- - - from Pilot
published Winter 2001/2002; written by Laurel Hilde Lippert :
If you want a special experience, stay at the
exquisite Black Bear Inn Bed & Breakfast. Owners Kevin Chandler and Jerry
Birdwell have built a luxurious mountain lodge with five generous guest rooms
and three cabins in the "Old Tahoe" style with timber beams and river rock. The
overstuffed furniture, king beds, spacious bathrooms, and thoughtful decor are
very inviting. "We wanted everything to be a little bigger than what you have at
home," says Kevin. A hearty breakfast is served every morning. The Heavenly
shuttle picks up guests outside the front door, and you're a short walk from two
of South Lake Tahoe's best dinner restaurants.
- - - from
California's Best B&Bs;
published July 2001; written by Elizabeth A. Borsting :
Realtors often use certain adjectives and
jargon in order to mask a more accurate description of a property.
Charming can often equal antiquated, vintage usually means old, and rustic is
another way of saying rundown. Enter the Black Bear Inn, one of Lake Tahoe's
most prized retreats, where rustic is finally getting the respect it deserves.
Though short on history -- the inn was only built in
1999 ---- it's destined to greatness. This luxe retreat is found adrift on a
wooded acre overlooking Tahoe's mountainous beauty. If you enjoy skiing,
paradise has been found with 19 champion resorts all within a snowball-toss from
here, including the renowned Heavenly less than a mile away. The warmer months
offer another type of nirvana, one where fishing, golfing, hiking and sailing
are the primary pleasures. Cross the California state line, just a short drive
down the road, and you're surrounded by a crop of casinos on the Nevada side.
The Black Bear Inn is centrally located,
comfortably appointed and unabashedly luxurious. Even if you lose at the craps
tables, at least you've hit the jackpot at the end of the night.
Choose to slumber in the main lodge where five
ample-size guest rooms await, or reserve one of three cabins shaded by towering
pines. Let yourself be spoiled by such conveniences as king-size beds, river
rock fireplaces, televisions and VCRs (some rooms even offer DVD players), and
telephone and data ports.
The five rooms in the main lodge offer varying
appointments from wet bars and sitting areas, as found in the Sequoia Room, to
vaulted log beam ceilings and balconies as illustrated in the Fallen leaf Room.
Beyond the inn are the trio of cottages: Bonanza Trail, Sutter and Snowshoe
Thompson. The Bonanza Trail is actually a duplex containing two separate rooms,
the Stagecoach and Black Bart chambers. Snowshoe Thompson and Sutter cabins
offer spacious digs with more than 900 square feet, separate bedrooms,
kitchenettes and exceptional views. From the three cabins you can also expect
open floor plans coated in hardwood with roomy bathrooms and a generous dose of
The slopes in the distance might be enticing, but it's
hard to pull yourself away from the comfy confines of the Black Bear Inn. Before
venturing outside, fill your tummy with a heaping batch of freshly baked muffins
presented on an old grocery counter, or grab an ice-cold bottle of orange juice
from the well-worn washbasin. Entrees may include a brie omelet, eggs benedict
or blueberry coffee cake. If you're residing in one of the cabins, you can
request to have your meal brought to your room.
The three-story Great Room is an architectural marvel
with a magnificent river rock fireplace, a soaring cathedral ceiling, chunky log
beams and a sweeping staircase. Later in the day, as the sun fades to black,
guests gather here to sample wine and cheese. Suddenly, as you gaze out from
this sublime setting from one of the plush sofas, you realize that being labeled
a couch potato isn't really so bad after all. The inn also has a steaming
outdoor hot tub, a perfect spot to end the day.
- - - from Travel
published May 2001; written by Heidi Schuessler :
Around the turn of the last century, rich
West Coast families retreated to the south shore and surrounded themselves with
every possible luxury. If you want to re-create that feeling of Old Tahoe
largesse, head to the Black Bear Inn. Opened in March 1999, one mile from
Heavenly Ski Resort, this inn achieves the coveted "rustic elegance" so many
lodges strive for -- then throws in a dose of romance.
The cedar-planked building is hidden in a row of motels on
Ski Run Boulevard, so it's easy to overlook. Inside it's a different story: The
focal point of the two-story building is the Great Room, with soaring log beams
connected by pine trusses. A 34-foot-tall river-rock fireplace stands opposite
two arched windows. In the back are three cabins and impeccable flower gardens.
Inside, owners Jerry Birdwell and Kevin Chandler have
decorated every available space with antiques from their native Texas, like
distressed armoires, an old spinning wheel, and a buckboard carriage. Most of
the western details (wagon wheels and an occasional bearskin) easily share space
with stacks of books on Impressionist painters.
The creative touches make for good conversation over
breakfast: One guest room, the Frontier Room, has one wall made from the rough
gray boards of an old sharecropper's cabin, and a worn blacksmith's apron hangs
over the bed. With three separate cabins and only five guest rooms in the main
lodge, privacy is assured. I stayed in the large Sequoia Room, with cathedral
ceilings, a gas fireplace, a king bed, and a sitting area with two cushy
love-seats. It was so calming and comfortable that I took a morning off from
hiking to watch a movie on the DVD player (all movie rentals are complimentary).
The only indulgence missing here is room service, but the
owners make up for it other ways. There are thick robes for the outdoor hot tub,
and cheese and private-label wines are served daily at 5 P.M. Breakfasts,
such as baked eggs layered with thin slices of ham and herbs, and grapes, are
- - - from Moon
first edition, published 2000; written by Ken Castle :
Opened in 1999 by retired Texas attorney
Jerry Birdwell and his partner, Kevin Chandler, this spectacular, all-new inn
with its log porte cochere is located halfway between the new Marina Village on
Lake Tahoe and the California entrance to Heavenly ski resort. It is nestled
between some nondescript motels, but don't let that bother you. The lodge and
its one-acre grounds are so impressive and inviting that you'll feel like you're
in the ultimate Tahoe Valhalla, more of a mountain executive retreat than a bed
and breakfast inn. The most compelling feature is the magnificent lobby --
something you would expect to see in a much larger lodge. It has a
34-foot-high cathedral ceiling, which is supported by massive cut logs and is
graced by an equally stunning river rock fireplace that rises from floor to
ceiling. This Great Room has intricate stone and lodgepole trim, giant
picture windows, chandeliers, a grand piano, and rustic Western collectibles
that Birdwell has scoured from the back roads of his native state.
Adjoining this room is a large dining area with several tables and a bar, as
well as a full commercial kitchen. Two guest rooms are downstairs, while
the others are on the second floor and accessible from an open mezzanine that
overlooks the parlor. All rooms are spacious and individually decorated,
with design elements that range from river rock gas fireplaces to authentic
barn-wood wall paneling. The Fallen Leaf room has exposed log beams
and French doors leading to a sitting balcony, the Seneca room has a 10-foot
ceiling and large bow window, and the Sequoia room -- really a suite -- has a
large sitting area, wet bar and DVD player. All rooms come with a private
bath, king bed, television, telephone with data port, daily maid service, a full
hearty breakfast and use of the lodge facilities, including an outdoor hot tub.
In addition to the lodge rooms, there are two cabins in the large, wooded rear
yard, both with rustic American decor. These come with king beds,
fireplaces, kitchenettes, televisions, telephones and a full breakfast.
Downstairs, next to the side entrance and parking lot, is a ski and boot storage
room -- a nice touch. In the main lodge, a chef serves a complete
breakfast that might include omelets, frittatas, potatoes, bacon and sausage,
fresh fruit, home-baked breads, juices and coffee. The Black Bear Inn is
so elegant, so inviting and such a marvel of craftsmanship and design that you
may find it difficult to leave. Without a doubt, this is the premier small
inn of the region and, hopefully, the first of a new generation of upscale
lodging properties that showcase the Old Tahoe style of architecture.
- - - from
published December 2000 Vol 35 Issue 12; written by Ginger Dingus :
Not too many years ago, visiting Lake Tahoe
meant that you would have to settle for something less than a truly first-rate
hotel and sophisticated cuisine. But all that has changed, and this year-round
recreation area now offers dining and lodging on a par with its stunning scenery
. . . The Black Bear Inn, with its timbered walls, plank floors, leather chairs,
antler chandeliers, bear skins and farm antiques, captures the spirit of a
classy sportsman's retreat. A two-story, river rock fireplace dominates the
comfortable parlor and adjacent breakfast area. There are seven guest
accommodations -- five double rooms in the main lodge and a two-room cabin with
kitchenette, all with gas fireplaces. Children younger than 16 are not accepted.
- - - from
Sacramento Bride and Groom;
published Winter/Spring 2001; written by Suzi Rupp :
. . . If you want to be pampered while
enjoying that 'at home' feeling before and after your ceremony, choose a bed and
breakfast inn. The Black Bear Inn is a perfect choice. This charming inn offers
two options for your honeymoon suite: the wonderfully appointed and secluded
Sequoia room upstairs in the main lodge or the intimate Snowshoe Thompson cabin
snuggled among the pine trees behind the lodge. In all, the inn offers four
individual cabins and five lodge rooms, all exquisitely and uniquely decorated
in western style reminiscent of Lake Tahoe's grand old mansions and estates.
Each cabin features a fireplace, kitchen and 'mud room' for skiers to remove wet
boots before entering. The cabins and lodge are filled with antiques carefully
selected by owners Jerry Birdwell and Kevin Chandler who provide every possible
amenity for their guests. "We want all of our guests to feel like they have
'come home,' " Chandler says. . .
- - - from
California for Dummies;
published 2001; written by Cheryl Farr Leas :
Wow! This stunning lodgelike B&B looks like
it jumped straight out of a Ralph Lauren catalog, complete with gleaming
knotty-pine woodwork and a two-story riverstone fireplace in the soaring living
room. Extraordinary craftsmanship, impeccable rustic-goes-chic style,
beautifully outfitted rooms (gorgeous bathrooms!), lots of lounging space, and
super-friendly hosts add up to my favorite place to stay in Tahoe, period.
Geared more toward adults than families with kids, though.
- - - from Ski
published September 2000; written by Ken Castle :
Plenty of great ideas have been born on cocktail napkins, but
transforming them takes more than an extra shot of Johnny Walker. In the case of
the Black Bear Inn, South Lake Tahoe's newest B&B , the vision was there, right
from the start. Proprietor Jerry Birdwell believed that Tahoe was ready for a
change -- a return to the days of rustic elegance and pampered luxury that
typified mountain hotels in the early 1900s. And as it turned out, he was not
alone in that belief.
Leave it to Birdwell, a strapping former defense attorney
from Texas, to sound the charge against architectural mediocrity in California.
Having owned a vacation home at the lake for several years, Birdwell poked
around the handful of old estates that remain from the past century. He took
copious notes and photographs, then got down to business by sketching, on a
napkin, his plan for an Old Tahoe-style lodge.
When the Black Bear Inn opened for summer 1999, on a site
down the hill from Heavenly's California entrance, the vision had evolved into
bricks and mortar -- or rather stone and timber. Most impressive is the soaring
three-story Great Room, boasting a massive river rock fireplace, rough-cut log
beams and trusses, and a 32-foot high cathedral ceiling. Gaze around the room
and your eye is drawn to the sweeping log staircase leading to a mezzanine and
four of the five guest rooms.
- - - from The Best
Places To Kiss In Northern California;
published Fall 1999; written by Linnea
Every once in a while we
come across a new inn that leaves us breathless (just like a kiss). The Black
Bear Inn, located on the road to Heavenly Ski Resort, is one such place. Modeled
after some of the West's great lodges, this seven-room inn captures all their
majesty and rustic style, but offers a more intimate experience without the
crowds, fanfare, or enormous size. Put simply, it's a scaled-down lodge
perfectly suited for cuddling couples.
One look at the impressive Great Room and you'll want to stay. The
centerpiece - a 34-foot-high river-rock fireplace - parallels equally
magnificent rough-hewn log poles that stretch up into the cathedral ceilings.
Opposite the fireplace is a river-rock wall with French doors opening to the
backyard patio. Museum-quality country and farm antiques accent the interior,
including vintage sleighs snowshoes, and some interesting conversation pieces,
such as a pie safe (designed to keep sweet tooths from sampling the goods) and
spikes from the old Truckee railroad. Guests can continue to admire the Great
Room during the evening wine-and-cheese hour, when tempting treats are set out
on an antique workman's bench fronting the fireplace.
Five rooms in the main lodge, also
exemplifying the lodge theme, continue to impress. Our favorites? We recommend
the second-floor Fallen Leaf Room, where you can share a smooch on the private
balcony, and the spacious Sequoia Room, a tucked-away retreat for those wanting
complete privacy. No matter where you decide to stay, all rooms are delightfully
decorated and feature private entrances, TV/VCRs hidden in armoires, king-size
beds with hard and soft pillows, private bathrooms done in slate and pine, and
glass-enclosed showers large enough for two. Create instant romantic ambience
anytime by flipping on the gas fireplace via a bedside switch.
Out in the backyard, more kissing spots await, in particular the
sheltered hot tub, perfect for post-ski soaks. There's also a charming duplex
cabin, which holds two equally lovely rooms decorated similarly to those in the
main lodge. At the time of our visit, two additional cabins were being built
that look like they will be just as romantically promising when completed.
Come breakfast time, the innkeepers take full advantage of their
interesting antique collection. Fresh-baked muffins are presented on an old
grocery counter, and an old-fashioned washbasin is filled with glass bottles of
orange juice and milk. Sit at one of the tables together and enjoy such treats
as Eggs Benedict, blueberry coffeecake, or (our favorite) a green apple, walnut,
and Brie omelet. After such a feast, you're certain to have enough energy for
both skiing and kissing.
- - - from the
Dallas Morning News travel section;
published 3/12/00; written by Walt Roessing :
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - The sign in the
window of the bed-and-breakfast inn said it all: "Gone skiing. Back at 3." Both
Dallas-born Jerry Birdwell, 56, who spent 30 years in Big D as a criminal
defense lawyer, and Kevin Chandler, 39, a computer programmer who worked 11
years in the Dallas area, were off cruising the slopes of Heavenly Ski Area.
That renowned resort is just a mile from the front door of the new Black Bear
Inn, owned by Mr. Birdwell and Mr. Chandler.
The Dallas duo opened their B&B last March after
moving from Texas two months earlier.
"It's great to be free of the rat race," says Mr.
Birdwell. "I now enjoy a stress-free, laid-back lifestyle in the mountains,
where I can ski in the winter and bike and hike in the summer."
The transformation from Dallas businessmen to inn
owners didn't occur overnight. It began five years ago when they purchased an
empty, one-acre lot a half-mile from Lake Tahoe along aptly named Ski Run
"It took three years to obtain all the permits,
and then we had to take down 29 trees on the property. That hurt because I love
trees," says Mr. Birdwell.
Black Bear Inn consists of a handcrafted
two-story lodge with five spacious rooms, each with a kind bed, fireplace,
private bath and data port; and adjacent duplex cabin with two units; and a hot
tub and gazebo. Paneling in the lodge entrance and one room came from a Texas
sharecropper's farmhouse built in 1903. Construction starts April 1 on two more
When fully completed, the inn will accommodate 20
Says Mr. Birdwell, "Business has been good, with
visitors from the U.S., Europe and Australia - plus Texas, of course. The
Internet is one of our best sources of customers." Their Web site is
www.tahoeblackbear.com Are there any
drawbacks to owning a B&B? Mr. Birdwell responds, "I shovel a lot more snow than
I did in Dallas.
- - - from Tahoe
published Winter 1999; written by Theresa Ochiltree :
Inspired by some of the
West's great lodges, Black Bear Inn captures their majestic and rustic style on
a more intimate scale by incorporating hand-hewn log trusses, natural stone and
vaulted ceilings. The main lodge and three cabins that make up this retreat
offer luxury accommodations in an intimate mountain setting on a wooded acre of
Ski Run Blvd. Nestled at the bottom of Heavenly Ski Resort.
- - - from The
published November 2, 2002; written by Richard Slusser :
Texans Jerry Birdwell and
Kevin Chandler had homes in Dallas and, for about 10 years, at Lake Tahoe before
they decided to move permanently to the California side of the lake and build a
bed-and-breakfast inn. Their concept was to create a lodge that looked as if it
had been in South Lake Tahoe for a long time and was built in a style called
They did the preliminary design for the inn before local
architect Mark Allione took over the floor and, as Mr. Birdwell says, "sort of
made it prettier. . . . He balanced things out and made the exterior of the
building more attractive. We took some ideas from larger lodges throughout the
West and used them on a much smaller scale.
"We created this business around the idea of making
everything comfortable for our guests: private baths, large beds and a full, hot
They have succeeded in those endeavors. Black Bear Inn opened
in March of 1999, and business, Mr. Birdwell says, was very strong until
September 11, but by midsummer it was back on track and renewed the owners'
belief in their inn.
The Black Bear is comfortable and calming in the spirit of
the Western look by Ralph Lauren. The entrance on Ski Run Boulevard belies what
is beyond the exterior and may be a bit of Old Tahoe that survived. The great
room in the lodge has the golden glow of bright native pine and a handsome
river-rock fireplace that must be one of the most popular areas after a day on
the ski slopes. Nearby are comfortable leather-covered wing chairs and large
facing sofas with many matching pillows for relaxation. Tables for breakfast are
between the sofas and the kitchen.
The great room can hold its own against any Western hotel or
resort in ambience and comfort amid the pine walls and supports. Much of the
credit must go to the owners for not overdoing the Western artifacts in the
great room or in the guest rooms. They give just the right touch.
The view through the large, high window opposite the
fireplace takes in the deck, where tables and chairs are popular on warm days
and nights; the lawn; the large, tall pine trees; and the three cabins.
We stayed in the Sutter and found it quite comfortable.
Guests in the cabins may have breakfast delivered. We went
into the great room in the main lodge each morning, for the breakfasts were such
a treat we wanted to see what the next morning offered.
We could have returned home after the second night at the inn
-- but we could not pass up such a breakfast.
In the afternoon, wine and cheese are served for apres-ski or
apres-beach, depending on the season.
The three cabins are: the Bonanza Trail, a duplex containing
the 450 square-foot Stagecoach and Black Bart rooms, and the Snowshoe and the
Snowshoe is an 840-square-foot cabin for two persons and has
10-foot ceilings and a large bath with whirlpool and large walk-in shower; the
900-square-foot Sutter has a living room with vaulted ceiling and two bedrooms,
both connecting to the bath. Each of the accommodations has a kitchenette and a
The lodge's five guest rooms open from the great room: Seneca
and the Washoe (with pine furniture, a handmade mesquite headboard and two club
chairs) are on the main floor. Up the handsome pine stairway on the second floor
are three rooms: Sequoia (the largest and dressiest room, with a sitting area,
wet bar, vaulted ceiling and a view of the cabins and trees behind the lodge),
Fallen Leaf (the most requested room) and the Frontier, the most rustic room
because it is the only room with barn wood, and that is only one wall.
Each lodge room has a private bath, a king-size bed, rock
fireplace, television with VCR and DVD players, telephone, daily maid service
and full breakfast served downstairs. Each guest room accommodates no more than
two guests, and inn policy is that this "is not an appropriate place for
children under the age of 16."
In any season, the Black Bear Inn is a cozy, comfortable
retreat from the touristy areas and --across the border in Nevada -- the big
casinos. Stay for breakfast, especially if blueberry pancakes are on the menu.
For skiers, a city bus as well as shuttles from Heavenly
operate on Ski Run Boulevard -- indeed, Heavenly is at the top of the aptly
A short walk leads to two very good Italian restaurants.
- - - from
Fodor's Skiing USA travel guide
published 2002; written by John Vlahides :
Black Bear Inn Bed & Breakfast --
South Lake Tahoe's best and most luxurious inn feels like one of the great old
lodges of the Adirondacks, its living room complete with rough-hewn timber
beams, plank floors, a knotty-pine cathedral ceiling, hand-knotted Persian rugs,
and even an elk's head over the giant river-rock fireplace. The five inn rooms
and the three cabins are furnished with 19th-century American antiques, fine
art, and fireplaces; cabins, which can sleep up to four, also have kitchenettes.
Never intrusive, the affable innkeepers provide a sumptuous breakfast in the
morning and wine and cheese in the afternoon. They prefer not to accommodate
kids under 16. Heavenly is about a mile up the street. 5 rooms, 3 cabins.
Facilities: dining room, wi-fi, some in-room hot tubs, some kitchenettes, cable
TV, in-room VCR's, outdoor hot tub, ski storage, lounge; no smoking.
- - - from the Tracy
published March 2, 2003; written by Gretchen Macchiarella :
South Lake Tahoe - Nestled at the base of Heavenly
Ski Resort and just up the road from Marina Village on Lake Tahoe is the perfect
place for a bed and breakfast.
Yet there are just a handful of such places that complement a
long day on the slopes -- complete with a glowing fireplace, glass of wine and
some fellow travelers in the common room.
Black Bear Inn is probably the closest to a traditional bed
and breakfast in the area. All of the rooms are under the same roof, except for
a few private cabins, and the huge common area draws people for afternoon wine
and cheese. In the morning, a hot breakfast is served, something like
fruit-topped pancakes or eggs Benedict, with coffee and juice.
Each room has a slightly different decor and its own
bathroom. The three cabins are scattered in the back of the property, with a
little more seclusion but equal access to the common areas. The rooms, and even
the private cabins, sleep only two people, with no one younger than 16 allowed
in the luxury inn.
"We get a lot of couples on their honeymoon or anniversaries;
people want to be sure it's going to be romantic," said innkeeper Kevin
The honeymoon cabin has a sitting area and a fireplace and is
situated at the farthest edge of the property. With a spa tub and kitchenette,
couples may never need to leave.
- - - from Great
Towns Of Northern California;
published 2003; written by David Vokac :
Black Bear Inn Bed &
Breakfast is one of the finest adult hideaways in the Sierra. The dramatic log
complex (circa 1999) has a gazebo whirlpool on beautifully landscaped
pine-shaded grounds with a lodge and cabins that epitomize elegant rusticity.
Full gourmet breakfast and afternoon wine and appetizers served in a great room
with a monumental river-rock fireplace and serene pines/garden views are
complimentary. Each beautifully, individually decorated room captures the
romantic spirit of the Tahoe area and has a gas river-rock fireplace, all
contemporary amenities plus extras like a DVD player, and a king bed.
"Snowshoe Thompson Cabin" - extra-large,
kitchenette, romantic, in-bath two person whirlpool, big walk-in shower,
three-sided river-rock fireplace.
"Fallen Leaf Room" - vaulted open-log-beam
ceiling, corner riverstone fireplace, large private garden-view balcony.
- - - from
Sacramento Bride & Groom magazine;
published Summer/Fall 2003; written by Suzi Rupp :
. . . For the ultimate in
privacy and comfort before and after your ceremony, choose the Black Bear Inn, a
charming upscale bed and breakfast that offers two options for honeymooners --
the delightfully appointed and secluded Sequoia Room upstairs in the main lodge
or the intimate Snowshoe Thompson Cabin snuggled among the pine trees behind it.
The Black Bear Inn gives an elegant "at home" feeling, reminiscent of Old
Tahoe's grand mansions and estates. The main room in the lodge features a
37-foot stone fireplace and massive wrought iron chandelier. Real tree trunks
hold up the cathedral ceiling. Four individual cabins and five lodge rooms are
exquisitely and uniquely decorated with fine antiques. Each cabin features a
fireplace, full kitchen and "mud room" for skiers to remove wet boots before
entering. Couples who seek seclusion after their wedding will find exactly what
they desire here. Owners Jerry Birdwell and Kevin Chandler provide every
possible amenity for their guests, including one of the best breakfasts that
you'll find in Lake Tahoe. For dinner, you might have Celtic Catering prepare a
gourmet meal and deliver it to your private cabin. This property offers the
perfect hideaway for romantics! "We want all of our guests to feel like they
have 'come home,'" Kevin says.
- - - from
Air Resorts magazine;
published August/September 2003; written by Cathy Weil :
With your hunger
delightfully satisfied, now it's time to find a place to relax and there's none
finer than the Black Bear Inn. Lake Tahoe's premiere bed & breakfast is nestled
quietly away, yet near the heart of all excitement. This pristine resort
property is the perfect place to get away while staying in the thick of the
action. Located on Ski Run Boulevard, it's close to Heavenly Valley Ski Resort,
less than a mile from Stateline and the casinos and walking distance to Ski Run
Marine, home of the Tahoe Queen, one of the lake's famous paddle wheelers. From
the moment you enter the Black Bear Inn, you undoubtedly know that you're in for
an exquisitely hospitable experience. The high cathedral ceiling, hand-hewn
beams, enchanting river rock fireplace, overstuffed furniture, abundance of
carefully chosen antiques and pure alpine luxury greet you in the main lodge -
as does the warm staff when they welcome you with a nightly wine and cheese
reception. Each of the five individually themed and carefully decorated guest
rooms in the main lodge and the three cabins include a TV/VCR/DVD player,
telephone and daily maid service. Once you've decided to "pull the rip cord" and
land for the evening, enjoy an invigorating soak in the outdoor hot tub gazebo.
Next, feel blissfully pampered as you lie ensconced in the luxurious softness of
Ralph Lauren linens and bath towels and Black Bear Inn's own plus robes while
you enjoy the glowing warmth of your personal fireplace. After a dreamy night's
slumber, wake up to the inviting aroma of a full, hearty breakfast. The Black
Bear Inn staff pride themselves on providing a pure Epicurean delight, including
such delicacies as eggs benedict, brie omelets, or freshly baked muffins and
coffee cakes guaranteed to send you soaring on your way! Owners Jerry Birdwell
and Kevin Chandler want nothing further for their guests than to feel more
comfortable at the Black Bear Inn than they do in their own homes. For this
season, they have painstakingly, personally seen to every minute detail to make
that a reality.
- - - from
published January/February 2004; written by Ken Castle :
. . .Duos seeking intimacy
check in to the Black Bear Inn. This Western-luxe bed and breakfast fits five
couples into its main lodge, and tucks five into cabins on the manicured
grounds. Think the Snowshoe Thompson dwelling looks familiar? No surprise -- it
played a leading role in the first season of The Bachelor. Doubles from
$240, year-round. . .
- - - from
Fodor's Northern California;
published 2004; written by John Vlahides :
South Lake Tahoe's best and
most luxurious inn feels like one of the great old lodges of the Adirondacks,
its living room complete with rough-hewn timber beams, plank floors, knotty-pine
cathedral ceilings, hand-knotted Persian rugs, and even an elk's head over the
giant river-rock fireplace. Built in the 1990s with meticulous attention to
detail, the five inn rooms and three cabins feature 19th-century American
antiques, fine art, and fireplaces; cabins also have kitchenettes. Never
intrusive, the affable innkeepers provide a sumptuous breakfast in the morning
and wine and cheese in the afternoon.
- - - from
published December 2004; written by Kim Pryor :
. . .Co-owner Jerry
Birdwell, a criminal court district judge-turned-innkeeper, decorated the rooms
with antiques from his home state of Texas. End tables are made of butcher
blocks and egg incubators. Some of the closet doors were taken from an old
sharecropper's cabin. A blacksmith's apron hangs on the wall of one room inside
the lodge, while an old barn door serves as a mirror frame in one cabin. The
antiques fit into the classic Tahoe architecture: hand-hewn trusses, rock and
wood walls, massive fireplace in the lodge.
- - - from Tahoe
published Summer 2006; written by Susan Rock :
Reminiscent of the great railroad
lodges of the West, South Shore's Black Bear Inn has been named one of the top
ten California inns by Historic Inns of America. Located only one mile from
Heavenly Ski Resort, it's imposing from the outside with a stone and wood
exterior and port-cochere. But this purpose-built inn is even more impressive
inside. Sturdy lodge pole pine pillars, a magnificent 34-foot tall river rock
fireplace and expansive picture windows all create a handsome and stately air.
"We wanted to build something that looked like it had been here a long
time," says Kevin Chandler, who with partner and fellow Texan Jerry Birdwell, a
former criminal defense lawyer and district judge, opened this B&B in 1999.
"Most people think of B&Bs as someone's home or fixed up motel. We wanted a
different look, a different atmosphere."
The two call the ambiance "rustic mountain elegance."
The soaring Great Room is furnished with comfy couches heaped with pillows,
leather wing chairs and hardwood floors with Oriental rugs. A wrought-iron
chandelier hangs from the ceiling and a nineteenth-century piano stands under
the stout split-log staircase leading up to the mezzanine. They have adorned the
property with farmhouse style antiques, such as a chicken incubator turned into
a coffee table, milk cans for lamps, and wood from a sharecropper's cabin as
paneling on the walls. There's a blacksmith's apron hanging in one room, and an
old tobacco drying basket in another. Impeccable craftsmanship and solid
construction throughout include modern touches like double soundproofing, a mud
room for wet boots and gear, and a covered outdoor hot tub.
Spacious rooms - most with vaulted ceilings - boast
king-sized beds, river rock gas fireplaces, TVs, VCR and DVD players, rich Ralph
Lauren comforters, bedspreads, and towels and large private baths finished with
slate and pine. There are five guest rooms in the main lodge and three cabins
with kitchenettes spread out on the landscaped woody acre. Don't be surprised if
you're swept off your feet by the sizable and utterly dashing Snowshoe Thompson
cabin, with its log beam ceiling, three-sided fireplace and two-person Jacuzzi
tub - the bungalow (along with the main lodge) was featured in the first season
of the reality TV show The Bachelor.
The staff turns out freshly-baked goodies in the Black
Bear's full commercial kitchen, the site of the occasional cooking class. A
different hot breakfast is dished up daily in the dining area just off the Great
Room, and wine - a privately labeled vintage from Monterey - and cheese are
served by the fireplace in the afternoon.
- - - from Sunset
published December 2006 :
The Black Bear Inn stands out among
Tahoe's too-often generic lodgings. The new B&B, near Heavenly Mountain Resort,
offers a refined getaway --- especially in winter, when snow blankets the inn's
parklike property. Inside, rustic charm mixes with modern convenience: Think
antique cabinets and high-speed Internet access.
- - - from the
published May 18, 2008; written by Randall Weissman :
Charm and intimacy are frequently in
short supply at major vacation resort areas, but the Black Bear Inn in South
Lake Tahoe provides both qualities by the bushel.
A small bed-and-breakfast situated off the resort's main
drag, the Black Bear offers visitors a secluded refuge from the T-shirt shops
and flashing neon of the casinos less than a mile away in Stateline, Nev. During
ski season, there is easy access to skiing by the resort's bus in front of the
inn, and the lake is a short walk.
biking trails abound around Lake Tahoe when the snow melts. Boating, personal
watercraft (JetSki) rentals, parasailing and golfing are other nearby options.
The drive along the west shore of the lake from Zephyr Cove
to Crystal Bay makes it quite clear why Mark Twain wrote that Lake Tahoe was the
"fairest picture the whole earth affords."
The inn's decor could be called neo-rustic - - lots of golden
pine beams, a soaring river-rock fireplace complete with stuffed elk head and
lots of antiques. But the amenities are 21st Century - - each room has a gas
fireplace with electric ignition, flat-panel TV, DVD player and high-speed
Internet access. The main inn's five rooms radiate from a central gathering room
dominated by that huge fireplace and the 34-foot ceiling. Each room is uniquely
appointed with pine and mesquite furniture. Guests can choose more private
accommodations in one of the three cabins scattered among the towering pines
that dot the one-acre property. All the cabins have a kitchenette equipped with
refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.
A large covered hot tub is centrally located among the cabins
and lodge, a perfect way for recent arrivals to soak away any travel tension and
for skiers to soothe aching muscles.
Owners Jerry Birdwell and Kevin Chandler mingle with the
guests each evening at 5:30 for Black Bear wine (produced by Ventana Vineyards
in California) and hors d'oeuvres featuring fresh fruit, cheeses, sausages and
olives stuffed with jalapenos and garlic (warning: the olives are addictive).
They make sure everyone is comfortable. During my visit, it took all of 15
minutes before everyone was swapping stories like old friends.
While the inn doesn't serve meals other than breakfast,
nearby dining options are many. For fabulous gourmet cuisine featuring beef and
game with a matching view and wine list, try the Summit in the Harrah's Casino.
For something more intimate and much closer, try Cafe Fiore, just across the
street from the inn. The kitchen for this seven-table gem is generally regarded
as serving the finest Italian food in the area, and many locals consider it the
best restaurant in town.
CHECKING IN: In ski season, huge piles of snow can make it is
easy to miss the relatively small sign marking the inn's driveway, but once you
spot it there is ample parking. A tiny alcove serves as the lobby/check-in desk,
but the friendly staff makes registration a breeze.
ROOMS: Each of the inn's five rooms and three cabins is
uniquely decorated and extremely comfortable. I stayed in the Seneca Room, and
it had more than enough room for all but the most restless couple. All the
accommodations feature a king-sized bed and ample room for at least a couple of
overstuffed chairs so guests can read or just ponder life in front of the
BATHROOM: The bathroom was small but well lit and efficient
and came with the requisite hair dryer. Having only a shower was no drawback to
me, but others might see it differently. Plentiful toiletries were branded with
the Black Bear name and were quite pleasant. Most rooms have only showers.
Others have full baths, and the "honeymoon cabin" has a private whirlpool tub.
KID FRIENDLY: This isn't a spot for kids. The inn was
designed as an adult haven, and only one of the cabins has room for more than
ROOM SERVICE: As a B&B, the inn offers no room service.
Breakfast is served from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., and the menu rotates through the
mainstays of American fare: omelets one day, pancakes the next, and so on. If
you have a special breakfast request, let the owners know, and you'll likely be
accommodated. Likewise if you have a food allergy.
PERKS & PEEVES: I loved the welcoming ambience, and the ski
shuttle picks you up right outside the door. The Black Bear is a delightful
departure from ski resort hotel rooms. However, winter guests staying in the
Seneca room should be aware that the bathroom floor is frigid in the morning.
- - - from the
San Francisco Chronicle;
published July 17, 2008; written by Meredith May :
Black Bear Inn: If Paul Bunyan and Ralph Lauren
teamed up to create a design firm, this Old Tahoe-style
bed-and-breakfast inn would be their architectural showpiece.
Massive log beams support a cathedral ceiling, and a 34-foot river
rock fireplace stretches all the way to the top, complete with a
mounted elk. Whimsical farm antiques add a touch of irreverence. Who
would have thought to turn a Gold Rush-era chicken incubator into a
coffee table, really? Named one of California's top B&Bs by the
readers of American Historic Inns, the Black Bear Inn has piled up
accolades since bringing "rustic luxe" to South Lake Tahoe in 1999.
Owners Jerry Birdwell, a city councilman and retired Texas defense
attorney, and his partner Kevin Chandler, a techie-turned-chef,
created a buzz on opening day, and the critics are still humming.
There are five rooms in the main part of the inn and three more
secluded cabins on the 1-acre grounds. The lush lawn and pine forest
canopy provide a quiet oasis from the traffic around Lake Tahoe's
rim. The grounds are decorated with trickling fountains, lanterns
and pine tree stumps carved into bears, eagles and foxes. Each room
has a gas fireplace and a king-size bed with Ralph Lauren linens. A
bedside binder lists hundreds of movies available to check out at
the front desk.
Bath and beyond
While the honeymoon cabin has a Jacuzzi tub, the Seneca Room
bathroom is more basic, with soothing taupe tile and a shower.
Points to the owners for putting lip balm in the toiletry basket.
Grounds for approval
Breakfast, included in the room price, is a stunner. The portions
are Paul Bunyan-size but so sumptuous that it's easy to clean your
plate. Service is from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., so make sure you set your
clock, lest you miss eggs Benedict with the perfect hint of lemon in
the Hollandaise sauce, poached pear, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus,
ginger coffee cake and a pesto-stuffed tomato. Don't miss the
afternoon wine and cheese hour, and follow it with a dip in the
gazebo-covered hot tub.
What's better than instant messaging with a Webcam? Doing it with
towering pine trees in the background, while birds chirp and the sun
filters through the majestic trees. The Black Bear Inn has free
wireless throughout, and every room has a phone, TV, and DVD player.
In the vicinity
Heavenly ski resort is less than a mile up the hill, and the lake
about the same distance the other way. Pick your pleasure: water
skis, kayaks, wakeboards or Jet Skis; or in winter, snowshoes,
snowboards, downhill or cross-country skis. Across the street is
Cafe Fiore, said to have the best Italian fare in town.
Good to know
Black Bear Inn bills itself as a relaxation zone for adults. Because
it's so small, and the owners want to cater to each guest, the inn
doesn't allow visitors. Only paying customers are allowed in the
rooms and grounds. The guest rooms are limited to two people per
room, while one of the cabins can accommodate two couples. Weekends
require a two-night minimum stay. No pets allowed.
Highs and lows
Two of the rooms are on the ground floor of the lobby, where
breakfast and cocktail hour take place, making it awkward to enter
and leave your room in privacy. On the plus side, there is so much
to see at Black Bear Inn, it's like staying in a luxury hotel and a
Western museum in one. Spend time looking at the antiques, looking
at the art or flipping through the coffee table books on the Wild
West. It's easy to strike up a conversation in the vaulted great
room during cocktail hour, as the inn's ambience makes guests feel
like privileged members of a small club.
Vitals: Five guest rooms, three cabins (including one honeymoon
cabin). One wheelchair-accessible room. Rates: $225-$265 for the
guest rooms, up to $435 for cabins. $15 less during off-season
months of April, May, October and November. Up to $65 more during
holiday week, Dec. 25-Jan. 1.
- - - from Sactown
published July, 2008; written by Bob Cooper :
Natural wood and river boulders are everywhere you
look at this spectacular B&B, lending a sense of Thoreau despite
being just a mile from the casinos. The theme extends to the five
lodge rooms and four luxe cabins, which all have large stone
fireplaces and natural-wood accents, and the lobby, with its 34-foot
vaulted ceiling. Add to that the king beds, Ralph Lauren bedding and
abundant antiques in the rooms (plus the enclosed hot tub in the
courtyard), and it's no wonder the Black Bear recently made a cameo
appearance in The Bachelor. Only one unit sleeps four (the
two-bedroom Sutter Cabin), so nearly all guests are couples. You're
served a full breakfast daily -- a typical spread consists of eggs
benedict, mango-macadamia coffee cake, broiled tomato, a baked pear
and coffee -- in the grand dining room. But in one more nod to
romance, if you stay at one of the cabins, it also can be delivered
to your patio.