As I entered the 74-acre alpine valley of Granlibakken, I felt like I was on my way to meet summertime friends at camp. With its campus layout, community lodge, ski hill, spa, zip lines and bridges swinging between the trees, all in a serene, rustic setting, this playground resort for all ages, transported me back in time to summer camp in the Adirondacks of New York.
Granlibakken, which means “a hill sheltered by fir trees” in Norwegian, is an all-season resort and conference center on the west shore of Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City, Calif. Its story goes back to the early 1900’s when adventure-seekers would come by train on “The Snow Ball Special” from Truckee, Calif., to play on the double toboggan slide and ski jumping hill. Named “Olympic Hill,” it was host to several US National Championships and Olympic tryouts during the 1930’s and gradually gained the attention of visitors from all over the West. Granlibakken expanded over the years, but stayed true to its tranquil, wooded atmosphere.
Today, it’s the perfect place to get away with friends or family – or alone for your own private retreat and renewal – and its simple elegance makes it ideal for conferences, weddings, family reunions, or any group gathering.
Much more than a hotel, Granlibakken offers a variety of housing options. Like my old summer camp, the resort has several lodges, each with a name befitting the natural surroundings. Choices run from single rooms, to one-bedroom condos with a second (or third or fourth), adjoining lock-out bedroom, to the Forest Lodge – a grand space with eight lock-out bed/bath units, a huge common area with a fireplace, a commercial-quality kitchen, a meeting space and a large wrap-around deck amid beautiful forest views. Breakfast is included with your stay, and there are tons of amazing dining options in the North Lake Tahoe area. Touring Granlibakken, I felt at home. The Cedar House offers a large deck and cozy furniture where snacks are served. A pub is open in the winter. I could see myself curled up in one of those chairs, enjoying cocoa and s’mores with my family, but the thought of relaxing with friends and a nice glass of wine was at the top of my mind, too.
While Granlibakken offers family fun, it would also be an ideal place for a girlfriend’s get-away. It offers a secluded vibe, but it’s less than ten minutes to world-class outdoor adventure activities. On-site, they offer beginner skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, yoga, tennis, hiking, biking, swimming, and the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park – a must-do. Offering every level from beginner to advanced, the Park has zip lines, treetop bridges and rope courses that will surely forge incredible memories amongst friends.
More outdoor options are available in nearby Lake Tahoe: golf, kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, river rafting, fishing, shopping, skiing, dinner cruises on the lake, and free summer concerts on the beach.
After all that exercise, the Granlibakken Day Spa is available for massages, facials, and other body treatments, along with cleanses customized for each body. Their experts use the Ayurvedic philosophy to recommend herbs, oils and a diet that cleanse toxins from the body down to the cellular level.
In November, Granlibakken hosts the Women’s Wellness Weekend. The event fuses Western practices with Eastern philosophy to offer a balanced weekend of information, inspiration, activities, food & wine. Check their web site for more information.
With the serenity and satisfaction that comes with both connecting and disconnecting, this mountain retreat allows you to get away from it all, but still have it all.