During a recent Family vacation out West, we attended the 2019 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles and traveled to South Lake Tahoe to go skiing at Heavenly.
Attending the 2019 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles & Preparing for the Event was a fabulous experience, one that we will never forget. The LIVE Grammy Award Ceremony was a highlight of our trip and so much fun. But we had so much more to look forward to, a ski experience in South Lake Tahoe! What could possibly go wrong with this plan!?
Renting a Car In Reno Nevada
We flew from Los Angeles to Reno, Nevada and rented a car at the airport to get to our hotel.
We rented through Hertz and they surprised us with a huge bow on the car! The car was brand new and oh so comfortable. WOW, what a great trip so far! We drove to our Lodge, approximately an hour and a half away.
It was an easy drive and very picturesque as we drove past the Lake with the snowy mountains in the background.
Lodging at Heavenly
We arrived at our Lodge and were more than pleased with our 2 bedroom 2 bath Suite. It was equipped with a full kitchen, fireplace and living room. We had plenty of space for a family of 4 to spread out – so far everything was perfect! This is a view from our room, the Marriott Timber Lodge has a huge heated pool and 4 hot tubs.
Our Adventure Skiing at Heavenly
We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and planned to ski on Wednesday and Friday. A big storm was rolling in and more snow coming, conditions should be optimal for skiing, Heavenly had just received 6 feet of fresh powder the prior week and was expected to receive another 3 feet the week we were visiting.
We chose Heavenly as our ski destination for the fabulous skiing conditions due the amount of snow South Lake Tahoe gets on a yearly basis. With an average snowfall of 30 feet a year, Heavenly gets some of the best snow in the country, making for prime ski conditions…or so we thought.
Heavenly is also the 5th largest ski resort in the country, meaning there’s plenty of room to spread out. Heavenly has 97 lifts, and you can choose to ski in either California or Nevada! How cool is that?
We chose our lodging based on easy accessibility to the slopes. In fact we paid a premium to stay at a Lodge that has direct access to the Gondola entrance.
Wednesday arrives and we learn the Gondola is closed due to high winds. We also learn many of the slopes are closed. Instead of skiing we decide to walk around town and take in the beauty of all this snow. A few folks were playing on the ice rink, even though the rink was closed.
The town is gorgeous at night with street lights against the white backdrop.
The mountains in the background are quite a site. That white patch of snow down the mountain is the Gondola.
Many cars have chains on the tires and seem to be experienced driving in snow.
We heard horror stories of folks coming in for the long holiday weekend from California, mostly Sacramento and San Francisco. Many got stuck for 10 – 17 hours on the roads due to the storm 😬.
We change our plans to ski from Wednesday and Friday to Thursday and Friday. Thursday arrives, and the Gondola is still closed to skiers, but it had been operating all day in hopes of opening on Friday.
On Thursday, some of the slopes were open, we hear that we can get on a shuttle that will take us to a particular area of the mountain where we can do some skiing but we learn the conditions are not great, and the lines to get on the shuttle are 2 hours long!
Thursday evening was February 14, Valentine’s Day. My husband had a romantic dinner planned at the restaurant in town, I’ll do a separate post on our fabulous venue coming soon!
As our hopes for great skiing start to fade, we decide to extend our trip a day in hopes of skiing on Friday and Saturday. We make arrangements with the Front desk to stay an extra night and change our flight.
Friday arrives…Gondola still not open and no plans to open. We are starting to wonder what’s up, how could Heavenly be so unprepared for a large storm on a holiday weekend? Many of the ski lifts were snow covered and had to be dug out by staff, why did they wait so long 🤨?
We find other things to do, the lobby has a cozy fireplace seating area and happy hour in the evening 🙌. On the weekend, the Lodge had a sundae bar set up for the kids with ice cream, toppings and cookies.
So here we are, Saturday morning. We arrived in town on Tuesday and had not skied yet. The gondola typically opens at 9am. We go out early in hopes of getting a full day of skiing in – our one and only day to ski. The weather looks good, the sun is coming out and we are hopeful. We discover, via Twitter that the Gondola will now open at 10am. The line for the Gondola is crazy long, wrapping all the way around the building.
10am comes and goes and the Gondola is still not open. Heavenly staff is telling people in line that they should take the shuttle to the slopes because they don’t know what time the Gondola will open. Seriously? Are you kidding me? What the hell is the problem? We could wait hours in line for a shuttle…is that really your recommendation!? There are hundreds of people in line on a holiday weekend for the Gondola and you are not prepared. WHY? Apparently, areas at the top of the mountain need to be cleared, such as the ski lifts. Why wasn’t this done hours ago?! Why aren’t you prepared for all these people to ski?! What the hell is wrong with you all?!!! **Me thinking out loud** 😤
We decide not to get out of line, and stand in the cold waiting for the Gondola to open. It finally opens around 11am. We see people going up in the Gondolas…woo hoo! The crowd goes wild and everyone starts clapping!!!
We ride to the top of the mountain. The Gondola is very cool and we enjoy the ride. We get to the top of the mountain only to discover that many of the runs are closed! Because staff is still shoveling the area!!! Again…WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS HOURS AGO??!!!🤬
Ski Lodge at Heavenly
So here we are, at the top of the mountain. The ski lodge is packed! I am quite annoyed by this point, can you tell? Hundreds of people are hanging out eating and drinking overpriced food and drink. I paid $13.00 for 2 cups of hot chocolate…which annoyed me even more! I can’t believe this! I am shocked that they were not better prepared for all these people or did they plan this 🤔? Let’s trap hundreds of people in our lodge and force them to pay for overpriced items!!!! 😝
Finally around noon more runs open up. OMG..sooo annoyed up to this point. Why is this so frustrating you ask? Because there is NO night skiing. The slopes close at 4pm! This is ridiculous. We paid $400 in lift tickets a day and more for rentals to ski for a few hours. We finally get on the slopes around 1pm and by this point the wind had picked up tremendously and the skiing conditions weren’t good. The whole day was incredibly frustrating, costly, and very disappointing. That about sums up our Heavenly Skiing experience 😩!
Recommendation for Skiing at Heavenly
I am very disappointed in Vail Resorts, the owners of Heavenly. I think they did a very poor job in preparing the slopes for skiers, especially on a very busy holiday weekend. In talking to staff at the resort later that day, I found out that Vail Resorts stopped paying their workers overtime! That explains everything! If your workers don’t show up to work until 9am, of course the slopes and lifts won’t be ready for skiers on time. It all comes down to a financial decision, very disappointing.
We left Lake Tahoe Sunday morning, and drove back to Reno. The weather was still dicey and the drive a bit nerve racking, but we made our flight and arrived home safely.
To sum up the trip..South Lake Tahoe is a very beautiful area. Had the weather been better – the slopes would have opened on time and our ski experience would have been different, we just got very unlucky. But again, for a ski resort area that averages 30 feet of snow a year, I was very surprised by the lack of preparation by Vail Resorts. Vail…if you are reading this…you need to step up your game..start paying your employees overtime and figure out a game plan during inclement weather. If the ski conditions are dangerous, then close the mountain and all the lifts, don’t keep people hanging!
Anyway….have you all skied at Lake Tahoe? What was your experience?
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