My husband and I spent 5 nights at the Ritz Carlton North Star over Christmas. It is a beautiful hotel and overall, the friendliness of the personnel stood out.
The property is impressive with with ski-in/ski-out and a convenient ski concierge. There is also a gym, yoga room, spa (with gender-specific saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms), outdoor swimming pools (lap & regular). In the afternoon, there is an opportunity to make smores over a fire and we had fun making a snow man.
The dispute over the gondola seems to be ongoing with North Star and the Ritz blaming each other. The reality is, the gondola was not turned on for the first few days and taking the small bus down to North Star in the blizzard was not a fun experience. The bus driver dropped us off, telling us pick up would be in the same spot. I think the reality is, they don't have an assigned pick up spot, so we had to be on the lookout to not miss the bus on the way up, as it stopped somewhere entirely different. While they say they have three busses running, we waited quite a while (more than the supposed 15 minutes) and an older man said he waited an hour. When he asked the bus driver he pretty much ignored him. Not up to Ritz standards.
The outdoor hot tubs are too far from the actual hotel. When it was snowing, we could not actually make it there without sliding and freezing, as it's a long way to go through a high cover of snow. Other ski hotels we have stayed at in Colorado usually have the hot tub right next to the hotel exit. It seems this hotel is more built for summer guests.
Unable to get to the outdoor hot tub the first few days, we had to sit alone in our gender-separated hot tubs in the spa. At least a gay couple friendly atmosphere.
We ate at Manzanita three times, the best restaurant at the hotel. Otherwise, there is the "Living room" a sitting area that is too small when the hotel is busy, and the menu is very short. If you have any kind of dietary restrictions, you are almost out of luck, e.g. gluten free, low fat.
The coffee shop is nice but a bit disorganized; no gluten-free food here. Back to Manzanita, the two dinners we had were ok. For the very steep prices, it was disappointing. There was no real holiday menu, even on Christmas day there was no turkey, ham or anything of the kind to be found. If you compare Manzanita to the restaurant at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay, there is just no comparison. If you charge me a fortune, live up to it.
Breakfast was good, although we only noticed that there was a buffet on the way out. Nobody mentioned it. They were able to get me a boiled egg after I asked, in a coffee cup. An egg holder would have been a nice touch.
The spa was nice and I really enjoyed the yoga room where they have mats, bolsters etc. and the lady working there was very helpful. The view from the room on the mountain is unbelievable.
Skiing out as great but skiing back was a bit surprising. My husband hurt himself and it was a very challenging way back to the hotel; certainly not for beginners. Not sure how they get back.
The snow was the best I have seen in Tahoe, powder!
We ended up in a Mountain View room, as all other rooms had been booked for $670 a night. Of course, you have to add $25 spa fee, $35 parking fee, and a bunch of other fees for breathing the air and walking through the hotel. The room was VERY nice, spacious, with a big bed and lovely bathroom. We looked out right on the slope. I think the secret is to be on a high level. You can't put anything in the fridge, as it is one of those automatic charging ones, but in the winter you can just put your champagne on the small balcony ledge :-). We also had a nice fireplace.
The temperature was a challenge. We like to sleep in a cold room. When you turned off air-conditioning, it was still warm. When you turned the air down it was very noisy and kept running like it never reached the temperature. We ended up sleeping with a slightly open balcony door - but it ended up snowing in and we kept opening and closing it. Not ideal!
I am starting to think that the Fairmont is overtaking the Ritz with their service. Last year we stayed at the Fairmont Whistler, and they had some free offering in the lobby every day, like chestnuts or other treats. The Ritz had hot cider late in the afternoon, one day it was almost cold. The first few days they had cinnamon sticks but once more people arrived they did not refill them. That was a nice touch.
It happened to be my husband's birthday during our stay. A few days before our arrival, we got contacted by a service representative of the Ritz. It always makes me laugh, as by that time, most people have everything booked up; it would be too late for Xmas dinner reservations etc. One should really get contacted right after booking. Anyhow, I decided to get my husband a massage and mentioned his birthday. Kevin, the representative, offered to send a free cake to our room as a surprise. He said it would be there by the time we get in.
The day before we arrived, I remembered that my husband eats gluten-free, and send a note to Kevin, asking if it was too late to send something else. If it was, no problem. Turns out Kevin had an out-of-office response for the time of our arrival. Well, my bad.
We arrived, and no cake was in the room. A few days later, Kevin emailed me, asking if everything went well and he was sorry he could not send anything gluten-free as he only got the note. I responded saying, unfortunately. nothing had been sent at all (and I had told my husband and we were excited to get SOMETHING free from the Ritz). Well, I never got any response after that. Disappointing!
Overall, I am not sure I would come back. It's just so overpriced. For almost $800 a night, I do expect a lot and it was just not enough. For the same money, I could rent a VERY nice large cabin in Tahoe, which is what well probably do next time. We picked the Ritz to be spoiled be luxury and great food, but it was just ok. Beautiful setting but the rest underdelivered.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Featuring a mid-mountain location on Northstar California, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is the first and only AAA Five Diamond mountain resort in California. Highlights include luxurious guest rooms and suites with in-room fire places and floor-to-ceiling windows; ski-in/ski-out access on Northstar California with ski valet services; a 17,000 sq ft slopeside spa with treatments themed around water and woods; extraordinary dining in Manzanita featuring rustic California cuisine with mountain resort influences; a signature "Marshmology" experience each evening at the fire pit featuring the “Art of the S’more"; and a comprehensive children’s program allowing parents to make the most of their Lake Tahoe vacationDuring the winter season, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe’s mid-mountain location provides for ski-in / ski-out access to Northstar California, consistently touted as one of the nation’s best family-friendly ski resorts. With a slope-side location on Northstar’s “Big Easy” run, the ski-in/ski-out access can be enjoyed by skiers and riders of any level. When you are ready for a day on the mountain, simply head down to mountain concierge where the ski valets will assist you with your boots and escort you to your skis and poles waiting on the slopes. Northstar offers world-class grooming and provides a plethora of family activities in the Village at Northstar accessed from the hotel by an intermountain gondola. At the heart of the Village is a 9,000 sq ft ice skating rink surrounded by cozy fire pits and a variety of options for shopping, dining and entertainment. During the summer months, Northstar transforms into family-friendly playground offering the region’s best mountain adventure. Families and their four-legged friends will love hiking the easy loop to Sawmill Lake. After a day on the mountain, guests can gather around the fire pit with The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe Marshmologist for complimentary s’mores, enjoy cocktails on the resort’s heated outdoor terrace or enjoy a game of bocce in the backyard. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe Hotel Truckee