When was the last time you went skiing? Were there heated walkways, free bubbles, hot toddies, hot tubs, and roaring fireplaces? We didn’t think so. If you haven’t been to Northstar California Resort, in North Lake Tahoe, you haven’t done skiing right. Here’s 10 reasons why this North American ski resort will take your winter holiday up a notch.
1. Close and convenient
Ok so close and convenient might be how we’d describe an Australian ski resort, but if you’ve committed to a long haul snow holiday, North Lake Tahoe might surprise you. Fly direct from Australia into San Francisco, grab a 4 wheel drive and take a four hour cruisy drive straight to Northstar’s front door on the north western edge of Lake Tahoe.
2. Village vibe
Northstar has some serious charm offensive. Perched at an elevation of 1,900m, the pedestrian-only village is straight out of the North Pole. A picture perfect ice rink sits at its heart, surrounded by streets strung with fairy lights, dotted with pine trees and lined with cute boutiques.
3. Mountain magic
Northstar is home to more than 1,200 hectares of skiable terrain – much of it well groomed and designed for beginners through to intermediates. Dare devils can duck off into the trees and black diamonds to get their adrenalin fix, but the real joy is to be found on rolling blue runs – cruise down West Ridge, along Luggis and then all the way back down to the village on easy greens.
4. Töst time
Everyday at 2pm is Töst Time at Northstar. Each day at the top of East Ridge a champagne bar, music and bean bags pop up so you can raise a toast to the mountain. Simply bring your ID, grab a free sparkling wine and sip your ice cold bubbles before the last few runs of the day.
Forget happy hour, 5pm is truly the happy hour down at Northstar village. Chefs bearing trays of bite sized s’mores will stroll around the ice rink handing out the traditional American campfire treat. If you want to make your own, grab a DIY kit from the Rink bar and toast your marshmallows at the open air fire pits.
6. Kid friendly
If you have little ones in tow, you’ll love the set up at Northstar. Nifty wagons are set up around the village each day – free to use and return. Pop the kids and their gear into a wagon, pull them over to the gondola, unload and get ready to start your family adventure.
7. Fine dining
Fine dining takes on new meaning when you dine at The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Rug up and ride the gondola up from the village, where the luxury hotel sits snug like a snow castle surrounded by snow covered pine trees. The hotel’s award winning Manzanita restaurant is famous for mountain fare – try crispy fried Brussels sprouts, rack of lamb with barley and date and decadent dark chocolate mousse. Make sure you peruse the extensive local Californian wine selection.
8. Luxe lodges
Staying ski in ski out is never cheap, but at Northstar you don’t have to blow the budget to seriously spoil yourself. The village is filled with privately owned condominiums – serviced apartments – which are rented out through accommodation groups like Tahoe Mountain Lodging. That means each will be slightly different, but it also means they’re well maintained and often more luxe than your average apartment. Expect high ceilings, full sized kitchens, big beds, electric fireplaces and hot tubs.
9. Après ski
What is a trip to the snow without après hour? Kick things off with 2pm töst on the mountain, before heading back to the village to grab a few Moscow Mules in front of the open air fire pits at the Rink Bar. Grab some skates and try a few spins under the stars – throw in live music and you have hours of fun. Once the sun sets, make your way to one of the TC’s Taphouse for fireside all American dishes and beers by the fire.
10. Beyond the snow
When you’re off the snow, the village has spas, shops and restaurants to keep you busy. It would be easy to stay in the village, but don’t forget you can’t go to Lake Tahoe without seeing the lake itself. That sounds like an obvious statement, but it would be easy to drive straight into a resort without even catching a glimpse of the mighty lake. Take a twenty minute detour down to the shore to peer out across North America’s largest alpine lake – home to almost 40 trillion gallons of water. On a blue bird day, keep your eyes peeled on the mountain for glimpses of the lake from the runs.
Whether you want to wine and dine or do every run on the mountain, Northstar California is a winter wonderland that won’t disappoint.