They had me at the s’mores gift bags. Sticks, Marshmallows, Chocolate and wafers. And fire pits by the pool and hottub on which to create the s’mores. The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe was built around a main fireplace/chimney, from which the rest of the building emanates. The main floor is more a great room than a lobby, with families eating, trendsetters having drinks and skiers doing après. It’s like the community centre of the rich and famous. Or at least that’s how it makes you feel.
The rooms boast soft sheets, stunning views, fireplaces and insanely amazing toiletries. Combined with turndown service and fluffy robes? Epic. My room overlooked the slopes of Northstar and I was torn as to whether to ski or stay in the gorgeous room. (The skiing was too good to pass up though).
I was to be on TV the day after I left Northstar and the Ritz-Carlton, and my nails were a mess. A devotee of Shellac, I needed acetone and foil to remove the 3 week-old colour from my fingers (it still looked great but not up to TV standards). The spa attendants let me in after they had closed to figure it out (how amazing is that?!). Not only did I see the alpenglow at the end of the day, but the healing, serene environment made me giddy. And I chose a very au courant blue lacquer for the TV appearance. You must check out the copper bathtub in the spa when you go. Stunning.
Similar to other Ritz-Carlton properties, the chain gives tribute to local culture and the art throughout the hotel was sourced locally. My favourite pieces were the 160 beer-can butterflies in the lobby bar, of which only one has been stolen since opening. You would never know they had been up-cycled. Hopefully I can find them on Etsy.
I wish I’d had my family there. As I watched a little boy have his boots nudged on by a valet, I remembered all of the weekends at Whistler mountain with my boys, screaming about their boots being tight. The Ritz-Carlton staff had magic that I do not. How I wish my boys could ride the uber-cool snowmobile sleigh and get their gear laced up by a pro! (The valets at the Ritz even place your skis and poles for you so your only job is to hop into them like an Olympian.) And watching the families après in the huge lobby are, surrounded by fireplaces, warmth and sun made me decide to return with my boys in tow.
The dining at the Ritz was like none I had ever experienced. (Knowing Shaun Whyte was ‘in the house’ didn’t hurt either – we toured his world-class halfpipe the next day). I began with a BNB. That would be – bacon and bourbon. The bacon being the stirstick. Yeah. I’m hard-core, BTW. Try to catch up to me on the slopes. Ha ha.
The food was amazing, (Trying not to be cliché but I can still taste it and I just can’t find the words). There were 6 of us around a table, getting to know each other over dinner. How rude was I when I asked for a taste of everyone else’s meals!
I’ve stayed with several Ritz-Carltons – New Orleans and I am off to Key Biscayne in Miami right now. What impresses me the most is how each hotel embraces their environment, meshes with the locals, incorporates the history of their surroundings into everything from the architecture to the menu. True vibrant hotels allow a parent to teach as well as relax, and taking your kids to this property you can’t help but feel the history, the gold rush, and the national forest emanating from the environment.
My drive back to the airport at Lake Tahoe was unforgettable. I was fidgeting with my Blackberry, fielding calls from work, and the driver was silent. He was the same driver I’d had on the way in. Feeling rude, I struck up a conversation which may have changed me forever. He told me of his ancestors. The railway tracks to the right that helped Lincoln win the Civil War. He told me of his great grandfather who was a guide in the gold rush as his eyes gleamed and his pride showed clearly. As a river guide in the summer he knows these parts. He stopped in the perfect location so that I could take one parting photo if the Ritz-Carlton. Remember in The Thomas Crown Affair – the smile of a Father? – That’s what it was like. The smile of a man who not only loves the land, but loves the businesses who prolong the history – his history.