Big jumps, variety of terrain park features, night riding, affordable tickets and food
I wrote a review for Boreal last season, but this is an updated version since a few things have changed.
Boreal is still a fun place! I am a Tahoe local, and lots of my friends give me a hard time for going there. Yeah, I know Boreal is tiny. But I still enjoy the nice sized jumps, the pipe, the boarder-x course, and the variety of terrain park features. Boreal is good for beginners and intermediate riders because it's pretty flat. It's also good for expert jump, boarder-x and park riders. (Not for the expert alpine rider). It's probably the most affordable resort as far as night boarding and season passes go.
I went to Boreal on the opening day and I will admit that was disappointing, but what can you expect for October riding? Things are in much better shape now. :) They've gotten plenty of early season snow and they make a ton of it. One of the best deals is the 1-2-3 ride free thing. I'm encouraging my newbie friends and family members to do that. The lessons are cheap (65 for the first one, then 25 each for the second and third including rental stuff). Then after the three lessons, they give you a free season pass. I promise I'm not a Boreal employee, I just honestly think it's a good deal because you get three lessons and a season pass for less than the price of a season pass. I would've done it, but they're strict about it being for beginners and although it would have been funny to try, the instructor probably would've figured out it wasn't my first rodeo. haha I am taking advantage of it to get my girlfriend on a board for her first time, however!
There have been some updates to the food court, but nothing outrageous. No fancy restaurant or shops, but the food court items are reasonably priced when compared with other resorts. I like how the bar and deck have a good view of the mountain face, so family members who prefer to sit and watch are actually able to see you.
I give the nightlife four stars because night boarding is my idea of a perfect night, any night of the week. But that's just me. If you're looking for a club, live music or fine dining, try Sqauw Valley, Heavenly or Northstar.
The last caveat I have to throw in has to do with the newbies. Boreal is, after all, the most accessible resort from the Bay Area, so yeah, there's people falling, laying, and otherwise failing and suffering all over the bottom half of the mountain. The good news is that the resort does a pretty good job of keeping the beginners separate. The bunny and beginner runs are over on one side of the resort, separated from the rest of the mountain by the high speed quad that is often marked "NO EASY WAY DOWN". The beginner students are given beginner lift tickets, which restricts them to the two little chairs. If you're a good rider you'll usually enjoy mostly newbie-free runs, and when you get to the bottom, flat part of the mountain, you can practice your...err..navigation skills. hehe This setup is also nice for the learners, because you get your own area, and you won't feel lost and abandoned on a big mountain, because there will be plenty of other first-timers to share in the experience. :)