The wait is over …. The temperatures dropped and the snow started falling the weekend before Thanksgiving. Artificial snowmaking efforts had begun when Mother Nature decided to give us a taste of real snow with a little surprise storm to help ensure a pre-Turkey Day opening at Heavenly Mountain Resort. The November 18 announcement was a bit of a pipe dream, but nevertheless Heavenly opened for visitors and locals on November 23, and skiers and snowboarders can now enjoy a few turns on a few runs to kick off the season. Down in the town everyone is gearing up for a busy winter season. Stateline casinos on the Nevada side and businesses at Heavenly Village on the California side are ready to give people a good time for a delightful holiday season.
The Heavenly Village was built for wintertime, with the centerpiece being the gondola lifting people to 10,000 feet above sea level and to the center of the skiing action. But in the village, people can enjoy a whole array of fun activities and events with a wintry twist. Visitors can celebrate in December and see ice sculptors shaping fascinating frozen scenes, carolers serenading visitors and lifting spirits, and a 16-foot interactive snow globe where kids can get their photos taken with Santa. Sit by a fire-pit and gaze up into the snow-capped mountains, or twirl around on ice skates in the ice skating rink set up right in the middle of the village.
One of the best attractions at the Heavenly Village is The Loft Live Theatre, Lounge and Dining. Opened a year ago on December 9, it has turned into a popular destination to have a drink, get dinner and see a show. Located at 1001 Heavenly Village Way in South Lake Tahoe California, The Loft has turned into a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. With a very comfortable atmosphere, The Loft will put you at ease after a tough day at work or a long fun day on the slopes.
The intimate 107-seat theatre features Magic Fusion, billed as a perfect blend of intimate magic and comedy, starring award-winning magicians from around the world. See a show before or after dinner. The restaurant, which opens at 4:00 pm and closes at 2:00 am, offers great homemade, handcrafted Italian cuisine. Make reservations to dine in the restaurant or grab a seat at the swanky bar, and get some appetizers with a glass of wine chosen from their extensive wine list. Yummy appetizers include a great artichoke dip with fresh baked bread, a tomato bisque or meatball sliders.
The Loft sits atop the Heavenly Cinema and sat for years as a totally unfinished storage space or attic for the movie theatre below, according to owner Paul Reder. But with great support from the city of Paul Reder, which owns the building, a hidden gem was found and is now enjoyed by the throngs that come to the village at Stateline. It recently won the South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon award for tourism. Along with Magic Fusion, The Loft has numerous special events, such as Electroswing Burlesque with the vocals, dancing and witty patter of Ashley Kepler and the Deuce Spot Band, along with the Dame Doll Dancers. Shows are on December 14 and 21. (Check out www.thelofttahoe.com for tickets.)
Stateline at Lake Tahoe is a great place to ring in the New Year, with parties happening all over, both official and spur of the moment. Again, the Heavenly Village is the place to get the night started. Say goodbye to 2016 with an outdoor concert and watch a unique 9 pm Gondola Ball Drop to greet 2017. Plus a firework show will culminate the evening. The casinos are always lively, but on New Year’s Eve the crowds are huge. And at midnight they spill out onto a closed Highway 50 corridor, where people do their best adaptation of Times Square in New York City — an unofficial party but one that’s been happening for more than four decades. But if big crowds aren’t your thing and you don’t want to stay home, go for a boat ride and party on the Lake on board the M.S. Dixie II. Ship off at 9:30 pm and wine, dine and dance in the New Year out in the middle of Lake Tahoe.
It’s been an interesting 2016: the circus of the campaign season and the election of our new president has some people wanting to zone out for a while. Lake Tahoe in December and the coming winter months is just the place to escape to. Hopefully, a big winter will provide us with plenty of snow to frolic. The bi-state area of Nevada and California, with the Heavenly Village and the Stateline casinos teaming up, gives people a great place to visit.
— Brendan Packer