Driving up the long, narrow road off of California state Route 267 South, it’s diffcult to imagine a resort awaiting you. Where would it fit in among the canopy of pine trees, uncompromising boulders and mountainous terrain? And, yet, there it is: The Ritz-Carlton (ritzcarlton.com), a sprawling property that has not only found a place in this unexpected location, but truly fits in as part of the landscape.
The five-star luxury resort sits midmountain at Northstar California Resort, with the main lodge positioned at the center of other multilevel buildings that frame and wrap around behind it, forming a cozy fortress. Visitors entering the lobby are greeted with a massive octagon-shaped fireplace with stone masonry that climbs up the vaulted ceiling of the structure. This isn’t just where you check in, it’s a bit like home base. The lodge has several floors and communal areas where you can eat, drink, sit by the fire, choose among the many board games left out for guests, or go to the spa. With large windows, redwood beams, stone panels, rich hues of crimson and beige—and the scent and sound of crackling wood burning in the fireplace—the property offers all the vibes of an intimate cabin, but with all the amenities of a luxury property.
In the summer, the resort is an explosion of color, with purple, red and yellow flowers in full bloom. There are two swimming pools and hot tubs on the property, but most people opt to spend the day at the Lake Club, located right along the lake’s north shore. Regular shuttles take you on the 10-minute ride from the property to the exclusive club, open only to the Ritz-Carlton guests. Here, you can get a beachfront experience with breakfast, lunch and dinner grilled on-site—from steak and salmon to hamburgers and hot dogs. For recreation, Elevation Surf Charters (elevationcharters.com) offers a unique experience, taking visitors around the lake in Mastercraft X24 boats that literally create waves so that guests can surf on the lake.
During the winter, the Lake Club is closed, but there really is no reason to go given all the activities at the resort during the ski season. Among the Ritz-Carlton’s luxury amenities is a complimentary ski valet, allowing you to journey on and off the slopes at your leisure.
Food and beverage options are plentiful, starting with the Après-Ski Experience, located in the resort’s backyard. Guests can arrive directly from their day of skiing or snowboarding and indulge in a glass of Moët & Chandon and a raw bar of chef favorites, including chilled shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell and ceviche. The Backyard Bar & BBQ is another popular option, offering traditional barbecue favorites while surrounded by a panoramic view of the slopes. For a more elevated experience, Manzanita is the resort’s signature restaurant and offers seasonal and locally sourced California cuisine.
One of the more charming amenities of the property is its daily “marshmology” bar with an actual “marshmologist” waiting to assist you with making the perfect s’more. Staff bring out traditional and homemade marshmallows featuring different flavors, along with all the ingredients and skewers to make the treats at the nearby fire pit.