Aron and I drove up to Tahoe on Thursday evening for what one might call a “babymoon,” leaving Hudson is the care of grandparents. For Aron’s 35th birthday, his parents generously gifted him two nights at the Ritz-Carlton, so we were eager to take advantage of the opportunity before baby girl arrives (which could be any time, really, within the next six weeks).
The gorgeous hotel sits mid-mountain at Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort and is ski-in/ski-out. Sadly, I couldn’t take advantage of this feature (I’ve always wanted to stay somewhere and do that!), but there was plenty else to enjoy (not least of all the view of others living out my ski-in-dreams from our room).
California is having one of the driest winters on record (as in snowpack levels 20% of normal—we need some rain!), so most of the snow on the slopes is man-made. Still, those who were out on the slopes seemed happy with the spring-like conditions on Friday: sunny and a high of 54-degrees.
Breakfasts with views of the slopes at Manzanita Grill were delicious. I’ve decided I need to incorporate crème fraîche as a topping with sweet starts (as with this banana-bread French toast) more often.
The hotel just opened a new café called True Blue where they serve Blue Bottle Coffee, pressed juices and smoothies, and light fare—which would be good to note for future occasions. Even if I weren’t staying here, it would be nice to take a run down and pause for a really good latte!
On this visit, we spent most of our time around the hotel spa. You can use all of the facilities if you’re a guest, but we justified couples-massages with our savings on lift-tickets and ski rentals. (It was a good trade!)
Another highlight: the hotel brings out marshmallows (including a house-made flavor, which happened to be raspberry this time), chocolate bars, and graham crackers for s’mores at 4:30pm each day.
My favorite is just plain, old-fashioned pillowy marshmallows, slowly toasted so that the outside is light-brown and crispy and the inside is warm and gooey and practically liquid… unadorned. But these fresh raspberry ones were pretty incredible, too!
There’s a free gondola that runs between Northstar Village and the hotel, so we went down the the base village of shops and restaurants to look around. The ice skating rink stays open until 9pm and is free if you bring your own skates (or you can rent them, there).
The next morning was forecasted to bring some of that much-needed precipitation, and we were so happy to wake up and find it lightly snowing!
We said farewell and hit the road after sleeping in one more time and sharing a hearty brunch. (And maybe deciding on the baby’s name??) We were none too late: though the valley floor was simply wet with rain, snow was starting to stick at the higher elevations through Donner Pass.
Just outside of Northstar, we reached Truckee. We’ll have to return to the small—but ever-growing—ski town another time; we thought it best to be on our way before the weather worsened but there’s even a feature on all of the great, new restaurants and shops there in this month’s Northwest edition of Sunset Magazine.
We made a quick pass down main street before beelining it to the summit.
We were waved through chain control thanks to all-wheel drive, but we were happy to have some on hand just in case. We watched quite a few cars slip and slide across lanes as we climbed to Donner Summit at around 7200 feet. Thankfully, we had no trouble on the roughly 2-hour drive home to Davis and could just appreciate the otherwise serene views around us.
We got a white, wintry escape after all. (And then got to come home to a sweet, sweet little boy we adore.)