Monday, December 14, 2009

Lake Tahoe's newest hotel: really Ritzy

The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe, opened its doors this weekend, in time for the holiday season (and skiing) at Northstar-at-Tahoe. It's the biggest hotel/resort news in the Tahoe Basin, having taken three years and some $300 million.

Tucked into a wooded hillside, The Ritz-Carlton Highlands' grandeur is, from a distance, fairly well-disguised. Still, it is hard to hide the fact that this is the area's first five star-caliber hotel, featuring 170-rooms, 23 private rsidences, a top-flight restaurant, and a vast spa.

Just how 'ritzy' is this place? Well, to start with, all the rooms have a fireplace. And there's a mountain concierge and ski valet, with ski-in and ski-out access; and an inter-mountain gondola connecting to the Village-at-Northstar. There's the luxe Highlands Spa that's bigger than all the houses on my block, and boasts a lap pool, fire pit, yoga and spin studios. And that top-flight restaurant? It's called Manzanita and is helmed by San Francisco chef Tracy Des Jardins. Too rich for your blood? Consider the great deals in spring and fall, when prices drop by half; or swing by for drinks or a meal at Manzanita. All we can say is, it's about time, Tahoe.

Details: In Truckee, at 13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court; 200 miles east of San Francisco and 98 miles from Sacramento. Rooms from $355 in winter (from $175 in spring and fall); 800/241-3333 or click here.

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