Any port in a storm … that’s how the old saying goes, and I suppose it’s true. A few weeks ago the Winnebago was in sudden need of repairs and we found ourselves homeless and without a vehicle. I’m not ashamed to tell you that mild panic set in. We needed a place to stay. We needed a way to get around. We needed it fast. AND we needed it to be pet friendly.
Breakdowns are not something you can plan for, and things are a little more complicated when you’re traveling with two big dogs. When your back’s against the wall you sometimes have to take what you can get. Fortunately, what could have been a painful 10 days turned into one of the best experiences we’ve had on this trip.
Finding a pet friendly car rental agency turned out to be pretty easy, and the people at Hertz were very accommodating when I told them we had two dogs with us. They upgraded us to a small SUV so the dogs would have a convenient place to ride in the cargo area.
And things just got better from there. We decided to leave the Winnebago in Reno and drive down to Lake Tahoe to wait out the repairs. As we searched for pet friendly hotels in Lake Tahoe we came across The Deerfield Lodge at Heavenly and decided to give it a try. OH MY DOG, am I glad we did!
With only 12 suites and rooms, The Deerfield is quite and cozy, and perfectly situated in South Lake Tahoe. We happened to be there between the summer “lake season” and the winter “ski season” and had the whole place to ourselves. (Truth be told, I think the owners, Eric and Robin, meant to be closed for a little vacation themselves, but decided to stay and accommodate us after hearing about our situation. You just don’t find many people like that!)
Each suite is a whopping 750 square feet – after living in the Winnebago for nine months, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves! We had a beautiful living room with big, comfy leather furniture, a fireplace, a desk, and a patio in the courtyard.
There was a stocked kitchenette, complete with microwave and mini-fridge. The first bathroom was right off the entry and was about 10 times the size of our RV bathroom.
The bedroom was gorgeous. We had a second patio in the courtyard, a little gas stove, and separate down comforters – so no one was too hot or too cold.
The bathroom off the bedroom was HUGE. The highlights were the walk-in shower and a jacuzzi tub, but for us the most luxurious part was all the space. As a side note: I’ve never been a big fan of using jacuzzi tubs in public because of the water that sits in the tubing from the previous user. This tub has an automatic blow out – about 10 minutes after you drain the tub, air is forced through the tubes to push all the water out. It seems they’ve thought of everything.
The hotel is easy walking distance to the lake, the national forest, and a nice selection of pet friendly restaurants. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better …
We’ve stayed in a lot of nice places, but The Deerfield takes the prize when it comes to pet friendliness. There are no weight or breed restrictions. There is no limit on the number of pets in a room. There are no rules banning dogs from the furniture or the bed. In lieu of pet fees, the hotel collects donations for the Lake Tahoe Humane Society – and matches their guests’ contributions at the end of the year. The owners will even take your dog for a potty break if you’re spending the day on the slopes! But Buster’s favorite pet friendly feature was the off-leash courtyard.
Complete with gas grills and outdoor furniture, it’s better than having a private park right outside your door. Though it’s not completely fenced, so if your dog is a runner (like Ty) you’d want to think twice about taking them off leash. But, for dogs like Buster, this is a wonderful place to burn off some steam. Doesn’t he look happy?
I understand that they get enough snow in Lake Tahoe that, during the height of the season, people can walk off the second floor balconies right into the courtyard. We may have gotten out just in time! :-)
For a long time I’ve subscribed to the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. In the heat of the moment it can be a challenge to remember that what appears to be an obstacle is actually a gift. But, with hindsight, it’s often clear that is the case. This experience is a perfect example.
I was definitely not looking at our broken spring or repair estimate as a gift, but spending this time at The Deerfield gave us a new perspective. After a couple of nights of decompression, you could feel tension that had built up over the past nine months disappearing. Buster had run to his heart’s content and we were enjoying a glass of wine while both boys snoozed on the floor. Traveling full-time is a fantastic way of life and we love being in the Winnebago. But with all of us on top of each other all the time, it does get a little like a powder keg now and then. Rod and I agreed that once a quarter we will find a hotel, a cottage, or vacation rental where we can all stretch out for a few days. We need it. The dogs need it. And it will make the travels that much better.
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