2001 Number 19 Resort in North America: Heavenly, Calif.

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Resort Survey Heavenly Pic

Heavenly, the resort colossus astride the California/Nevada state line in Lake Tahoe, has long been a favorite with SKI's readers. They appreciate the variety of lodging, dining, gaming, nightlife and entertainment opportunities in town, but also the vistas, terrain and weather Heavenly offers. "All degrees of steepness, openness and tree skiing," says one reader. "Breathtaking scenery," adds another. And with world-class runs such as Milky Way Bowl and Killebrew Canyon gracing a ridiculously massive mountain, skiers can test their limits. For all of its stunning skiing and beauty, Heavenly's image has long been tarnished by outdated base facilities and tacky architecture. Building moratoriums and government restrictions in the Tahoe Basin have plagued redevelopment efforts. "There's no real ski atmosphere," says a critic. "This place lacks class. It's the double-wide trailer park of ski resorts," says another. But after years of clearing hurdles, Heavenly can finally start redefining itself. Thirty-four acres of old structures have been leveled to make way for a $250 million rebuild, from which a $20 million gondola will soar this season. Heavenly Village also will include two new resort hotels, an ice-skating rink, multiplex cinema and retail complex. A portal to rival Europe's most glamorous resorts will replace schlocky access. Traffic and parking nightmares will disappear. Guests from more than 5,500 rooms in the downtown casino-corridor will be able to walk to the gondola. They'll be transported to more than 20 square miles (4,800 acres) of terrain overlooking the Nevada desert and the sapphire waters of Tahoe. Heavenly's dream-come-true is soon to be everyone's.

WHAT'S NEW An eight-passenger Doppelmayr gondola, three runs, an instruction area and a 15,000-square-foot mid-station observation deck.

A GOOD DEAL Quarter-ownership in the new Grand Summit Resort condos, which include an owners' club, owners' lockers, year-round heated pool and spa. Call (877) 454-7263.

MEDALS GOLD Après-Ski, Off-Hill Activities, Scenery; SILVER Snow, Terrain, Challenge, Weather, Accessibility, Lodging, Dining.

HIGH/LOW RANK Scenery (2), Après-Ski (3), Off-Hill Activities (3); Family Programs (54), Value (66), Service (68).

DON'T MISS Panoramic views from atop Milky Bowl.

READER REMARKS (+) "Coming down The Face with the town and lake below is inspiring." (-) "You spend more time getting around than skiing."