Some large patches of snow appear in the horizon, a major indicator that winter paid a visit to this mountainous region of Lake Tahoe.
The picturesque, panoramic view can be seen from practically any room at the stately Ritz-Carlton hotel, which is located about mid-mountain at Northstar California ski resort. Late spring provides quite the contrast to the winter months when the mountain is covered in white sheets of snow and skiers and snowboarders are seemingly everywhere.
The views and the vibe are refreshingly different in the summer, when the days proceed at a much slower pace at this North Tahoe location, where the venerable Lake Tahoe’s waters are not far away – a mere seven-mile drive is all it takes.
Looking for a little vacation pampering this summer? If so, the Ritz-Carlton can accommodate.
Located off Highway 267 near downtown Truckee and Kings Beach, the Ritz is a luxury resort that will rest your mind and challenge your body – assuming that’s part of your vacation equation.
The guestrooms and suites have in-room fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows that serve as a personal observation post day and night. It’s difficult to ignore the tranquil mountain backdrop or the view of the slopeside outdoor pool area that seems to be beckoning guests to take a dip.
No worries about the water being too cold; the large pool and nearby lap and kids pool are heated and the two hot tubs are soothing and quite hot.
Just inside the pool area is a huge 24-hour access fitness center and spa treatment area for anyone seeking excessive pampering. If structured exercise is your thing, there are daily group classes in the fitness studios (ages 18-above). For relaxing down time, try the steam room, experience the rain shower, the cool dry sauna, or the whirlpool.
Highly recommended is a hike up Northstar ski resort. Tour guides are available, but frankly not necessary. One can chose a moderate, meandering, 2.3-mile round trip hike to Sawmill Lake or simply explore Northstar with no real destination in mind. Seeing a ski resort in the summer provides a very unique perspective, especially if you’re only accustomed to viewing the mountain as a skier or rider.
Mountain biking is another summer pursuit that offers a different experience on the hill. One can also take a short drive for activities such as kayaking, fly-fishing, tennis, boating, roller skating, golf, or simply a relaxing day hanging out at the lake.
The Ritz also provides children’s program with interactive games and crafts. The outdoor fire pit is a great evening gathering place for a family seeking a S’mores experience.
If activity is not your thing, simply hanging out at the Ritz “living room” is a nice way to go. There’s an enticing fireplace sitting area and a much larger section that features comfortable chairs and couches. It’s a great place to get absorbed in a book or read the morning paper.
And don’t be surprised if a courteous man interrupts your reading in the morning and asks if he can refill your coffee. That gentleman just might be Joseph Mattioli, the Ritz-Carlton general manager, who obviously doesn’t just preach over-the-top service – he practices it as well. The overall service at the Ritz is fabulous.
Speaking of over-the-top, guests can sample an incredibly unique menu at the Manzanita restaurant. The Ritz prides itself with “sourcing organic, sustainable and locally grown meat and produce when possible.” An open kitchen and gorgeous mountain views enhance the dining experience.
For a less formal meal, try the MountainBlue, which offers indoor and outdoor seating, counter-service, and is available for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eating in the “living room” or at the Ritz bar are also options. Note that there are also plenty of additional dining (and recreation pursuits) at the Northstar Village that can be easily reached by a courtesy shuttle bus.
For the avid golfer, the Ritz offers an enticing play-and-stay package. Starting at $399 per night, guests receive one night’s lodging and preferred tee times at two of Tahoe’s best courses – Gray’s Crossing and Old Greenwood – which are about a 15-minute drive from the Ritz. The deal is available through Oct. 15.
Due to lack of snow this spring, both courses are in great early-season shape. The weather made this spring much less stressful for Phil Hoban, the superintendent for both Gray’s and Old Greenwood.
“This is the best Old Greenwood and Gray’s have ever looked this early in the season,” Hoban said in mid-May. “We have mid-summer conditions already. I was working on the turf by the end of March and that usually doesn’t happen until much later in April.”
Both of these scenic golf courses feature rolling hills, majestic pine trees and are challenging tracks, but not overwhelmingly difficult. Both Jack Nicklaus and Peter Jacobsen have left a footprint in Lake Tahoe. Nicklaus designed Old Greenwood and Gray’s was the product of Jacobsen’s team. Northstar has a golf course as well.
Lodging at the Ritz can range from a 455-squae-foot club level room to the enormous Sugar Pine Residential Suite that is larger (2,363 feet) than some people’s homes. The rooms can be pricy and there is a $25 per day resort fee and mandatory valet parking is $35 a day.
For more information on the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/laketahoe or call 530 562-3010.