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Lake Tahoe, California

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Because of its relative proximity to Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe has a somewhat ill-deserved reputation as a paradise for gamblers. However, these days it much more widely recognized as a great vacation venue for golfers and fans of outdoor activities like hiking and skiing – this is especially the case among the resorts on the lake’s Californian shore, which don’t ‘enjoy’ the same relaxed gambling laws as their near-neighbors over the water in Nevada.

One of the most popular – and fastest growing – of the California shore resorts is Northstar at Tahoe. Northstar is a kind of halfway house between a fully-fledged resort and a holiday village – most of the accommodation is in apartments, condos and houses that are fully self-catered. These range in size from a small Village Loft with a single bathroom and bedroom, to a six bedroom, four bathroom house aimed at large families and groups of friends. All the accommodations are of a high quality and built of natural materials that reflect the beautiful surroundings and environment of the Lake Tahoe region. Each type of accommodation includes a TV and VCR, phones and washing, drying and ironing facilities. Because the Northstar site covers a pretty wide area, there’s a resort shuttle service that can pick you up and take you to the central hub if a long day of activities has left you too tired for walking.

And what a selection of activities there is on offer! If you’re a keen golfer, Northstar at Tahoe offers you the chance for a number of superb games amid the rugged natural beauty of the lake’s foreshores. Northstar’s own course is an interesting challenge for beginners and professionals alike – and, if you’re finding it just a little too tricky, the resort offers a variety of coaching packages and golf clinics. These are reasonably priced, and if you happen to be in the resort on a Wednesday afternoon between June and September you can have some expert lessons completely free of charge!

If you like a little more action and adventure than is afforded by the round of golf, get your cycling shorts on! Northstar at Tahoe is a recognized center for mountain biking, and some of the very best trails in the Sierra Nevada are just a short pedal away. The resort itself features California’s largest mountain bike park, and is regularly home to competitive events. However, you don’t have to put yourself through all the thrills and spills that competitive riders experience in the course of a race: it’s very easy to get the adrenaline pumping on a mountain bike, and instructors are on hand to show you a few tips and tricks if you’re inexperienced. The best rushes, of course, are to be had on the descents, and if you want to have an adequate level of breath to enjoy them, you can avoid the long, steep ride to the top of the park by hitching a ride on one of the two dedicated chairlifts – which have room for both bikes and riders! All equipment, including bikes, can be hired on site, and bookings can be made through resort reception.

Whatever you get up to during you vacation at Northstar at Tahoe, you’ll probably find you’re burning off a lot of calories! Well, don’t worry about replenishing them and them some: the resort offers some fantastic dining opportunities for those who don’t have the time or energy (or skill?) to do their own cooking. The three on-site restaurants – True North, The Turn and The Martis Valley Grill offer excellent fare to keep you going during a busy program of activities. The Turn, conveniently located on the resort’s golf course, serves a variety of drinks, snacks and sandwiches to keep you going during the day. The Martis Valley Grill offers slightly more substantial meals from the luxury of an outdoor heated terrace enjoying views of the Martis Valley. True North, the resort’s ‘prestige’ restaurant is due to reopen towards the end of 2005, after the construction of Northstar’s new village resort. It will offer a variety of dining options in a slightly more formal environment, though nothing is too stiff and starchy – this is, after all, a resort dedicated to helping its guests get out into the open air and have fun!

If you’re a very active vacationer, or you simply feel like a little stimulation and a change from the usual run of beach-bar-pool vacations, a break at Northstar at Tahoe will get your cheeks glowing and your adrenaline pumping. One of the great things about the resort is the fact that you can be as involved or as relaxed as you like, and the whole setup is designed to offer you the very greatest degree of freedom possible. After all, what’s the point of being in the big country if you can’t have some big fun?

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