- - - from Pilot Getaways;
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
- - - from California's Best
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 privacy.
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 Holiday;
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
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 delicious.
- - - from Moon Handbook: Tahoe;
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 Passport
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 Magazine;
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 Lundgren :
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 Boulevard.
"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 cabins.
When fully completed, the inn will accommodate 20 guests.
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 Quarterly magazine;
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 Washington Times
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 "Old Tahoe."
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 sit-down
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 Sutter
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 river-rock
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 named street.
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 Press
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
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
"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 Bride's magazine;
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 :
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 Sacramento Magazine;
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 Quarterly Magazine;
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.
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."
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 Magazine;
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 Chicago Tribune;
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.
Hiking and 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 fireplace.
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 two guests.
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
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
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 magazine;
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.