With its busted budgets and larcenous tax rates, California seems an unlikely place to find one of North America's best mountain resorts, but here it is -- about four hours east of San Francisco, just outside the town of Truckee: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. It's perched on the side of a mountain like an enormous Bavarian castle. It feels deliciously isolated. The views are of sheer ski runs, tranquil mountain meadows, and verdant fog-shrouded valleys. Think the famous helicopter shot that opens the movie "Sound of Music." Looking out the giant picture windows of the public rooms, one expects to see Heidi coming down a trail, piping her goats. The guest rooms are comfortable, tastefully decorated, and super clean. The spacious bathrooms extend a luxury worthy of the Ritz-Carlton brand. Our stay happened to coincide with the San Francisco Giants playing the fourth game of the World Series. Curiously, the only bar with a TV was quite small. It sat ten, to be exact. Meanwhile, the much larger bar in the restaurant went virtually empty that night. Am I a proponent of turning every luxury hotel's oak-beamed taproom into a sports bar? Hardly. But be forewarned: If you are with a group and intending to see a sports event on TV, you'll have to fight the other hotel guests for precious real estate in the lobby bar, or settle for watching the game in your room. Enough about digital distractions. This hotel is about serenity, romance, and connecting with the mountains. As such, it's a wonderful getaway no matter what the season. (If you book it right, you can get a highly competitive rate during certain "shoulder season" months -- October, for example.) The on-site restaurant, Manzanita, is stunning. It's worthy of patronage for breakfast, lunch, and especially dinner. The menu selections will keep you engrossed for days in a row, if necessary. The service in the restaurant is attentive and appropriately friendly. Watching the chefs at work in the large, open kitchen, you'll feel like you're privy to a lavishly choreographed culinary ballet. And you are. If a Ritz-Carlton stay is within your budget, I highly recommend the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Paying California taxes makes me feel like a serf. Two days at this hotel made me feel like a king.