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Meeks Bay Resort and Marina makes perfect day trip

Nancy Hamlett

Once the summer home for the ancestral Washoe Tribe and once the playground for the rich and notorious, Meeks Bay Resort and Marina is now the perfect retreat for enjoying Lake Tahoe, the jewel of the Sierra Nevada.

Sparkling clear waters and sapphire blue skies form a perfect union with white sandy beaches and towering Ponderosa Pines. Add an abundance of water sports and convenient access to miles of trails for hiking and biking in the Desolation Wilderness, and you can begin to sense why Meeks Bay is perfect spot for a day trip.

During its heyday in the early 1920s, Meeks Bay was a full destination resort with a theater, dance hall and a fresh fish and meat market. Cabins lined the shores of Lake Tahoe and every night was an experience in rustic high mountain living.

In 1934, the Kehlet family built the mansion that juts into the bay like a prow on a ship. Today, the seven-bedroom retreat is available for rental, along with cabins and bungalows, motel style lodging and a campground.

Much of the historic flavor has remained, and some guests said that since the Forest Service awarded the Washoe Tribe the lease to their historic summer home, vast improvements have been made, while still retaining that ambiance.

Tara Gallagher and Kerry Heckman are regular visitors to Meeks Bay.

“Every since I was a little girl, I lived here for the whole summer. It was a great place to for kids then, and it still is now,” said Gallagher. “But since the Washoe took over, they have been continually upgrading and improving. They are friendly and wonderful and really make us feel at home.”

“Anything you want, they will bend over backwards to provide it,” said Heckman. “I am completely impressed with the way they are running the resort.”

Al and Debi Banifazo are from Chicago. For a vacation, they flew into San Francisco and drove to sightseeing venues in the west.

“We had to visit Lake Tahoe, and when we saw Meeks Bay we said, ‘This is us,’ and stopped,” said Al. “We’ve had a marvelous time. Just wish we could have stayed longer.”

“The campground is the best,” said Meg Hiemke, who was visiting the resort with her husband Howard and sister-in-law Carol DeVoe. The Heimkes, from Georgetown, Calif., spend many relaxing days every year at Lake Tahoe.

“The facilities are clean, and the campground spots are extra large to accommodate our motor home,” she said. “Everything is top-notch, and we are enjoying our stay tremendously.”

Merle Lyons is the general manager of Meeks Bay Resort, bringing years of experience both as a captain on the lake and as a manager of a resort. He said that the resort is constantly on the lookout for ways to provide new services to their guests and to improve existing services.

The snack bar, serving traditional fare of hot dogs and hamburgers is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; however, Lyons said that during the summer they would experiment with additional foods.

“Guests are already giving us ideas. We’ll try a few, see what the reaction is, and include them on our regular menu if they prove popular,” he said.

The Washoe also hope to reintroduce cultural demonstrations at the resort, starting with the almost lost art of basket weaving. Horseshoe pits, volleyball court and barbecue and picnic areas round out the excursion for day visitors at the resort. And a stop in the gift shop is a perfect way to end the day.

The marina adds an additional dimension to water fun at Meeks Bay. Ed Oliver manages the marina, which is sublet to Action Watersports. All types of watercraft are available for rental including speedboats, paddle boats kayaks and a canoe. Or you can bring your own boat. The boat launch area is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

“Last spring we completed work on the new docks and slips,” said Oliver. “If you want to keep your boat up here, we have a secure cove with excellent facilities and 112 slips. Within seconds you can be in Lake Tahoe’s open waters.”

Roast marshmallows at one of the many picnic areas and end your day with gentle breezes fanning a campfire or the idyllic rhythm of waves lapping the shore. When you leave Meeks Bay Resort, your balance with nature will be fully restored.

“We’re taking the pulse of what people want and catering to that,” said Lyons. “In addition to our day visitors and lodging guests, we welcome weddings, corporate retreats and family reunions.

“Our views are second to none and our hospitality is genuine. We’re making our upgrades fresh and modern without compromise, but maintaining the mountain rustic feel. People are looking for a mountain experience. We have not lost sight of that.”

Details

Meeks Bay Resort and Marina

7941 Emerald Bay Road

P.O. Box 787

Tahoma, Calif. 96142

Tel: (530) 525-6946

Fax: (530)525-4028

Action Watersports at Meeks Bay Marina

7901 Emerald Bay Road

P.O. Box 9653

South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 96158

Tel: (530) 525-5588

Fax: (530) 544-9836

Directions

Total mileage approximately 40 miles. Travel time allowing for summer traffic and construction, 1-1/2 hours.

n From The Record-Courier, travel north on Highway 395 to the intersection with State Route 88.

n Turn left and continue 4 miles to Waterloo Lane.

n Turn right on Waterloo Lane, which is State Route 207, the Kingsbury Grade and travel 11 miles to the intersection with US 50 .

n Turn left and continue through Stateline and South Lake Tahoe, approximately 6 miles to the “Y,” where Highway 50 intersects with California Route 89.

n Turn right onto Route 89 and follow for approximately 16 miles.

n You will pass Emerald Bay, D.L. Bliss St. Park, Valhalla and Rubicon Point.

n The entrance to Meeks Bay Resort is on the right and clearly marked.

Day use fee, $5.