My friend Joe mentioned a motel he’d returned to several times in South Lake Tahoe when skiing at Heavenly. So, last weekend, while spending the holidays in a rented cabin nearby, I decided to stop and get the skinny on the ominously named Pistante’s Coyote Den.
“We get a lot of returning guests,” Lorraine Pistante, the affable, motherly innkeeper told me. “Right now, half of the rooms are booked by people who come back every year.”
Lorraine and husband Earl Pistante acquired a tired, 16-room motel called the Sundowner on Emerald Bay Road in 2002, and set about updating it. They incorporated outdoorsy themes that reflect Tahoe’s nature and wildlife — coyotes, bald eagles, sunflowers — into the dated, generic motel rooms. Many of the beds have rustic headboards hand-crafted from logs.
Prices range from $50 to $235 depending on the size, season and weekday versus weekend. Non-themed rooms cost slightly less.
The Suite is a good option for families and groups of up to six. It has two rooms, three queen-sized beds, a microwave and a refrigerator.
Pistante’s is next door to legendary S. Lake Tahoe breakfast joint, Ernie’s Coffee Shop, which was packed with locals and out-of-town skiers both mornings we stopped in for generous platters of pancakes and scrambles.
Amenities include free WiFi, complimentary Continental breakfast, baked cookies and coffee or tea in the evening, a year-round hot tub and a picnic area with barbecue.
There are tons of activities in the area — skiing, sledding, casinos, hiking, biking hot air balloon rides and any lake-related sport imaginable.
Oh, and you don’t have to leave Rover at home, Pistante’s is a dog-friendly establishment.
Photo by Lisa Dion