I was lucky enough to take part in two trips back to back at the end of February, taking in both California and Utah and I loved every minute of it. Our aim was to visit and ski some of the resorts covered by the EPIC pass – a multi-resort season pass covering many of our most popular ski areas.
California – Lake Tahoe
In this blog I’m going to focus on my time in California, I visited the Lake Tahoe area and the ski resorts Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar but lets start in Heavenly…
Heavenly is a unique ski resort sitting right on the California/ Nevada border. It’s a great mountain with plenty of terrain overlooking jaw-dropping Lake Tahoe. When travelling up the mountain on the Heavenly gondola, there are breathtaking views of the majestic mountains nestled next to the stunning Lake Tahoe. It really is very special.
On the Nevada side of the state line (literally a line in the road) you’ll find casinos and high rise buildings yet on the California side there’s a sleepier and quieter vibe with a strict limit on building heights and styles.
I was staying at the Forest Suites which location wise was unbeatable being a two minute walk to the Heavenly gondola. The apartments are 3-star, clean and spacious with full kitchens. Forest Suites would be a great option if you want to be close to the gondola but don’t want casino accommodation. If casinos are you’re thing, you can still walk to them in a few minutes.
Mont Bleu is the most famous casino in Lake Tahoe and a room renovation is currently underway. This seemed to be common theme in the other casinos we visited, namely Harvey’s and Harrah’s. It’s easy to see why so many renovations are taking place. A new Hard Rock Casino hotel has opened up opposite the Mont Bleu and it’s superb. It’s fresh, more modern and luxurious than the other casinos and this seems to have forced the competition’s hand to invest and modernise. Great news for guests!
If staying in a casinos isn’t your idea of a relaxing ski holiday then I’d recommend you choose a hotel on the Californian side, which is a lot more peaceful with the lake right on your doorstep. The two properties I visited there were Aston Lakeland Village and the Lakeshore Lodge and both are excellent options right by the water’s edge.
Lakeland village offers luxury apartments with a ‘cabin in the woods’ feel in a beautiful location beside Lake Tahoe whereas the Lakeshore Lodge offers more of hotel experience with rooms offering views of the lake and a balcony. There is a shuttle service that picks up from these properties to take you to the gondola for Skiing.
The skiing was outstanding! Heavenly is a great mountain for all abilities but intermediates to advanced skiers and boarders will like it best. There’s very varied terrain and the Tamarack lodge is a great option for lunch on the Mountain and location for Apres Ski. It’s the venue for the famous Unbuckle Après Ski Party every weekend which has a DJ and dancers on stage. It’s definitely a fun way to end the ski day.
Kirkwood is the highest altitude resort in the Lake Tahoe area and there’s some great terrain with steeper pitches plus a lively restaurant and bar at the mountain base. I’d recommend visiting Kirkwood on a day trip from Heavenly or Northstar as facilities in Kirkwood village are limited. It’s all about the skiing rather than lodging! It takes approximately 45 Minutes to get to Kirkwood from Heavenly so having a 4×4 makes life easier but there’s also a regular shuttle bus from Heavenly to get you there.
As a boarder, Northstar was definitely my favourite Mountain with long wide open runs through the trees. Northstar has a really laid-back village with a good selection of shops and restaurants. There are lots of lodging options in Northstar village itself, principally 4-star self-catering condos with easy access to the slopes. Overall I found Northstar, a fairly small resort, easy to navigate.
Lake Tahoe and in particular Heavenly is a great destination for people looking for something truly unique. It is unlike any other ski resort in the world. Where else can you find a casino themed nightlife on the Nevada side of the state line a laid-back Californian vibe on the other? Combine this with great skiing and spectacular views – what more could you ask for?
For more information about skiing in Tahoe, or any of our other ski destinations, speak to one of our expert reservations consultants on 0131 243 8097 or get a quick and easy tailor-made quotation online.