Monday, June 29, 2009

Plan ahead for your desert escape

I know, it's hard to think about a winter getaway in the midst of a summer heatwave (it was over 100° at my house yesterday). But if you can do a little planning ahead, you'll save bigtime. And let's face it, in the middle of winter's cold and gloom, you know you're gonna want a sunny escape, right? I know I will.

That's where Death Valley comes in.

Last year at this time, the 66-room Furnace Creek Inn, the most luxurious place to stay in Death Valley National Park, was already sold out on many days in late October and early November, but this year there are fewer sold-out days during that time frame. Why? Simple: the resort is experiencing the same trend as many hotels nationwide –visitors are waiting later and later to make reservations (in the biz, it's called a short booking window). And that is good news for travelers because they have a better chance of finding rooms in high-demand properties like the Inn than they have had in many years.
[Note: Concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts, has seen the same trend at properties in other national parks, including Yellowstone, Zion and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Although visitors can book rooms up to 13 months in advance in those locations, few are doing so this year. And that is a huge departure from travel patterns at national park lodges just a few years ago.]

So plan now for a desert holiday; the Inn is open from Oct-May. It's a wonderful place to take the family: you can go on easy day hikes, swim in a natural hot springs-fed pool,
play tennis, golf, and explore one of the most spectacular parks in California. Make it a long weekend or a week-long trip (it's not a bad drive- a half-day from SoCal, a bit longer from NorCal). Chances are, you'll find plenty of privacy there this winter.

Don’t miss the Sunday brunch—it’s incredible. Book your stay directly with the resort, by phone or online (there's no booking charge); beware of third-party reservations sites that charge a non-refundable fee to make reservations for you.

In addition to the Furnace Creek Inn, Xanterra operates the 224-room Furnace Creek Ranch, 83-room Stovepipe Wells Village, 18-hole Furnace Creek Golf Course, three restaurants, a saloon, and a general store. Call 800/236-7916 or 303/297-2757 or go to

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COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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