Splash Magazine Worldwide’s Publisher and Editor-in-chief Lawrence Davis and I recently enjoyed an adventurous five-day ski trip to Lake Tahoe to see first-hand more than $100 million dollar in ongoing improvements at both North and South Lake Tahoe ski resorts. The seven Ski Lake Tahoe resorts are in the midst of a multi-year plan to upgrade and expand the local mountains and resorts, making Lake Tahoe even more accessible and exciting then ever before. We were invited to experience the new Tahoe for ourselves and share the experience with our readers worldwide.
We started our trip with a quick ride to the airport courtesy of Execuar Express Shuttle Service. Super Shuttle offers a range of choices to get you to and from the airport. The basic Super Shuttle is the least expensive, but it makes more stops, making it a longer ride. The XPRESS (which is what we use) is a comfortable mini-van, which makes a maximum of two stops, which works great for us, since Lawrence and I travel together. If you prefer private transportation, Limousine and Town Car services are also available.
We were picked up in the Hollywood Hills and arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our one-hour flight from Los Angeles to Reno on Southwest Airlines. We got our boarding passes through the self-service computer check-in, boarded the plane and were up, up, and away to the fresh snow waiting for us in Tahoe. Here’s the best part, for about the same time it takes to fly to Mammoth Mountain, you can be in Lake Tahoe with a choice of over 14 downhill ski resorts and 10 cross-country areas. Continue reading below for a review of our suggested North Shore itinerary or click here to view our write-up on a fun-filled South Shore itinerary.
We only had a short time to experience as much as we could, but were still able to ski an amazing six mountains in five days. I divided our trip into two articles, covering both Lake Tahoe’s North and South Shores. We began our Tahoe adventure on the North Shore, so I’ll start there. We caught the non-stop from LA to Reno, where we picked up our rental car (four wheel drive actually) and made the quick 25 minute drive to Mt. Rose. The great thing about Mt. Rose is the close proximity to Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World” and the local airport. We flew in around noon and still had the whole afternoon for plenty of runs on our first travel day.
Unlike other ski destinations where you lose a day flying in and out, Mt. Rose allows you to ski or board both travel days allowing you more time on the slopes. There are even incredible hotel and lift ticket packages in Reno where you practically get a free lift ticket. The skiing and boarding at Mt. Rose is amazing with over 1,200 acres of terrain and 60+ trails, including the challenging Chutes.
I highly recommend Mt. Rose for either your first or last day, or both. To learn more, visit www.skirose.com. After a great afternoon of skiing, we left Mt. Rose and headed to the legendary North Shore of Lake Tahoe and our next destination, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Casino and Spa.
Nestled within the Sierra Mountain Range, this alpine paradise is a AAA Four Diamond Lake Tahoe hotel in a luxury lakeside setting. We stayed in one of the Hyatt’s private two-bedroom cottages right on the lake. These individual units are great for families or couples that want more of an intimate experience, complete with a full kitchen, living room with a fireplace, large flat screen TV and separate dining area. There is also a large outdoor patio with a table and chairs to relax as the sun sets over the mountains on the lakeshore.
For those who opt to stay at the hotel, the Hyatt Resort’s rooms are large and comfortable with luxurious amenities and services. Experience an incomparable mountain escape at the newly renovated Hyatt in North Lake Tahoe. To make your reservation visit the website at www.laketahoe.hyatt.com After checking in, and getting settled, we met up with Daniel Pistoresi for dinner, a great guy who gave us the low-down on the area and local activities. Here's the Splash Magazine Worldwide tip-of-the-day, the easiest way to plan your trip to Tahoe is to go to www.skilaketahoe.com the best online portal for getting information and booking your ski vacation, including real-time weather reports, resort profiles and deals on lift tickets and lodging.
We dined at the elegant and upscale restaurant the Lone Eagle Grille, located right on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe and right across the street from The Hyatt. Although the restaurant boasts an amazing affordable menu and wine list, the atmosphere is surprisingly cozy and relaxed, with fireplaces in almost every room. The Lone Eagle Grille just finished a $1.3 million transformation providing the guests with exclusive lakeside dining and world class cuisine prepared to perfection by chef de Cuisine, Rick Koplay. Renovations include a refreshed lounge, open-concept show kitchen, wine wall featuring more than 600 bottles of wine with an all-new menu concept. We had a marvelous dining experience which was the perfect ending to our first day in Lake Tahoe.
We enjoyed our first full day of skiing at Squaw Valley Ski Resort, which averages 450 inches of pristine snowfall every winter. With 3600 skiable acres spread across six peaks, they’ve got terrain for everyone from beginners to Olympians, which isn’t surprising considering Squaw Valley, was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The Resort has miles of groomed trails, wide-open bowls, expansive beginner areas, world-renowned steeps, and manicured terrain parks and pipes. Squaw Valley also offers one of the most technologically advanced lift systems in North America, with 30 lifts and 170 + trails, which means you’ll spend less time waiting in lift lines and more time exploring.
Lawrence had a private lesson, while I paired up with Squaw Valley's PR Manager Amelia Richmond who gave me a great tour of the mountain. We skied Squaw Valley in the morning and moved over to Alpine Meadows for the rest of the day. Alpine Meadows was founded in 1961 by a group of avid skiers from San Francisco who discovered its potential while skiing at neighboring Squaw Valley. A number of families pooled resources to develop the resort and John Reily originally founded Alpine Meadows as Ward Peak. Alpine Meadows opened for the 1961-1962 season with just three lifts. JMA Ventures purchased Alpine Meadows from Powder Corporation in July 2007 and operated the resort until the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows joined forces in November 2011.
What’s great about the new partnership with Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows is the inter-changeable lift ticket option. If you decide that you want to try another mountain, simply jump on the free shuttle bus, the Squaw/Alpine Express that runs every 20 minutes from 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. Since Lawrence and I weren’t in town long enough to ski full days at every mountain, we enjoyed the variety of Squaw Valley in the morning and Alpine Meadows in the afternoon with both mountains offering their own separate terrain and challenges.
As I mentioned, Squaw Valley is a previous Olympic site, while Alpine Meadows has more of a country feel with beautiful trees, woods and backcountry type runs. Alpine’s Base elevation is at 6,385 feet rising up to the Summit at 8,637 feet with an 1,802 foot Vertical rise. Alpine has partnered with Snow Park technologies to give skiers and riders an enhanced park experience. This season, they boast Tahoe's only mile-long terrain park. When you’re done shredding, you can take a break and soak up the sun and views on Alpine’s expansive sundeck facing the mountain, and watch as skiers and riders descend down the slopes.
If you bring the kids along, they can enjoy Alpine’s Kid Zone located adjacent to the main dining area of the lodge. The Kid Zone hosts an Indoor Play Area, complete with games and indoor jungle gyms for small children, and a dining area for a relaxing lunch or après-ski spot. I highly recommend skiing both North and South Lake Tahoe, but if you have limited time, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are a great value, giving you two mountains for the price of one.
The next day, we were up bright and early, checked out of the Hyatt and made the drive to Northstar-at-Tahoe for our first full day on the slopes. A winter sport enthusiast’s paradise, Northstar offers 93 ski trails spread across 3,000 acres, award-winning terrain parks, and snow sports including alpine, telemark and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and tubing at one of the finest year-round mountain resorts in North America.
From a self-titled "Timber Farm" to one of the finest mountain resorts in North America, the story of Northstar California began nearly 40 years ago in the historic lumber town of Truckee, California whose winter sport traditions date back to the 1890's. Northstar-at-Tahoe is now a destination resort attracting hundreds of thousands of ski/snowboarders each year. Northstar is proud to be called home to the largest snowmaking system on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, with one of the nation's top ski/snowboard terrain parks.
After a great morning of skiing, we had lunch with Northstar Communications Coordinater and mountain guide Brooke Rose at the Zephyr Lodge. Tip of the day, order the grilled gruyere cheese and brisket sandwich on sourdough along with the fresh-cut apple fries and homemade vanilla whipped cream. Yummy.
The Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort is now host to a new base area village featuring 35 unique shops and restaurants, a conference center, 9,000 square foot skating rink, on-site lodging, special events and more.
Every Spring, North Lake Tahoe comes alive with Snowfest, 10 fun-filled days and nights, jam-packed with events and activities for all ages. On and off the mountain, at North Tahoe’s numerous resorts and vibrant lakeside neighborhoods, there’s something for everyone. This year’s event will take place March 1st -10th.
Enjoy on-snow events at Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, and Northstar. Participate in special events, parades, races, parties, concerts, theater; and of course, there’s plenty of wining and dining to be had at North Lake Tahoe’s fine restaurants and lively establishments. There’s no better time to be in North Lake Tahoe than in the Spring where the snow conditions are some of the best of the season with plenty of snow and beautiful blue skies.
Following another great day of skiing with perfect spring conditions, we made the drive from Northstar to our next location, The Village at Squaw Valley condominiums. The luxurious condominium suites range from 523 to 1,786 square feet with a full bathroom for every bedroom in the condominium suite, gas fireplace with slate hearth, fully equipped gourmet kitchens, private balconies, casually sophisticated decor and even heated slate tile in the kitchen and bathrooms.
The condominiums come equipped with complete fitness facilities including two Whirlpool spas and dry saunas and the full service Trilogy Day Spa. There is an on-site entertainment media room with big screen television and game consoles, a billiards lounge and even a game room for the kids. Since The Village at Squaw Valley is at the base of the mountain, you can literally walk from your room, right to the slopes. Convenient ski and sports lockers are also available with complimentary, heated underground parking.
The Village is designed with stone walkways which flow through the center of a European-style village with an array of shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues. Sumptuous dining for any atmosphere, from sushi and short ribs to bagels and smoothies. Quaint specialty shops offer something for everyone, sports clothing and equipment, bath and beauty products, a variety of original gifts and even something for your pet. There are even sundry shops to find those little necessities you may have left behind.
We checked-in, got settled and then met Jenny Kendrick (Alpine Meadows PR Manager) for dinner at Plumpjack in The Village. PlumpJack Cafe is widely regarded as Lake Tahoe's premier fine dining destination offering an exceptional selection of wines and signature cocktails. Under the guidance of Executive Chef Wyatt Dufresne, the menu changes each season so he can take advantage of the bounty of fresh produce available locally. When the first PlumpJack Cafe opened in 1994 in San Francisco, they became the only top restaurant to sell wine at retail prices.
Today, value continues to be a cornerstone of the PlumpJack wine program at all of their properties. Their extensive wine list and wines by-the-glass program are hand-selected by the chef and sommelier. Their culinary and wine team continues to gather accolades, including Wine Spectator's "Best of" Award of Excellence for their wine list. Most recently, Plumpjack was awarded the People's Choice Award for Best Food & Wine Pairing at the prestigious Autumn Food and Wine Festival. To experience it for yourself, visit the website at www.PlumpJackSquawValleyinn.com/
In addition to Plumpjack, The Village at Squaw Valley offers an assortment of dining options. Another great restaurant in The Village is Twenty-Two Bistro Bar & Grill, owned and operated by Alexander Cox who started out as a busboy in one of the local restaurants and now owns one of the most popular local eateries in town. There is a warm, cozy, and relaxed ambience to Bistro 22 which is why so many locals frequent and dine there almost weekly. Twenty-Two Bistro & Bar has a broad wine list, custom cocktails, and beer on-tap with smaller social plates and substantial entrees. The New American menu features items like a signature Kobe beef burger and ahi tuna.
Lawrence started with the Dragonfly Soup Thai Noodle Soup with grilled prawns, udon noodles, green thai curry broth and cilantro pesto. I started with the 22 house salad with seasonal mixed greens, gorgonzola cheese, candied walnuts, marinated red onions and basil-balsamic vinaigrette. For our main course, I had the Durham Ranch Bison meatloaf served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, snow peas, bacon gremolata and crispy potatao skins and Lawrence had the Tower 16 Tuna.
I have to tell you, I'm a meatloaf lover and Twenty-Two's Bison meatloaf was by far the best I've ever tasted. The service was superb, and the food was exceptional thanks to chef Billie McCullough who's also the co-president of the local chapter of the slow-food movement and owner of his own restaurant Dragonfly in Truckee. 22 Bistro utilizes organic seasonal fruits and vegetables so that it's as fresh as possible and at the same time, supporting the local california growers.
Thanks Alex, for a wonderful dining experience and making us feel right at home. Now we want to come back to the Village at Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe all the more. The next time you're at Squaw Valley, stop in at Twenty-Two Bistro for lunch, or dinner or just an apres ski drink and tell Alex hello from Lawrence, Jeff and Splash Magazine Worldwide. Make your reservations today. Go to www.22bistro.com
North Lake Tahoe offers something for everyone. Browse through their outstanding selection of activities, lodging (including hotels), vacation rentals and ski resorts. The Lake Tahoe vacation you've always dreamed about is waiting for you on the north shore. Skiing and riding in North Lake Tahoe offers a diverse selection of downhill and cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, snowshoeing and more.
You can choose from a wide range of ski vacations to meet your exact needs. Lake Tahoe ski facilities are world renowned with many new and renovated amenities, steep vertical drops and long, winding trails. Miles of terrain and endless views of snow-flocked pines, Sierra peaks and one very blue lake make the area a destination of choice for any winter activities.
So what are you waiting for? The mountains, snow, casino’s and nightlife are waiting for you right now! To make reservations or for more information, visit the website at www.skilaketahoe.com and check out my article on South Lake Tahoe.