Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A charming inn rich in Olympic history
The Olympic Village Inn capitalizes on its rich history and mountain setting by offering rooms once used by athletes in the 1960 Winter Olympics. Although the Inn is the oldest large hotel in Squaw Valley, it offers unique charm and a more relaxed experience than at some of the newer megaresorts nearby. The ski slopes aren't right outside, but a shuttle takes guests back and forth.
Back in the late 1950s, Squaw Valley was a long shot to be selected host of the '60 winter games when compared to more established winter sports cities such as Innsbruck. But the Olympic committee liked what they saw at Squaw Valley, even if the facilities were rudimentary back then. To the world's surprise, Squaw Valley was selected and became the first location in the West to host a winter Olympics.
With no way to accommodate crowds, Squaw Valley developers cranked up the machinery and within a couple years had enough ski lifts and other facilities to host the games. The Olympic Village Inn was built during this time with the intention of housing all 750 athletes under the same roof -- the only time this occurred in modern Olympic history.
The builders chose to mimic a Tyrolean village, which fit perfectly with the stunning Sierra Nevada surroundings. Following the Olympics, the Inn became Squaw Valley's first big hotel that was well suited to handle the increasing number of visitors to the area. Over the years, updates have been made but the original style remains intact.
Today the Inn features a pleasant back deck with tables for enjoying the mountain views, five Jacuzzis, a heated pool (seasonal), a water garden for summertime lounging, and a new Club House containing vintage arcade games, a modern fitness center, large TV, and a full-service kitchen with ovens. Guests can hike trails leading into the mountains, use free snowshoes, ride free bikes, play volleyball, and enjoy one of the planned daily activities such as basket weaving. Barbecue grills are also available.
Located in Squaw Valley, half a mile from the ski slopes
The Olympic Village Inn is located in Squaw Valley, 10 miles from Tahoe City and in between Truckee and Lake Tahoe. Many restaurants and shops are available at the nearby Village at Squaw Valley.
Lake Tahoe is one of the premier four-season destinations in the country, offering a beautiful combination of clear skies, heavy winter snows, and the blue lake waters backed by the picturesque Sierra Nevada Mountains. Tahoe is an outdoor-lover's paradise offering activities such as camping, fishing, kayaking, white-water rafting, rock-climbing, golfing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding.
With winter snow often measuring 300 to 500 inches annually, the ski resorts at Tahoe are among the most reliable and exciting in the country. Known for steep vertical drops, open bowls, and some challenging terrain (along with family-friendly runs), Tahoe's collection of ski resorts draws thousands each winter. Despite the snowy conditions, the area usually gets more than 300 sunny days a year. But because of the snow, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended here in winter.
Lake Tahoe is divided across California and Nevada, with 70 percent in California. Because of this, Tahoe is generally spoken of as two distinct areas, North and South Lake Tahoe. South Tahoe is known for its gambling (which is legal in Nevada) and nightlife, while North Tahoe is generally quieter with more of a " mountain personality."
When traveling to the area there are some things to keep in mind: The elevation of the lake is more than 6,000 feet, and the ski resorts surrounding the lake have runs that begin at 10,000 feet. Be careful when engaging in physical activity before acclimating, which usually takes a couple days, as the thin air means the body will need to work harder.
Also, black bears have become a persistent problem around Lake Tahoe. They often break into parked cars and empty buildings looking for food, and are even sophisticated enough to recognize coolers and other signs of food by peering into windows. It's best to remove all food, toiletries, and anything else that may stimulate a bear's keen sense of smell from your vehicle while staying overnight at Tahoe. No locked door or window will stand up to a hungry bear looking for free Cheetos or a sandwich.
Vintage rooms with kitchenettes and balconies
The Olympic Village Inn offers 90 rooms once used by athletes in the 1960 Winter Olympics. The rooms retain their vintage Italian style, although the last update was completed in the 1980s and the decor is firmly planted in that era. Patterned wallpaper, floral comforters and tube-style TVs are outdated, and the rooms are a bit small. However, the kitchenettes add convenience, and the balconies are a nice perk. Views will vary depending on the room, and every room is accessed by exterior entries.
Free shuttle to ski slopes, heated pool, five Jacuzzis, and Club House with full-service kitchen
The Olympic Village Inn was built to house athletes during the 1960 winter games held in Squaw Valley and became the first large hotel in the area. The rooms were last updated in the 1980s, but a charming Tyrolean exterior, beautiful grounds, and location near the slopes offset the kitschy decor. Balconies and kitchenettes add convenience but there have been complaints of a strong cleaning odor in some units. The price point is lower than at most other Squaw Valley resorts, and guests will have the novelty factor of saying they stayed in a true Olympics resort.