Go: Chesa Madrisa
Chesa Madrisa is the name of a vacation rental just past Arnold, in the Central Sierra Mountains. The home is inspired by Swiss chalets: chalet is the French word for cabin, and is what the French and Swiss call their mountain vacation homes. If you follow Simply Silicon Valley on Instagram, you know I just spent a long weekend at this chalet. It's a stunning, well-appointed home and is a smashing deal if two families split it, or 8-10 people share it. Time your travel wisely and it will take around 3 hours to get there; the biggest surprise was when the drive home clocked in at a mere 2 hours, 36 minutes—guess downhill is faster. Since this website is all about living the good life on less, Chesa Madrisa is offering some special deals to Simply SV readers. I'll reveal those at the end.
First, how exactly did I end up at this sweet pad?
This is a family's treasured vacation home that they also rent out. Hillary is in the family and manages the property. She reached out to me after reading the January article on Bear Valley (which is 30 minutes up the road) and invited me to come for three nights, in exchange for spreading the word in the Bay Area. She knows she has something special and wants more people to know about it. I peeked at the home's website, gasped, and immediately said yes before she could change her mind.
Second, what makes this home so great?
- It's clean, cozy, spacious, and beautifully decorated. The living space is upstairs, the bedrooms are downstairs. The kitchen is more than fully stocked with everything in your culinary dreams. The 3 bedrooms are each the equivalent of a master suite: large, wall-to-wall carpeted, with a very comfortable California King bed and an attached full bathroom. Three couples or families could rent the home and each have one big bedroom. There are sheets, towels, and pillows galore (many cabin rentals in this region don't come with bedding).
- The architecture is stunning. Tall windows mirror the tall pines to create a living painting. When it started snowing, it felt like we were looking into a snow globe—just magical.
- Amenities, perks, and freebies abound:
- The home comes with free, unlimited parking passes to Big Trees State Park (5 minutes away, $10 value per day) and the local Sno-Parks (closest one is 20 minutes away, $5 value per day). A Sno-Park is an open space to play in the snow.
- The home is right on the border of Big Trees State Park; a trailhead into the park is a short walk away. Pictures don't do justice to these dinosaur trees, you have to experience their grandeur in person.
- In the summer months, you get free access to two community pools and the recreation center, with tennis, volleyball, basketball, a playground, and more. The house has a big stack of matching red & white striped pool towels. Lake Alpine is 30 minutes up the road.
- Williams-Sonoma soap & lotion caddies are stationed at every sink, a different scent representing each handwashing station. Pink Grapefruit, Meyer Lemon, Fleur de Sel, the list goes on. My kids made a game out of trying them all and selecting their favorite; Pink Grapefruit won.
- Upon arrival, there is a bottle of Calaveras County red wine to greet you, as well as a carousel filled with Keurig coffee pods.
- The house is stocked with board games, puzzles, toys, baby gear, and a Wii.
- There's a Sonos wireless speaker for beats and dance parties.
- There's a supply closet with every toiletry you might have forgotten: flossers, shave cream, razors, Band-Aids, toothpaste, etc.
- I could go on and on, but you get the idea. You will want for nothing. If a problem comes up during your stay, Hillary is a very accessible hostess who will bend over backwards to set things straight.
And finally, the big question: IS IT A GOOD DEAL??? This is my favorite question! Don't let the nightly rate of $325 and the $175 cleaning fee scare you away. Break it down, factor in the perks, and you'll find that this is, in fact, a great deal for a large group. I'll do the number crunching below, but first let's reveal the exclusive deal—what I like to call a Simply Special.
THE SIMPLY SPECIAL at Chesa Madrisa:
Mention Simply Silicon Valley, and you'll get:
- $275/night for reservations in April & May. This is $50 off the standard nightly rate.
- Cleaning fee waived for a week-long summer stay booked by April 30. This is $175 savings.
- The Secret Menu: The official maximum number of people is 8, but Hillary is willing to host up to 10 responsible people who will take good care of the home. Babies don't count in the headcount, but children do—anyone who uses the toilets, which are on a septic tank.
- Book directly via the website or Hillary's email to avoid extra fees ($100+) from Airbnb and VRBO. firstname.lastname@example.org
STANDARD PRICING at Chesa Madrisa:
Nightly rate: $325
Weekly rate: $2,000
Tax: 6% of rental (not fees)
Cleaning fee: $175
Property Damage Protection (Security Deposit): $50 for $3,000 accidental damage insurance coverage OR you can opt to pay a $1,000 fully refundable security deposit. As long as nothing is damaged, you pay nothing and get back your entire $1,000.
FOR THOSE WHO LIKE MATH AND DEAL HUNTING, READ ON.
Chesa Madrisa works out to be a bargain for a large, five-star home.
For comparison, last weekend my friend booked the cheapest place she could find in Arnold. It totaled $337 for a 2 night stay at Timberline Lodge. She, her husband, and her son had a modest hotel room with 2 queen beds, a twin bed, and a fireplace. Pretty great deal for three, but this isn't a place of beauty where you're tempted to spend your whole day—it's a place to crash. And it doesn't come with perks. If they had 2 more families of 3 people, they could have stayed at Chesa Madrisa for:
($325 a night x 2 nights x 1.06 tax ) + $50 insurance + $175 cleaning fee = $914
$914 / 3 families = $305 for a 2-night getaway—and this isn't even using the Simply Special rate!
If 2 families go to Chesa Madrisa together for a week in the summer, with the Simply Special it will cost:
($2,000 rent x 1.06 tax) + $50 insurance = $2,170 (no cleaning fee, thanks to the Simply Special)
$2,170 / 2 families = $1,085 per family
$1,085 / 7 = $155 per night, per family
($130 per night if you forego the $50 insurance.)
Email Hillary with any questions or to book: email@example.com
I'm also here to answer any questions. I look forward to hearing what you think of the place! Amusez-vous bien au chalet. (Have a great time at the cabin.)