If Park City in Utah isn’t on your bucket list of destinations to visit, it should be. In addition to the Olympic-class ski slopes (the 2002 Winter Olympics’ Winter Park is a stone’s throw from Park City), the area offers luxe accommodations, world-class dining, and serious arts and culture (can you say Sundance?). Now with nonstop flights to Salt Lake City and a quick 35-minute drive to Park City, it’s the ideal time to book a trip or consider buying a vacation property in the area.
Still, when my husband and I were offered an invitation to visit, we thought, “ski?”. We’d all but abandoned the sport with a move to the Midwest and children years ago. In hindsight, we are so glad we said yes.
Montage Deer Valley
We were even happier that we chose Montage Deer Valley (montagehotels.com/deervalley/) as our home base for the long weekend. The ski-in ski-out resort property is perched at one of the highest points on the Wasatch Mountain Range in Deer Valley. If it’s possible to time your arrival to drive up the mountain to the resort after dark, do it. The towering pine trees that line the drive all the way up to the circular entrance are lit by thousands of white twinkling lights. It is truly spellbinding and sets the tone for the Montage experience, which is five-star in every respect.
Inside, you’ll find Montage’s gracious staff ready to assist in the spacious lobby that exudes understated elegance while still managing to convey an authentic mountain lodge vibe. An impressive split double staircase leads up to the grand (in both size and décor) Vista Lounge, home of late afternoon après-ski cocktails, hot cocoa and s’mores around the fire pit on the outside Vista Terrace, and an enormous roaring fireplace complete with loads of comfy leather seating areas. But that all comes later, after a day of skiing or meandering along the historic Main Street shops and eateries in nearby Park City.
It’s no surprise that all five Montage properties (including those at Laguna Beach, California and Kapalua Bay, Hawaii) were recognized by Condé Nast Traveler in 2015 with reader choice awards as The Best Hotels & Resorts in the World. Since opening its first luxury hotel and resort in 2003, Montage has become known for delivering a bespoke, five-star resort and spa experience to its guests in some of the most sought after travel and leisure destinations. The Montage Deer Valley resort was named the 17th best luxury hotel in the United States and received the AAA Five Diamond Award in 2015.
Our King Suite felt more like a spacious apartment with a separate sitting and dining area, two fireplaces (one in the bedroom), views of the mountain and ski slopes, a luxuriously appointed bathroom with soaking tub, and a separate bath complete with shower. A family of four could easily enjoy this suite.
Our day on the slopes started the next day, so we headed over to Spa Montage for the remainder of the afternoon. The 35,000 square-foot spa offers any luxurious treatment you could ask for in a serene alpine-inspired oasis. The indoor mosaic lap pool offers breathtaking views while you relax and wait for your next service. I was lucky enough to experience the new Swiss Valmont Hydration Ritual facial, 90 minutes of relaxation with a collagen infused mask to restore skin and seal in moisture. My husband thoroughly enjoyed the 120-minute Elements of Wellness Signature Experience massage.
Within Montage, Apex restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner—transforming from a relaxed dining room and pub/bar area by day to an Apex Steak by night. The full first-class breakfast menu ranges from hearty steel cut oatmeal or mountain muesli with berries to omelets and French toast. For lunch, we feasted on Apex’s elevated and hearty pub fair including the inspired house Wagyu Beef Nachos and the flavorful Apex Cubano sandwich. Dinner ranges from comfort staples like homemade chicken noodle soup to USDA prime Certified Black Angus steaks and a 48 hour bone-in beef short rib that melts in your mouth.
On our first evening, we ventured over to Mariposa at Silver Lake Lodge within Deer Valley Resort (deervalley.com/things-to-do/dining/the-mariposa). Rated No. 1 in Utah by the Zagat Restaurant Guide, this tried-and-true restaurant is known for its rustic elegance (complete with wood burning fire), classic and current cuisine, and award-winning wine list.
If you only get to have one lunch in Park City, opt for High West Distillery (highwest.com), a cult favorite among locals and repeat visitors. The rustic distillery operates along with a saloon and restaurant in an old livery stable. Known for its handcrafted spirit cocktails, I had to sample the Lonesome Dove, a hot toddy of sorts made with housemade Rendezvous Rye Whiskey, apple brandy, rum, allspice, maple, with a dollop of duck fat butter on top. It’s quite a rich, buttery experience with a serious kick that will warm your insides. For lunch, the Chicken Schnitzel is a house favorite and the burgers, with High West’s own proprietary blend of meat, really are decadent and worth every calorie.
Also in town, Riverhorse on Main (riverhorseparkcity.com) was a special treat for dinner on our last night. The restaurant is a 17-year recipient of the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Award. With its trendy urban/rustic vibe, live piano music, and historic setting in Park City’s renovated Masonic Hall, the dining room overlooks charming Main Street with pedestrians strolling the sidewalks lit by glowing shop windows. We enjoyed dishes, like the local rainbow trout, from the inventive array of upscale American cuisine and rotating seasonal dishes crafted by executive chef and co-owner Seth Adams.
Skiing and Outdoor Activities
Since we were staying at Montage, we were treated to the service of Compass Sports, located on the lower level. The knowledgeable staff outfits you for a day on the slopes if you are renting equipment. We went for the opening weekend of ski season in early December so skiing in and out from Montage wasn’t yet an option, but we could see the lift right there outside of Compass Sports and envision a return visit in our future.
At 7,000 feet above sea level, Park City is home to two ski resorts: Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort. For this trip, we selected Deer Valley (deervalley.com), named “Best U.S. Ski Resort” by the World Ski Awards for six consecutive years. As promised, our ski gear was ready and waiting (with toasty boots) on the shuttle out front and before we knew it, we were at Snow Park Lodge at the base of Deer Valley. We were greeted by the uniformed ski valets who helped us disembark from the shuttle, carry equipment, and direct us where to go. It was a very welcome added perk to the experience at Deer Valley.
Despite our earlier trepidations, we got our ski legs back in no time, thanks to the approachable mountain and the expertly groomed and numerous intermediate trails. New snow the night before made it a truly enjoyable day with breathtaking views of the mountains. Expert skiers won’t be disappointed either, although we steered clear of the black diamond slopes.
If you happen to come in February, the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle, Freeski World Championships are held at Deer Valley, Park City Mountain, and Solitude Mountain resorts.
And, the Park City area is a desirable destination any time of the year with loads of activities to choose from during spring, summer, and fall. We could imagine visiting again for hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, fly fishing, hot air balloon adventures, horseback riding, food and wine events, and the many arts, music and cultural festivals that abound. The Utah Symphony moves up to Park City for the summer and, of course, Sundance Film Festival takes place here every January to February.
Exploring Park City
We saved Sunday to explore the charming and historic town of Park City (visitparkcity.com) with its picturesque Main Street dotted with art galleries, upscale shops, and myriad eateries. If you happen to ski at Park City Mountain Resort, you can ski in and out via the “Town Lift.” It’s not unusual to see skiers walking through town on foot with skis over their shoulders to hop on the lift, or take a trail down just to have lunch.
After dinner, we popped in and out of the eclectic mix of art galleries, jewelry stores, and shops selling high-end clothing and ski apparel (pack your Gorsuch and your Pajar après ski boots and you’ll fit right in). I admired a framed print of a vintage issue of Ski Magazine with Robert Redford (founder of Sundance Film Festival) on the cover (circa 1970s) expertly gliding down the mountain. Many local, western, and national artisans are also represented throughout the galleries and shops.
It was bittersweet to take that drive along pitch-dark roads to the twinkling lights beckoning us home to Montage for our last night. It’s a magical luxury destination worth visiting again and again.