Wide variety of Everything, Skiing Great
Watch Snow conditions carefully, Cost of on Mtn food
Had a great week at Heavenly from Sunday Jan 24 thru Saturday Jan 30. Snowed Sunday, Mon, Tues for plenty of freshies; then Weds half the mtn (Nevada side) covered by clouds, but California side (Sky Express and Canyon lifts) had a beautiful sunny day; Thursday was a true Bluebird day; and Friday was surprisingly less crowded than we anticipated.
I ski the blues and some blacks (not near as aggresive as I used to be!), go out west every year and to Vermont every year, so factor that into my review, but Heavenly was fantastic on many levels. They got good snow the week before, but Heavenly does not get the snow that Kirkwood or even Squaw does based on how storms come over the mtns. That said, the snow was plenty to cover all areas and have fresh stashes in trees on major blue runs for the first 3 days and into Thursday morning. But I had heard many locals bemoaning how poor the snow had been prior to this week, and I had heard similiar things from past visitors. Man-made snow is better than none, but Heavenly doesn't really do itself favors by advertising its snow making capabilities -- I go out west to avoid that very thing!!!
Anyway, plenty of fantastic runs from Olympic down through Stagecoach (rarely busy lifts) to the spectacular views off of Ridge to wandering thru the myriad of blues on the Nevada side. Having been to Utah, I do not share the complaint of other reviewers that commented on traverses as the main ones used here (like getting to Olympic from the Gondola) is not bad so long as you know where you are going and build sufficient speed.
The reality of Heavenly is that if you want the back bowls of Snowbird or Crested Butte then go there and get extreme; if you desire a weeks worth of accessible runs along with the fun of casinos and beauty of Lake Tahoe (yes it is that breathtakingly beautiful) then I whole heartedly recommend Heavenly. The wife and I used Lake Tahoe Express for under $100 for the 2 of us rd trip, it saves money but can be slow if you arrive in the evening.
Those that live in Sacramento and the Bay Area are darn lucky to be able to drive here; we greatly enjoyed our vacation and would recommend Heavenly to anyone not looking for extreme skiing. Even those who want a wilder ride can easily get to Squaw or other resorts to satisfy their wanderlust. I would also say go later in the season (after mid-Jan thru start of April) as from what I hear the snow is often better later there than earlier...
All in all a great time, enjoyed the bar at the 19th floor of Harveys, free breakfast at Embassy Suites with easy walk to Gondola, sportsbook at Harveys -- Heavenly would get a 4.5 if the ratings so allowed. Worst part is on mtn expenses -- as much as Deer Valley but far less service. $20 for (small) cheeseburger, chips, and Gatorade. Not to mention $9 Jack Daniels and $8 beers.
Was very surprised at how family friendly Tahoe was in general and Heavenly in particular; we have a 3 yr old daughter and would feel great bringing her when she is 5 to learn from ski school (wife took an intermediate lesson and they were great).
To sum it up, just go enjoy all Heavenly has to offer and don't get too caught up in what might be perfect or imperfect. If that fails, plenty of other resorts at Tahoe to choose from, and it just takes about 30mins to get there! oh yeah, if you don't have to, avoid skiing Saturday and Sunday as Heavenly does get inundated with weekend arrivals.... but thats what makes midweek so nice and peaceful!