The search for parking, the changing
into ski boots in the car, carrying the gear
to the shuttle, climbing the shuttle steps
with all the gear and trying not to kill anyone including yourself, the line for the ski
tickets, the clicking on of the skis and then
finally — finally — pushing off toward the
lifts. Only to realize you are hungry, thirsty
or need to use the restroom. It builds character, right?
Well, all of that character-building was
a distant memory at the 170-room Ritz-Carlton, which has a ski valet service where
guests’ ski equipment and boots are stored.
You call them as you’re leaving your room
and your boots and skis are ready and waiting for you when you get to the valet area,
conveniently located right off the trails. As
soon as you’re mounted, you’re on your
way. And the ski valet team is right there
waiting to grab your gear when you get
back, too, a welcome sight after a long day
Located midmountain on the Northstar
California ski resort, a collection of 95 trails
on 3,000 acres of terrain, the Ritz-Carlton,
Lake Tahoe caters both to adults and couples looking for a sophisticated and relaxing ski getaway as well as to families with
children who need some kid-friendly activities and services.
For urbane skiers, the property has plenty of upscale amenities to indulge in, including a well-appointed spa and gourmet
Highlands Spa, a 17,000-square-foot retreat, features 17 treatment rooms that offer a wide range of massage, skin, nail and
hair services; a fitness center; and a heated
lap pool overlooking the slopes. The separate men’s and women’s spa areas include a
sauna, steam room and whirlpool.
The Ritz-Carlton is also home to the upscale eatery Manzanita, which serves California cuisine with an international twist
using food that is sourced organically, sustainably and locally when possible. Manzanita is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
and has a kids’ menu as well as a bar menu.
It is not your typical lodge restaurant, with
details and decor that resemble a hip San
Francisco restaurant more than an apres-ski establishment.
This past summer, the Ritz-Carlton, Lake
Tahoe brought in a new executive chef,
Stanley Miller, who oversees Manzanita as
well as the hotel’s lounge bar, the Living
Room; in-room dining; events; and catering.
And in keeping with the convenience
theme, the luxury mountain property is
opening a new al fresco dining venue in
mid-December, the Backyard Bar & BBQ,
which will be a ski-in/ski-out establishment
located on the back patio of the resort. The
Backyard Bar & BBQ will be based on a
“blues, brews and BBQ” concept, with the
menu including St. Louis smoked ribs, bris-
ket and pulled-pork platters cooked in the
on-site smoker; pizzas baked in a wood-
fired oven; burgers; brats; and desserts.
There will also be a saloon-inspired cocktail
menu and local craft beers.
Bring the kids
For all its upscale amenities, I was surprised to see how seamlessly luxury and sophistication sat alongside family fun at the
Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
There were plenty of families staying at
the property, and after a couple days there,
I could see why.
From daycare services to ski and snowboard lessons to s’mores-making sessions
at the property’s fire pits, kids are definitely
made to feel like a welcome addition to the
Ritz-Carlton mix. Pets are welcome, too, for
a one-time $125 pet cleaning fee.
For kids and adults of all ages, the Village
at Northstar at the bottom of the mountain
was the place to see and be seen after a day
on the slopes. Ritz-Carlton conveniently,
of course, has a gondola that directly con-
nects guests with the village, which features
a central skating rink surrounded by casual
dining and drinking establishments and
Try to snag a spot rink-side in one of
the cozy fire pit seating areas and have an
apres-ski cocktail or hot chocolate while
watching the skaters, a local band or the
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe bills itself
as a year-round property, touting the activities the area has to offer in the summer
months, as well, from hiking to biking to
water sports to golfing.
For the upcoming winter season, the
property is bringing back its First Tracks
Ski Package offer for early-season skiing. It
includes a deluxe or mountain view guest-room and two adult or child lift tickets to
the Northstar California ski resort, starting
at $299 per night midweek, and at $399 per
night on the weekend. The ski package is
valid from Dec. 1 to 12.
Additional information about the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe can be found at www
. ritzcarlton.com/laketahoe or at (800) 241-
By Michelle Baran
Getting on and off the slopes with all that ski or snowboard gear is often a huge hassle, but at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, it seems to be the property’s mission to make the con- cept of a ski vacation as easy as possible from start to finish. During a visit earlier this year, the time it took for me to get from my room to the point where I was locked into my
skis and gliding toward the lifts was precisely 10 minutes. My friend Barbara and I giggled thinking about what a stark contrast the experience
was compared with the much more chaotic pilgrimage to the slopes we
remembered facing each winter as kids.
Ritz-Carlton: Seamless ski experience
A rendering of the Backyard Bar & BBQ, expected to open at the Northstar California ski resort in mid-December.
Left: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, located midmountain at
the Northstar California resort. Above: The writer, right, and
a friend experiencing the Ritz-Carlton gondola down to the
Village at Northstar for some apres-ski unwinding.