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Sunday, August 21, 2011

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By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri KrasovLet me rephrase that. I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Destination Club Lake Tahoe once. My short stay at the new High Sierra luxury property was as fine as… always at the Ritz!

The most comfortable residence with cozy bedrooms, walk-in closets, whirlpool tubs, and hardwood floors – check; immaculate gourmet kitchen and formal dining room – check; living room with a fireplace, entertainment center, and wireless internet – check, check, and check.

Add to it a spectacular mid-mountain location, year-round Tahoe Mountain Club with golf and ski, day spa, fitness center and yoga classes, the Ritz Kids and private members’ lounge, and the list goes on and on, assured every step of the way by the impeccable service.

Looking back, I can’t decide what the highlight of my end-of-summer mini-vacation was.I loved just sitting on my balcony with a cup of morning joy, basking in the sun, breathing in that fresh mountain air, and staring at the green pine trees underneath and blue ridges on the horizon.I liked watching a man on the roof of the R-C hotel watering potted herbs and tomatoes for Manzanita restaurant downstairs.While my husband was braving mountain biking trails with some snow patches still visible on the slopes, I took a hike to Sawmill Lake through the Northstar forest, fully prepped by a concierge who handed me printed directions, a trail map, a bottle of water, and a can of bug repellent.I didn’t have to use the latter as the bugs didn’t bother me on the trail, but I surely appreciated the thought.I considered a spa swim in an open-air heated pool surrounded by blooming daisies, but then decided in favor of sitting pretty with a book by an outdoor fire pit. A courteous café server came up, put a glass of water with a lemon wedge in front of me and asked if I would like anything to eat or drink.I enjoyed cooking myself in our residence kitchen, using all the shiny utensils, and a California cook book prominently displayed on the gorgeous granite counter.I brought with me some fresh produce bought along our driving route from San Francisco, but I did have an option of pre-arrival provisioning provided by the Club for easy home cooking.Every minute of my day at the Ritz-Carlton Club Lake Tahoe was filled with serenity and quiet contemplation. I felt relaxed, and rested, and at home, and being well taken care of.

The best was yet to come

.That evening, my husband and I dined at Manzanita Lake Tahoe, a beautifully decorated restaurant on hotel premises. It is headed by a celebrity San Francisco chef Traci des Jardins, and has an elaborate and sophisticated menu executed by recently arriving from Los Angeles chef de cuisine Jacob Ramos.Chef Jacob made his yellow gazpacho with Northern California Dungeness crab, poblano peppers, almonds, and peppermint flowers, adding an unexpected and very satisfying twist to the seasonal classic.The tenderest seared scallop arrived on a bed of truffled corn and springy frisee salad, harmoniously matching the flavors of sea and earth.

My perennial favorite – black squid ink pasta came interspersed with chunks of calamari and dressed with chili flakes, Meyer lemon and San Marzano tomato sauce.The restaurant’s most popular main course is called duo of beef, featuring a wonderful slice of filet, red wine-braised short rib, a neat square of rosemary potato gratin, oyster mushroom, tomato confit, and asparagus spear.When I asked Chef Jacob how he achieved the perfect texture and even pink color of the beef filet, he said, “sous vide – for a very long time.” (I had to drop the idea of attempting it at home).A well selected wine list, compiled by sommelier Gail Oversteg presented a great opportunity for us to indulge in excellent California pinot noir from Santa Rita Hills, and Bordeaux from Montagne-Saint-Emilion, France.

Finally, our desserts arrived – seasonal rhubarb crisp in a toy pan topped with vanilla bean ice cream, and luscious caramel bread pudding.Ritz-Carlton Destination Club membership allows access to the R-C hotels and resorts around the world. Fractional ownership includes the “home club” in Tahoe as well as in San Francisco; Kapalua on Maui; Aspen Highlands; Bachelor’s Gulch at Beaver Creek and Vail, Colorado; Jupiter, Florida; St. Thomas, USVI; and Abaco in the Bahamas. There are Winter, Summer, and Tahoe memberships – each including 14 days in your favorite season(s) and 7 float days for world-wide exchanges.

All home club members in Tahoe are guaranteed 21 days of use each year in prime season, with additional hundreds of optional days allocated for each residence. More information at:


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