the kids where they liked staying better and the vote for Pinecrest Lake Resort was unanimous. When I asked them why the only great reason they could come up with is, "It's just cozier!!"
It IS cozier, but in addition there is tons of floor space, so there is plenty of space for our stuff. Linens are provided and there is garbage service. The closets and drawers are empty and available to use instead of being full of the owner's stuff. Once we learned what the kitchen was missing, we just made a list and brought it. You also can't beat the walk to dinner and the 10 minute drive to the Dodge Ridge Ski Area.
I think in the summer, especially if you are not a camper, this resort's close proximity to Pinecrest Lake and Marina would make it quite worthwhile. (However, do beware, because in the summer the cabins and townhouses only rent for a week at a time!) In the winter, I think it's overpriced, and the cancellation policy is ridiculous—but it still seems to be the accommodation of choice for this GoFamily.
I would still be willing, however, to take another look at VRBO….

Back to Heidi's Ski Shop:

No GoFamily trip to Dodge Ridge is complete without a stop at Heidi's Ski shop ( ).

A few tips:
---If you are a repeat renter, save your rental forms and bring them back each time. We were able to rent the exact same equipment we had used a month ago! (Okay, maybe the poles were different!)
---To avoid having to roll out of bed early and drive, rent your skis the night before at no additional charge.
---Did you know that Heidi rents stand up paddleboards during the summer??

What's new at the Dodge Ridge Ski Area?? ( )

The Family Lodge at Dodge Ridge after a day of steady snow on February 19th, 2013

Buy your season passes for the 2013-2014 ski season now at a discounted rate!
Season passes are now through April 7th for next year's ski season! Adults/Teens are $299, children are $99, and seniors are $129. It seems that with a season pass an adult would have to ski 6 days at Dodge Ridge next year to make this deal worth it. Even at this discounted rate, we are not buying season passes.
Dodge Ridge introduces Riglet Park for beginning snowboard riders! The Burton sponsored learn to ride program introduces 2-5 year old to the sport of snowboarding. $96 includes two hours of one on one instruction, lift ticket, helmet, and equipment.

Is there anything else to do in the area?

Well, it just so happens that we came to Dodge Ridge last year and there was NO SNOW, which meant NO SKIING. So we did wind up spending some time at the Long Barn Ice Skating Rink (, located at 25957 Long Barn Road in Long Barn.  This is another one of those places with very limited hours. On Friday nights it is open from 6-9pm, Saturdays from 10am-9pm and Sundays from 10am to 6pm. Otherwise, it's closed, except for Christmas vacation and President's week, when it is open from 10am to 9pm and MLK Day 10am-4pm, so in general, midweek you are out of luck.

When we went we pretty much had the place, an indoor rink housed in a barn, to ourselves. There are buckets available for the little ones learning to skate. Skate time plus skate rental costs $10 and that is per day, so you are welcome to go home and have lunch or dinner and then come back again.

Long Barn ice rink is associated with Long Barn Lodge. You actually pay for skating at the lodge's front office.

Thank you for reading this post! Stay tuned to hear about GoFamily's trip to Scottsdale, Arizona for a dream come true weekend watching the San Francisco Giants at Spring Training!!

It's Heidi's sign, but it might as well be mine!!!



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