Spring break image arrives at Lake Tahoe

It's there on page 120, after Palm Springs but before South Beach, in the April edition of the second-best selling men's magazine in the country.

Sixty-four words in Stuff magazine described Lake Tahoe as a premiere spring break spot for young adults who, in a week's time off from studies, stop pouring over books and usually focus on student bodies, adventurous days and fulfilling nights.

"For us, spring break is a true holiday without the turkey dinner," said Stuff's Editor in Chief Mike Hammer. "However, there is madness, booze and lots of hotties. Lake Tahoe lives up to our ideals."

Those in South Lake Tahoe might take offense. Of those 64 words, there is not a mention of South Shore, or any other place in the basin, except for Squaw Valley, Squaw Valley's gondola and Squaw Valley's jacuzzi.

Instigated by the magazine's 120th page dubbed "Spring Break Breakdown," the question arises: Is South Lake Tahoe a viable, preferential place for spring breakers?

"I'll say it's a good place for two reasons: spring skiing and a really good club scene at the casinos that competes with places in the city," said Lori Bell, 24.

Bell, at Lake Tahoe Community College on Thursday, said the redevelopment at Heavenly Village provides an easy walk from the casinos to the gondola that reaches Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Throw in the shops and restaurants and scenic nature, and South Lake Tahoe becomes worthy to be mentioned, she said.

"I think we're moving up the scale," Bell said.

College student Jason White, 27, has been to four places, Tahoe included, on Stuff's list of six: Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, South Beach, Fla.,Lake Havasu, Ariz., South Padre Island, Tex.; and Reykjavik, Iceland.

Although Lake Tahoe is mostly known for partying on Fourth of July, with fireworks over the lake, and New Year's Eve, where Stateline basically becomes a hedonist's paradise, White felt Tahoe deserved to be on the list among such spring break heavy-hitters.

"For snowboarding, definitely," he said. "For outdoor activities it definitely has a lot more than laying out on the beach and getting sunburned."

"And you have the (brothels) in Nevada," chimed in White's friend, Brandon West, 23.

It's not the first mention for Lake Tahoe in a national magazine. Outside, Transworld Snowboarding and Skiing are just a few publications that picked Tahoe to devote some print.

In a feature story last month, Skiing magazine writer Allen St. John wrote a story regarding the easy access between Heavenly terrain and the casino night life that would grab the spring-breaker's attention.

"It's a place where G-strings and The North Face jackets hang in the same closet, where you can head straight from the slopes to the land of craps, blackjack and the all-you-can-eat prime-rib buffet," St. John wrote.

As the saying goes, there is no bad publicity.

Patrick Kaler, executive director of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, remarked his office sends out two press releases to media organizations outside the basin touting Tahoe's spring activities.

The two releases arrive before the two sets of college spring breaks. Then there is the $25,000 campaign to nine different Clear Channel radio stations on Tahoe and "winter promotion packages" at the authority's Web site that carry deals for lodging, snowmobiling and other activities.

"I think spring-breakers are looking for other things than going to the beach," Kaler said.

The ski resorts get into the act by offering discounted lift tickets and ludicrous activities like pond-skimming on snowboards or skis.

Sierra-at-Tahoe, and its sister North Shore resort, Northstar-at-Tahoe, offer $39 lift tickets to college students who show photo identification of their school along with a coupon downloaded from the resorts' Web sites. Heavenly also has packages until Sunday.

"I would say South Lake Tahoe in particular is a good destination for college kids because we have great weather, great snow conditions and a top-notch night life that appeals to college students," said Nicole Belt, spokeswoman for both resorts.

Last summer "MTV's Beach House: Summer on the Run" took place on the sandy shores of Zephyr Cove. Kaler's not sure if he wants to host MTV's spring break series, but is enjoying Lake Tahoe emerging as a spring break destination.

"I don't think we'll have 'Tahoe Gone Wild,'" Kaler said.

- E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com


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