Town & Country
“One to watch”
One important note: Deer Valley is located in Park City but is actually a few miles away from the town's well-known commercial center, which is lined with Victorian-era buildings. With a population of 8,000 full-time residents, Park City officially encompasses about twelve square miles, including the Park City Mountain and Canyons resorts as well as Deer Valley. It's also home to the Utah Olympic Park, where you can ride a bobsled, just as the athletes did in 2002.
The resort is a straight thirty-six-mile shot, mostly on Interstate 80, from Salt Lake City International Airport. One of the area's claims to fame is that you can hop an early-morning flight from New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles and be skiing by lunchtime. On this trip I tried a different tack: I flew out of New York in the evening and was in bed at my hotel by 10:00 p.m. The next morning I awoke refreshed and rested and ready for a full day on the hill.
There's no need to rent a car. Several good limo services provide airport pickups and drop-offs. I used the Park City–based All Resort Express (800-457-9457; allresort.com). The Deer Valley transportation system, at the resort, is reliable, efficient and easy to use. The Park City transit system runs continually throughout the day. Parents I met who were traveling with snowboarding children (Deer Valley is one of four U.S. resorts that prohibit snowboarders) were happy to put them on the bus and let them head off to the Canyons or Park City Mountain Resort for the day.
The ninety-nine trails at Deer Valley Resort (800-424-3337; deervalley.com) encompass more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. Ticket sales are limited and private ski instructors are hard to come by during peak times of year. When I was there last March, the children's center was sold out for the season. Book everything with skier's services before you arrive.
Park City's oldest ski hill, Park City Mountain Resort (parkcitymountainresort.com) is home to the U.S. Olympic ski team and has a lift that runs up from the center of town. Its 3,300 acres drop more than 3,000 vertical feet. There are some beautiful high bowls and long, meandering intermediate trails, along with a handful of supersteep runs on the front side that are groomed daily and promise a fun, fast ride. Though some of the lifts and facilities feel a bit dated, there are great perks, like the Fast Tracks ticket, which allows visitors to use express lines — a bonus on weekends, when the crowds can be huge — and the online Personal Mountain Planner, which lets skiers map out their day in advance.
With 155 trails and 3,700 acres spread across eight peaks, the Canyons Resort (thecanyons.com) is now Utah's largest ski area, with bowls and chutes and miles of long, groomed cruisers that wind past aspen groves and enormous slopeside homes. Because of its setting, the property attracts a youthful, high-energy crowd — this is where snowboarders come to get big air. But it's had a checkered ownership history; after years of operating as a nondescript little ski hill, it reopened in 1997 as the Canyons under the stewardship of the American Skiing Company. This past summer the Talisker Corporation, parent of the Talisker Club, announced plans to acquire the Canyons, but at press time the deal had not closed.
Where to Stay
Deer Valley's top accommodation, Stein Eriksen Lodge (rooms in high season from $735; 800-453-1302; steinlodge.com), is really 180 privately owned condominium units that are operated as a first-class hotel. In addition to the sixty-eight suites and 112 rooms, there is a spa, the elegant Glitretind restaurant and the Troll Hallen Lounge. My spacious one-bedroom suite had a fully equipped kitchen, a marble bath and a wood-burning fireplace.
The Deer Valley Lodging group handles a variety of condos and private homes at the resort, including the Chateaux at Silver Lake units, done in a French-country style, and Black Diamond Lodge, whose spacious one- to four-bedroom units rise up the slope from the Snow Park Lodge in the lower village. (Condos from $475; 800-453-3833; deervalleylodging.com.)
If you don't need to be at the resort, the four-year-old Hotel Park City (cottage suites from $400; 888-999-0098; hotelparkcity.com) is comfortable and conveniently located on the Park City Club golf course (ideal for cross-country skiers), a short shuttle ride from all three ski areas. The most coveted rooms are the new cottage suites, which sit apart from the main building. Though somewhat dark, the rooms have dreamy featherbeds, flat-screen TVs and handy kitchenettes.
One to watch: the thirty-three-unit Sky Lodge fractional-ownership club (rooms in high season from $925; 888-876-2525; theskylodge.com), billed as Park City's first luxury boutique property, will debut at the end of this month.
Where to Eat
ON THE MOUNTAIN: The best spot for lunch is at the midmountain Royal Street Café, in the Silver Lake Lodge (7600 Royal Street; 435-645-6724). Reserve a table downstairs and watch the action on the hill while dining on juicy turkey burgers. Save room for the warm chocolate brownies with malted-milk ice cream for dessert.
My favorite spot is the Mariposa, also in the Silver Lake Lodge (435-645-6715). On this trip I started with a fresh crab over pea shoots in a wasabi-soy-ginger sauce, moved on to seared yellowfin tuna and finished up with the restaurant's signature Chocolate Snowball, a dense chocolate cake dressed in a whipped-cream ruffle.
For a real treat, be sure to try the Fireside Dining experience at Empire Canyon Lodge (9200 Marsac Avenue; 800-424-3337). The interior is decorated to look like a Swiss mountain hut, and the menu offers Alpine cuisine. There's everything from raclette to rösti to stews and spit-roasted meats — many of the foods are prepared in the enormous fieldstone hearths — as well as three kinds of dessert fondues.
DOWNTOWN PARK CITY: Even if you're staying at Deer Valley, you'll want to save a couple of nights to dine in town, where the Victorian buildings of sloping Main Street now house an animated mix of bars, restaurants and art galleries. One of my favorites is 350 Main Street (435-649-3140; 350main.com). Chef Michael LeClerc's New American brasserie is a lively spot. A loyal local following comes for such tantalizing entrées as coffee-rubbed pork tenderloin and black-pepper-crusted venison medallions. Another good choice is the pretty Wahso (577 Main Street; 435-615-0300; wahso.com), one of five establishments owned by local restaurateur Bill White. The decor, all Asian artifacts and antiques, evokes 1930s Shanghai. The food is delicious and perfect for sharing — try the Malaysian-style pot stickers.