Contact UsStanford Sierra Conference Center
P.O. Box 10618
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158 Physical Address:
130 Fallen Leaf Road
Fallen Leaf, CA 96150
During the summer when we host Stanford alumni and their families, Stanford Sierra is packed full of guests. We keep our maximum to 180 during the spring and fall conference seasons, but during the summer, we often have upwards of 250 guests! It can get pretty loud and chaotic here on serene Fallen Leaf Lake. So Bruce Campodonico, our head of maintenance (that title doesn't really give Bruce credit for all he does here), is on a mission to create hidden, peaceful spots where you can get away from the bulk of your fellow event attendees. Here is a rundown of what Bruce has created so far:Bruce and his crew built the Snooper Chalet so our 5 & 6 year-olds in the summer would have a home base. This is also where yoga classes are held. During the conference season, the Snooper Chalet is quiet. You get there by taking a left uphill when you see the cleared area on your way back to the parking lot. Behind the main lodge Bruce and his crew built a stone wall and included a nice seat. It's a nice shady area and there isn't much foot traffic, just a few of our staff members heading to and from the lodge. I think the seat built into the wall looks like a throne... During the summer it's chaos on the lakefront during daytime hours. But in the fall, it's often quiet and a great spot to read or just relax. Bruce's latest creation is a gazebo on the lake. Perfect for a romantic moment or some quiet alone time. The gazebo is between the entrance to Stanford Sierra and the main lodge. Look for the stone steps leading down to it... So if you see Bruce during your visit to Stanford Sierra say "hello" and thank him for all the cool stuff he has built around Camp!
I get regular emails from an online event website, Bizbash , and usually find some useful nuggets of information. A recent post included catering rules by top professional chef Geoffrey Zakarian. The article was my introduction to Geoffrey Zakarian, and now I'm a fan! I think his advice is great (plus he's kind of cute). He has successful restaurants in NYC and is the recent Iron Chef winner, so I think he knows what he is talking about. He also has one cookbook and another available this fall, My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients Sounds great to me, I'm going to pre-order that book! Here are a few of his catering rules and how to apply them to an event at Stanford Sierra: Create a story from start to finish - Take advantage that your event is at a Camp in the mountains. Our events are spring or fall, so plan seasonal menus and use appropriate decor. Here are a couple photos from a fall wedding where the bride and her planner did a great job with the decor and Chef Dave created menus to complement the theme of the weekendThe cocktail hour should be no more than ... one hour - Whether your guests spent the day in a meeting or out on the hiking trails, (hopefully at least a little bit of the latter!) I think the fresh mountain air makes people hungrier! So even more reason to keep the cocktail hour to an hour, then get your group up to the dining room. The best place for social hours at Stanford Sierra is in the Old Lodge and on the deck. Dress up a buffet-style table Chef Dave and his staff will take care of this for you. Let us know if you have particular requests, otherwise, we'll set our Stanford Sierra creative geniuses to work! Take care of yourself, exercise and never forget that you need to be the seemingly smartest person in the room at all times I do my best to follow the first two, and for events at Stanford Sierra, I leave the third part to Chef Dave and our dining room manager Jess. Dave and his crew create wonderful meals, then Jess makes sure the serving is seamless. Jess has added many creative details to rooms sets for our recent events. Let us know your requests for your next event at Stanford Sierra and we'll make it happen!
Next Thursday, July 31 is the last day we will accept applications for employment during the fall conference season. The season begins Sunday, September 7 and ends on Friday, November 14. Applications are available on our website. We are hiring all purpose staff, so job responsibilities include cleaning cabins, serving meals, setting meeting rooms, staffing the boat dock. etc.Charlie Powers is our conference staff director who hires and supervises the staff. Charlie has an interesting work history at Stanford Sierra. He started in the kitchen in 2005 and worked year-round through the spring of 2008. Charlie then returned to the East Coast and worked in his family's insurance business. Charlie missed the weather, snow and hiking in the Lake Tahoe area, so he returned to the Stanford Sierra kitchen in the spring of 2011. It was a fortuitous move as Charlie met Alissa, his bride-to-be. The next year Charlie was hired to be the conference staff director. During his tenure, Charlie has done an excellent job of hiring friendly, hardworking staff for each conference season. Starting with the application, Charlie is looking for applicants who present themselves well including a complete, accurate and grammatically correct application. If the application meets Charlie's scrutiny, he invites the applicant to a Skype interview. Again, Charlie is looking for applicants who present themselves well including appropriate dress for a job interview, clear and concise answers to interview questions and a friendly, outgoing demeanor. Conference season staff work hard, but enjoy many unique benefits during their two-month stint at Fallen Leaf Lake. Staff members share lakefront cabins on Fallen Leaf Lake, enjoy delicious meals prepared by Chef Dave and his staff and enjoy excellent recreation including paddle boarding and kayaking Fallen Leaf Lake, hiking in Desolation Wilderness plus friendly staff competitions including volleyball and soccer. Our spring and fall conference seasons fits well with other resort season jobs that tend to run summer and winter. If you are hardworking and love the outdoors, submit your application!
Stanford Sierra is located at an elevation of 6,377, so some guests coming to attend a conference or retreat here in the Lake Tahoe area from sea level do experience negative side effects from the higher altitude. There is less oxygen, about 16% at 6,000 feet compared to 21% oxygen at sea level, and how your body responds to this stress determines whether you notice the elevation change or not. The Trail Girl posted a thorough explanation of the effects of decreased oxygen. There are a few things you can do to minimize experiencing negative effects from the altitude:
Morgan Marshall's title is officially Head of Housekeeping, but it's clear upon meeting him that he does quite a bit more than clean toilets and change sheets. Morgan is our resident stargazing cruise expert, the go-to person for local hiking trail conditions, volunteer fire fighter, Omelet Bar mastermind and Linen Bar guru. (We'll cover his disco bingo, volleyball and improv talents in another post)Beyond his talents and contributions to Stanford Sierra, Morgan has found a way to have fun with his job and various responsibilities while putting his stamp on things. Take the Omelet Bar. According to Morgan, this isn't your "Typical Marriott omelet bar with peppers and mushrooms". While those items are options (plus 21 fruits & vegetables, 16 types of protein, nine cheeses, and a slew of sauces and extras including gummi bears), Stanford Sierra's Omelet Bar goes beyond that. With his fellow chefs Morgan created the signature 'Pro Series' omelets including the Omnivore's Dilemma, the Taco Bell, and one served in a sushi roll. For adventurous guests, Morgan will ask them to name an omelet, then he will interpret the ingredients! "Why not have fun with it? I like to think that we are purveyors of experience here." Clearly not always too serious. How many conference centers can boast whimsical omelet bars? Or a Head of Housekeeping with a tongue in cheek Instagram account. "The great part here is the latitude to put your reflection on whatever it is you're doing." This is evident within his department. From his Linen Bar during the summer family camp, which Morgan explains is more than just towels on a table (think 'Experience'), to the deliberately campy housekeeping training video he put together for staff. Morgan's stamp of quirky fun with a purpose ensures that even the expected is unexpected. Morgan points out that he wouldn't have the ability to explore his creativity without the hard work and support of Jan Schlerth, Head of Housekeeping Assistant. (We'll tell you more about Jan in a later post.) It's staff members like Morgan that help make a conference or retreat at Stanford Sierra a unique, personalized and memorable experience. Even if you don't like omelets.
Weather has warmed, the trees are in bloom and the lake is calm in the morning. This means it's time to paddle Fallen Leaf Lake! I stopped on my drive to work this morning and took this photo.We have a fleet of 12 stand-up paddle boards at our boat dock. In advance of meeting or event here at Stanford Sierra, the group coordinator chooses open boat dock hours. During open boat dock hours, our staff members will fit you with a life jacket and help you check out the watercraft of your choice. The first time I tried paddle boarding I was hooked! We bought boards soon after and spend most of our paddling time on Lake Tahoe. When I can sneak out of work, I paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake. If you haven't SUP'ed before, when water is calm is the best time. Check out our video below, Matty gives an excellent intro and some more advanced tips on how to paddle. If you want a quick lesson for your first paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake, find me in my office on the first floor of the main lodge. I would love to join you at the boat dock for a quick paddle!
Next Friday, April 18, we open for the 2014 spring conference season and welcome a group of Stanford faculty and staff and their families. The signs of spring are all around as we get the main lodge and cabins ready for our first guests of the year!With no guests during the winter, it's project season at Stanford Sierra and the crew made some great updates this year. They removed the bar in the Old Lodge and added this new sitting area. We will add final decorative touches in the next week. There was a crew of about 15 working through the winter. A few more staff members arrived this week, and the remainder of our spring staff arrive tomorrow! I'll post more pictures next week as we get new furniture in place and clean things up. Bruce and his woodworking crew made some beautiful new tables for our board room, the Tallac room and the dining room. Stay tuned!
Lake Tahoe native Ryan Goralski is a Sadhana Yoga Chi instructor and Licensed Massage Therapist who provides his services for attendees of all-inclusive conferences and retreats at Stanford Sierra Conference Center.We recently sat down and talked to Ryan: What is your current job? In my role at Stanford Sierra Conference Center, I am a yoga instructor and massage therapist for attendees of spring and fall conferences and retreats. I usually lead yoga classes in the morning, then provide massage therapy sessions in the afternoon. This will be my third season. What is the best thing about your job? It really starts on my commute to work, when I’m driving or riding my bike out to Fallen Leaf Lake. There’s no better way to start the day. I also love the Cathedral Room, where I hold yoga sessions. It overlooks the lake, but more than that, it allows me to lead the class into a sunrise session and embrace the yoga tradition. As we do sun salutations, the sun comes right over Angora Ridge and reflects off the lake. I can’t think of a better indoor location to do yoga. Seems that most folks just want to unwind or decompress from their everyday busyness... I get to guide our guests into achieving a more relaxed and fluid well-being whether it's yoga or massage therapy or a bit of both. For guests coming in the spring or fall conference season, what is a ‘can’t miss’ activity or place to see? Start off with a yoga session in the Cathedral Room, doing sun salutations as the sun rises over Angora Ridge. Certainly the views from the top of Mt. Tallac are some of the best in the universe. It’s hard to beat an early morning paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake – either in a paddle boat or on a stand up paddleboard (SUP). It’s beautiful when it’s glassy and calm. Do you have a favorite memory of your time working at Stanford Sierra? It’s hard to narrow it down to one event, because it’s always a breath of fresh air to go out to Stanford Sierra and participate in the daily activities. It’s not so much the weather, as I also love it in the rain. It’s more the experience of being in the great outdoors – you’re surrounded by incessant natural beauty and the overall experience is truly unique. Currently there is no cell service at Fallen Leaf Lake. What do you think are the benefits of disconnecting? My perspective as a health practitioner is that it’s all about creating fluidity and spaciousness in the body. Fallen Leaf Lake helps us to unfold our bodies from the closed modern gadgetry posture and open our peripheral awareness back to the natural environment. The lack of cell service frees you up to be truly open to our surroundings, helps boost creativity, and reconnects you with your higher well-being.
Dave Dennis is the Food & Beverage Director/Executive Chef for Stanford Sierra Conference Center, a position he has held for 26 of his 27 years here. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Dave worked for various French restaurants in the Sacramento area before joining Stanford Sierra.Dave is responsible for everything that happens at Stanford Sierra related to food and beverage. Dave designs custom menus for each group during our spring and fall seasons, and he orders all the food staying within budget. Dave prepares most of the food, and relies on two assistant chefs, Tara and Katie, and a pastry chef to manage the day-to-day cooking duties. Dave, Tara and Katie manage a staff of up to 15 working in the kitchen. Dave puts together the daily schedule for the staff, trains and supervises all of the kitchen staff plus an additional manager and crew for the dining room. According to Dave the best thing about his job is the wealth of great products and the great coworkers he works with on a daily basis. Dave also commented "There are not a whole lot of boundaries here. This allows me to explore eclectic foods along with various ethnicities, and it keeps the job exciting because I am not constrained. The clientele varies within each conference season and within the summer family camp, which makes my job both interesting and challenging. In the summer season it's much more than just family-camp style cuisine. It's become more upscale. Stanford alumni are requesting healthier and more interesting options. We offer many options and integrate as many organic and sustainable options as are available in our area." For the upcoming spring conference season, Dave plans to focus on Mediterranean cuisine with lots of fruits and vegetables being offered throughout the menus. Dave plans to use as much organic produce as possible, keeping things simple and fresh with limited ingredients. Dave prefers to bring out the flavor of say, wild salmon, with a few added flavors like lemon, versus a heavy, cream-based sauce. Dave also plans to incorporate more whole grains like quinoa and bulgur. We welcome any suggestions or requests for menus for your upcoming spring event!
One of my favorite job responsibilities is putting together our spring alumni programs. I get to collaborate with friendly and inspiring faculty and staff from Stanford, then participate in the programs when they happen here at Fallen Leaf Lake. Last week I headed to Palo Alto to meet with the creative teaching team for Creativity in the Wild. The team is headed by Tina Seelig. Tina has unbounded energy and I am so honored to work with her! She made us all jealous by talking about her recent meeting with singer, Jason Mraz. Tina is collaborating with Jason and other Warner Group musicians for an online class this spring, Creativity: Music to My Ears.Joining Tina for the Creative Camp are newcomers Elizabeth Bailey Weil and Justin Ferrell. Elizabeth was one of Twitter's first employees and now works at venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. In her free time, Elizabeth is an ultra-distance runner, and she was nice enough to slow down and let me join her for a run in the gorgeous hills of Portola Valley. (Coming from Tahoe, I did benefit from the abundance of oxygen at sea level!) I look forward to running the trails around Fallen Leaf Lake with Elizabeth during the retreat in April! Justin is an instructor at Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, better known as the d.school. Justin recently joined the d.school after working in journalism, most recently at the Washington Post where he was part of a Pullitzer-prize winning project. The meeting was my first with Justin and he is super nice and approachable. He is bringing his family along with him to the program in April, and they are all excited to visit Fallen Leaf Lake. Rounding out the d.school portion of the creative teaching team is return instructor Rich Cox. Rich has been a popular member of the teaching team for our alumni creative retreat for the past few years and his sessions always receive high reviews. Rich tends to sneak in some improv, and participants can't believe how much fun and non-threatening improv can be! Rich travels internationally for work, ask him about his stint in Turkey, helping the Turkish Olympic committee put together a bid to host the games! Tina, Elizabeth, Justin and Rich will bring the d.school methods to Creativity in the Wild. Past participants have commented that the skills they learned were easily transferable to both their personal and professional lives. Aleta Hayes, Stanford dance instructor, was also at the planning meeting. Each day of Creativity in the Wild Aleta will lead the group in a movement session to get everyone in the creative frame of mind. A comment from one of last year's participants describes it much better than I can: "I was not planning on liking the dance movement session so much and couldn't see its relevance before we got there. The creative "flow" and physicality of it was awesome for me. I tend to be really stuck in my head and not pay attention to my body and how opening it up can really help me personally, collaboratively, professionally, etc." The teaching team will lead workshops in the morning, afternoons are free for boating, hiking or photography sessions with two amazing professional photographers, Joel Simon and Mark Leibowitz. Evenings are for delicious dinners and fun activities including music hour in front of the Old Lodge fireplace, so bring your singing voice and/or instruments! Or you can just sit back and enjoy the scene with a glass of port. A few spaces remain for Creativity in the Wild. Email or call us if you have questions!