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One Village Place

One Village Place

The only hotel in the world with a gondola in the loby
posted: 07/30/2010

Manicured and easy-going. Family-friendly in creative ways. Brimming with dynamic, leading-edge terrain park innovation, yet very—and we do mean very—spiffed up. With the November ribbon-cutting of the mid-slope Ritz-Carlton Highlands (a 170-room grand hotel unparalleled in the mountains of the Far West), Northstar-at-Tahoe joins the ranks of elite, full-service destination resorts. And to think this former-cinder-cone-turned-tree-farm was once a Tahoe skier’s afterthought.

Cruise in sweet solitude through Lookout Mountain’s glades on a powder day. Pull your squirming toddler and gear from curbside to liftline in a free handcart supplied for this very purpose. Ski lap after high-speed lap on pine-flanked pitches covered in easy-carving corduroy. Hop a box and hit a few easy rails in the Burton Progression mini-park with your elementary schooler—or even sign on for a morning’s instruction at the innovative Burton Academy—and try not to find yourself feeling cool. After the lifts close, enjoy regional cheeses and fine California whites by the glass at Olivier Napa while your tweens skate on the adjacent free outdoor rink. Or gaze at alpenglow and treetops while melting into the waters of the Ritz-Carlton’s new 17,000-square-foot Highlands Spa.

Amidst all these pleasurable sensations, one thing will quickly become clear: Far from being a Tahoe afterthought, recent improvements at Northstar and its dynamic new Village have been meticulously planned. Best of all, Northstar’s thoughtful touches extend across a range of economic brackets. So whether your ideal ski day lunch is a brown-bag picnic on a bench with a view, heaping plates of crafted-from-scratch Mexican food on a sun deck with the masses or epicurean creations from acclaimed Bay Area chef Traci Des Jardins at the Ritz-Carlton’s new Manzanita, Northstar delivers. It may not have the stirring steeps of some of Tahoe’s other signature spots, but it now has nearly everything else.

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MUST DO Check out the grand front entrance of the Ritz-Carlton and its multi-tiered lobby’s “big tree” design, with a grand staircase winding up a central “trunk,” canopied by faux branches and leaves of etched glass.

MUST SKI Lookout Mountain’s Prosser, just after it has been groomed, for a near perfect taste of gravity and speed.

APRÈS Cocktails and nibbles on the Ritz’s slopeside/poolside “beach” or in the lobby bar—both great for pampering and people-watching. Olivier Napa for great wines by the glass; The Chocolate Bar for cocoa-infused adult beverages and other treats.

DINING On mountain: The Summit Deck for rotisserie platters; the Lodge at Big Springs for Mexican food. At the Ritz: Manzanita for California French with a focus on regionally sourced ingredients (ask for the chef’s table). In the Village: Baxter’s for American comfort food with a touch of gourmet San Francisco flair; Mikuni for stylized sushi.

LODGING The new Ritz-Carlton Highlands Lake Tahoe is California skiing’s plushest ski-in, ski-out full-service hotel; ritzcarlton.com/lake-tahoe. Village-at-Northstar condos are lift-adjacent, central to all the action and roomy, particularly at One Village Place and Great Bear; tahoemountainlodging.com. Northstar’s earlier era of homes and condos offer great value; northstarattahoe.com.

INFO northstarattahoe.com

Taking lodging a step beyond ski in/ski out. One Village Place, in the Village at Northstar, has a gondola loading station right in the lobby. The sleekly modern hotel, which has one-, two-, and three-bedroom options is convenient, cozy and cool.

www.tahoemountainlodging.com

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