Originally Posted by Richie-Rich
I like groomers, steep, fast wide open groomers, but I would also like the opportunity to finally ski some real powder. My crew are a pack of novices and really do fine with harder greens (if there is such a thing) and easy blues. They like full amenities, and the fact that the casino is nearby sound like a major convenience since given a five day stay the ladies will maybe ski 2 half days.
If we do go, it would be mid to late winter. Apres for us would be, some better dining, heated pool and or hot tub, massages. Shopping is a plus but not that important....especially if a casino is nearby.
I had a pass last year at Heavenly and I have mixed feelings about the place. Probably my biggest gripe is the same as everyone else's: too many places where you have to make a long traverse to get where you want to go. That, and I found it confusing to get around the hill: I'd invariably take a wrong trail and end up not where I wanted to go. I'd say it was just me (directions are challenging for me, at times), but I encountered a number of other people who had the same problem. And though the place is listed at 4800 acres, I think, it didn't seem twice as big as places like Northstar or Kirkwood. And it didn't seem to me like the greatest place for beginners, though my beginner (my toddler son) was, I assume, at a lower level than the novices in your group.
If you do go to South Lake Tahoe, I'd say you definitely should spend some time at Kirkwood. You'd like the black trails there, there's a lot to challenge you beyond that (about which others are far more knowledgeable than I), and, notwithstanding its reputation as an "expert's mountain" (I've heard that a few times on the chairlift from people visiting Lake Tahoe), I think there's a lot the others in your group would enjoy too (I think the area around the Timber Creek Day Lodge is a very cool area for people at the level of the novices in your group).
As to SLT, like others have said, there's not a lot of charm to the town, but I don't think it's horrible. And if you guys are into gambling and, perhaps, staying at a casino ...
If you don't mind a bit (45 minutes, give or take) of a drive each day to ski, how about staying at one of the casinos in Reno? You could sample any of the North Lake Tahoe areas, then.
For example, it sounds like Northstar would be a good place for you and your crew: I bet you'd have a lot of fun on the back side of Northstar (people make fun of how "unsteep" Northstar is, but I think the back side fits your criterion of "steep, fast, wide open groomers") and there's plenty on the front side for those skiing the hard greens and easy blues (some stuff you'd like, too, if you didn't want to ditch your group for the whole day). There's a nice village at the bottom where you can hang out, the downside being that the skiing is not readily accessible from there: you need to take a gondola (most likely choice) or a lift to get where you'll want to go.
You'd probably also love Squaw and Alpine Meadows and .... There are a lot of options.
And if you wanted to stay in a casino, but didn't want as much of a drive, there are casinos in Crystal Bay or Incline Village, just over the state line, on or near the lake. It's pricier than other options, but the Hyatt in Incline Village is very nice and I bet you'd dig it: I think it would definitely give you the apres you indicate you want. And, I'll plug again another option in Incline Village, which I highly recommend, depending on exactly what ambience you want for your stay: a house that family members and I stayed in a few years back which has beautiful views of the lake (link here - http://www.vrbo.com/46242