Old Greenwood resort near Lake Tahoe isn't your average California stay

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

TRUCKEE, Calif. - Check-in is going regularly enough. Then the guy behind the counter hands you a garage-door opener. That's right, a garage-door opener.

Old Greenwood - Truckee, Lake Tahoe California area golf course & community
Jack Nicklaus' Old Greenwood layout is a quick walk from the plush cabins.
Old Greenwood - Truckee, Lake Tahoe California area golf course & communityOld Greenwood - pavilionCoyote Moon Golf Course
If you go

And you used to be excited when you'd get a mini-bar key?

Welcome to the high life, to a world where people purchase a share in a sparkling home rather than renting a room. Welcome to Old Greenwood resort.

You don't just show up and stay a night at this high-end California resort in Truckee, a charmingly hip mountain town in Lake Tahoe's shadow that Paul McCartney's fallen in love with. That's out of the question.

But you can stay for a week, a month or three months, in a jaw-dropping "cabin" - it could be bigger than your actual home - as part of the Old Greenwood's fractional ownership option.

These cabins have living-room ceilings so high you'd think they're expecting Paul Bunyan and Bigfoot to drop by for dinner. The kitchens are all granite countertops, wood cabinets and gleaming steel appliances, right up to the fridge. The dining-room table can seat 10. Upstairs there's a full-size pool table in an entertainment room some minor rap stars would appreciate.

And, of course, there's that big two-car garage.

These cabins are to hotel rooms - even truly nice hotel rooms - as Tito Jackson is to Michael. It's a whole other planet.

From many Old Greenwood homes you can walk out the back door, cross the lawn and be on the eponymous Jack Nicklaus golf course. There's also a Golf Digest teaching school with a mammoth range that might just be the prettiest place you've ever practiced, with great mountain views.

Truckee golf options

And it's just a short drive to Coyote Moon Golf Course, a spectacularly dramatic 18 holes of prehistoric rock formations and towering pines.

It's easy to see why a golfer would want to own a piece of a cabin here. You can buy a lot outright for around $600,000. Locals think that's pricey. Vacationers from the Bay Area might find it pretty reasonable for a getaway second home.

"People from San Francisco see our real estate market as a dream," Golf Digest School Director of Instruction Brian Floriani said, laughing.

Not that it's exactly plunking down a few grand on a snazzy resort stay. Recently advertised fractional-ownership deals ranged from $57,379 to $186,400 depending on the size of the house.

If that's not enough of a splurge for you, there are five-bedroom, five-bath, 5,000-square-foot Old Greenwood homes on sale too, for $3.4 million.

Whether you're looking to hang a permanent shingle on that mountain cabin or just put a temporary nameplate on the mailbox, Old Greenwood offers plenty of amenities. The resort's main lodge, called The Pavilion, dwarfs the golf course clubhouse down the road.

There is a huge exercise room with second-story views, spa treatment rooms, a water slide, a splash pool and a game room (in case you get sick of playing pool in your house). The Pavilion shop is more like a mini gourmet grocery story offering exotica like traditional Japanese candies. It's open until 10 every night, a godsend given that Old Greenwood is a few highway exits from the nearest downtown.

The nights might just be the most striking thing here, whether you stay a week or six months. Old Greenwood gets country dark. It's easy to imagine you're off on some isolated mountain, just you and the goats and your 42-inch plasma TV.

Never mind that you could hop in your SUV and in 10 minutes flat be at the tasty bistro where Sir Paul plays an annual set. Hey, it pays to have that garage-door opener.

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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