Summer Resorts 2003: Heavenly, California


If glittering casino marquees and cabaret showgirls are what you came for, the razzmatazz of Stateline's gaming palaces can't be beat. But if you prefer biking or boating to slot machines, you've hit the jackpot. And with the recent opening of Heavenly Village, you don't even have to be within earshot of a one-armed bandit.

Orient yourself by hopping on Heavenly's gondola, which is sandwiched between the new Marriott Grand Residence Club and Marriott's new Timber Lodge. Although the two luxurious condo-hotels operated during the ski season, many of the shops and restaurants are just opening this summer.

The Marriotts, with their Old Tahoe architecture of river rock and pitched roofs, are as different from the towering casino hotels as night and day. On the Nevada side, you've got high-rollers and Paul Anka. On the California side, you've got high alpine and Snowshoe Thompson.

From the gondola's Observation Deck, some 3,000 feet above Tahoe, your options unfold. To the east, there's the world-renowned Flume Trail, a favorite of mountain bikers. To the west, there's a labyrinth of hiking trails through Desolation Wilderness. To the north is Tahoe, where you can sail a speedy Woodwind II catamaran in the afternoon or drift over the surface in a hot-air balloon at sunrise. Any way you choose to vacation here, you come up a winner.

DON'T MISS Fishing for giant Mackinaw lake trout in Tahoe, where guides are plentiful and all gear is provided.

BEST DEAL The Mountain Adventure Package includes three nights' deluxe lodging at either Marriott and a gondola ride, starting at $286 per person, double occupancy. 800-243-2836;