Home Energy Management South Lake Tahoe’s Desolation Hotel Inspired by Owner’s Passion for the Environment

South Lake Tahoe’s Desolation Hotel Inspired by Owner’s Passion for the Environment


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIF.—If you think you see a tree while walking along the outdoor deck of Maggie’s Restaurant at the Desolation Hotel in South Lake Tahoe, you are not imagining things. The outdoor deck of the restaurant is wrapped around a live pine tree. It is just one example of how Desolation Hotel founder and owner Chet Pipkin attempted to leave the site of his eco-luxury micro resort as unscathed as possible. Trees that had to be harvested from the site where a motel once stood were repurposed for the hotel’s construction. Additional lumber from offsite came from responsibly managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The 21-suite Desolation Hotel is named after the Desolation Wilderness near which it resides. Maggie’s Restaurant is named after Maggie’s Peak, a mountain in the Lake Tahoe area. The hotel is inspired by preservationist and pioneer John Muir and Pipkin’s own appreciation for nature.

“The environment is always something I have been attracted to,” Pipkin says. “My favorite spot on Earth may be Yosemite National Park. “I feel my best when I am working in the forest.”

A First for the Former Tech CEO

For Pipkin, the founder and former CEO of tech company Belkin, Desolation Hotel is his first hotel built from the ground up. He previously partnered on the purchase of an existing mountain resort in South Lake Tahoe.

The front desk

“A lot of my tech work has been around sustainability,” he says.

Technology is certainly key to the operational draw and success of Desolation Hotel. The hotel has a solar panel system in place that has a rating of 3.65 kilowatts. A battery back-up system harvests the solar energy with the capacity of 18 kilowatt hours. “Tahoe has an abundance of sunny days,” Pipkin says, so adding solar made sense.

The property has 31 EV charging stations (14 Tesla chargers & 17 ChargePoint Stations) available to guests—the highest concentration of electric chargers at any hotel or commercial property in the region.

“Everything we did there was focused on energy efficiency, the guest experience, then the total cost of ownership,” Pipkin says. “We selected the equipment that was the most efficient.”

Local Suppliers Emphasized

Using local suppliers was important to the project. “We selected local sustainable builders,” Pipkin says. Where possible, local construction materials were used, and local artists supplied art and sculptures.

The Alpine Room

Other green touches include a saltwater pool, the maximizing of natural light, and a setting within walking distance to South Lake Tahoe’s best experiences, including a private beach along Lake Tahoe, skiing, hiking, and mountain biking trails. The fitness center is Peloton-outfitted and there is a Jacuzzi and Port Orford Cedar sauna. Maggie’s restaurant and bar offers near 360-degree views of the nearby mountains.

Food options at Maggie’s range from fresh pastas made from scratch to ethically sourced game meats and produce from local farms.

“We’re providing an immersive luxury destination that offers guests the opportunity to both relax and to get out and adventure,” Pipkin says.

When asked if another Desolation Hotel is a possibility, Pipkin said, “If the appetite is there, we could see more.”

Glenn Hasek can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.