When it comes to a family ski vacation there are two kinds of families: those that ski regularly and have the routine down and those, like my family, that ski once in awhile and find it challenging to carry skis and poles while wearing ski boots that feel like moon boots. So why not take the work out of the ski vacation?
Staying at Constellation Residences at Northstar in Lake Tahoe, California is like having a ski fairy godmother. Upon arrival, the bellman unpacked our seldom-used winter gear from the car trunk and stowed it in the room. The snacks we brought along were put away in the cupboards and refrigerator. And the ski valet made it so easy for us that we forgot why we hadn’t been skiing for a year.
The location, mid-mountain at family-friendly Northstar California ski resort, means that families walk out the hotel door directly onto the slopes. The ski valet sets your skis on the mountain in the morning and off you go. It’s also very convenient if anyone needs a break during the day because you can easily come in for a rest and still have time left to ski afterwards.
The complimentary Highlands gondola sits near the hotel and is a ten-minute stop-and-go-ride to restaurants, shops and large ice skating rink in the Village at Northstar below.
Constellation Residences at Northstar are located in a separate building attached to The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The two- to four-bedroom residences have full kitchens, luxury finishes and appointments like heated floors, wine refrigerators and multiple master baths.
The most challenging part of the weekend was not the skiing but getting the kids out of the room in the morning. Our two-bedroom family suite has two masters bedrooms and baths, plus a half bath and a third bedroom that’s a kids’ room with a single-over-double bunk bed. At almost 1900 square feet and another pullout sofa bed in the living room, the residence has an ideal setup for two families to share.
The hands down highlight of the residence for the kids is the hangout room with bean bag chairs, a floor-to-ceiling-chalkboard and a Wii with games available at reception. The beautiful full kitchen didn’t get any use but the dining room has a comfortable open layout for family dinners.
Constellation Residences at Northstar is a luxury property but it never felt stuffy. I slowly succumbed to the high level of service because it was offered in such a matter-of-fact way. The service touches every interaction that you have and the staff is always offering to assist with the details.
From the moment we drove up, the bellman took care of all of our luggage and even packed our car for us when we left. The ski valet not only relieved us of our skis at the end of the day, he set them neatly on the mountain for us in the morning. And the final service high note was his offer to help us take our ski boots off. At first I resisted but then realized that the next time someone takes my shoes off for me I probably won’t know my name so I might as well enjoy the experience while I can still remember it. The kids couldn’t wait for his help – the hot chocolate urn was irresistible.
At Constellation Residences at Northstar there’s also no reason to cut your ski day short on check-out day. The locker rooms have showers and space to store day luggage. Your check-out note provides a weather forecast and tips for gas stations and dining on your way home.
There are a few amenities at Constellation at Northstar like a fitness room but most of what a family will want to do is at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe next door.
If you need to rent skis, there’s a branch of True North ski and rental shop on-site where you take care of everything ski-related here – rentals, purchase lift tickets and lessons. I’d highly recommend picking up your skis the night before or arrive first thing when it opens because it did take us about an hour to get outfitted and they weren’t slow, it was just very busy.
The outdoor pool and jacuzzi have big views of the mountain and the inside lounge area is perfect for relaxing, lunch or a drink while the kids hangout in the game room. We absolutely loved the Backyard Bar & BBQ for our lunch break – the outdoor atmosphere and quality of the food is what you’d expect from a Ritz-Carlton.
While my family enjoys skiing, it’s the entire experience that makes the vacation for us. The combination of lodging, service and amenities at Constellation Residences at Northstar left us feeling rested and relaxed, ready for the week ahead.
Rates for a family of four at Constellation Residences at Northstar begin at $499 per night in low season.
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Editorial Note: Kristi’s family was hosted by Constellation Residences at Northstar and Northstar California ski resort. As always, her opinions are her own.
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