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Road Trip to Lake Tahoe & Escape the City

Lake Tahoe has some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in America, with its stunning azure crystal clear waters and dramatic mountain backdrops. While many people think of Lake Tahoe as a ski destination, this area straddling the California and Nevada borders is also the ultimate summer getaway.

No need to fly to Italy’s Lake Como or Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, when Lake Tahoe’s upscale lakeside retreats boast spectacular natural beauty and a host of water sports opportunities close to home. You will be mesmerized by the water’s shades of cyan—so clear you can see the bottom along the shoreline. Did you know Lake Tahoe is about 1,600 feet deep and is the second deepest lake in America—as deep as three Empire State Buildings? 

Relish in the serene setting and idyllic lake views from two luxurious properties—The Ritz-Carlton on the North Shore and Lake Tahoe Beach Club, the area’s newest $400-million-dollar residential development on the East Shore. Both have private Lake Clubs situated on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

Retreat and reset this summer at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

For those who want to get busy on the lake, there is no shortage of fun. Try kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, parasailing, cruising in a catamaran or hot air ballooning off a boat before sunrise. Guests at The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe can gain access to the stunning mountain modern Lake Club (just 10 minutes away) that feels like a luxurious home with direct beach access and a private boat pier with complimentary kayaks and paddleboards. 

The best part is the Ritz’s exclusive partnership with MasterCraft, where top-of-the line MasterCraft X-26 boats are available for hourly rentals and come with a captain. The Ritz-Carlton guests can customize their Lake Club stay with sunset or daytime cruises, wakeboarding, water skiing or tubing around the various sections of Lake Tahoe. 

Greeted with champagne at the club’s modern wood, stone and glass two-level property, guests can leave the stresses behind and soak in the scenery that feels like stepping into a painting. Showers and changing facilities helped us prepare for our exciting day on the water. Our captain set the mood with some chill tunes on the boat as we zoomed across the calm waters, dropping anchor about 20 minutes off of Whale Beach. 

A picnic aboard the MasterCraft was no ordinary lunch as we warmed in the 70-degree rays over a menu of fresh salad, individually wrapped baguette sandwiches of prosciutto, gouda and smoked salmon, and a tin of tres leche cake with hazelnut and gold flakes. After some rest and relaxation with our toes off the boat, our bodies were ready to try tubing, but unlike the tubing of my childhood, this was a padded device that one could easily lay on and grab securely for some bouncing “catch the wake” waves action. 

New Ritz-Carlton programming includes ‘Sips and Strokes,’ a painting with wine experience where guests can learn about wine from a sommelier and also gain new art techniques from a master watercolorist who guides guests through a painting session with actual wine as the medium instead of ink. This relaxing activity occurred on the upper deck with panoramic views of the vibrantly hued lake, accented by the snowy distant mountains hugging us, and was of course real motivation for painting the scene with various shades of red wine. As they say, a Ritz-Carlton experience truly enlivens the senses!

While bubbly, wine or cocktails await at the club’s modern bar, restaurant and terrace, guests can also choose from cozy fireplaces for a perfect sunset spot or a soak in the outdoor whirlpool. The Ritz-Carlton always goes one step above, and this was evident not only with their service but their exceptional food program. If the setting wasn’t enough on the ground floor terrace above the lawn and lake, Chef Miguel Acosta tantalized our minds and stomachs with a menu that rolled out like art. Beginning with herb focaccia and peach butter, an amuse bouche whet our palettes with foie gras in a salty macaroon. Delightful dishes ensued like Granny Smith Apple and Kohlrabi soup inside a Kohlrabi and a wooden box of stone, moss and seaweed arrived filled with tasty morsels like a Prosciutto and Manchego Croquette. 

While staying in winter at The Ritz-Carlton’s main resort in Lake Tahoe provides mid-mountain ski-in ski-out access to Northstar California, the summer is just as fun with a plethora of options. Enveloped by towering pines, the air feels so fresh. The hotel has a salon and spa with a quiet outdoor spa pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, a mountainside heated pool, a 55-foot granite fireplace in the lobby, a pool bar with BBQ, fitness center (with a Peloton, yoga and HIIT room), and other unique offerings. Some of our favorites include a S’mores station by the firepit with homemade cookie crisps in the shape of bears, various Valrhona dark chocolates and handmade marshmallows. The hotel offers a special stargazing evening with a local star guide for a mind-bending education about the universe and a look at the wondrous sky up close in a Celestron telescope. Also, the Ritz surprises with unexpected special moments on The Backyard terrace every 90 minutes, like a glass of Moet, a hot toddy cart or festive snacks. 

In the hallways of the Ritz one can admire an impressive premier art collection (also for sale) from Warhol, Picasso and Chagall, to name a few, and download a free app for a self-guided tour about this Salon d’art. 

Many California-inspired dining experiences can be found here in the main restaurant, Manzanita, offering new twists on familiar dishes, floor to ceiling windows, an open kitchen and a chef’s table featuring clam soup, duck, scallops, beef tartare and a tower of sweets. Grab breakfast, coffee, paninis or fresh-pressed juices at Café Blue or warm up fireside in The Living Room with wine or cocktails extending into lunch with Grilled Peach and Burrata salad, Crispy Artichoke or Smoke Caesar Salad with Salmon. 

Guestrooms, suites and residences come with in-room gas fireplaces and floor to ceiling windows with blackout curtains. From my room in the evening, chocolates greeted me bedside and a peek from my blackout curtains unveiled a forest of enveloping pine trees while below a glowing pool changed colors with a few twinkly lit trees accenting the darkness. It felt magical.

Just an hour flight from Los Angeles to Reno, The Ritz-Carlton at Lake Tahoe is an hour drive from the airport.