After a 2.5 hour drive from San Diego to Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa, my wife and I were ready to escape the intensity of the sun and find our way to our suite. Though we had looked up weather for Lake Arrowhead prior to our trip, the fact that the lake and resort are located at such a high altitude must have played a psychological trick on us considering, even after reading the forecasts, neither of us were prepared for the heat.
Recently acquired by Marriott for their Autograph Collection of hotels, Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa has maintained its original charm and grace rather than undergoing full renovations. When first entering the lobby, the spaciousness and bold design colorings seem to effectively push the already-high ceiling to dazzling new heights. One side of the grand lobby leads to BIN 189, which has a massive floor-to-ceiling wine selection as its entryway.
Another area offers a large stone fireplace with an intimately cozy seating arrangement. Likewise, about a half-dozen sitting areas with oversized, comfy furnishings are available to take advantage of while socializing and enjoying drinks. At any given time of day within BIN 189's open hours, small groups can be found around the lobby planning business strategies, enjoying old friends or making new acquaintances.
Especially in the case of those groups so openly discussing their workplace, the relaxing nature of the destination becomes incredibly apparent. Guests around the resort, both in and out of the lobby, are content to the point that it's impossible not to have it rub off on you. And at every turn, the staff was always energetic and friendly, seemingly to really enjoy their positions; which goes a long way in providing guests with a great stay.
Also, in keeping with an olfactory theme of the region's gigantic pine trees, practically everything had a pine scent such as the hand soaps, shampoos, facial scrubs and bean bag eye masks. Thankfully, it never felt overwhelming or forced. Though it's currently in progress of being added to and developed, the hotel has a small Kid's Club room where children can hang out and play vintage arcade machines or just socialize with other kids.
Our one-bedroom suite greeted us with a living room furnished by a deep couch, a grand ottoman and HDTV. Comforts galore and well-appointed rooms, the suites bring a unique feel to Marriott's line of signature hotels. Equipped with a down comforter and pillows and a pillow-top mattress, the king-size bed offered a good night's sleep. It also has its own television, a chaise lounge, wrap-around windows, work desk and resort-wide complimentary Wi-Fi.
The real star of the show was the suite's bathroom. Size-wise, it is as long as the living room and bedroom combined. At the end of the restroom lies a deep-soak tub with jets and room for two. The glass-surrounded shower has ample room to accommodate two people, and as you've probably guessed, the couples-focused bathroom has hers and his sinks. And for those chilly lakeside mornings come autumn and winter, a floor heater is ready to keep your toes nice and toasty.
Yet, the two issues I had with the suite actually stem from the bathroom. First, the bathroom is only accessed from the bedroom, so entertaining guests means they will likely have to make their way through your sleeping area to use it. Second, with a tub that large, a little TV mounted to the wall near it would really round out its offerings.
A brief walk from the resort will land visitors in an old-town style village filled with fashion boutiques, local restaurants and grocery stores. The small peninsula has recreational areas perfect for families with a carousel, playground and go-kart driving. Just southwest of Lake Arrowhead is the town of Blue Jay, which has a small concentration of hotspots like sports bars and the town’s movie theater. A little further up the same road is a restaurant called Stone Creek Bistro, which I highly recommend. This little restaurant has a cool old-time ambiance with some of the area's most creative dishes.
Considering Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa is the only hotel in the area that can provide visitors with lake access (even if somewhat limited), it would be foolish to stay anywhere else. This access to guests includes an hour-long boat ride around the lake where a guide will point out the homes of celebrities like Celine Dion, Jackie Chan, Christopher McDonald and Michelle Kwan.
When the temperatures rise, you can take a dip at the resort's private beach. The small stretch of sandy waterfront has lounge chairs and cabanas to relax in as well as a fire pit where guests gather on weekend evenings to hear stories and learn about the region. The resort also has a heated swimming pool and Jacuzzis for those times when the lake is just a pinch too frigid.
For those looking to relax, the spa includes a full salon, Botox injections, outdoor morning yoga, a massive gym, saunas, steam rooms, eight-head showers in the changing rooms and more. It also offers more services than any of Lake Arrowhead's day spas and, as such, has earned a local following.
Director of Sales and Marketing Gregory Roper informed us that sweeping changes are on their way to the menu at BIN 189, which is excellent news as the current lunch and dinner selections were adequate but not stellar. Even so, the kitchen staff's skill still shined through as their preparation of each dish was incredibly tasty. The restaurant itself has a cool ambiance to it with tons of little aesthetic details and on the weekends offers live music and a cool-lounge feel to it.
Guests can also order room service from BIN’s menu; our in-room breakfasts were the best meals we had during the stay, and portion sizes are huge. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pear Griddlecakes and my wife noted that the BIN 189 Egg Sandwich was excellent. Yet, the breakfast menu would also benefit from a few more additions or a full overhaul. With all this in mind, I can't currently recommend dining at BIN 189 until the menu is recreated to the new head chef's choices. However, the location is well worth visiting to sample wines from the extensive wine list or to enjoy a few cocktails and brews while watching a sporting event.
Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa showed my wife and I a great time since we had gone here expecting a few days of restful repose. When I asked her to briefly summarize our trip, she simply responded with a single word: relaxing (and I couldn't agree more). Vacationers simply looking for a peaceful getaway should have Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa at the top of their choices. The hotel, lake and surrounding town offer guests activities and places to visit that'll help fill up a schedule with a suitable retreat.