Surrounded by 18 ski resorts—the densest concentration of slopes anywhere in America—Lake Tahoe is a winter-sports paradise. But despite its abundance of on-mountain thrills, the region has been lacking, somewhat, in off-slope amenities—unless you count the casinos and an all-night bar scene (not to mention attendant bachelor parties) on the lake’s south side. No longer. These days, it’s the northern towns—including Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley ski resorts, lakefront Tahoe City, and, farther inland, the vibrant, historic town of Truckee—that have the real energy. Here, a look at the new North Lake Tahoe.
After much anticipation, the $300 million Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe (doubles from $299) opens this month at the family-friendly Northstar-at-Tahoe resort. The 170-room stone-and-wood lodge has a cavernous 17,000-square-foot spa with earthy treatments, like a crushed pinecone exfoliating scrub and a cedar-oil massage; a buzz-worthy restaurant, Manzanita, where star San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardins’s comfort food comes with a French twist (duck meatballs; wine-braised short ribs); and a pampering “mountain valet” who will manage your gear and escort you to the snow. For a more intimate, in-town experience, there’s the three-year-old Great Value Cedar House Sport Hotel (doubles from $170), in Truckee, where the 42 rooms are built mostly out of recycled and sustainably harvested wood in an appealing minimalist style, with leather-upholstered platform beds and birch plywood furniture.