June 28, 2016

FAQ

The following Information is Copyright (C) 1994-2016 Doug Coatney reproduction or distribution without prior written consent is strictly prohibited.

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Q: Why do you call your property a “cabin”?

A: The “cabin” is actually a free standing house. It’s not a condo, it’s a standalone house in the Tahoe Paradise neighborhood. We call it a cabin simply because it helps us distinguish between the house we live in in San Jose and the vacation house we visit in Lake Tahoe. Besides, Doug’s Cabin sounds better than Doug’s Vacation House 😉

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Q: How can I be certain that your house actually exists and that this isn’t just some sort of elaborate scam on the internet?

A: Good question! Actually it’s interesting how infrequently we are asked this question. Most folks are very trusting and send checks through the mail without verifying the integrity of the individual they’re dealing with.

For us it’s simple, there are many factors that indicate we’re not a fly by night organization:

  • I work for NetApp, Inc. (www.netapp.com)
  • You’re mailing checks to my home address, not a post office box
  • I have my own domain registered on the internet
  • I’ve been doing this for awhile now and have numerous references if you would like.

You can verify that our house exists by doing the following:

  1. Call information (530) 555-1212 and ask for a listing for Doug Coatney that’ll show we have a phone and address in South Lake Tahoe.
  2. Call Founder’s Title Company (530) 544-0100 and ask them to verify that the title to 1901 Susquehana Dr is indeed in the name of Doug Coatney.

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Q: What is the “10% El Dorado County Room Tax” and why do I have to pay it?

A: The El Dorado County Room Tax is a 10% tax which the County of El Dorado imposes on stays which are less than 30 days. The tax must be paid quarterly by the landlord out of escrow. In short, any cabin you rent in South Lake Tahoe should be charging this tax. If the property owner is not, they are breaking the law.

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Q: Where is the cabin located? (click here for a map)

A: The cabin is located ~3 miles down Pioneer Trail in South Lake Tahoe. (Pioneer is the stoplight in Myers when you come down the pass on 50 from placerville) Pioneer also starts about 1 mile past where 89 hits 50 in Myers.. So, the cabin is ~4 miles away from there.. 🙂

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Q: Your rates seem too good to be true. How do you afford to rent your property for the rates that you do when other rentals in the area are much much more?

A: If you’ve called around any of the rental agencies in the area, you are aware that we are an extremely great bargain. If you haven’t called around, here are some numbers to try:

Accommodation Station (Tahoe rentals realty) …………. (530) 542-5850
ERA Network Real Estate (Tahoe rentals realty) ……….. (800) 368-2463
Lake Tahoe Realty (rentals realty ) …………………. (530) 541-5282
M&M vacation rentals realty (South Lake Tahoe) ……….. (530) 542-2777
Lake Tahoe Accommodations (rental realty)…………….. (800) 544-3234
Tahoe Escape (rentals realty) ………………………. (530) 583-0151
Tahoe Keys/Cabin Resorts (rentals realty) ……………. (530) 544-5397

We typically compete at a price range of the 1-2 bedroom condo’s which are available in town. We’re able to do this because we have very low overhead. We re-evaluate our pricing structure each year and sometimes we raise the rates, but in general we use price and word of mouth as an advertising tool.

We don’t use a property management company. As a result, when you stay with us, you deal with us directly. There’s no middleman and no additional cost.

Typical property management companies charge a fee of 35% of the nightly rental amount for booking clients. For us to make the same amount of money that we do charging $150-$175 a night, we’d have to charge you $250+ a night — and you’d get the exact same product, just pay more for it to the property management company.

We are very hands on and are involved in the daily operation of the rental. We strive to be entirely up front with our renters and as a result have a large number of very happy repeat renters.

We strive to make the rental process as easy as possible. This is why we make so much information available to you. We want you to be informed of what you’re getting into. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the information we present. We’re just trying to let you know as much as we can to help prevent problems.

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Q: What type of heating does your cabin have?

A: The cabin has forced air natural gas heat throughout. We also have a wood burning stove, but this is merely for that “rustic” feel. You don’t need to use the wood burning stove unless you want to. We have a range, microwave and stove for cooking as well as a gas BBQ out on the deck.

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Q: What type of condiments does your cabin have?

A: In general, we don’t stock the cabin with condiments (ketchup, mayo, mustard etc). We do generally make sure that there is salt and pepper available, but that’s about it. If you’re planning on cooking in the house you should plan on bringing whatever spices and/or staples you will need for your meals because the food which is left in the house varies.

In a similar vein, you should not count on there being food in the house. Occassionally we have renters who leave food in the house and if it is sealed and unspoiled, our caretakers will leave it in the cabinet. Examples are: Hot Cocoa, Popcorn, soup etc. The contents and amount varies and should not be counted on for sustenance in an emergency.

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Q: What type of cooking utensils and dishes does your cabin have?

A: We have enough glassware, and dishes to set a table for 10 adults. There are an assortment of pots, & pans for cooking spaghetti, and other meals.

The cooking supplies and dishes are kind of generic. If you are planning on cooking while in the cabin and have need of something exotic like a garlic press, food processing machine, double boiler etc etc, you might want to bring them along with you.

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Q: What type of soaps does your cabin have?

A: We stock the cabin with the following soaps:

Dishwasher Soap
Dish washing soap
Liquid Hand Soap
Shampoo
Bath Soap
Laundry Detergent
Fabric Softener

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Q: Will I need chains to get to your cabin? How is access to your cabin in winter?

A: If you are flying into Reno International Airport and planning on renting a car, I strongly recommend you rent something with 4WD with mud and snow tires on it. Rental car agencies do not supply their cars with chains and typically don’t want you to use them on their cars.

I have seen the roads in Tahoe require chains as early as September and as late as June. So be prepared and make sure you have chains with you or are driving a car with 4WD and mud/snow tires on it. You’ll get stuck on the other side of chain control if you don’t have them.

As for getting down our street to our house, the county is responsible for plowing the streets in our neighborhood and we’re responsible for blowing the snow off the driveway and the deck. Under some situations it is possible to not need chains on the roads in town, yet you will need them in the neighborhood we live because the roads are icy or un-plowed. Typically this only happens after huge snowfalls of multiple feet, but it can happen and it is possible to be stranded in the house by snow.

Your best defense is to always have food and water on hand for several days. Of course, you’re only 3 miles from a grocery store so if worse came to worse, you could just walk out to pioneer and hitch a ride into town.

Pioneer Trail is plowed very quickly after a snowfall — it is a major route into the area and is used for emergency vehicles. Susquehana is relatively flat and goes out to Pioneer Trail. Susquehana to Jicarilla
and back out to Pioneer is a school bus route and is plowed generally the same day that it snows enough to be a problem (2’+). If you have a 4WD with good clearance you should not have any problems. Otherwise you might have to wait for the plows to come around during excessive snowfall conditions.

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Q: Who is responsible for snow removal at your house? I.E. will I have to shovel my way to the door?

A: We have snow removal service which will be by to blow the snow from the driveway as well as the deck. They generally will come by after about 1-2′ of accumulation occurs. If you need to come and go prior to their arrival, we provide some snow shovels which are located in the ski storage locker out on the deck, for you to use to clear a path to the door and your car.

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Q: Does your cabin have air conditioning?

A: In the summer, the nights are generally quite cool (40’s-50’s) in the Tahoe region so the cabin has an opportunity to cool down very nicely. We don’t have air conditioning because frankly we don’t think it’s necessary. Even in the dead of summer it seldomly climbs much over 80-90 degrees in the sierras.

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Q: How far is it from _________ to your house?

A: To Reno Nevada Airport: ~55 miles
To Kirkwood Ski area: 30 miles
To Sierra at Tahoe Ski area: 12 miles
To Heavenly Ski area (Nevada): 10 miles
To stateline and the Casinos: 5 miles
To Heavenly Ski area (California): 4 miles
To South Lake Tahoe Airport: 4 miles
To nearest gasoline: 3 miles
To nearest supermarket/drugstore: 3 miles
To the Lake ~4 miles

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Q: I’ve called you several times and your cabin is almost always booked for the timeframes I’m interested in. How can I get the days I want?

A: Our availability for popular time frames tends to book up very quickly. This is due to a large amount of repeat business and to the fact that when you compare our rates, and features we are a great bargain.

The answer is “it depends”. If you’re interested in a popular holiday time frame, such as Christmas or New Years, you need to book very early. We traditionally have booked these time frames by August. Last year was particularly odd in that it booked in March.

A good general rule of thumb for winter is at least 3 months in advance. For example it’s now January and we’ve been booked through March for the past month with only some sporadic mid week days still available.

We generally don’t have cancellations so nothing really frees up in our schedule — but check back, you never know if it might change.

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Q: Why won’t you reserve a date until you receieve a check? I called and told you I was interested and sent a check to you, but you called me back a couple days later and told me the time was not available any more.

A: This is a difficult situation. We’ve had several situations where people have been talking with us about staying a particular time and then were upset when that time frame was taken by someone else. (I.E. checks passed in the mail)

Unfortunately, we’re kind of in a catch-22 situation. We’d like to honor folks’ intentions, but we simply cannot determine by talking to someone over the phone if they are serious about renting or not. When a check shows up in the mail we know that people are serious about renting. For this reason we stress that rentals are on a first come first serve basis.

Our official policy is that your reservation is only confirmed when we actually receive a deposit check from you.

In some instances when people are renting for extended stays or holiday time periods, we will unofficially hold the cabin for a few days to insure that the check arrives. This typically needs to be a minimum of more than a weeks stay.

Our advice to you is to use UPS Next Day/Express Mail/Federal Express and to not book airline reservations until we have confirmed with you your reservation by receiving a check from you.

Please DO NOT send your check via certified mail. This requires us to visit the post office in order to recieve your check. UPS/Express Mail/Federal Express all have outstanding instructions to leave packages at our house.

Another option is to use Paypal to do an immediate debit on your checking account. We do not accept credit cards unfortunately.

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Q: What do I need to do to rent from you?

A: Basically I need a check for $400 (security deposit) to reserve the cabin. I will then need the balance 30 days prior to your rental unless you are renting over a holiday period in which case I will need the balance 60 days prior to your rental.

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Q: Who do I make checks payable to and where do I mail them?

A: You can mail the check made payable to Doug Coatney to:

Doug Coatney
59 Donna Adelle Ct
San Jose, CA 95127
(408) 493-5070

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Q: I called you at your work number to inquire about renting your cabin and you seemed short with me, why?

 

A: Please only call my home number (408) 493-5070 unless you are staying at our cabin and it is an emergency. NetApp pays me to work for them while I am at work so I ask that you not call while I’m at work.

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Q: I want to rent from you, but I don’t want to stay the 7 night minimum which you require when bookings are made more than 4 months in advance.

I want to rent from you, but I don’t want to stay the 4 night minimum which you require when bookngs are made more than 4 weeks in advance. What can I do?

A: The main reason we have these minimum night requirements is to avoid booking just the weekends — months in advance. Being close to the bay area, there is a large demand for “weekends”. However we find that 30 days in advance is plenty of time to rent to folks for just the weekends. We use the 7 and 4 night minimum to keep weeks open for families and out of state people who typically like to stay in the area longer than just two nights.

Basically you have some options:

  1. Wait until it’s less than 4 months for a 4 night minimum stay and hope that the cabin is still available.
  2. Wait until it’s less than 4 weeks (~30 days) and hope that the cabin is still available.
  3. Send us a deposit check for $400.
  4. The 7 night minimum is removed once it’s 4 months prior to the time you want to stay. By sending us a check for $400, you guarantee that you’ll be the first person in line for a stay shorter than 7 nights. (Unless of course someone else has already sent us a check). We don’t cash the check until we can guarantee you the 4 night stay and the 7 night minimum is lifted.
  5. The 4 night minimum is removed once it’s 4 weeks prior to the time you want to stay. By sending us a check for $400, you guarantee that you’ll be the first person in line for a stay shorter than 4 nights. (Unless of course someone else has already sent us a check). We don’t cash the check until we can guarantee you the stay and the 4 night minimum is lifted.
  6. – If the cabin ends up renting for 7 or 4 nights, we’ll send your check back to you or shred it — whichever is your preference.

NOTE: We have had people who sent deposits for X night rentals in this manner get bumped by people who have sent deposits for X+1 night rentals. So you need to indicate exactly how many nights you’re interested in staying when you do this — and if you’re willing to go to X+1 instead of X should the situation arise.

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Q: Do I have to pay the $150 cleaning charge? What if I’m only staying one night? Can I do the cleaning and save some money?

A: In short the answer is yes, yes and no. We’ve found that $150 is a reasonable amount to charge for cleaning. It breaks down to $125 for the house and $25 for the hot tub.

Previously we did allow people to clean the house themselves and we asked that they “leave it as they found it”. But unfortunately everyone has a different definition of what “clean” is and we found that certain tasks such as cleaning the oven, microwave, toilets and showers just weren’t getting done properly. That’s why we changed policies. Besides, do you really want to scrubb toilets and spend hours doing laundry on your vacation? That’s what it takes to do the towels, and linen for 10 adults!

I know that when I rented cabins in the Lake Tahoe area that allowed you to do your own cleaning I never could get the cleaning done good enough for them to return my entire security deposit — no matter how hard I tried. It really used to be a sore point with me.

By us having a cleaning charge, we can insure that the jobs that need to get done are and that you’re charged fairly for the service. Don’t think of it as a fee, think of it as a service.

As for a single night rental, we have the exact same cost to clean the house as if you’d stayed 7 nights and made a complete mess. We still have to pay the $125 for cleaning the house and $125 for cleaning the hot tub.

This is one reason why we almost NEVER have 1 night rentals. The cost is roughly $250 for rental and cleaning and you also have to put up a deposit of $400 which means that you’ve shelled out $650 for a single night’s rent from 5:00pm to 11:00am! Typically you’re far better off staying at a motel for a single night!

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Q: If you don’t take reservations without receiving a check from someone, what are the “tenatively reserved” dates on the calendar?

A: It’s simple, those are dates that we are planning on using the cabin. That’s also why they are reserved for less than 4 nights far more than 4 weeks in advance.

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Q: Why don’t you accept credit cards?

A: As you know, credit cards require a fee from the merchant. We would have to pass this on to you in the form of higher rental charges. We have chosen to just work on a check basis.

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Q: What happens if I loose one of the keys you put out for me?

A: If any of the key sets are missing when you checkout, we call you and ask you to look for them. If you inadvertantly take a key home with you, we recommend you mail it to us CERTIFIED — it’s not our fault if the keys get lost in the mail. Mailing it certified is for your own protection.

Basically we will call a locksmith to come out to the house and re-key all the locks and cut roughly 10 new copies. The cost for this service will be deducted from your security deposit.

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Q: When will I get my security deposit back?

A: After your stay, we have our cleaning service stop by and clean the house. They check the house out and get back to me. In general you should have your security deposit back within a week. Under some situations (when I’m on vacation) it might take a little longer to get it back to you. If you haven’t received it, feel free to give us a call. We have unfortunately lost checks in the mail before.

The big exception to this when something is damaged or missing from the house. We’ll have to assess each situation and will be in contact with you about the remedy of each problem.

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Q: What is the Maximum Occupancy of the House

A: The house is equipped to sleep 10 individuals in 4 bedrooms. This consists of two Queen beds downstairs and Queen, Twin bunk beds and Queen futon upstairs.

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Q: How much room for parking to you have?

A: Parking is only a limited resource in the winter. This is because you can’t park on the street in winter due to snow removal. We have room for 4 midsized cars to park (2 by 2) in the driveway. Bear in mind that if you have excessively large cars (suburbans?) you might not be able to get all 4 in the driveway.

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Q: I know checkin time is 5:00pm, can I checkin early?

A: Someone always asks us this. Even though we post that checkin time is after 5:00pm — no exceptions. As with everything, there are of course exceptions.. 😉

Here’s how it works:
If you want guaranteed access to the house prior to 5:00pm — you have to pay an early arrival fee of 50% of a nights rental and the night prior to your stay must not be rented.

If you simply would like to get in earlier if it’s possible without paying anything more, you can stop by the house anytime the day you’re due to arrive and if the lock box is out then the cabin is ready and you can go in early.

If the lock box is not out, then the cabin is not ready. If the cleaning service is there cleaning, they have instructions from me not to let anyone in the house early. I view this as a personal safety issue for my cleaning staff. We want to avoid any problems which might occur by someone posing as a renter who might gain access to the house and subsequently assault our cleaning staff.

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Q: I know checkout time is 11:00am, can I checkout late?

A: The only way we allow you to checkout later than 11:00am is if you pay for late departure. This is 50% of the nightly rental amount for the timeframe you’re renting. This also requires that the night of your departure not be rented to someone else.

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Q: Why do you charge more for “splitting weekends” ?

A: Splitting weekends refers to a stay that starts on a saturday and/or ends on a saturday. This effectively “splits” or leaves open saturday night. We charge 50% of the nightly rental amount for each split that occurs.

For example: If you were to arrive on Tuesday and depart the following Saturday, we would charge you for one weekend split or 50% more for one nights rent for splitting one weekend.

If you were to arrive on Saturday and depart the following Saturday, you would be charged for 2 splits or for an additional night.

The reason we do this is because it generally is very difficult to rent Friday night without Saturday night and conversely Saturday night without Friday night. So we have the additional surcharge.

In the event that you have split a weekend, and the split night (Friday or Saturday) ends up getting rented, we will waive the split charge. Another easy way to avoid this charge is to stay Friday to Friday or Sunday to Sunday.

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Q: Why don’t you allow animals?

A: The reason we don’t allow animals is purely due to animal dander and the allergic reactions that some people have to the animal dander. No matter how well we clean after each guest, animal dander would be left behind. For this reason we choose not to allow animals in the house. We also can’t tell the “good” pets from “bad” pets by talking with you on the phone.

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Q: Why don’t you allow bikes, skiis, or snowboards inside your cabin?

A: We have found that having these items in the house causes more problems in the way of breakage and damage to walls. We provide a lockable ski storage locker on the side of the house for skiis and snowboards and we ask that you lock your bikes to the deck instead of bringing them inside.

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Q: Why don’t you allow people to bring up their own charcoal BBQ for
grilling?

A: The answer is two fold. First it’s just not necessary because we supply a gas BBQ at the house and second because using lighter fluid and charcoal in the summer is not a wise thing to do. Plus the deck and trees close to the house could easily burn.

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Q: Why don’t you allow limited smoking in the house?

A: We don’t allow smoking in the house for a multitude of reasons. The most important being that we find the lingering smell of tobacco smoke nauseating. We also don’t want the house or furnishings damaged by stray ashes or a smoldering cigarette.

We apologize to those guests who do smoke, but we ask that they respect our wishes and smoke only outside and dispose of their butts in the appropriate trash receptacle. I.E. not in the yard

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Q: What is the square footage of the house?

A: The house is approximately 1700sqft inside and there is a large deck wrapping around the house outside as well. The house is two story consisting of a kitchen and living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs. While there are one bedroom, a bathroom and a large game room doubling as the 4th bedroom upstairs.

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Q: Does your house have a scenic view?

A: The house does not have a view of Lake Tahoe, but it is in a very cozy wooded area and has great privacy. Due to the large pine trees towering around you there isn’t alot that can be seen other than the trees.

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Q: Where are some areas for sledding/tobogganing and general snow play for children?

A: There are numerous gentle slopes in the neighborhood that can be used for sledding and snow play including the national forest on the sides of the house. If more “extensive” slopes are desired the best places are at Snow Parks along Highway 50. The best being just past Echo Summit heading back toward Sacramento on Highway 50.

If you do decide to go to a Snow Park, be sure and stop at the Shell station in Myers and purchase a day pass. The passes are not available for sale at the snow parks. The snow park passes only cost a few dollars, but the fine
for not having one is $75 and they do write tickets VERY frequently.

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Q: Where can I find daycare for my children while staying at your cabin?

A: Give South Lake Tahoe’s Choices for Children a call at (530) 541-5848. They can suggest a variety of local care givers which will be able to help you out while you are in Tahoe.

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Q: Is there Fire Wood for the wood burning stove?

A: No, we do not provide any wood for the wood burning stove. It’s logistically just too difficult. You can easily obtain Duraflame logs at the grocery store as well as a box of Oak firewood.

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Q: If the weather is bad, can I cancel and get a refund?
If there is no snow ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ?
If it is raining ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ?
If the roads are closed ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ?

A: Our “official” policy is that there are no refunds due to weather. That’s of course the “hard line”.. We realize that there are extenuating circumstances and we try to work with each group of people on an individual basis.

Here’s what I can say for the following scenarios:

– Assuming: Highway 50/88/89/80/267 are all open
– If you don’t go then there won’t be any refund for the rental amount.
– We may allow you to reschedule for another *unrented* timeframe some other time.

– Assuming: 50/88/89/80/267 are all closed due to snow/flooding etc

– If it’s the middle of a blizzard or a flood and the sheriff recommends that people not travel through that area and the roads are all closed we will allow you to reschedule for another *unrented* weekend some other time, or possibly offer to refund your money altogether. You need to call us in person and discuss this though. Each situation is unique and we handle each one on an individual basis.

By *unrented* I mean that when we have a vacancy which is less than 14 days in advance we’ll make those days available to you to exchange. We will not “reserve” anytime for you. For example, lets say you wanted to reschedule
for another 4 night timeframe. Say the next 4 night weekend stay which is available is April 10,11,12,13. We would be able to let you know if that weekend would be available for you to use on March 27th (14 days in advance) — assuming that it didn’t get rented prior to that.

We’ll also allow you to breakup the 4 nights into however many other smaller stays you want. The only caveat is that you’ll have to pay a cleaning charge of $100 for each stay. Say you wanted to break up a 4 night stay into 2 two night stays on 2/5,6 and 2/12,13. We could let you know about those on 1/22 and 1/29 respectively.

Regardless of the financial situation, you should never attempt to drive up to Lake Tahoe if you do not feel comfortable doing so.

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Q: If highway 50/88/89/80/267 is closed, what are the other routes into the area that you can suggest taking?

A: The major recommended route into South Lake Tahoe is Highway 50.

Alternative routes I can suggest are:

From Sacramento:
1 – Highway 88 through Jackson to Highway 89 and into South Lake Tahoe.
2 – Interstate 80 to Highway 267 to Highway 50 in Nevada and into South Lake Tahoe.

The Highway 88/89 route is shorter than 80 or 50 for that matter, but it is 2 lane traffic the whole way.

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This information is Copyright (C) 1994-2016 Doug Coatney — reproduction or distribution without prior written consent is strictly prohibited.