Review Ritz Carlton Club Lake Tahoe
I usually manage to travel in relatively comfortable style (occasionally very frugally) but rarely spend the extra dollars needed to have a true “luxury experience.” This year I decided do something different with two young adult children no longer living under the family roof. I planned a trip to bring us all back together as a family again and figured the lure of a high end venue would surely be enticing. To that end I booked a three bedroom villa at the Ritz Carlton Destination Club in Truckee California, in the northwestern area of Lake Tahoe for mid September.
As a Marriott Vacation Club owner, I was able to use timeshare vacation points to book the Ritz Carlton Club (albeit for a substantial premium over other standard Marriott Timeshare properties). To be clear, while adjacent and connected to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Lake Tahoe, the 14 Ritz Carlton Club fractional ownership villas are housed in a separate building along with, and completely unaffiliated, 11 full private ownership condos referred to as The Constellation Residences at Northstar (associated with the Rock Resort group). Both the Ritz Carlton Club and the Constellation Residence customers/owners do not check in at the Ritz Carlton Hotel but rather check into their units and are serviced by different Concierge and Bell/valet staff. located in a remote building tucked away in the rear of the property which is accessed by a poorly marked driveway that ingloriously passes by unattractive hotel service garages and bays. This anomaly was a bit visually jarring offering a less than luxurious impression from a curb appeal standpoint. The nondescript building entrance is across from and within 50 feet of the top terminus of the of the Highlands Gondola that connects the Ritz Carlton complex to the lower altitude Northstar ski resort plaza shops, restaurants and accommodations.
From the moment we arrived until we left, the dedicated Ritz Carlton Club staff couldn’t do enough for us. I even arrived to bottle of prosecco on ice, balloons and chocolate covered strawberries to celebtrate my vacation birthday. For this “do it yourself traveller” It was sometimes both uncomfortable and not just a little awkward to let the Ritz employees do their jobs of delivering superior customer service though we eventually got accustomed to the valet delivering our car ready at the front door provisioned with bottles of cold water. The Concierges made all of our golf, dinner and spa reservations and were a font of invaluable information about the area and its restaurants. We were always greeted personally and enthusiastically both coming and going and the afternoon fresh baked cookies in the lobby were a treat we looked forward to daily.(Thank you Carmen, Anne and Tyler!)
The 3 bedroom 3.5 bathroom villa itself was spectacular in size, layout, interior design and provisioning down to a separate bar cabinet filled with nice quality wine and martini glasses. The living room had an L shaped sectional sofa that was the most comfortable I’ve enjoyed at any Marriott room, ever and the gas fireplace’s single button operation was a breeze to operate. The huge kitchen was outfitted with high end appliances, cookware and dishes. The linens were sumptuous and the bed possibly the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on, and that’s saying something. A generous walkin closet with drawers, bathrobes, slippers and Asprey brand bath amenities made the accommodations extra nice (though I really could have used a shower cap). We took advantage of the full sized washer and dryer located in the unit, to arrive home with suitcases filled with clean clothes.
As a guest/owner at the Ritz Club, we had access not only to the amenities at our own building which included a nice gym and members lounge (which seemed largely necessary except for the complimentary coffee and newspapers in the morning) but also all those at the adjacent Ritz Carlton Hotel as well including restaurants, lounges, pools, gym and spa. The huge spa was available for leisurely lounging even on days you were not having a “treatment” so one could enjoy the eucalyptus steam room, sauna, whirlpool and adults-only heated mineral pool up until 6 pm. We were very pleased with the excellent massages we received, some of the best ever, though you do pay a premium for it and a 20% tip/service charge is automatically added to your bill. Once again however the customer service was superior, mitigating somewhat the inflated pricing.
In addition to all the Ritz Carlton amenities, we were also given passes to the Tahoe Mountain Club for the duration of our stay. This private mountain country club (for lack of a better description) is largely located “down mountain” 20 minutes away and includes two public golf courses (discounted tee times with the pass), clubhouse with year round outdoor heated pool, gym and restaurant, bar and snack bars. During ski season two additional private venues on the mountain are also available to Ritz Carlton Club guests. The Ritz Carlton Club staff didn’t really explain the benefits of access to the club, so we stopped by to check it out for ourselves.
We visited in the low “shoulder” pre ski season and while Lake Tahoe is considered a 4 season destination in general, the Ritz Carlton has a decidedly wintertime/ski focus. The “Club” has its own in house ski valet and storage for easy “ski out” to nearby trails. It is located at an even higher altitude than the Northstar ski resort complex and being located near the top of the mountain anyplace you wanted to go in and around the lake was a minimum 20 minute drive. While this added to the relaxing nature of the stay, those in search of a high level of activity or nightlife may not find this place meeting their needs.
All in all we had a very enjoyable and relaxing stay at the Ritz Carlton Destination Club in Lake Tahoe and wished there had been availability to stay more than the 4 days we were able to book. If we could fly non-stop, we would likely return but with our ski days mostly behind us, we’ll probably seek out another destination we haven’t yet enjoyed for future vacations. If you enjoy a relaxed vacation pace, by all means put this location on your list. If you crave casinos, nightlife and the activity of a more small urban environment, you might enjoy the Marriott Vacation Club properties on the Nevada side of the lake in South Lake Tahoe more for your vacation. Both locations have great skiing and summer activities but the Ritz Carlton experience is definitely several levels above the typical MVCI Vacation AND no one approached us at any time to attend any sales presentation of any kind. What a welcome relief from mostly every other Vacation Club trip!
Review: Ritz Carlton Club Lake Tahoe
Dates Visited: September 12-16, 2017
More Information: Ritz Carlton Destination Club Tahoe