Posted by: cvancil | June 5, 2009

Staying at the beach on a budget – it’s possible!

Mark Kahler of about.com has a fantastic article about staying in Pismo Beach at a particular hotel, and encourages us budgeted travelers to seek out the deals for where we want to stay.  This time, he gives us an idea, and it just might work out for that budget of mine for one of my next visits.

Of course, the best deals can be found during the off-season, generally between October and March/April/May, depending on where you want to stay.

One of America’s great drives is California Highway 1 between Monterey and Pismo Beach.

It’s about 150 miles between the two cities, but if you drive it correctly, that relatively short distance should fill at least one full day.

The scenic highway twists, turns, climbs and falls through some of the Pacific Coast’s most rugged coastline. It offers travelers delightful and amazing vistas for picnics or just a few moments of quiet adoration.

At the southern end of this route is Shore Cliff Lodge, a Best Western hotel owned by Martin Resorts. The highway is at one end of the 100-unit property, and the Pacific Ocean at the other.

Although Shore Cliff Lodge is an ideal starting point for the aforementioned journey, you will have to coax yourself to leave. It is majestically situated atop the cliffs, with a spectacular view of waves crashing on the huge rock formations below.

This is the kind of place to spend a lazy afternoon or evening walking the grounds or perhaps sitting on your balcony to admire what’s just beyond the railing.

Add to that the perfectly landscaped grounds and you have a setting that routinely hosts more than 100 outdoor wedding ceremonies each year. Check out the scenery in the Pismo Beach photo gallery.

As you might imagine, a place like this is not set up to cater exclusively to budget travelers. In fact, the adjoining Pelican Point Restaurant is well-known locally for its Champagne Sunday brunch, and some dinner entries exceed $30 USD. They even have in-room spa treatments that start at $70 for a 30 minute session.

Unfortunately, these facts and the special setting of this hotel will scare off some value-minded travelers, who will settle for less elsewhere.

The property features an oceanfront pool and fitness area in addition to all the wonderful vistas.

In the non-summer months, two people can book an ocean view, king room here for as little as $129/night. Peak season prices can exceed $249/night, making those times a bit of a splurge for many budget travelers. Weekend rates tend to be higher as well.

But this experience can easily cost $500/night or more along the California coast, and many of those more expensive places will lack the nicely appointed rooms and excellent service found here.

Another positive for Shore Cliff Lodge is its casual, welcoming atmosphere. With some of its upscale amenities, it could easily be pretentious and stuffy. But the check-in area has the comfortable ambiance of a ski lodge. Parking is free.

Pismo Beach itself offers inexpensive dining choices and a number of places to stock up for a picnic on the coastal highway to the north. It is also a short drive from vibrant San Luis Obispo, picturesque Morro Bay, artistic Cambria and the stately Hearst Castle at San Simeon.

Pismo Beach is within 35 miles of the halfway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco on U.S. 101. It makes a great stopping point on that trip, easily reachable from either place in less than four hours of driving.

Readers undoubtedly know of other such properties offering rare scenic beauty and quality accommodations without the outrageous room rates. The key is to look beyond the expensive-looking benefits for value. It might surprise you to know it can be found in almost any tourist location on earth–but you must be willing to find it.

*Pictures and text courtesy of about.com*

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