California’s Mammoth Mountain and Lake Tahoe’s Northstar Bike Parks Make The “Top 10 Bike Parks in the World”

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This week, I’d like to feature some excerpts from the title article written by Dave Scorer, business creator of the best and most comprehensive Mountain Bike Park Web site around – World Bike Parks.com . Although Dave’s informative and interesting piece covers great top ten bike parks from around the world, we’re going to take a look at two of these winners, right here in our own backyard mountain resort towns of Mammoth Lakes and Lake Tahoe. So here’s what he has to say about how to pick a winner!

“So how do you identify the top 10 bike parks…? I mean number one is obvious. Few people would argue that Whistler Bike Park leads the pack in probably every single metric you’d care to choose, from the number of trails to offering the best development programs for kids. But who is in the chasing pack?

First, we have to start by defining the basis for how we selected the top 10. We have to assume that when we talk about a “Top 10” we actually mean the “best” bike parks. But how exactly do you decide which bike park is better than another – what are your measures of performance? It can’t be personal opinion, although that will always affect your own top 10 no matter how much you don’t want to accept it! We fully admit that it has played a part in our decision making, but we have put together something of an ‘engineering’ approach in order to normalize the results and reduce the possibility for bias or opinion placing a bike park higher up the list than it should be.”

#10: Mammoth Mountain, USA

“Mammoth Mountain in California squeezes in to the top 10. For riders of a certain generation, Mammoth is legendary. Home of the Kamikaze, many will remember the days of Myles Rockwell and Missy Giove bombing down the fireroad on a classic Cannondale Super-V Downhill rig with clouds of dust billowing up behind them! And guess what – it’s back for 2013, with the Kamikaze Bike Games going off in September. Get there if you can.”

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Mammoth Mountain Bike Park – Dave Scorer

#7: Northstar California Resort, USA

“Sponsored by Giant, Northstar Tahoe might surprise a few by making the top 10 but the stats put it there! Joint 3rd in the total number of trails, there is also the vertical to back it up. The Northstar Bike Academy offers excellent programs for all bikers, brand new or seasoned, looking to improve their techniques and step up in riding ability. Set in stunning scenery on the shores of Lake Tahoe there can’t be many better places to hone your skills!”

Northstar Bike Park

Northstar Bike Park – Dave Scorer

If you want to learn more from Dave about how they picked the winners, as well as how they measured and ranked the performance of each of the parks, including factors such as the trails, vertical drop, values, and reputation, read the rest of his article at http://www.worldbikeparks.com/blog/the-top-10-series/the-top-10-bike-parks-in-the-world .

And then, when you’ve decided which of these awesome local California bike parks – or both – that you want to try out, World Bike Park’s lodging partner, City Concierge Mammoth reservations, has some special mountain bike lodging packages with discounts for riders to help you seal the deal and save some money for some cold refreshments after a long, exhilarating day of rides on the mountains!

Here are City Concierge’s deals for you:

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Mammoth – MOUNTAIN BIKE PACKAGE

Show us your mountain bike park pass and we will give you 15% off your lodging on selected Mountainback, Ski and Racquet, or Discover 4 units. Search for unit, and then call us to get the discount!

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Northstar – MOUNTAIN BIKE PACKAGE

Stay in one of our Northstar rentals when you ride at Northstar Mountain Bike Park and we’ll give you 15% off your stay. 3 or more nights minimum Lake Tahoe rentals PROMO: NLT SV15off

Although it didn’t make the top ten list, Kirkwood Bike Park, a quick drive from south Lake Tahoe, is an outstanding, popular park in its own right. you’ll feel like you’re at the top of the world here! Learn more about from World Bike Park’s Kirkwood page.

KirkwoodMOUNTAIN BIKE PARK SPECIAL

Stay in one of our Tahoe Keys rentals when you ride the park at Kirkwood, and we will give you 15% off your stay. There is a 3 or more nights minimum. Tahoe Keys Rentals  PROMO: NLT SV50off

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Flexible Travel Days + Technology = Cheaper Family Mountain Resort Vacations

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Family trips use to mean you only vacationed during the Flexible Travel Days. Yet the key to saving on California flexible travel days is your family having a flexible travel schedule and knowing the California school vacation calendar to avoid the holiday rush when everything is more expensive and crowded. Fortunately, this is now possible for you since most schools have Websites, Facebook pages and teachers’ emails. This lets your kids stay on top of their school work with assignments from teachers, and notes and projects from fellow classmates, even when away on vacation. Technology also allows you to work remotely, if needed. So, your family can now travel during “off days” when it is cheaper to vacation with better deals and rates, with more lodging available.

Today, the tourism trend is for everyone to take their resort vacations during the same holidays.  For example, you can use your smart vacation dollar savings by reserving your Mammoth Sierra lodging choices for your family early or around the schedules  to avoid these periods of higher demands and prices. Some of the more expensive times are the Christmas, New Years, Martin Luther King and Presidents Holidays. Also, there are usually three-to-four-day required lodging stays during these periods. So, be sure to plan your lodging reservation dates well in advance to beat these larger crowds and higher prices.

Some of the best times for you to think about booking California mountain resort vacation rentals are just after the peak season has ended, or just before peak season begins. With your flexible family vacation schedule, certain holiday breaks and off-season times are in less demand and less expensive. Getaways during these periods will result in more affordable vacations, with more money left in your bank or available for your other family fun during the vacation. The winter holiday periods are Ski Week beginning the week after President’s Day Monday through Friday, and the Spring Break week. Spring Break and Easter often coincide. And many businesses let employees have extended time off for religious holidays because of cuts in the schedule or mandatory vacation times – maybe you can take advantage of this, too. For winter resorts, regular season ends just after Easter when prices on lodging plummet. And after the summer rush, anytime in September, after Labor Day, up till Thanksgiving is also not high season and rates will be remarkably less.

If your family can take advantage of flexible vacation schedules and days, you can benefit from some real savings on vacation rental homes and cabins. Many resorts are 50% empty during these off-season times so they will offer bargains to entice you to plan your trip for when everyone else isn’t. Coming before Christmas vacation is one way to get the best rates. Likewise, for New Years, many companies offer their employees extended time off, so coming after the holidays is another good option. This may be perfect for your family if you want to save, as rates at many resorts will drop after New Years, meaning a 20-40% savings.

Another great way for you to save on flexible vacations is by having your kids use technology so your family doesn’t become trapped by the school holiday schedule. Most vacation rentals have access to the Internet, and there is always the local Starbucks. If your children are not involved in sports, then you can comfortably take them out of school and let them use technology to stay up with the class while traveling as a family during non-prime-time season. Many classrooms create their own specific Facebook page where students can help each other by uploading and sharing homework notes and problem solving. They can also use Skype and Facebook Instant Messaging features to communicate their “status” individually and as a group so that they build a community around the page. This is clearly beneficial for your kids “grabbing the notes” and working on joint projects when they go on vacation.

Additionally, parents can work remotely on their job projects through the Internet and conference calling if needed. You can use “Go To My PC”, a program that allows you to connect to your own home PC, or “Go To My Office” (same company business edition) and connect to your business computer. These kinds of telecommuting tools used on your own traveling laptop let you do everything you would if you were in the office. This flexibility allows for a vacation schedule that will save you a bundle.

For example, at many of the bigger ski resorts, such as Mammoth Mountain , a lift ticket can go as low as $65 for an adult during these times, which is a huge savings off the regular $120 lift tickets during holiday times. And even better savings come from taking advantage of mid-week deals and rates, any days Sunday through Friday. The key here to saving on your Mammoth vacation rentals is to avoid staying Saturday night.

With the many technology choices available for both your students, as well as you, the parents, the freedom of a flexible family vacation schedule is a real possibility. Planning your trip to maximize the value of vacation dollars and minimize the limitations of travel periods is simply smart math. These kinds of calculations equal more family vacation savings, better choices and fewer crowds. The numbers are in your favor.

Don’t Get Scammed On Your Next Resort Vacation

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The simple and convenient use of online vacation rental Web sites is on the rise and has become the new norm for many people planning a trip. Vacation lodging is being reserved through computers and smart phones, on commuter rails and lunch breaks, and while watching the kid’s soccer game. Unfortunately, vacation-rental-scams are also on the rise. Sadly, the scams are proliferating and horror stories are surfacing from consumers who were unaware. The last thing anyone wants to worry about is being scammed on vacation.

Also, more and more vacationers are choosing the ease and comfort of staying in a vacation rental home rather than in a hotel when they travel to a resort. The hustles and bustles of a hotel aren’t always the most relaxing, the cost can be quite a bit higher and the creature comforts are missing. The advantages to vacation home and cabin rentals over individual hotel rooms are many, with the larger space, improved privacy and shared living areas making this choice preferred by numerous travelers. However, booking these homes online through a private party can be risky for the renter.

According to an August 2010 leading travel industry article by Tnooz, “Industry studies show that the overwhelming majority of travelers (up to 80%) select their accommodation through the Internet, and over 50% end up booking online.”

Most vacation rental Web sites are trustworthy. As one California resort reservation booking company pointed out, “working with a local and professional vacation rental Web-based business helps avoid the rip-off and the enticing to-good-to-be-true advertisements that are found on Craigslist, Backpages.com, larger national sites, or other Web sites where fraudulent perpetrators lie.”

So how can the public tell the good guys from the bad guys? Not all rental scams are that obvious. Here are several important characteristics to look for when deciding on which online vacation rental business to use and choosing the right property:

  • Is the vacation rental Web site locally or regionally-based? Real businesses have real local or regional addresses. Google their address. The vacation property itself should have an address for Google Maps verification. If it doesn’t ask a telephone agent for it. Then Google it.
  • Does the Web site business have a working phone number? Call them and talk to them, or notice how soon they return any messages left. Real businesses have real professional and knowledgeable employees who provide quality information. They also use a consistent email address in their correspondence. The email address should be the same as the domain name, not a “free” email box from Yahoo, MSN, AOL or Gmail.
  • Do they have a high quality and currently dated Web site? Real businesses have their name the same as their Web site address (the URL). When they have good, original content on their site, such as “local activities to do”, this helps to prove their credibility.
  • When was the business started? Do they have a trademark and a business license? If they don’t provide this, do not do business with them. This is public information; you can find it easily with a search.
  • Are the photos of the vacation rentals really theirs? If the photo has a watermark on it that is NOT the same as their URL, these guys might be bogus. Fake sites steal photos from legitimate Web sites.
  • What is their payment system? Credit cards are the absolutely safest way to go, offering protection through disputed charges if something goes astray. If they want, cash, wire transfers, money orders or a personal check written to their first name, run the other way.
  • 24-hour service is important. Does this company/person have a local representative that is within an hour of any service call? What happens if the heat goes out in a snow storm? Often when renting direct with an owner there is no 24/7 service which is how they compete to keep the price down. Why ruin your vacation?

We found a couple of good ones that are inter-related in Mammoth Lakes.  Mammoth Lakes Reservations and Guest Services seems to is creditable. There is a small site called Mammoth Luxury Rentals that has gorgeous vacation rentals. Any online business is potentially susceptible to being a fraud when money and “products” are exchanged through a virtual format. Dealing with a fraudulent vacation rental “business” is like going to a car dealer that sells you a lemon – it looks really good at the dealer but turns into a nightmare on the road. A “buyer” should use the same smart due diligence with an online vacation rental Web site. This way they will get what they paid for and be spared a vacation disaster. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

EASTERN SIERRA EARNS LONELY PLANET’S 2013 TOP TEN US VACATIONS – Explore and Experience “California’s Secret Dream”

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Described as “California’s Secret Dream” by Lonely Planet travel author, Robert Reid, the Eastern Sierra made the cut for the 2013 top ten US travel destinations. Vacationers who have already experienced this unique, breathtaking part of California fully know that there is no other place like it on the planet, and why it won this coveted distinction. Those yet to explore the Eastern Sierra can trust the well-known Lonely Planet’s recommendation to deliver a travel destination guaranteed to delight with lifetime memories.

Reid writes in his recent December Lonely Planet article that the Highway 395 National Scenic Byway, running along the Eastern Sierra escarpment, is “the overlooked flank of the Sierra Nevada range, with other-worldly natural attractions and surprises (Basque culture?), not to mention far fewer visitors.”

The Lonely Planet, world-known travel experts, editors and publishers of hundreds of articles and guidebooks, annually review US travel destinations and then select that year’s top-ten winners for “travelers to add to their wish lists.” This year, the number six spot deservedly belongs to the quieter and wilder side of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Just a few of the reasons why are:

−        Over 200 miles of scenic byway threading through one-of-a-kind geological wonders

−        Towering 14,000’ granite peaks

−        Unbroken wilderness vistas with azure cloud-accented skies

−        Unique flora, fauna and landscapes – a photographer’s dream

−        Natural hot springs, cascading waterfalls, pristine fishing lakes and crystal-clear streams

−        A world-renowned ski resort with year-round activities and adventures for all ages

−        Rich cultural heritage: Gold Rush ghost towns, Native American, Basque and Japanese

−        Infinite camping, hiking, and biking opportunities, as well as famous Pacific Crest Trails

−        Great restaurants, relaxed and friendly mountain towns and even friendlier locals

Fortunately, for everyone chomping at the bit to add the Eastern Sierra to their travel itinerary, there is a vast amount of quality lodging available in Mammoth Lakes and especially the Eastern Sierra, one of the more popular year-round destinations with ample day-trip options. Campgrounds, hotels, condos, cabins and even luxury vacation homes are in abundance. Although, the Eastern Sierra still has fewer visitors than some California destinations, lodging can fill up during holidays and school vacations.

Local Mammoth Lakes lodging reservation and concierge company, City Concierge, states that “spur-of-the-moment vacation reservations are often possible in the Mammoth Sierra; however, planning and booking in advance are the best ways to ensure more and better lodging choices and available dates. That way you get to truly experience the marvels of the Eastern Sierra when and how you want to.”

The Lonely Planet is right – 2013 is the year to begin a first-hand exploration of “California’s Secret Dream.” It’s a vacation destination that draws many return visits, always offering something new to experience. No matter what the varied tastes of each traveler and with more generous choices of sights to see and activities to do than is possible in a single visit, boredom will never be an issue on the “wilder side of California.”

Welcome to Mammoth Lakes California

Mining is what started it all. Deep in the Eastern Sierra the mountains had kept away many until 1858 when gold and silver were discovered in the Comstock Lode. Soon minters from Lake Tahoe had invaded the area searching for their lucky strike. The Mammoth Mining Company was born and for ten years Mammoth was a boom town. It stayed pretty much the same until 1937 when a real highway was built and Dave McCoy discovered something about Mammoth that only the previous residents knew. It had great water.

Today Mammoth Lakes California is a thriving resort town filled with fishing, hiking and mountain biking in summer and world class skiing and snowboarding in winter.  Boasting the longest ski season of any United States resort, Mammoth Mountain is generally open from mid November through May and often till 4th of July.  It is a great place to visit, better place live and one of the most beautiful on earth.