I stayed here after staying at the Marriot Grand Residence at South Lake Tahoe. I got stuck in a snow storm on the CA267 on the way there - a scary experience for someone not familiar with driving in such conditions. The car was sliding from side to side and we had to pull over to the side. I had snow chains but did not know how to put them on - for visitors from places that don't snow - make sure you have snow chains or a 4WD with snow tires. An amazing American Chinese lady stopped to actually help me to put them on (yup, in the middle of a snow storm). Called the hotel initially to tell them my predicament but the best they could suggest was to give me the number of someone who could help me chain the car up.
That was the not-so-nice part but it proved a blessing in disguise as this was the first big snowfall in days which meant great skiing for my sons aged 14 and 8. I must say that the ski valets are amazing. Andille in particular was full of enthusiasm and would rush to meet my sons to get their skis from them.
It's almost ski out and ski in (you have ski down a short distance to the lifts but you can ski back to the doorstep (and are met by the ski valets). Getting kitted out with rental ski gear and lift passes was effortless and seamless as it was all done at the hotel. They also arranged a great coach in Randy Bell for my sons.
If you don't ski, you have to trudge down about 100 yards to the ski lift area. The hotel has a snow mobile standing by to give you a lift from the hotel to the ski lift area too. The slopes near the hotel were pretty quiet so it was nice for skiing. Overall the hotel was also pretty quiet - I saw perhaps only about a dozen other guests on any one day. There is some downside to this - the breakfast buffet wasn't operating and the hotel car that brings you down to the village wasn't as frequent as perhaps I had anticipated it to be. Note that you are a bit of a captive in this luxury fortress mid-mountain. The gondola to the village wasn't running (I read anotheer reviewer who said that it hadn't been for almost a year for financial reasons) so the only way to get down to the village (a 15 minute drive away) is either to drive yourself (rather tiresome) or take the Hotel's Cadillac SUV. They told me that it would run every 15-30 minutes and so I took it down to the village. I waited over 30 minutes at the village to return later on and had to call (twice). The car duly came in the 15 minutes or so it takes to get down. I guess it wouldn't have made sense for the driver to make 15-30 minute loops with no passengers on some of the runs - so if it's quiet, it's best to call the hotel to tell them you've been waiting than wait indefinitely for the car to get you back up.
Northstar village is small. cosy and modern but things probably get kicking in the evening and night. There were a couple of restaurants. I ate in the hotel for my 2 nights there and the food at Manzanita was divine (I'll review that seperately) but it would have been nice to have a bigger choice of other food outlets easily accessible (as one reviewer mentioned - no matter how nice the food, you'll probably like a change after a while).
Check in and out was very quick and everyone ever so nice. I had two rooms facing the mountains (odd numbered). If you want to face the ski slope, you'll need an even numbered room.
They have smores at 4pm every day and it was wonderful for visitors to experience this. It was quiet so there were almost as many hotel staff setting things up as guests.
The room was luxurious - what you'd expect of a Ritz Carlton but the bed didn't really suit me - it had this underlay which made me feel as if I was floating on something squishy whilst asleep. I preferred the matress at the Marriot's Grand Residence - someone should have a mattress menu just as they have a pillow menu. The fireplace was nice in the room but beware the ledge - my wife, son and myself knocked our feet on the fireplace ledge at some time or other. I liked the complimentary water and the twice a day housekeeping.
Overall, great experience to be pampered but of course it comes at a cost. Will try to come back to stay here.