Skiers giddily paying steep prices for Tahoe slopes’ fine snow

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 01, 2016 / comments

Photo: Scott Strazzante,  A snowboarder at Northstar California near Truckee sets off through the first good snow in years.

At 2 p.m. each day, high on the East Ridge Run at Northstar California, skiers and snowboarders can sail over to a staging area for a free glass of Champagne. Northstar calls it a Champagne toast, like those at high-end resorts in France.

It comes free with a standard lift ticket, which sells for an average of $106, bought online in advance, according to reservation services. Those tickets can go for a lot more at the window.

After El Niño snowfall Kirk Anderson of Ripon, CA stands under a ski lift as he waits for friends at the bottom of a run at Sierra at Tahoe ski resort in South Lake Tahoe, CA, Saturday March 29, 2014. Skiing comes out of hibernation

This past weekend, the few rooms still left at the five-star Ritz-Carlton Tahoe were going for $1,700 Saturday night, and in advance for Super Bowl eve, they’re $5,000. For non-holiday weekdays, the prices often start at $850 a night, according to the resort and At the Village at Northstar, lodging prices ranged last week from $750 to $1,700 per night. For the upcoming Super Bowl weekend, the Village at Squaw Valley has long been booked full.

At similar prices, everything sold out at Tahoe on New Year’s Eve. At South Lake Tahoe, a one-star hotel that raised its rates from $49 a night to $232 still booked up.

After four years of drought and the arrival of great snow conditions, a high-end crowd is arriving at Tahoe for the ski season and driving up prices across the board, topped by peak events like the Super Bowl and the holidays. Paying for lodging — even if you go the cheap route and pay $100 to $200 a night — plus meals, lift tickets, rental gear and gas during the ski season at Tahoe can make it a $1,000 weekend for two with a Friday-night arrival and Sunday departure. The price tag goes far higher for those with a taste for the best.

“There is tremendous demand — wealth in the Bay Area that is looking for that premium product,” said Evan Reece, CEO of With great snow conditions this winter, they are getting it.

Premium prices

There are 14 ski areas in the greater Tahoe region. Lift tickets often sell for more than $100 at several of them, including Northstar California, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and Sugar Bowl at North Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort at South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood south of Tahoe, and Mount Rose on Tahoe’s Nevada side. Many ski areas don’t post their walk-up prices and implement dynamic pricing to drive advance sales online, Reece said.

The other ski areas take their cue from there, one CEO of a ski area said: Northstar sets the bar; the others follow its lead. Even Boreal...