The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe – Winter Wonderland!
13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court, Truckee, California 96161
The ski in/ski out Ritz Carlton Hotel in Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous ski destination for the entire family. It’s located mid-mountain on Northstar California ski area, with ski lifts just right outside the hotel. The hotel features a ski valet, where guests can get fitted for poles, skis, boots, snowboards, and the valet keeps your equipment overnight so no need to truck all that gear up to your rooms each time you come off the slopes for the day. I especially loved that, as I have all my own gear, and surely despise carrying it all up to my rooms after a long day of skiing! You just simply turn it in under your room #, and come back down in the am to not only pick up your gear, but they clean them thoroughly so your gear is shiny and clean as new!
With 97 trails, more than any other California ski resort, this mountain caters to all levels of skiing and boarding. Lake Tahoe has the largest concentration of snowboard trails in North America. Why not start to shred the slopes at the Burton Snowboard Academy right here on the mountain?! There is also the Northstar Ski and Snowboard School, just in case you want to brush up on your own skills, or learn new ones! The school also offers ski or snowboard lesson packages for kids ages 3 -12. The mountain not just has skiing/boarding, but has miles upon miles of cross country skiing, snowmobile rides for ages 5 and up (drivers must be at least 16), a snow tubing hill for all ages, sledding, heli-skiing for you adventurous types, dogsled tours, snow shoe hikes, geocaching for all ages, and ice skating down in the Village at Northstar.
Now of course being out on the slopes, you work up an appetite, right? Well there are several places you can go to while on the mountain. There are several full service bars, crepes, and snack stands set up outside of the lodges. The Lodge at Big Springs was NOT high on my list though. They served mainly fried foods and burgers- definitely not a great selection, and the worst was there was no heat inside! Even the bathrooms didn't work, you had to go down the other side of the mountain! My favorite place to dine on the mountain was the brand new Zephyr Lodge. If you're going to take the time out to rest or eat, this is the place! This is the lodge that has full heat, and a very large menu. From American food to Asian Fusion to seafood, this was the place! Many different choices for any hungry palette. Of course, if you wanted to ski down the mountain, there was also The Ritz, which has Manzanita Restaurant, a grab and go deli, and a bar/lounge area to dine. We saw many families always dining in the lounge areas.
We dined at Manzanita Restaurant for breakfast one morning and they have quite an array of food in the breakfast buffet, plus a full menu. It was definitely a way to start a long day of skiing by such a great meal! We had lunch there another day, and the manager and Chef were so accommodating to me, as I couldn't eat much on the lunch menu, so they let me pick from the dinner menu! Speaking of their dinner menu, WOW- so delicious! I had the Halibut a few times while dining there! I will say their fries are a guilty pleasure. If you are gluten intolerant- PLEASE make sure you ask first before ordering certain foods as I made the mistake of eating corn nachos that had flour in the beans! I was sooo deathly sick one night, who woulda thought there was flour in bean dip?
Moving on from that, let’s talk about the bars. First off, their bartenders were full of all sorts of knowledge and we learned a ton, not just about the drinks but about the history of where each came from. Our second night there, we signed up for The Art of the Cocktail, held in the Manzanita bar. It was a full hour on creating the perfect cocktail on 3 different drinks. We learned the history of the drinks, how to make them, and of course how they tasted! Highly recommend you to try this out, it’s perfect for a date night! The bartenders are so experienced, we could say what we were tasting, and boom- they created exactly what we had in mind. I also liked their set menu of specialty cocktails as well! If you're a wine connoisseur, don't worry, as their sommelier would hand pick wines for you from their massive cellar.
If you still had it in you to go out on the town, all you have to do is walk right outside of the hotel to the lift, which is an 8-minute gondola ride down to the Village at Northstar. There are tons of restaurants, bars, shops, spas, and even a natural food shop! Plenty to do for the night scene, but definitely recommend reservations as they all get packed. One of our nights we ate sushi at the acclaimed Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar, which has won massive awards for its sushi. It was incredible indeed, right down the drinks! On New Year’s Eve, everything was sooo sold out but we got a last minute reservation at Tavern 6330’ and I’m so glad we did. Eating for me can be tough as I am a gluten free pescatarian. The menu was a set menu, but the chef and manager let me mix options together so that I could eat a great meal, and that I did! After dinner we headed right outside, where a Journey tribute band was playing. I’m not sure if it was the few drinks or the band that inspired me, but the ice rink seemed like a great place to plank! We enjoyed another drink at the award winning, Chocolate Bar. They are known for their signature martinis and cocktails using 3 different types of the best chocolates in the world: Cacao noel (French), Callebaut (Belgium), and Guittard (American). We had a drink called the Sexy Snowman, and indeed after this drink containing 6 shots of liquor in a hot cocoa mix, one would think any snowman was sexy!
One of the things that I loved most about coming back to the rooms at the Ritz each eve, was that every evening there was a hand delivered box with a different treat. Our first evening there, we were welcomed by a delicious crème brulee’ with Happy Birthday on the top, as we were celebrating my birthday week. The next night, we had chocolate dipped marshmallows that were on a stick. One of my favorite nights was when they delivered home made individual apple and pumpkin pies for both of us, wow were these scrumptious! The other nights consisted of Dorinda’s Chocolates- an assortment of different flavored, hand-made chocolate truffles; Chocolate Stuffed Marshmallows; Chocolate Covered Strawberries, and a S’more kit. Every day at 4pm the hotel held a S’more roasting event for all ages by the outside fire pit.
The Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe rooms were so comfortable! There’s a gas fireplace in every room, with two very comfortable leather chairs parked right in front of it. With the flat screen tv placed directly above the fireplace, this was a great place to plant yourself after a long day! It was also perfect to lay out our wet snow clothing to dry! We had very comfortable king bed and our balcony doors were floor to ceiling showing the great views of the snow filled mountains. There was also a coffee/tea/bar area, two large closets with full-length mirrors, and a media console to connect laptops, iPods, etc. There were double sinks in the bathroom, a stand alone shower, and a separate toilet room. The best thing was the HUGE oversized deep-soaking tub, which we absolutely took advantage of!
The Ritz Carlton has several shops inside, is a pet-friendly hotel, and definitely a great destination for families, or romantic getaways!