A grand chalet halfway between Truckee and the North Shore of Lake Tahoe sits in an ideally secluded location featuring great golf in the summer and ski-in/ski-out convenience in the winter. The common areas, rooms and restaurants are first class and ultimately relaxing. Who has all this? The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
Similar to the feel of the grand old hotels — like the Ahwahnee in Yosemite or the Timberline Lodge in Oregon — the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe has presence, with modern touches and a AAA Five Diamond rating, the only mountain resort in California to possess that distinction. Set on top of a forested knoll, the hotel offers sweeping mountain panoramas stretching all the way to Truckee.
The lobby and common areas are very comfortable, with a fireplace never far off. We noticed many guests spending free time here reading or catching up on computer work. The rooms are everything you might expect from Ritz-Carlton, with the most comfortable down bedding, state-of-the-art electronics and oversized bathrooms with all the modern conveniences. All the rooms have mountain views, and you will be just steps to a chairlift.
The signature restaurant at the Ritz is Manzanita which features indoor and outdoor dining. We sat right by the fireplace that separates the dining room. Our king salmon and pan-seared branzino entrées were very tasty, as was the heirloom tomato salad we started with. Manzanita is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I noticed a lot of local residents dining with us, which is always a good sign.
Out back the hotel has a large, elegant pool area surrounded by trees with lift chairs passing above. The spa is also top of the line with something for everyone on the menu. One could easily have a very pleasant day here without ever leaving the hotel. For further details visit RitzCarlton.com.
The Ritz is located mid-mountain at Northstar. The resort’s ski valet will take care of all your mountain equipment upon arrival and have it to you at a moment’s notice so that you can take advantage of the nearby slopes. Northstar has one decided advantage over other Tahoe ski areas. It faces east and is just over the mountains from the lake. This location means a lot less wind and the eventual weather shutdowns for chairlifts.
The Northstar resort offers 97 trails and over 3,000 skiable acres. The new chairlifts offer easier access, especially to beginner level areas. Northstar has multiple run options for every level of skier and snowboarder. More experienced skiers may want to venture to the very challenging runs at Squaw Valley, former site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and no more than a 20-minute drive away.
Trails for hikers and mountain bikers start right outside, with the Sawmill Lake Trail the most popular. This 2.3-mile trek is moderate and accessible for most all guests.
From the North Shore to Truckee, several great courses have opened in the past 10 years. Old Greenwood is a Jack Nicklaus creation set on 600 acres of towering pines and rolling terrain. Wildlife is abundant here, and the playing conditions are near perfect. The Old Greenwood Golf Academy services all levels of golfer, and the course is about 15 minutes from the hotel. Another fairly new option is The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing. The courses in this area offer rolling fairways, and combined with the high altitude, you will be hitting it farther than ever.
There is so much going on at the hotel, I almost forgot the biggest draw. Lake Tahoe and all its splendor is about 15 minutes away. You can rent motorboats, kayaks, or paddleboats at several spots along the North Shore, but Tahoe City just south is perhaps the most convenient place to launch. We spent the better part of an afternoon at Emerald Bay State Park toward the south shore. The views here are spectacular as is the hike down to the beach. The walk back up will give you your daily workout, especially if you are not adjusted to the altitude.