I Always Stay at the Ritz

Ritz-Carlton at Lake Tahoe

Let me rephrase that. I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Destination Club Lake Tahoe once. My short stay at the new High Sierra luxury property was so fine that now I always want to stay at the Ritz!

A comfortable residence with cozy bedrooms, walk-in closets, whirlpool tubs, and hardwood floors – check; immaculate gourmet kitchen and formal dining room – check; living room with a fireplace, entertainment center, and wireless internet – check, check, and check.

Living room at Ritz-Carlton Club Lake Tahoe

Add to it a spectacular mid-mountain location, year-round Tahoe Mountain Club with golf and ski, day spa, fitness center and yoga classes, the Ritz Kids and private members’ lounge, and the list goes on and on. All of these amenities are enhanced every step of the way by impeccable service.

Spa at Ritz-Carlton Club Lake Tahoe

Looking back, I can’t decide on the highlight of my end-of-summer mini-vacation. I loved just sitting on my balcony with a cup of morning joy, basking in the sun, breathing in that fresh mountain air, and staring at the green pine trees underneath and blue ridges on the horizon.

Snow patch on a mountain over Ritz-Carlton Club

I liked watching a man on the roof of the Ritz-Carlton hotel watering potted herbs and tomatoes for the Manzanita restaurant downstairs.

Chipmunk on a trail to Sawmill Lake

While my husband was braving mountain-biking trails with some snow patches still visible, I took a hike to Sawmill Lake through the North Star Forest, fully prepped by a concierge who handed me printed directions, a trail map, a bottle of water, and a can of bug repellent. I didn’t have to use it, because the bugs didn’t bother me on the trail, but I surely appreciated the thought.

Spa pool at Ritz-Carlton Club Lake Tahoe

I considered a swim in an open-air heated pool surrounded by blooming daisies, but then decided on sitting pretty with a book by an outdoor fire pit. A courteous café server came up, put a glass of water with a lemon wedge in front of me, and asked if I would like anything to eat or drink.

I enjoyed cooking in our residence kitchen using all the shiny utensils and a California cookbook prominently displayed on the gorgeous granite counter. I brought some fresh produce bought along our driving route from San Francisco, but I did have an option of pre-arrival provisioning for easy home cooking.

In the kitchen of Ritz-Carlton residence

Every minute of my day at the Ritz-Carlton Club Lake Tahoe was filled with serenity and quiet contemplation. I felt relaxed, and rested, and at home, and well-cared-for.

And the best was yet to come.

Manzanita Restaurant at Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

That evening, my husband and I dined at Manzanita Lake Tahoe, a beautifully decorated restaurant on the hotel’s premises. It is headed by celebrity San Francisco chef Traci des Jardins, and has an elaborate and sophisticated menu executed by chef de cuisine Jacob Ramos, who arrived recently from Los Angeles.

Yellow tomato gazpacho by Chef Ramos

Chef Jacob made his yellow tomato gazpacho with Northern California Dungeness crab, poblano peppers, almonds, and peppermint flowers, adding an unexpected and very satisfying twist to the seasonal classic.

The tenderest seared scallops arrived on a bed of truffled corn and springy frisee salad, harmoniously matching the flavors of sea and earth.

My perennial favorite – black squid-ink pasta, came interspersed with chunks of calamari and dressed with chili flakes, Meyer lemon, and San Marzano tomato sauce.

The restaurant’s most popular main course is called duo of beef, featuring a wonderful slice of filet, red wine-braised short ribs, a neat square of rosemary potato gratin, oyster mushrooms, tomato confit, and asparagus spears.

When I asked Chef Jacob how he achieved the perfect texture and even pink color of the beef filet, he said, “sous vide – for a very long time.” (I had to drop the idea of attempting it at home).

Siduri Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills

A well-selected wine list, compiled by sommelier Gail Oversteg, presented a great opportunity for us to indulge in excellent California pinot noir from Santa Rita Hills, and Bordeaux from Montagne-Saint-Emilion, France.

Finally, our desserts arrived – seasonal rhubarb crisp in a toy pan topped with vanilla bean ice cream, and luscious caramel bread pudding.

Ritz-Carlton Destination Club membership allows access to the chain’s hotels and resorts around the world. Fractional ownership includes the “home club” in Tahoe as well as in San Francisco; Kapalua on Maui; Aspen Highlands; Bachelor’s Gulch at Beaver Creek and Vail, Colorado; Jupiter, Florida; St. Thomas, USVI; and Abaco in the Bahamas. There are Winter, Summer, and Tahoe memberships – each including 14 days in your favorite season(s) and seven float days for world-wide exchanges.

All home club members in Tahoe are guaranteed 21 days of use each year in prime season, with additional hundreds of optional days allocated for each residence. More information at their website.