It’s been scientifically proven that spending time in nature and breathing fresh air improves physical and emotional well-being. Whether it’s the swoosh of skis over powder-white snow, the push of a paddle over emerald-green water or the gentle mountain breeze while meditating amid towering pines, there’s nothing quite like Lake Tahoe to drive that point home.
Set high in the Sierra mountains straddling California and Nevada, it’s the largest alpine lake in North America as well as one of the clearest in the world, and its list of wellness-oriented experiences for groups keeps growing.
“Tahoe is all about health and wellness,” said Jason Neary, director of conference sales for the North Lake Tahoe CVB. “The natural beauty of the area is so breathtaking, and with the fresh mountain air, beautiful vistas and endless outdoor recreation—hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, golfing—it just inspires you to get out and get healthy. In Tahoe, you just walk out your front door and you’re on a hiking trail or a ski lift, so the access to nature is tremendous.”
Healthy Experiences in North Lake Tahoe
With the big wellness trend, Neary said groups are increasingly looking to include healthy experiences in programs, and the community is stepping up to meet the demand.
“Wellness-inspired experiences are a component in the majority of our group programs, whether it’s the morning hike to get you out into nature before a meeting starts, the morning yoga, spin or Pilates class or healthy meals with locally sourced food,” Neary said.
“The great thing is that there are so many unique options nowadays for incorporating wellness into itineraries, with resorts expanding their programs and companies coming up with new offerings," he added.
Granlibakken Resort is one of the region’s top wellness-oriented properties, with a location in a private wooded valley, numerous outdoor recreational options and fitness programs, a spa, an adventure park and an overall heightened focus on health and well-being.
“Granlibakken organically inspires connections—connections to self, connections to nature and connections to each other,” said Anorra McGarry, the property’s director of marketing.
Granlibakken recently added a new health and wellness manager position to ensure the needs and requests of guests and groups are met.
The property also continues to expand its popular Meet & Play package through partnerships with local activities, yoga studios, outdoor experts, wellness practitioners and food services to provide fun, innovative and inspired experiential packages.
Meanwhile, one of the property’s conference rooms was transformed into the Soul Shelter Yoga & Meditation Space, which can be rented for group yoga, meditation and fitness classes.
Lake Tahoe Meditation Session at Granlibakken
Other renovated facilities include the fitness center and a new Meditation Garden in the heart of the property, which uses native landscaping to create natural seating areas and walking paths. The Meditation Garden also features a meditative labyrinth.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is another top property for groups keen on wellness. The resort offers easy access to skiing at Northstar at Tahoe as well as hiking trails. During the warmer months, the property offers sunrise lakeside yoga at the Lake Club venue and yoga in the meadows behind the resort. The property will create a customized hike paired with an outdoor yoga or mediation session that fits the needs and fitness level of any group.
Forest Meditation at Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe
During winter, the property is a premier ski-in/ski-out destination with a full-service ski valet. The Ritz-Carlton team can arrange any snow adventure groups desire, including unique options such as a nighttime snowshoeing adventure with views of the Milky Way.
For those looking to rest and recover, the property’s slope-side spa offers a variety of nature-inspired mini treatments for groups. Its adults-only spa pool, which is heated year-round to 84 degrees, is also available for groups. The entire pool area or a section can be rented for events.
Squaw Valley Lodge offers easy access to nearly 4,000 acres of skiing at Squaw Valley ski resort and and other outdoor adventures of the region.
The serene setting and variety of healthy amenities make it another popular retreat in North Lake Tahoe. The lodge offers a health club and spa services, outdoor hydrotherapy pools, a steam room and sauna, as well as an outdoor pool. Groups can arrange for year-round outdoor activities through the Tahoe Adventure Company, cooking demos in the Ponderosa Room using healthy ingredients, and yoga instructors to lead classes at the property.
Yoga has become a huge trend in the area, Neary said, and groups are increasingly taking part.
“So many places have a yoga studio, and there are so many great yoga experiences outdoors,” Neary said, pointing to properties such as Granlibakken, The Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt Regency Incline Village, which offers beachfront yoga. “Then you have options like The Village at Squaw Valley, which was home to the first Wanderlust Festival, a yoga-centric wellness event that now takes place all over the world. They have the Wanderlust Yoga Studio where groups can book aerial yoga classes, which is really cool.”
Tahoe City Kayak offers the ever-popular paddleboard yoga on the lake for groups, which Neary said is an excellent teambuilding option.
He said another unique and exhilarating waterborne option for groups is the new clear-bottom kayak outings with Clearly Tahoe, which enables paddlers to see 30 to 40 feet into the water through the base of the vessel.
Clearly Tahoe Kayak Tours, Credit: LTVA
Back on solid ground, the new Via Ferrata, which means “Iron Road” in Italian, is a great new way for groups to bond and connect with nature, according to Neary.
The hiking and climbing experience allows participants to scale the rock face that towers above The Village at Squaw Valley using permanent steel anchors and cables. The guided experience is led by Alpenglow Expeditions.
On the food front, Neary said chefs are big on the farm-to-table concept. In some cases, they even grow their own produce, such as at The Resort at Squaw Creek, which has a rooftop vegetable and herb garden.
In addition, Neary said local chef Douglas Dale, who owns Wolfdale’s Restaurant, offers a popular culinary program for groups.
“In warmer months, he does cooking classes in which groups meet at the restaurant, go to the nearby farmers market in Tahoe City to shop and then come back to the restaurant to learn how to prepare a meal with everything they bought,” Neary said.
“Food is such a big part of health and wellness, so it’s a great way to incorporate a unique culinary experience into the program," he added.
South Lake Tahoe Wellness Offerings
Groups are also heading to South Lake Tahoe for a healthy dose of wellness.
“A lot of tech companies in particular are coming up from San Francisco for retreat-type meetings in the mountains,” said Christina Proctor, spokesperson for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (LTVA), which markets the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. “They’re the ones who want to get outdoors so much to ski and experience the state parks, for example."
Proctor said properties in South Lake Tahoe that are ideally suited for wellness-inspired group experiences include Edgewood Tahoe, The Ridge Resorts and Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel.
“Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel has taken advantage of their location so close to the mountains and lake to create unique programming for groups,” she said.
“They have set up things such as scavenger hunts in Van Sickle State Park, which is directly behind the hotel, paddleboarding in the morning before the meeting starts to clear the head and experience the lake before coming together in the conference room, and yoga breaks in their gigantic atrium, which has a koi pond and lots of vegetation, for a larger group to come out of the ballroom and recharge before heading back in," Proctor added.
Much of the experience revolves around Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel’s “My Tahoe” branding campaign, which aims to connect guests with aspects of the destination as seen through the eyes of employees.
“One example is Steve Wood, the property’s director of sales, who is a big skier,” Proctor said. “He has taken groups on personal ski tours at Heavenly for two hours to orient them to the mountain.”
At The Ridge Resorts, outdoor teambuilding as well as workout facilities are highlights of the wellness offering for groups, according to Jenn Boyd, spokesperson for the LTVA.
Snowshoe Teambuilding, Ridge Tahoe
“A lot of their groups take advantage of yoga, kickboxing and other fitness classes, and they also have a spa, tennis courts, basketball courts and pickleball courts, which has really taken off for them,” she said. “In winter, they do a lot of guided snowshoeing right around their property, and they’re so close to Heavenly for skiing.”
Edgewood Tahoe, which recently went through a complete transformation, has a full-service spa and features new wellness amenities such as the Apres Sleep Cart in its Great Room, which has pitchers of green juice and essential oils designed to help guests sleep better.
In warmer months, the property also offers complimentary morning yoga on its event lawn overlooking the lake. In colder months, the yoga session is held in the clubhouse.
Groups can also arrange for private yoga sessions.
“Yoga is really big for us,” Proctor said. “We have a lot of indoor studios and yoga on the beach during summertime, as well as stand-up paddleboard yoga on the lake. It’s really gaining in popularity, and there’s more instructors that are able to come to the properties directly.”
For stand-up paddleboard yoga for groups, Proctor pointed to Lake Tahoe Yoga, South Tahoe Standup Paddle and Camp Richardson Resort.
For small groups in particular, Proctor said Camp Richardson Resort is a great option for a rustic digital retreat teambuilding experience.
“They have wireless but only in certain areas so there is a chance to slightly disconnect from everything and concentrate on group think and group activities,” she said. “You can go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during group breaks.”
Another unique wellness retreat, according to Boyd, is Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge and Spa.
“It’s a little bit off the beaten path about two miles from the casino corridor, and they host a lot of big groups,” she said. “Almost every summer, they host big tire company gathering and have outdoor volleyball competitions on the beach with music.”
Meanwhile, the food scene is as healthy as ever in South Lake Tahoe, with hotels and restaurants utilizing local fruits and vegetables from the Eldorado and Carson valleys.
During warmer months, a farmers market is open, and restaurants such as Chimayo and Blue Angel Cafe work closely with the farmers market to source food.
Both make everything in-house and cater to different dietary restrictions such as vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, Boyd said, adding that Blue Angel Cafe has an upstairs area that is specifically designed for group functions.
Lake Tahoe CVB Contact Information
Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
North Lake Tahoe CVB