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Yosemite National Parks Hotels -  Ahwahnee Hotel Accommodations

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ahwahnee yosemite hotel


Yosemite National Park Hotels are set amongst the towering trees, the giant sequoias that grace this region with spectacular displays of shadows and light. It's hard to believe there's a Four Diamond luxury hotel set amongst this forested national park.


But there's not only a fabulous AAA Four Diamond National Historic Landmark, Ahwahnee Hotel set to the backdrop of sheer cliffs, there are also several more rustic hotels that allow visitors to enjoy the woods and forests of rugged California without roughing it too much.


When the Ahwahnee opened at the east end of the Yosemite Valley in July, 1927, it welcomed not only an eager public, but movie stars, heads of state, artists, politicians and photographer Ansel Adams, who stayed there often. The guest list included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Shah of Iran, Herbert Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Gertrude Stein, Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Lucille Ball, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, Greta Garbo, John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. It is not uncommon to see limousines in the parking lot of this lodge set amongst one of California's most beautiful forests.


The building which receives its landmark designation for its architectural elements, was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood. Responsible for varied projects that ranged from Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon, Timberline, Sun Valley and Williamsburg Lodges, to the San Francisco Mint and the Federal courthouses in Los Angeles and Seattle Underwood was known for his versatility. At Ahwahnee, there were cost overruns during construction but the project was considered so important to tourism that no corners were cut in creating this landmark piece.


The building's irregular, asymmetrical shape and materials such as rough-cut granite and concrete looks like wood siding and structural timbers between the piers but is actually concrete, poured into formwork that shapes it to look like horizontal redwood siding and large milled timbers. The stain on the concrete, similar in color to pine bark and redwood lumber, reinforces that illusion that the fabric is wood. Not everything is as it seems in Ahwahnee, though one theme is carried throughoutintegration with the natural environment.


The Ahwahnee contains a six-story central block and three story wings accented by balconies and terraces that add a spatial interest to the exterior. The principal entrance through a porte-cochere is more subdued with the most impressive views of the hotel seen in the southern meadows. (Ahwahnee was derived from an Indian term meaning deep, grassy meadow. Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada was set aside as a national park in 1890 and has maintained the magic shared by Ahwahnee through the years. The park includes spectacular mountains, valleys, reflecting lakes, waterfalls, forests that include groves of giant sequoias and flower-filled meadows that spring to life with colorful blossoms annually, framing the hotel perfectly.


The  hotel contains a Great Lounge with a 24-foot-high ceiling of exposed girders and beams painted with bands of Indian designs, enormous fireplaces at opposite ends of the Lounge, Persian rugs and floor-to-ceiling windows with 5x6-foot stained glass panels. Directly off the Lounge are the California Room, the Writing Room, and the solarium. The California room contains decorations of memorabilia from the Gold Rush days. A 6,630 square feet dining room has a gable-roofed ceiling 34 feet high and are comprised of massive granite piers interspersed with 11 floor-to-ceiling windows.