True Blue

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Where to Stay

Go glamping inside “The Great Indoors” room at Basecamp Hotel. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)

Basecamp Hotel at South Lake Tahoe

A converted motor lodge, this 50-room hotel opened in 2012 under the ownership of two developers, including a former executive of the playfully stylish Joie de Vivre boutique hotel chain whose roster includes Sacramento’s Citizen Hotel. They gutted the old motel and conjured the region’s most design-forward budget accommodations (rooms start around $99, depending on the season) with a mixture of eco-friendly, industrial design and mountain comfort. The “Great Indoors” room, for instance, features a queen-size bed nestled inside a canvas tent, complete with lanterns, a faux wood fire “burning” just outside the tent, a picnic table, a large wall covered by a forest photograph and a ceiling dotted with glow-in-the-dark “stars.” Steps away from the casinos at Stateline and the private Lakeside Beach (which guests get access to), Basecamp is walking distance to gambling, the lake and the Heavenly gondola. There’s also a rooftop hot tub and nightly s’more making on the patio fire pit. But light sleepers might want to bring earplugs; the walls and floors are a bit thin, so book a top floor room to minimize noise. Rooms $99-$229. 4143 Cedar Ave. South Lake Tahoe. 530-208-0180.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

The name “Ritz-Carlton” may not immediately call to mind those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, but its property in Truckee—the only AAA Five Diamond mountain resort in California, which in April was named one of the 10 best lakeside hotels in America by Fodor’s Travel—doesn’t turn up its nose at old-fashioned Tahoe family fun. The hotel’s recently opened casual dining restaurant, Backyard Bar & BBQ, offers outdoor family cookouts ($39 for adults, $20 for kids) every Friday at 5 p.m. until Sept. 5, rounding out specialties like its barbecue pulled pork sandwich and house-smoked ribs with seasonal sides like a refreshing tomato cucumber salad. Visitors can play lively lawn games like bocce and, when the day starts to wane, head over to the fire pit to craft artisanal s’mores with a resort “Marshmalogist” who will enlighten visitors on the history of the sweet treat. Nab a specialty marshmallow while you’re at it, like ones flavored with fresh mint from the on-site garden of executive pastry chef Maarten Vankruyssen. Rooms start at $299. 13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court. Truckee. 530-562-3000.

Black Bear Inn’s great room with a 34-foot vaulted ceiling (Photo by Stuart Preston)Black Bear Inn

This rustic and romantic B&B on South Shore—so swoon-worthy that it made cameo appearances on two seasons of The Bachelor—makes an elegant starting point for exploring the great outdoors, or simply getting away from it all, whether in the inn’s spacious great room (with its 34-foot vaulted ceiling) or the hot tub gazebo or on the pine tree-lined walkway that leads to quiet cabins, each with a private outdoor patio and king-size bed with plush Ralph Lauren bedding. Proprietors Kevin Chandler and Jerry Birdwell begin each day with a full breakfast for their guests (including specialties like their eggs Benedict served with broiled tomato, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and a poached pear) and wind things down in the evening with complimentary wine and cheese from 5-6 p.m. Rooms and cabins $225-$470. 1202 Ski Run Blvd. South Lake Tahoe. 530-544-4451.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort

From the high-rise rooms with views overlooking the lake to the lively pool and patio sequestered among the high trees, every inch of this Incline Village retreat has been the beneficiary of a recent $28 million renovation. Beachgoers in particular will love the updated waterfront cottages, which boast posh new interiors to go along with the hotel’s private shorelines just outside their front doors. If getting on the lake this summer is as important as getting in it, guests and visitors alike can set sail on the Sierra Cloud—the resort’s 55-foot catamaran where a two-and-a-half hour, $70 sunset tour includes live music, wine and hors d’oeuvres. Alternatively, stick to dry land for happenings like the Hyatt’s annual Wine on the Water charity event, where about 25 wineries from around the region will pour their wares by the waves. Rooms start at $259. 111 Country Club Dr. Incline Village. 775-832-1234.

A room with a spectacular view at the new Landing Resort & Spa (Photo courtesy of the hotel) 

The Landing Resort & Spa

This new kid on the hospitality block just opened in December and is already ranked No. 1 among all South Lake Tahoe hotels on TripAdvisor. And no wonder: The Landing Resort & Spa boasts luxe amenities like fireplaces and marble bathrooms with heated floors in all 88 rooms. And many of them feature lake views (although for the best Big Blue vistas, book a lakefront room in the Birch or Cedar buildings), as does the resort’s restaurant, Jimmy’s. Named after Jim Demetriades (who owns The Landing with his wife, Nancy) and owing to his Athenian heritage, the eatery—anchored by a dramatic onyx wall near the entrance—focuses on Greek cuisine with menu items like carrot keftedes (a vegetarian meatball dish served with carrot tabbouleh and tahini yogurt) and wood-grilled lamb cutlets, which executive chef Maria Elia made when she appeared on the Today show in May. After fueling up, take a complimentary cruiser bike out for a spin, or sit back and relax in the Mercedes Sprinter house car that will shuttle you anywhere within a four-mile radius. Whichever way you decide to go, at this boutique hotel, you’ll feel like you’ve already arrived. Rooms start at $219. 4104 Lakeshore Blvd. South Lake Tahoe. 530-541-5263.

Zephyr Cove Resort

At this 75-acre resort just a few miles from the hustle and bustle of casino alley at Stateline, Zephyr Cove’s 28 cabins (including seven lakefront ones with private decks) combine rustic charm with modern comforts like free Wi-Fi and cable TV. But nestled between towering pine trees and steps from one of Tahoe’s best beaches, you likely won’t be spending much time indoors anyway. Right outside your log cabin walls, the resort bustles with activity, from paddleboarding to horseback riding, kayaking and rides on the M.S. Dixie II (our favorite is the sunset cruise, where, after a four-course dinner that takes you to Emerald Bay and back, you can cozy up on the deck and hopefully see a shooting star or two). If you’re traveling with family or a large group, book Cabin 24, a two-story, four-bedroom chalet that sleeps 10. Back on land, the resort’s restaurant—which underwent a major makeover last winter and has been updated with natural log accents, distressed wood floors and mason jar chandeliers—boasts a top-notch brunch with sublimely textured pancakes (secret ingredient: malt powder) that are alone worth the visit. Cabins $95-$600. 760 Hwy. 50. Zephyr Cove. 800-238-2463.

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