Renovated inn captures mountain, family feel |

Renovated inn captures mountain, family feel

Tahoe Vistana Inn marketing director Deb Kelly and her grandchildren, Miles and Charlotte Kelly Caruthers, maintain a family friendly feel for the hotel. They spend afternoons at the property’s pool, meeting guests and making friends.
Courtesy Jenny Luna |

In the building frenzy that prepared Tahoe for the 1960 Olympic Games, the Charmie Chalet was built across from the lake in Tahoe Vista. Now under the name Tahoe Vistana Inn, the property still holds much of the same charm that it did 54 years ago.

“It really has that retro charm of the 60s,” said Deb Kelly, marketing director of the hotel. Deb’s sons, Bill and Kevin Kelly, bought the property with Matt Dill last year. The hotel needed some major renovating and the Kelly family was up for the challenge. In the short span of one year, Tahoe Vistana Inn has remodeled rooms, increased amenities and new ideas to bring in guests. Through social media and monthly newsletters, Deb said more people are coming to the Inn. Reservations have nearly been filled for the summer.

“It’s been a really fun adventure,” Deb said. “Every week we learn something new.”

Learning the hospitality business and anticipating guests’ needs has been “a learning curve,” Deb said.

“I’m a futurist, I see different potentials of how this place can be designed and created.”
Deb Kelly, Tahoe Vistana Inn

“Last year was difficult but this year has been such a pleasure,” Deb said. “Everything has gone well.”

Much of the year’s success Deb attributes to the helpful front desk staff. Gabi Taft came to the Tahoe Vistana Inn with six years experience in hospitality and has helped create the family friendly atmosphere so enjoyed by the guests.

“The staff here feel like it’s their own,” Deb said. “They really take personal responsibility in keeping guests happy.”


The Squirrel House is the property’s signature suite that sits at the highest point of the four-acre plot. The suite has new windows, flooring and furniture with granite counter tops in the bathroom and kitchen.

A large sliding door made from an old pier, once-gnarled and now smooth branches have been crafted into cupboard handles and the regal bed with the three dot signature on each bed post indicates artistry — unmistakably the work of Roundwood Furniture.

Andy Cline and his team were specifically sought to build the furniture for Tahoe Vistana Inn. Deb said she hopes to keep working with Roundwood and make all the rooms in the likeness of The Squirrel House.

“I’m a futurist, I see different potentials of how this place can be designed and created,” Deb said. “The more we add to it the more we can make it a destination.”


A young Swiss family stayed at Tahoe Vistana Inn last week and commented about feeling right at home. The children shot off water guns while their parents reclined in white lounge chairs near the Jacuzzi. Deb talked with the adults about vacations she has taken to Switzerland and her grandkids, Miles and Charlotte, and made friends with the Swiss children. The couple had come from Salt Lake City and were on their way to Yosemite. Booking a room at the Tahoe Vistana Inn online just a few days before arriving was convenient, they said, and they liked the small-town feel of the hotel.

“The rooms are lovely,” Roland Schedler said. “They are remodeled and so nice.” Roland and his family came from Zurich, where they said the pace of life is much faster than Tahoe and the people aren’t quite as friendly.

“People here are friendly,” Roland said. “Of course we are in the mountains, and it is different.”

Deb said in the past year Tahoe Vistana Inn has hosted guests from places as varying as Brazil, Belgium and Hawaii. Visitors enjoy renting bikes or kayaks from the Inn and taking them to the water. Deb hopes, with superb customer service and memorable rooms, each guest will cherish their experience and return to Tahoe Vistana Inn.

“Someday this place will be world renown!” she said with a laugh.


No matter where they are from, most guests’ favorite thing about the Inn is each hotel room is more like a small house in the woods. Being across from the lake and in the coverage of the pines can be a positive aspect to the location.

“People really feel like they’re in the mountains,” Deb said. “It is very private.”

Out of the 28 rooms, some come with full kitchens, some sleep up to 14 people and others have small patios with straight shot views of Mount Tallac across the water. As Tahoe Vistana Inn continues to renovate and upgrade, Deb said the owners are mindful to keep the small town feel alive.

Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. She can be reached at

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