In Lake Tahoe—the largest alpine lake in North America—breathtaking views are a given. Straddling the California and Nevada borders in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it’s a prime year-round destination for tourists and meeting attendees alike.
Whether it’s snowy slopes in the winter or the sprawling turquoise lake in the background in spring, summer or fall, planners are apt to take advantage of Lake Tahoe’s myriad outdoor event venues. The setting is especially hard to beat when the sapphire blue water is at its prime clarity (often 75 to 100 feet of visibility).
“We always hear [from visitors] that it’s nice to be surrounded by nature and an outdoor environment,” said Stuart Maas, sales and marketing manager for Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “We also have a large portfolio of nighttime activities, from casinos to steakhouses. We’re lucky enough to have all of that recreation here.”
For attendees keen on spending time in the fresh air (and who isn’t when in Lake Tahoe?) after a day of meetings, rest assured that the area is ripe with event spaces where everyone can take in the magnificent lake and then some, while they connect, reconnect and mingle with others.
Photo: The Lodge at Edgewood; Credit: Courtesy of The Lodge at Edgewood
1. The Lodge at Edgewood
Forbes Travel Guide recently awarded The Lodge at Edgewood and Spa Edgewood with the new Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel and spa award. The 154-room mountain lodge features an 8,500-square-foot spa and a heated lakeside pool.
The property’s South Room—one of two event spaces inside its modern mountain clubhouse—offers 1,700 square feet of customizable event space. Attached is an expansive patio and fire pit. The larger North Room boasts 2,500 square feet and floor-to-ceiling windows perfect for those mountain panoramas. The North Room can also be expanded with the adjacent deck and lawn in warmer months.
2. M.S. Dixie II
A local favorite, the M.S. Dixie II paddlewheeler is the largest cruising vessel on South Lake Tahoe and operates year-round.
“Attendees can get a great tour of Emerald Bay, one of our iconic regions here,” Maas said. “It’s a unique way to see some of the sites.”
Photo: MS Dixie II; Credit: Courtesy of Zephyr Cove Resorts & Marinas/Lake Tahoe Cruises
Emerald Bay is a National Natural Landmark and is considered an underwater park since it’s been a part of California State Parks since 1994. Other sites that the M.S. Dixie II will pass on the 2.5-hour cruise are Vikingsholm Castle at the head of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island, which features a stone structure built in the late 1920s.
The cruise can accommodate groups of 100 to 500 people. Popular customized activities include ice-carving stations, having a professional astronomer on board for a Shooting Star or Milky Way tour, “paint and sip” with an artist on board a Lake Tahoe expert on board.
“Meeting planners appreciate that not only can the meetings be 100% customized, but also that the M.S. Dixie II can accommodate groups up to 500 people, comfortably, on just one boat,” said Debi Bridges for Zephyr Cove Resorts & Marinas/Lake Tahoe Cruises.
3. Beach Retreat & Lodge
Planning to meet in the summer? What better way to celebrate the season than to get attendees together at a beach-centric venue. The Beach Retreat & Lodge in South Lake Tahoe is situated on the lake beach, with all 260 rooms featuring a balcony or patio.
Planners can hold an event under the lodge’s Beachfront White Tent, which can accommodate upwards of 100 guests. A tiki bar is also open during the summer, so attendees can grab a refreshment and enjoy the sandy shores of Lake Tahoe. The lodge’s Lakeview Ballroom can seat 250 inside, and large glass doors open onto a 1,000-square-foot outdoor deck that can seat 70 banquet style.
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The lodge’s restaurant, Boathouse on the Pier, also boasts the longest pier in Lake Tahoe.
“We’re very conducive to incentive travel,” said Drew Phillips, director of sales and marketing for the Beach Retreat & Lodge. “We’ve got a pool, hot tub and fire pits all outdoors. We’re also one of the only hotels to have a liquor license on the beach.”
And the lodge’s location is second to none, Phillips added. “You’re steps away from the beach,” he said. “That’s one of our main selling points. Nothing comes between you and the lake.”
The entire lodge is also available for corporate buyouts. A $9-million renovation will soon be completed this year on the property, including all of the guest rooms with new decor, furniture and fireplaces.
4. Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe at Northstar
Avid golfers, take note: This luxury hotel, located mid-mountain, offers privileges to some of the most famous Northern California golf resorts, such as the Old Greenwood Golf Course.
The Ritz-Carlton in North Lake Tahoe also offers 15,000 square feet of outdoor event space, including the stunning 1,733-square-foot Fireside Terrace that can accommodate 120 banquet style. The property also boasts two ballrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces overlooking the mountains.
The concierge service can arrange activities on the mountain for attendees to partake in, then they can relax in the evening with s’mores by the fire pits.
Photo: Dining outdoors at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe; Credit: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
5. North Tahoe Event Center
At only 150 feet from the edge of the lake, the North Tahoe Event Center is a flexible space that boasts a 2,500-square-foot paved terrace with a stunning view of Lake Tahoe. It can accommodate up to 200 people and is attached to the venue’s larger indoor ballroom.
“We often see groups use the terrace for things like barbecues and teambuilding,” said Cathy Becker, manager for the North Tahoe Event Center. “We’re very flexible for what the planner requires.”
The event center also offers a small meeting room with audiovisual equipment and an in-house caterer.
6. Lakeview Lodge
Two-thousand feet above Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort’s private Lakeview Lodge is accessible via a five-minute ride on the Aerial Tram. The space boasts two dining rooms, two outdoor decks and a large bar.
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“It’s popular for weddings, but we’ve had a lot of private, corporate meetings and events up there,” Maas said.
7. Resort at Squaw Creek
At the base of the mountain in ski destination Squaw Valley, the Resort at Squaw Creek offers 14,750 square feet of outdoor meeting space. Planners can also take advantage of 24 newly updated meeting rooms boasting magnificent mountain vista views. The resort also completed, in January 2019, a $2-million renovation of its lobby and meeting space.
Golf-privy attendees can enjoy the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course, also situated at the base of Squaw Valley. The property also meets all requirements set forth by the International Association of Conference Centers.
Photo: Resort at Squaw Creek; Credit: Courtesy of Resort at Squaw Creek
8. Valhalla Tahoe
In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Valhalla Tahoe works to restore the three estates on the Tallac Historic Site and often hosts community events, including the Valhalla Art, Music & Theatre Festival. Several structures are available for private events as well, with a percentage of the rental fee going back into the preservation of the site.
“It’s really a magical place,” said Michelle Morton, operations and sales manager for Valhalla Tahoe. “It’s a historically significant site. People really love the architecture of the buildings—that Old Tahoe look—and it’s a unique opportunity to be lakefront and enjoy the beautiful lawn, which many venues and estates don’t have here anymore due to the climate.”
Photo: Valhalla Tahoe; Credit: Courtesy of Valhalla
Morton said a majority of private events take place indoors, but there is an outdoor area available for dining or a cocktail hour, and they cap their capacity at 130. Guests can also walk down to the public Valhalla Pier.
Valhalla Tahoe is open April to mid-December, with most of its July calendar dedicated to community events, including concerts, speakers and a Native American arts festival.
Lake Tahoe is an all-seasons destination with accommodations and venues open year-round. And accessibility to the area is ever increasing, with Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) offering 130 daily flights to 20 nonstop destinations. Delta Airlines even announced that its will expand its nonstop flights to RNO from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from weekly to daily starting May 1.
However you get there, the great outdoors of Lake Tahoe are sure to be an incredible backdrop for your next event.
Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority | 800.288.2463
North Lake Tahoe | 530.581.6900
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