Heaven the slopes may be; for the wonderful panorama across picturesque Lake Tahoe and the winter desertlands of Nevada. A big, snowsure mountain comprehensively served by snowmaking with a network of well linked tree lined trails which combine to offer a good range of interesting terrain to suit most standards, but for those whose ideal resort ambience is quiet and alpine then the neon mid rise glitz of South Lake Tahoe – the main town serving Heavenly – might rank as close to hell. The resort sits astride the border between Nevada – where gambling is legal – and California, where it is not. The gambling palaces on the Nevada border mean accommodation is plentiful and most subsidised. The multi-storey casino hotels offer some good deals, good views from the upper storeys and passable food if you can live with the tacky surroundings. This part of town is set up for not much other than skiing, sleeping, gambling, malls and convenient eating. There are few shops and stand-alone bars and the traffic is unpleasant. On the California side of the state line is a new Heavenly Village project which is seeking to build a more authentic village centre with a gondola station right to the state line, and a few more attractive hotels, restaurants, bars and an ice-rink are being built around here, and the prospects are looking increasingly bright thanks to the investment of The American Skiing Company. Generally a car is almost essential if you want to base yourself here not only because there is a multitude of other great resorts in the area, but because, of an evening, it facilitates an easy departure from the soulless hub to find some of the more secluded bars and restaurants which do exist.
Heavenly Resort Statistics
|Opens||Nov – April|
Heavenly Resort Mountain Info
The resort is best suited to intermediates and advanced skiers, but there is some decent beginners terrain There are four different base stations: the California side at California Lodge and the main Heavenly gondola from the centre of South Lake Tahoe, tend to be busier in the mornings so an early lift from Stagecoach or Boulder Lodges can mean hitting the slopes when they are at their quietest. Make for the top of the Sky Express for best view from the runs down on the Lake.Well laid out mountain which allows skiers and riders to move around a partial circuit. There is something for everyone and it can be a good centre for mixed ability groups. There is plenty of easy off-piste which is accessible for those taking to their fat boys for the first time and some of it is on pleasant tree lined routes. Comprehensive snowmaking facilities.
Accommodation & Apres Ski
The range of accommodation is extensive. From 1950s and 60s downmarket budget motels which offer great deals midweek to the glitzy casino hotels. A favourite with regulars is the Embassy Suites Resort which is a more traditional style with one bedroom luxury suites. It has an indoor pool and spa, comprehensive gym, restaurant and nightclub and its own mini wedding chapel – if you are suddenly grabbed by a matrimonial urge. The four biggest, classiest main casino hotels are Harvey’s, Harrah’s, Caesar’s and the Horizon. For straightforward access to the mountain on the Nevada side both the Stagecoach and Boulder base stations have condos aplenty. The Ridge Condos have recorded some serious recommendations recently and are close to the slopes. For Lake Views on the California side there are many motels and hotels strung along the lakeside. The Best Western Timber Cove Lodge and the Inn by the Lake are not exactly rich in ambience, but they are clean, efficient and offer good food. Restaurants offer a great choice too. For those looking for quantity at a price rather than top quality the buffet style restaurants in the casino hotels are hard to beat. In Harrah’s The Summit and the Friday’s Station are recommended for top class cuisine; Caesar’s has a faux European, poolside café and a Planet Hollywood. Otherwise commensurate with the high visitor numbers keen to spend cash, there is the chance of going out to eat everything from Mexican, Cajun to Swiss, grillhouses to pizzas and pasta. Dixon’s restaurant and microbrewery mixes a fair glass of beer and down home US cuisine, while the lakeside setting for Fresh Ketch at Tahoe Keys Marina has great fish and seafood in a pleasing setting. Apres ski is what you want it to be. You can eat and dance aboard a paddle steamer on the Lake or drop the contents of your bank account into the slot machines. Otherwise there are usually cabarets and ‘big name stars’ stopping off on their tours. Turtle’s is the staple location for late night dancing and is to be found at The Embassy, but there are also one or two half decent Irish and English theme pubs.