by Carmel L. Mooney
Granlibakken Lake Tahoe Conference Center and Lodge offer a wonderful low-profile, relaxing way to experience skiing and snow fun in the beautiful Sierra Nevada, without crowds, lines, and noise.
In a class all its own, Granlibakken provides a serene, high country, the alpine setting for families to dine, ski, snowboard, sled, snowshoe, and unwind in a peaceful, unpretentious, tranquil, mountain setting.
The first thing you will notice upon arrival is that a warm and welcoming staff provides first-class hospitality in a down-to-earth fashion.
Plan to dine in the lovely Cedar House restaurant in the main lodge. Daily specials change but delicious signature specialties like the flat iron steak, authentic German schnitzel with potato pancakes, fish and chips, and generous helpings of homemade spaghetti will help you fuel properly for the next day’s activities.
The desserts are delicious. A talented musician, Baron von Remmel, would serenade your clan in this lovely rustic, timber-built restaurant, where a blazing fireplace and full bar only add to the après ski ambiance. Kids love to dance and sing with the performer and a great time is had by all.
You won’t want to miss an opportunity to unwind in the huge outdoor spa or heated outdoor pool, framed by a snowy backdrop and blanketed by the stars. After warming up in the sauna you’ll probably choose to retreat to your suite or condo to enjoy a relaxing board game or movie in front of your crackling fire.
Get a good night’s sleep so you don’t miss the delicious buffet breakfast offered each morning. The fare changes daily but offers satisfying staples like omelets, bacon, sausage, hot cereal, an array of fresh fruit and berries, pastries, yogurts, and more. Famous bread pudding, quiche Lorraine, cheese blintzes along with quality coffees and teas make this a superb way to begin the day.
After prepping for the day ahead with breakfast, it’s time to decide what to do first.
Located on 74 pristine wooded acres, Granlibakken offers groomed snowshoe trails, cross country trails, its private ski hill, sledding hill, full rentals, lessons, and everything you’d find at a larger ski resort but on a smaller and much more intimate scale. The ski staff is helpful, patient, and knowledgeable. The ski instructors are excellent with children. If you’ve never skied or snowboarded or even if it’s just been a long time and you need a refresher, a private or group lesson with one of the highly qualified instructors, can be the added boost you need. This is the perfect place for beginners.
At the bottom of the ski hill, there’s even a small Ski Hut restaurant, serving excellent fresh fare you might not expect. Outstanding freshly hand-made burritos, tacos, chili, guacamole, freshly-made chips, homemade soup, and a dozen other choices will both surprise and satisfy your exercise-induced hunger pangs. The portions are positively huge and priced reasonably.
Should you decide that more challenging skiing or snowboarding is in order, Granlibakken partners with Homewood, Alpine Meadows, Mt. Rose, Northstar at Tahoe, Sierra at Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA, and Sugar Bowl to offer unbelievably inexpensive cooperative ski packages where you can stay at Granlibakken to enjoy the low key quietude, yet ski at these larger giants for a greater challenge. Packages starting around $100 will get you the best of both worlds plus a shuttle to these neighboring resorts.
The lodging at Granlibakken offers condos, townhouses, studios, suites, and varying types, with many plans offering full kitchens. This makes an environment perfect for several families to vacation together or a winter family reunion. High-speed Internet, spa-quality toiletries, and daily housekeeping service all add to the comfort.
For nearly a century, Granlibakken has had a fascinating history with ties to the Olympics and much of the heritage of Lake Tahoe.
This gem may be small in comparison to some of the larger Tahoe area ski resorts but is big on hospitality, quality, and serenity. Unless you’re seeking the hustle and bustle, noise, busyness, and excitement of the gigantic neighboring resorts, you will be pleased with every facet of this hidden treasure. Good things really do come in small packages.
Carmel L. Mooney is a travel columnist, author, and radio talk show host. She is the editor of Road Trips for Couples.