Up at the Village

Up at the Village

For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations

Leadership Program Coordinator
Houston, TX
When Squaw Valley secured the 1960 Winter Olympics, the world wondered why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) overlooked St. Moritz for a town with no mayor and one ski lift. The IOC liked the simplicity of the town, with world-class geography and few distractions.

Same thing with Stacey Burch.

Ms. Burch is the leadership program director for the multinational engineering firm PBS&J, who organized a group retreat in late spring for 35 employees to The Village at Squaw Valley in California, west of Lake Tahoe. The venue is comprised of 200 condo suites with 7,500 sf of total meeting space, including the new 1,900-sf Mountain Stream Room.

This was a recognition event for future leaders in the firm.

“We do a lot of site inspections but while I was walking around Squaw, I couldn’t find anything wrong,” says Burch. “I knew it was perfect. Just what we needed, a place with no distractions that was conducive to bonding for a small group.”

Burch also liked the fact that attendees can walk everywhere to everything in the self-contained village, it’s relatively affordable, and there’s a wide variety of experiences to enjoy among the spectacular scenery.

“We’d be walking through the little streets and bump into each other all the time,” she says. “And then we’d sit around a firepit in the middle of the village. It was extremely relaxing.”

Dinner was often casual at restaurants like Fireside Pizza and the Blue Coyote Sports Grill, and people didn’t dress up too much, except when everyone dined at the “really cozy” fine-dining Graham’s. The restaurant is outfitted in natural wood with a big stone fireplace, and views of the mountains go well with the venison chops and wildberry relish.

“I do have to say the service was unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been and we plan a lot of events,” enthuses Burch.

For activities, the group took the cable car from the village up to High Camp—an adventure nerve center at 8,200 feet overlooking Lake Tahoe. Most of the group hiked up to the top of Squaw Peak, and relaxed in the spa pool heated to 102°. Burch says the summer barbecues and full moon hikes are famous, and there’s ice/roller skating at the Olympic Ice Pavilion depending on season.

Everyone’s favorite event was rafting the Class III rapids on the American River with All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting.

“It was so exhilarating and gorgeous, everything went perfectly,” says Burch. “Some people had never run a river before so they were a little bit afraid at the beginning, but afterwards they said they wished it never would’ve ended.”

What exactly are Class III rapids like, Stacey?

“They’re exciting but not over the top. We had a few people fall out of the boat.”

Thought you said everything went perfectly?

“It’s all very safe,” laughs Burch, “and the guides are really great. It was so gorgeous and the day was just beautiful. It was probably one of the best days of my life.”