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Winter Wonderland at Northstar California


A fresh coat of snow has blanketed the ski resort at Northstar California on a recent, early morning, creating a beautiful winter wonderland.

It's definitely a tantalizing sight for anyone who is looking for an adventurous day on the slopes either skiing or riding. And this particular morning vantage point is about as convenient as it gets: from The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.

Located off Highway 267 near downtown Truckee and Kings Beach, The Ritz-Carlton is a luxury resort that will rest your mind and challenge your body - assuming that's part of your vacation equation.

Ski-in, ski-out experience

A stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is pretty much the ultimate in a ski-in, ski-out experience. It's doesn't get much more convenient. Park your car at the beginning of your stay and there's a good chance you won't need it again until departure.

Not only does the accommodating staff at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe store your skis or snowboard, they also bring it out early in the morning. Step outside, slip into your gear, and off you go, getting on the slopeside location "Big Easy" run that's a short distance away from the outdoor patio area of The Ritz-Carlton.

Northstar California is not only one of the largest ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe region, it's also one of the best. The considerable terrain can make any level skier or rider comfortable.

Variety of terrain at Northstar

The mountain is massive, featuring 20 lifts, including the Big Springs Gondola and the Highlands Gondola, that access 97 trails ranging from unintimidating beginner runs to some black diamonds runs on the famed backside area of Northstar.

And for riders and skiers who love to cruise down intermediate runs, Northstar has a ton of them throughout the mountain.

Terrain parks are also prevalent - there are seven, including the new Ripperroo Riglet Park for snowboarders ages 3-6. The parks are scattered about the Northstar terrain, which has a base elevation of 6,330 feet and rises to an elevation of 8,610 at the summit.

The picturesque, panoramic view of the snowy mountainous terrain can be seen from practically any room at the stately Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, which is located about mid-mountain at Northstar.

The views and the vibe are refreshingly different in the winter, when the days proceed at a little faster pace, especially in the morning when families of skiers and riders are rising early and preparing for a day on the slopes.

Ski, snowboard instruction

Northstar instructors will meet skiers or riders - beginner through expert - right outside The Ritz-Carlton. A lesson package includes the Ultimate 4 private or semi-private instruction sessions; Burton Learn-To-Ride Academy; and Adventure, Guide, and Learning private instruction.

Guests can keep track of their lesson progress by signing up for a free Epic Mix account, which is offered to both ticket or pass holders.

Skiing and riding are certainly one way to enjoy a luxurious stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. But there are many other ways to take part in a day's activity, whether it's mild activities or a morning or afternoon of pampering.

A Five Diamond mountain resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe includes:

A 17,000 square-foot slope-side spa with various treatments, including organic massage, facial or manicure & pedicure, huge fitness center with state-of-the-art weight training and cardiovascular equipment, variety of exercise classes.

There's also both a women's and men's lounge areas with sauna, steam and whirlpool Two outdoor swimming pools, one of them a great lap pool for more serious swimmers.

A vibrant children's program with interactive games, crafts Marshmology experience late afternoon at the fire pit, featuring a great S'mores experience Fine dining in Manzanita restaurant, featuring rustic California cuisine with mountain resort influences. The in-house restaurant is open most of the day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. A recently designed menu has some truly unique dishes throughout the day.

New outdoor slopeside Backyard Bar and BBQ featuring St. Louis style BBQ favorites and wood-fired oven-baked flatbreads

"The Backyard Bar and BBQ is a terrific place to have lunch, whether you're staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe or stopping during a day of skiing or riding at Northstar," said D.J. Brown, who had lunch in early February. "There's a lot of variety on the menu and anyone who enjoys tasty barbecued items will love the selections at The Backyard Bar & BBQ."

Northstar Village

For more activities and restaurant choices, the Village at Northstar can be easily accessed from the hotel by an intermountain gondola. At the heart of the Village is a 9,000 square-foot ice skating rink surrounded by cozy fire pits and a variety of options for shopping, dining and entertainment.

The Ritz-Carlton: Cool place to simply hang out

If activity is not your thing, simply hanging out at the Ritz "living room" is a nice way to go. There's an enticing fireplace sitting area and a much larger section that features comfortable chairs and couches. It's a great place to get absorbed in a book or read the morning paper.

And don't be surprised if a courteous man interrupts your reading in the morning and asks if he can refill your coffee. That gentleman just might be Joseph Mattioli, The Ritz-Carlton general manager, who obviously doesn't just preach over-the-top service - he practices it as well. The overall service at the Ritz is fabulous.

The resort is inspired by iconic 20th century lodges. It's quite an eloquent hotel that combines rustic nuances and has a great ambiance for guests, regardless if the stay is for relaxation or a full day of activities.

Lodging at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe can range from a 455-square-foot club level room to the enormous Sugar Pine Residential Suite that is larger (2,363 feet) than some people's homes. The rooms can be pricy and there is a $25 per day resort fee and mandatory valet parking is $35 a day.

For more information on The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, visit or call 530 562-3010.

Author Jeffrey Weidel, an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region,  can be spotted skiing the powdery slopes at Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts or trying to lower his handicap at local golf courses. He can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.

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