When Utah’s Park City and Canyons merged last year, the nation’s largest ski resort was born. That was big news for skiers, who were blown away by the resultant infrastructure offering access to 7,300 skiable acres with 300 trails across a 22-mile network connected by a whopping 41 lifts. Add to that some of the world’s best powder, and it’s easy to see why this is the Promised Land for carvaholics.
But the new and improved Park City is only part of Utah’s winter picture. About 20 minutes from Park City, Deer Valley offers equally impressive terrain in a more intimate resort. Not to be outdone in the expansion category, Deer Valley bought Solitude Mountain Resort last year and immediately improved infrastructure by cutting a new ski run and installing a high-speed quad. The acquisition is particularly sweet for snowboarders, who have traditionally been excluded from Deer Valley but welcomed at Solitude.
What does all this mean? Skiers and snowboarders of every level now have the ultimate winter playground. Read on for a few tips on making the most of the Utah winter experience on and off the slopes.
Best for First Timers: Park City Ski and Snowboard School at Canyons Village is a superb way to teach the next generation. The instructors are competent and patient, covering balance and kid-friendly stopping and turning techniques. An area at the bottom of the piste is designated for learners, who use a magic carpet for maximum efficiency during lessons. Most kids can progress to beginner level after one or two days in first-timer territory.
The school is located at the back of Grand Summit Hotel, which offers ski-in/ski-out convenience and access to Orange Bubble Express (a gloriously heated lift) and Red Pine gondola. Red Tail Grill, the hotel’s alfresco terrace, is a great spot for a lunch break and observation of the little ones in action.
Best Celeb-Spotting: If you happen to be in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival (January 19-29), pop in to Zoom, Robert Redford’s all-American restaurant on Main Street. You never know whom you’ll run into at the bar. If nothing else, the place serves the best buffalo onion rings and elk strip loin in town.
Best Aprés: The time-honored tradition of après ski is at its best at Waldorf Astoria Park City at Canyons Village. Skiers soak in an en plein air hot tub while enjoying oysters, artisan charcuterie, and chocolate-covered strawberries. The Veuve Clicquot flows, but for a true Park City experience we recommend a High West Whiskey Smash, made with the much-loved local spirit, High West Distillery Rendezvous Rye.
Best Service: For those not wishing to travel with a bunch of gear, Ski Butlers is a must. The service, which covers Park City and Deer Valley resorts, facilitates delivery of ski and snowboard equipment, including helmets, to your hotel room. A butler brings everything (including extra sizes) as soon as you arrive and conducts a fitting to make sure you’re ready for the slopes.
For clothing, Get Outfitted is an easy-to-use online rental service with top brands and full-outfit choices for the whole family. Just order ahead of time, and everything will be waiting at your hotel when you arrive.
Best Skier’s Buffet: After a morning on the slopes, you need fuel—and lots of it.
In Deer Valley, ski into Stein Eriksen Lodge for one of the best buffets in the mountains. The Stein’s Glitretind Restaurant presents a spread with creative salads, cold seafood options, carving stations, hot dishes, roasted vegetables, fish taco stations, desserts to die for …You name it, it’s there, and it’s plentiful.
Best View (and then some): The St. Regis Deer Valley offers the best views of the Wasatch and ski-in/ski-out access on the Deer Hollow ski run. The suites are exquisite, as you’d expect from the St. Regis, but the real lure here are the curated activities. For expert skiers, the resort offers a private backcountry skiing adventure with two-time Olympian Kaylin Richardson. It’s truly the experience of a lifetime.
Salt Lake World Class: The gateway city to the ski resorts is more exciting than its reputation might suggest. Salt Lake City has a burgeoning foodie scene, luxe hotels, and museums worthy of a major metro area. Hitting the city after a ski vacation has become common practice.
For old-school glamour, Grand America wins with Carrara marble, tapestries, and Richelieu furniture. Rooms are arranged around a courtyard with formal gardens.
From there it’s a walk to hipster hangouts like Eva (creative small plates and artisan cocktails) and buzzing American bistros like Bambara (try the cast iron–roasted clams).
A personal favorite is Finca, a superb Spanish resto sourcing its food from local producers and serving it in a haute-urban space.
Right: The Leonardo, a highly original science and tech museum.