Something Old, Something Blue

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Black Bear Inn

When reports of Lake Tahoe's beauty filtered down to wealthy San Franciscans in the 1920s, vacation homes and lodges shot up on prime lakeshore lots as fast as they could be built. The construction material of choice? The log, naturally. Some of these cabins are still standing—others have been constructed in a similar style. Almost all are open in winter, and are far more luxurious than their predecessors. Here are our picks.

Luxury >Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Lakeside Cottages Across the street from the Hyatt's wood-hewn main entrance is perhaps the most coveted spot to stay at Lake Tahoe: The Hyatt's 24 lavish cottages front one of the lake's prettiest private beaches (and are minutes away from Diamond Peak). Each one- or two-bedroom cottage has a central parlor, a private deck and a kitchen, and all are appointed in rustic-chic mountain motifs. Next door is the equally atmospheric Lone Eagle Grille, where guests can—and should— indulge in a candlelight dinner. $385—$985; 775-832-1234; laketahoehyatt.com

Family >Tahoe Luxury Rentals When the troops outgrow the condo, renting a home is a great option. Tahoe Luxury Rentals manages some of the lake's most exclusive properties. Take the Granite Lakefront Lodge: This six-bedroom "cabin has a gourmet kitchen with three ovens, a media room with a pool table and 36-foot ceilings in the great room, and it's set feet from the north shore of the lake (near Northstar-at-Tahoe). The company handles properties from two to seven bedrooms, all around Lake Tahoe. Granite Lakefront Lodge rents for $2,750—$3,300 per night; other properties rangefrom $150—$8,800 per night. 800-581-8828; tahoeluxuryrentals.com

Rustic Ambience >Sorensen's Resort An enclave of cabins stashed in an aspen forest, Sorensen's would feel like summer camp if the cabins, located at 7,000 feet, weren't blanketed in snow. Built in 1926, this 33-cabin retreat is a base for all manner of wintersports (Kirkwood is 15 minutes away). Those looking for a classic mountain cabin should opt for Creekside, Sheepherder, Tanglewood or Was-sheshu, but Saint Nick's and Chapel, sweet A-frame chalets that evoke Santa's Village, are whimsical and fun. One other summer-camp similarity? None of the cabins have phones or TVs. $95—$395;800-423-9949; sorensensresort.com

Romance >Black Bear Inn If the Black Bear looks familiar, there's good cause: It was where Alex wooed Shannon during their dream date on TV's The Bachelor. That romance may have gone south, but don't blame the Black Bear. Located on Ski Run Boulevard near the California base of Heavenly, the inn offers three romantic cabins behind its main lodge. Inside the Snowshoe Thompson cabin is a vaulted ceiling, a river-rock fireplace and a Jacuzzi. The Sutter cabin features two bedrooms, oversized windows and a river-rock fireplace. And, of course, a TV, should you want to tune in to The Bachelor. $275—$450; 877-232-7466; tahoeblackbear.com

ALSO CONSIDER
Luxury
The Cottage Inn, two miles from Tahoe City; $139-$330; 800-581-4073; the cottageinn.com
Budget The Rustic Cottages at Tahoe Vista, North Shore; $59-$199; 888-778-7842; rusticcottages.com
Family Camp Richardson Resort, South Lake Tahoe; $75-$225; 800-544-1801; camprichardson.com
Romantic Lake Tahoe Accommodations (individual cabin rentals), all areas of Lake Tahoe; $150-$350; 800-544-3234; tahoeaccommodations.com

JANUARY 2006