Heavenly ski resort in Lake Tahoe, USA frequently wins ‘Most Scenic Mountain’ awards from ski magazines in the US. The view must be good because even the two little girls in bubblegum pink ski suits sharing the Vista chair lift with me leave off discussing Katy Perry’s hair long enough to ooh and ahh at the vibrant blue-slushy coloured lake below.
“Is the mountain called Heavenly because the lift is so high?” asks Pink Number One. “No it is because all the runs are named after stars,” says Pink Number Two. It has to be said skiing here is a pretty heavenly experience, with plenty of runs to suit all the levels of skiing. And many of the runs are named after constellations (Brownie points to Pink Number Two). We cruise gentle groomers off the Galaxy Chair and the Dipper and Comet express and explore the Milky Way Bowl.
Traditionally Australians heading to the USA to ski choose Colorado, but there is a lot to be said for exploring the lesser known, laid-back charms of the resorts around Lake Tahoe.
Heavenly straddles the two states of Nevada and California and children love the idea of spending the morning skiing in one state and the afternoon in the other – “and you don’t even need a passport mummy”. Down in town parents should be aware of the divide because California is the more family-friendly of the two, the late-night casinos of Nevada are not the ideal venue for kids. On the California side The Grand Residences by Marriott is Heavenly’s most deluxe offering and has one, two and three-bedroom apartment suitable for families. The big advantage of the Marriott for tired legs in ski boots – “Muuuuuuuuumm, my feet ache” – is that the hotel is right by the main gondola lift, so not too far to carry skis (or children) if necessary.
Children’s facilities at Heavenly are excellent; snow parks, beginners ski areas, innovative instruction – you name it they have it. No surprise really since Heavenly is owned by the mighty Vail Resorts, which also owns its sister resort Northstar on the other side of the lake.
Main image: Skiing at Heavenly.
Above: Ritz-Carlton from Northstar