The Snow Report
Here’s an astonishing fact: Since 2004, more than $1 billion has been poured into improving Northstar. Much of that fortune went toward adding luxury lodgings and developing real estate. But a good swath of it funded new lifts (there are 20 now, including two gondolas), a glade-skiing pod, two backside trails (for a new total of 97 runs), and improved snowmaking—though 350 natural inches yearly is nothing to dismiss (powder days here: 11 percent). Naturally, this is a fairly expensive place to ski and stay; the main hotel here is a AAA 5-Diamond Ritz-Carlton, which tells you something.
Among the 3,170 groomed acres are nine terrain parks and a 22-foot superpipe designed by Shaun White, who calls Northstar home. Other pro boarders you should keep an eye out for: Torstein Horgmo, Chas Guldemond, and Eero Ettala.
Northstar’s ski school will customize an experience for you, whether you want to learn how to ski the trees, or take a lesson at the Burton Snowboard Academy—new this year is Burton’s Riglet park, optimized to teach three- to six-year-olds how to ride. Instructors are trained by Mike Hafer, one of just 24 PSIA demo team members.
This Vail Resorts-owned mountain has a snow patrol that’s on the smaller side but runs an onsite medical facility during winter, and two fire stations. As for wildlife survivability, Northstar has a habitat-management plan and is working on establishing an open-space conservation area. Electricity consumption has gone down 10 percent over the last four years, and 19 percent of trash was either recycled or composted. A plan to phase out bottled water is also in the works.
The beautiful Village at Northstar is a popular spot for white weddings and the first-ever LEED-certified mountain-resort town. Its stores cater to moneyed winter athletes, and a modest selection of restaurants includes Mikuni, a sushi bar, and the new Tavern 6330, where you can have s’mores around a firepit. Family-friendly activities—a tube park, a movie theater, live music—converge around a centerpiece 9,000-square-foot outdoor skating rink. Adult-only activities here are more limited—there’s not much nightlife—but the Crystal Bay Club casino isn’t far.
If you’re laying your powder-filled head at the ski-in/ski-out Ritz-Carlton, you’ll have access to ski valets, creative spa treatments (a cabernet-inspired Napa Journey wrap and massage reminds you you’re in California), and Manzanita restaurant, where Traci Des Jardins whips up attention-getting French-California cuisine. Also keep in mind that it’d be a shame to travel all the way here and not at least get a glimpse of the glory that is Lake Tahoe, so consider staying a night or two at the wonderful—and newly renovated—Hyatt Incline Village, a 15-mile drive from Northstar.
One more tip: Pre-rent your gear online so that you can get in the express line once you get here. More time on the slopes, yo.
CONTACT: (530) 562-1010, northstarattahoe.com
SEASON: Mid-November to mid-April
TICKETS: General: $91 (discounts for half-day tickets and military and police personnel), children: $53, ages 65 and older: $82, ages 4 and younger: free