When The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe opened in 2009, it cemented itself as Tahoe’s preeminent resort. Perched mid-mountain on Northstar Resort, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel draws outdoor enthusiasts in the winter with its ski-in, ski-out access; mountain concierge services; cross-country skiing; snowmobiling; and more. In the summer, they come for hundreds of miles of hiking and mountain biking.
Yet something was still missing. The hotel didn’t have a presence in the spot that makes Tahoe famous — its lake.
That was the impetus behind the brand-new Lake Club, which debuted on the banks of Lake Tahoe in July. It fills a gap in Tahoe: a luxury lakeside experience.
Lately, the Ritz-Carlton brand has dipped into different pursuits like cruising — it announced a fleet of three luxury yachts will hit the seas in 2019. And the standalone clubhouse is another shift for the luxury hotel brand.
“The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota has a Beach Club that’s similar, but not the same,” says Paul Reggio, hotel manager of the Tahoe property. “We are the only Ritz-Carlton that has this concept.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota’s Beach Club is also off property, sitting three miles away on white-sand-filled Lido Key. But unlike the Florida hotel’s large facility — whose Gulf-front pool, Beach Club Grill and tiki bar are open to all guests — The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe’s version is more exclusive.
The two-story structure has the feel of a cozy lake house, and its size means it can’t be open to all (the maximum capacity is 60, though the hotel is considering lowering it). To limit entry, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe sells day packages for the beautiful waterfront facility in Tahoe Vista, a 20-minute shuttle ride from the hotel.
A day pass gives you direct access to the beach and a private pier. The concierge can arrange activities such as boating (with or without a captain), waterskiing, wake surfing, charter fishing and parasailing. On the adjacent beach, vendors offer kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals. So far, the latter has been the most popular among Lake Club visitors, according to the hotel. (Showers and changing facilities are in the club, too, in case you need to get ready for dinner back at the Ritz-Carlton’s Manzanita, one of Tahoe’s best restaurants.)
If you desire simple, lakeside relaxation, lounge on the 650-square-foot club’s L-shaped white sofa fronting the stone fireplace and wall-mounted flat-screen TV or take one of the aquamarine seats at the wooden bar and order a Mai Tahoe Tai. For some fresh air, head outside to soak in the whirlpool or warm up by the fire pit.
The building, designed by Walton Architecture and Engineering, feels both rustic and modern with a ledgestone veneer built with Western red cedar along with steel and glass. The exterior and its indoor/outdoor spaces help the club blend well into the lakescape. The lounging area’s back wall opens to a 600-square-foot patio, a 2,000-square-foot lawn and the largest Alpine lake in North America.
For more views of the clear blue water against the snow-sprinkled Sierra Nevadas, go to the second-floor dining deck.
Food and beverages come with a day pass (premium wine and cocktails cost an additional fee). The rotating menu focuses on light, summery dishes. At breakfast, choose from offerings like fruit and granola. Lunch transitions to salads and grilled fare. We enjoyed the grilled shrimp kebabs and the fresh, spicy watermelon salad with Fresno peppers, raspberries and pickled onion strands. Like the rest of the menu, dessert sticks to seasonal ingredients, like the peach, strawberry and cherry trifle.
Lake Club packages run daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., based upon availability. Hours are subject to seasonal changes. Come winter, the Lake Club will serve as a private event space.