By: Sarah Simon
There's nothing like a good road trip. You pack the cooler, your swimsuit, your favorite tunes and zip out on the open road for a grand adventure. I like to think that sometimes the destination lies in the journey but that other times your path leads you to something you would have never expected; almost as if you stumbled upon something with surprisingly outstanding qualities unseen by the common eye and usually found by luck.
As Central Coast dwellers we're privy to countless gems; some more hidden that others. With luck on my side I was fortuitous enough to visit one of these gems last weekend when I received an invitation from a group of close friends who recently bought seven lakefront rental homes on Lake Nacimento. The previous owners were a family who owned the space for 50 years so the new owners took it upon themselves to add some freshness and modernity to these timeless lakefront properties and with the rentals up and running for summer, the new owners graciously encouraged a weekend getaway. Without missing a beat I cleared my schedule and prepared for a road trip to Land’s End!
My husband and I drove 75 minutes up to North County through a scenic stretch of rolling hills and windy roads. Blooming wildflowers covered the stretch into the shimmering waters through a maze of lakefront homes. The aerial views of the lake were incredible as we approached the gate welcoming us to Land's End.
We were greeted by one of the partners who so generously gave us a history and tour of the property. Each home has its own name and distinguishing features complete with hard wood floors, custom finishes, uniquely assembled decor and a wraparound deck overlooking the lake.
Our guide was kind enough to let us choose our bungalow for the night (which was almost impossible) and after some serious deliberation we decided to stay in the home nicknamed Water's Edge. This particular space had two bedrooms, one bath with a full modern kitchen, dining room and living area. A flat screen connected to Direct TV rested on the wall with several DVD’s and board games on the coffee table. The deck was strung with twinkle lights and a white crochet hammock facing Lake Naci.
We enjoyed a picnic style lunch on the patio as we planned the day’s activities and watched the boats go by. There were a lot of people on the water wakeboarding, waterskiing, tubing, jet skiing and fishing. I even saw a dog in a life vest cruising with his owners on a joy ride around the booies. Choosing our activities was challenging as we had our choice of jet skis, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and even a paddle boat, but we knew we needed to get in the water so instead of choosing just one we decided to do them all!
Jumping in the tepid waters was exhilarating! I can’t even begin to count the number of times we leapt off the dock, which was only a two-minute stroll from the house. The property actually has three docks, which is perfect for large groups and various activities, so we had tons of space to enjoy the water. After a full day of play we settled in and prepared a nice dinner using one of the many wood fire grills. We even had the option to barbeque on a custom made grill with a Land's End logo plasma cut in the top. Bottom line, this house had plenty of space to lounge, grill and entertain.
We watched the sunset in the midst of the flickering twinkle lights and enjoyed the stillness of the lake as the daylight dwindled into darkness. The stars twinkled as we rocked and dozed on the hammock, and the next thing I knew my loving husband was carrying me into the cozy casa.
The sun soon rose amongst a foggy distance and I embraced the porch and its spaciousness with a gentle yoga practice. The lake stood still and I felt grateful to be in the presence of water. That's the real message here. Land's End at Lake Nacimento represents a gathering place. A place to enjoy California's man made beauty and remember the importance of family, friends and everyone special your life. It's a place where recreational activities thrive and happiness sores. It’s the perfect getaway.
A real hidden gem.
The staff at the Avila Lighthouse Suites, once you arrive, are not so sweet.
I had entered the #centralcoasting contest via Instagram. After the long year my family has gone through, I thought perhaps if I won the contest, it would be a sign things were turning around. One of my photos was ultimately chosen as the winner, and I was contacted by the marketing director Lori. I was told I could choose any Martin Resorts location to receive a free 1-night stay. I was so excited, telling everyone I know I had won. I looked over each property's website, carefully comparing packages and amenities (after all, I live on the beach....the amenities are the WHOLE POINT of a "stay-cation"). My fiancé and I both agreed that we should stay at the Lighthouse Suites, and upgrade to the "Romantic Avila Beach Dinner Escape" to make the night special. Understanding the way rack-rates work, I chose to book on a weekday (in order to minimize the financial impact on the company who was giving us the opportunity).
I booked the room on February 17th, speaking with a very pleasant young lady named Kaitlyn. She was kind, and thorough when I asked about upgrading my stay. She was professional, and put me on hold to consult her supervisor. When she returned to the line, she let me know it would be just under $100 to upgrade the room. I gladly booked it.
On Sunday I received a confirmation call from Kathy, who was also very helpful. She confirmed our romantic package, and my excitement started to peak.
Thursday was check in day. After handling all of our responsibilities, we headed out to Avila Beach to relax at 4:30 pm. I handed the receptionist our gift certificate, and she asked me to hold on for a moment, as she disappeared behind a door. Another woman came out, Amy, to inform me she had "called and left a message" on my phone informing me that the gift certificate was unable to upgraded. I pulled my phone out (thank you Apple for this nice huge screen u can't ignore) and showed her my voice-mail box had no such message. I then asked her if she dialed the correct area code when she called (my phone is not based in CA). Immediately she realized the error, and did everything she could to calm down my agitated fiancé and myself.
Our room still ended up having an amazing ocean view, and Amy brought us the champagne (not local, nor good), and glasses we expected to be in the room. She also went a step above to say "I'm sorry", and included a couple boxes of nice truffles. The night started to turn around.
We met Lou Ferrigno on the street on our way to dinner at Custom House. We had a great wine tasting around the corner. Then we decided to go relax back at the Hotel.
The Hot tub was full of kids, most of which were well behaved. However we ultimately got driven from the hot tub, so we decided to play the giant checkers we noticed below our balcony. Nope. For some reason they were put away. It's 8:45 at this point, so we decide to go lay down.
This morning we enjoyed the bountiful breakfast bar, which sadly became the highlight of our stay. We decided to take a stroll on the beach afterward, then soak in the hot tub as soon as it opened (hoping the kids would still be asleep). We were right. It was awesome to lay in the warm (slightly green) water as the waves crashed behind me.
After soaking, we realized this resort didn't provide towels poolside, so we'd have to head to the room, all wet, in the cold morning breeze. My fiancé mentions the cold made her have to pee, so we needed to hurry back to the room. As I put the key in the lock, I get a red light. Still locked. After about 5 more attempts, I figure the key is no longer programmed. I run to the lobby, thinking it would be a quick fix. Wrong. There was 1 person ahead of me, so as I entered I was greeted with a gruff "I'll be right with you". I'm standing in the lobby dripping wet, while my fiancé is about to pee herself in the cold, assuming I'd be right back. I stood for 5 minutes while Lola attended to the other guest, while telling me "it's probably demagnetized because of your cell phone", like I was an idiot. I stood for another 5 minutes before I was "helped". Lola was curt throughout the process, seeming to judge me by appearance, and deciding I was beneath her (at least that's how her vocal inflection made me feel). Lola finally deemed me worthy of having my room key operational, and completed the operation. Upon returning to my fiancé, I see she's in tears. We packed and left shortly after 9am.
I contacted Lori at Martin Resorts, to let her know what happened that same day (hoping for a simple "we're sorry, and we'll do what we can to not let this same thing happen to someone else"). I left a message for her, informing her of our dissapointment. I never received a return phone call. I left a message, a few days later, with the HR manager. Same thing, no return call. I did finally receive a response, by way of social media. All Martin Resorts properties (the same ones that were reposting, and retweeting my excitement) removed @slocountyinfo from their list of followings. Not only did no one reach out for more details, or to give a hollow "sorry", but they remove us from their sight. We had been holding off on publishing this article, wanting to give Martin Resorts a chance to show our experience was an anomaly, not the norm. By not taking the time to reach out, they've shown us that the personnel issues are systemic, from the corporate level down. We're still waiting for a call, and will update this article if it ever happens.
Martin Resorts had a great idea, "take a local resident, we they know posts on social media, and give them a room". However, the staff completely sullied the experience. With so many amazing resorts in the area, make sure you choose one that will deliver....one without the Martin Resorts name behind it.
San Luis Obispo Blog
We look to provide ideas to get folks away from the couch, and out exploring California. We aim to provide day-trips. We want to provide suggestions of things to do, in a single day. Whether you're from out-of-town, or looking to get to know the our magnificent section of California (and beyond) a little better....we want to inspire you to explore.