Summer Camp for Very (Very) Special Adults
It didn’t hurt that the day before leaving my daughter for a mildly significant period of time she was having some separation anxiety issues. Loudly.
I mean, I guess it should have hurt when she was crying, “I want to bring Mommy,” to my husband as he scooped her up and stuck her in one car while I drove away alone in the other. But I knew she’d survive for the 45 minutes that we’d be on opposite ends of town. And I knew the cacophony of her howls meant we were both really ready for a break from each other.
The next day my husband and I got on a plane to spend three days and two nights without her. It’s the first time in her entire life that she and I have been apart for more than 8 miles and 16 hours. Ironically, our final getaway destination was family friendly, but what made it even friendlier to me was that I was alone with my husband for the first time since August 2008.
Martis Camp in Lake Tahoe, Calif., is where I want to come back and never leave in my next life. Where we stayed was called a cabin, but it was just a cabin in the same way that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is just a residential address.
Being in the lap of luxury in a $2.2 million retreat made being really away from my daughter for the first time that much easier. (That and the memory of the last diaper I changed before leaving for the airport.)
The comfort level of the bed was up there with the comfort level of the cloud on which Mary Poppins powders her nose at the beginning of the film: Once you’re on it you wonder why you’d ever possibly need to be anywhere else — ever. Particularly since attention to every detail in the bedroom and the rest of the cabin appears to have been attended to by no less than a full team of A-list interior designers, architects, lifestyle gurus, Feng Shui experts, gourmet cooks, concierges, sommeliers and Keebler elves.
It was my first time to the Lake Tahoe area and I’d always imagined it would be the like the old commercials for the Mount Airy Lodge in the Poconos — seemingly chock-full of heart-shaped bathtubs and crabs (of the inedible variety). And the truth is, if the Mount Airy Lodge and Lake Tahoe are, indeed, a magnet for the movers, shakers and swingers of the 1970s, I still wouldn’t know.
Martis Camp is one of those places where it’s really easy to envision yourself living the (really, really, really) good life. It’s like where the other half of the 1 percent live, but not in a Donald Trump gilded and tacky kind of way that drips of new money and third wives with trout-like lips and big, expensive labels pasted on their purses and butt pockets.
No, Martis Camp, a 2,000+ acre resort with the capacity for 653 single-family homes that must be built in a style that complements the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains, is like one big Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware catalog: the amenities and furnishings are splendidly tasteful and perfectly and luxuriously rustic while at the same time not too flashy or ostentatious.
But of course it’s much more expensive than anything in a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalog, even though the homes and facilities themselves are places in which Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware would give their left eyes to shoot their catalogs. You know, so that when you flip through the catalogs you imagine that by buying one chunky hand-knit throw you can live the life that looks so easy and breezy between their pages. But the reality is that you’d need the entire catalog and the money behind the companies that produce them to duplicate that life.
In fact, Martis Camp is actually more like a Porsche SUV. The SUV part because it lets you know that it drives cars just like the regular folk, and the Porsche part to let you know that it just does it better. Like, much, much, much better.
If I golfed, I would have no doubt been ecstatic about the Tom Fazio-designed golf course. But I was just as blissed out by a treatment in the spa that puts The Greenbrier or Miraval to shame, and the opportunity to breathe in the soft bed of pine needles that line the grounds under the spectacular trees that dot the entire property. There’s also private ski access to Northstar-at-Tahoe, a full soccer field, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, playgrounds, pools, sand volleyball, bocce ball, croquet, a labyrinth, LEED-certified library and more fire pits than in a “Terminator” box set. It’s contrived to look contrived-less, and it does its job to the nth degree.
The family barn reminded me of that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie W magazine photo shoot from years back where they were made to appear as a family from the 1950s. Through rose-colored glasses, it was awfully hip and sleek, as if everyone and everything during that era understood the irony of their cool-factor.
From a two-lane bowling alley, movie theatre, art gallery, old-school pinball machines, the original set of Hardy Boys books in the seriously tricked-out kids lounge (that made me feel bad for a second that we didn’t bring our daughter, but just for a second), and an authentic soda fountain, it’s all the best parts of the mid-20th century, minus the threat of Communists dropping a bomb.
And the whole experience really did feel like camp. That is, if the camp I went to in Maine when I was a kid had a flawlessly designed cozy amphitheatre in which artists like Lyle Lovett play, and where 10,000-square-foot homes can be considered intimate getaways.
It was so nice it seemed a shame that my daughter wasn’t there to enjoy it, too. Although not really. Which was kind of the point.
Written by: Columnist, freelance writer/editor and brain surgeon. Meredith C. Carroll
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