Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

By on September 1, 2011

By Michele McIntyre –

This part of our trip is meant for relaxation; after almost a week of sightseeing in SF and hiking all over a National Park the size of Rhode Island, I’ve been envisioning sun (sunscreen, of course), sand and spa.

Only Mother Nature has other weather-related plans for Lake Tahoe, whose summertime temperatures are normally near perfect in the high 70’s/low 80’s. A low-pressure system from the Gulf of Alaska was to blame for the winter-like cold snap and gusty winds that blew through during the weekend of our visit. I probably don’t need to tell you what happened to those sun and sand fantasies.

From the moment you drive into the wooded surroundings of the Hyatt’s parking lot, studded with some of the tallest pine trees you’ve ever seen, you’re instantly in an alpine paradise. Our luxury vacation began the moment we checked in when my husband and I were handed a glass of champagne before we even got our room key.

The Hyatt has endless offerings for all seasons – and it’s a good thing too, because it seems like we experienced two or three seasons during our four-night stay (and I’ll give you a hint, one of them wasn’t summer). We couldn’t take advantage of all the great opportunities, but there’s plenty to do here.

We checked into room 121, an enormous Stillwater Suite with a semi-private terrace that overlooked the beautifully landscaped lawn and spacious outdoor pool area. As I write this, I still can’t believe how well furnished our King bedded suite was! Two flat screen televisions, two closets, a queen sofa-sleeper, a small dining table with chairs, a work desk with chair, a cozy reading nook with chair and ottoman, another chair and ottoman and various storage options. It was the perfect room for my family of three to spread out in dine in and relax in after a busy day of sightseeing and hiking.

The room was decorated in a simple green, gold and burgundy color palette with richly textured throw pillows, fabrics and furnishings. Baskets of pinecones reminded us that we were in a forested retreat; the Portico Eucalyptus bath products brought a little bit of the spa into the room.

I loved the wicker laundry basket in the bathroom for used towels, so much more civilized that throwing used towels on the floor (or leaving them on the floor of the bathtub, a trick I learned from a good friend). Keeping our eight year-old away from the sensor-activated mini-bar was no easy feat; especially considering it was loaded with sweet, salty and crunchy options to satisfy every type of snack craving.

Hungry from the long drive from Yosemite National Park, we opted for a simple dinner on the Sierra Vista Deck at the Sierra Café; the Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. We enjoyed grilled Angus beef burgers and French fries with herb mustard dip.

On another evening of our stay, we had a late dinner at Cutthroat’s Saloon – a sports bar and restaurant with a Wild West theme. Here we enjoyed inventive cocktails in mason jars, fish and chips and an oversized buffalo saloon salad. Both the Sierra Café and Cutthroat’s Saloon have kid’s menus with healthy options. For breakfast, I tried one of the Sierra Café’s Signature Specialties – a zucchini & cheese frittata made with Gruyere, goat and white cheddar cheeses, tomatoes and onions and served with ciabatta toast.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Stillwater Spa Infinity Tub

But perhaps my favorite dining option at the HR Lake Tahoe is Tahoe Provisions, a modernly rustic gourmet shop that is a divine combination of coffee shop, bakery, nostalgic candy shop and upscale deli. At breakfast, you won’t be able to pick just one of the house-made baked goods or creative juice blends or coffee concoctions. At lunch or dinner, try a Panini or specialty salad. Any time of the day, the delectable desserts will beckon you to try one.

Tahoe Provisions has an excellent selection of hot and cold beverages, ice cream novelties, international wines and beer and S’mores kits for enjoying around the fire pits that dot the resort. Coffee bar height tables welcome you to sit for a while and read or use the wireless Internet service while enjoying a light meal or a treat and a beverage.

My plans for sand and sun were abandoned, but I wasn’t about to give up on my visit to the spa. The 20,000 square foot Stillwater Spa spans two floors; the first floor houses the common areas – cedar sauna, steam room, fireside relaxation lounges, and lavish locker room facilities.

On the second floor you’ll find the private treatment rooms. After a quick tour with interim spa director April, I was escorted to the private VIP locker room to change into my perfect weight cream-colored microfiber spa robe. I was just a tiny bit pleased that there was a chill in the air outside; I’ve been known to hunker down at the spa for a long while on just this type of cooler days.

Stillwater Spa fireside relaxation lounge

I’d just settled into an oversized leather chair in the candlelit relaxation lounge, cup of Tazo Tea in hand, when my therapist Brad let me know it was time for my treatment. The 100-minute High Sierra Ritual ($295) is a multi-step treatment that fits in beautifully with the local surroundings.

The first step is an exfoliation with dry brushes. If you’ve never been dry brushed before, I urge you to try it! Next, I was covered in oil and wrapped in plastic and thermal blankets for a detoxifying organic body wrap. While the oil did its hydrating work, Brad gave me an acupressure massage on my face and scalp. A hydrating balm was applied to my feet that were then wrapped in hot towels. The ritual ends with a 50-minute full body massage that combined Brad’s signature blended modalities of Swedish massage, acupressure and assisted stretching. The dry brushes are yours to keep for use at home.

Stillwater Spa

It’s not easy getting off the treatment table after 100 minutes of stillness and bliss, but I took the elevator back down to reality (well, not “real reality”; just “vacation reality”) and picked up where I left off in the relaxation lounge with its cathedral ceiling and floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. Richly textured fabrics and a soothing earth tone color scheme were inspired by the forested Lake Tahoe surroundings.

A great reading selection, subdued lighting and soft instrumental music beckon you to kick your feet up and stay for hours. Regretfully, it was eventually time to move along.

Michele McIntyre is a freelance spa, travel & wellness writer who is happiest when lying face up on a treatment table or writing about her spa and travel experiences. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. She is a regular contributor to Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and is a National Spa Examiner for Examiner.com. Michele’s adventures have been featured on a variety of websites including a stint as a guest spa blogger on Tripology http://www.tripology.com/ and as a storyteller on TripAtlas tripatlas.com.

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness, beauty and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. Michele blogs about the spa and travel industry, and anything else she can think of, at everythingspa.wordpress.com. When she isn't writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Michele can be reached at [email protected]

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Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe