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These days, it’s easy to forget Northstar was once a Tahoe underdog. Especially when après-ski—after you soared down “seamless groomers,” riffled through powdery woods and hit one of the ultra-hip terrain parks—means getting bubbled by jets in a two-person copper tub at the Ritz-Carlton spa while gazing at big vistas.

Not feeling so ritzy? Enjoy a few drafts around the firepits at the Overlook while the kids skate for free in the Village. Dinner? Epicureans like Manzanita, where San Fran power chef Traci Des Jardins might just visit to admit “I became a chef because I thought it would be a good way to support my dream of being a ski bum.”

Bums whose lifestyles involve less foie gras, however, appreciate slices from Rubicon—and the value-priced “Stay and Ski Free” deals. In other words, Northstar’s trademarked ethos of delivering “a good day” to all and finding fresh ways to do it is working. While some dislike the trek from parking to Village to the actual skiing—and lovers of true double-blacks still should go elsewhere—more converts love the innovative ways this “mellow mountain” turned “top notch resort” delivers great times to many different styles of skiers. Think Beaver Creek meets Deer Valley with a come-one-come-all California attitude. —S.R.

What’s New: Treeskiing skills clinics; new rental fleet; new cool features in The Stash.

Mandatory Run: Lookout Mountain on a powder day.

Don’t Miss: Fresh grilled lunch in the sun with Lake Tahoe views at Summit Deck & Grille.

One Village Place

One Village Place

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; Village-at-Northstar condos are lift-adjacent, central to all the action and roomy, particularly at One Village Place and Great Bear; Northstar’s earlier era of homes and condos offer great value;


The only hotel in the world with a gondola in the loby

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.


northstar biathlon
Northstar is home to the only permanent biathlon range on the west coast.

If you love the winter Olympics or just know someone who’s a bit of a gun nut, Northstar’s got you covered. Biathlon, the sport where you cross-country ski to a shooting range and then fire off a few rounds at a distant target is alive and well at Northstar. The Northstar cross-country, telemark, and snowshoe center is home to the only permanent biathlon range on the west coast and it’s all at your disposal for special events and private instruction. Not only that, but former US Olympian Biathlete Glenn Jobe is on staff and available for private lessons.

Tahoe Apex Adventure Bungy

Tahoe Apex Adventure Bungy
bungee northstar
This year-round activity is a rush of adrenaline.

Catch some air challenge yourself, and push your fear aside in the Village at Northstar. Open year-round (weather permitting), Tahoe Apex Adventure Bungy provides a safe way to go big and get your adrenaline pumping. Bungy cords are combined with trampolines to create a jumping, bouncing good time for all ages and comfort levels. Once you’ve warmed up with some simple jumping you can even practice your flips. The knowledgeable staff will ensure that safety is priority number one, followed closely by fun.

Tahoe Apex Adventure Bungy
Village at Northstar

Villager Candle Shop

Villager Candle Shop
villager candle shop
Craft your own candle for the perfect souvenir.

Located in the Village, the Villager Candle Shop offers you the opportunity for a unique and personalized gift or souvenir. With countless colors, 20 different scents, and shapes limited only by your own imagination you can craft your very own candle to take home. This is a great, creative activity for kids. The Villager staff is well versed in the artistry of candle making and will be there to make sure you’re happy with the end result. Larger group? The Villager hosts candle-making parties for any-size group and any occasion.


geocaching northstar
This high-tech treasure hunt will have you exploring the mountain.

Family camaraderie comes built in with Northstar’s Geocaching Adventures. Based out of the cross-country, telemark, and snowshoe center (next to the Vista Express at the top of the Gondola). Like a high tech treasure hunt, by using handheld GPS devices and sets of coordinates you hunt through the wilderness for buried prizes. Hidden stashes are rated like ski runs from green to black. The goodies you find at any given stash may range from Starbucks gift certificates, to full dinners, to lift tickets.

Tubing Center

Tubing Center
northstar tubing
Lift-accessed tubing allows for a fun family tradition.

Tubing is as much a winter tradition as snowballs, snowmen, and Santa Claus. Northstar has taken it a step farther by removing that pesky uphill piece of the equation. Starting just above the gondola at mid-mountain tubers are rope-towed up the hill before speeding downhill one at a time or chained together in groups. The tube masters at Northstar have even built in turns and whoop-dee-dos to add a little more excitement to the mix.

Ice Skating

 Ice Skating
ice skating
This ice skating rink is right in the middle of the village.

You can’t miss this. It’s right in the middle of the Village. It’s Northstar’s Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, it’s the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees. Northstar’s Ice rink is truly first class. Surrounded by heated and cushioned seats and couches and with rentals available this is a can’t miss stop for young and old. Oh, and to top it off the fine folks at True North, just off the southern end of the rink, sell s’mores kits that can be put to use at any of the well-maintained fire pits that circle the rink as well. Skating and s’mores, how do you beat that?

Mountain Lotus Yoga

Mountain Lotus Yoga
mountain lotus main
Enjoy hot yoga in a welcoming environment.

Ready to sweat? Mountain Lotus Yoga will cleanse those toxins, open those pores, and calm your mind and body. While not officially Bikram Yoga (which requires the blessings of the yogi himself), Mountain Lotus offers the same thing, hot yoga. Their heated studio provides an increase in cardiovascular benefits, muscle elasticity, and a replenishing of skin cells (to help reduce signs of aging).

Lighthouse Spa

Lighthouse Spa
lighthouse main
A local's favorite.

With 18 years of keeping both locals and visitors relaxed and refreshed Lighthouse Spa has the kind of reputation people trust. Literally a stone’s throw from the waters of Lake Tahoe, Lighthouse has established themselves as a true local favorite. Specializing in massage and offering a wide range of therapeutic techniques the Lighthouse staff will ease away those aches and pains, leaving you stress-free and feeling great. Not to be forgotten, Lighthouse also offers a full assortment of facial, waxing, and wellness services and can out-call their services to your home as well.

Clearwater Day Spa at Tahoe

Clearwater Day Spa at Tahoe
Enjoy the shores of Lake Tahoe from a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere.

Just off the shores of Lake Tahoe and in the middle of Tahoe City, Clearwater Day Spa brings the calming peace of the lake to their loyal customers. With an array of treatments from massage and facials to waxing and nail care the professional staff at Clearwater will have you feeling fresh and relaxed in no time. Clearwater strives to create a welcoming and calming atmosphere of serenity for their guests and with phenomenal views of the lake and some of the most experienced therapists in the basin they’re sure to do just that.

Clearwater Day Spa at Tahoe

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