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The Golden Touch

Travel

Written by
Julie Arnan

When Utah hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, becoming only the third location to do so nationally, athletes flocked to the Wasatch Range, pushing up from the edge of the Great Salt Lake, and discovered luxury upon luxury. First, there is the natural gift of “The Greatest Snow On Earth®” (seriously, it’s trademarked). Hundreds of inches of perfect white powder fall on Utah’s ski resorts annually. It’s so good that normally dedicated employees around the West Coast are known to contract “ski fever” with uncanny regularity.

And then on top of nature’s snow candy, the entire area has been tailored for luxury-seeking adventurers. Following in the golden Olympic spotlight, here is your guide to fantastic accommodations, indulgent activities, and delicious food and drink near the three resorts christened by the 2002 Winter Olympic athletes.

 

Park City

Perhaps the best-known resort in Utah, Park City Mountain Resort is also the biggest at 7,300 skiable acres now that it has combined with neighboring Canyons Resort in a 2015 $50 million merger and upgrade by its new parent, Vail Resorts. That kind of real estate means days and days of skiing bliss, discovering new trails via the spanking new eight-person Quicksilver Gondola and enjoying old favorites cruising up the heated-seat Orange Bubble Express.

Park City is a great family destination and offers many additional activities like bobsledding at the Utah Olympic Park, a 4,000-foot ride on the Alpine Coaster or a thrilling trip down the Flying Eagle zip line. Or take a tour through Park City’s historic Main Street. 

For luxurious accommodations, look no further than the Waldorf Astoria located at the Canyons Village base of Park City and offering private gondola rides to Canyons Village, a cozy year-round outdoor pool and gorgeous views of the mountain through enormous windows. Schedule an ancient Ayurveda-inspired treatment at the Waldorf Astoria Spa to ease away any lingering soreness from your day on the slopes. Those looking for more private lodging should check out the exceptional homes available in the Colony—a gated community operated by Resorts West. Think private hot tubs, spacious interiors, game rooms, in-home theaters, ski lockers and, of course, ski-in/ski-out slope-side access. 

Park City (the town) offers oodles of high-end shopping, restaurants for days and more than 100 bars (proving false the rumor that Utah is a dry state). High West Saloon pours liquid gold nightly in the form of house-distilled whiskey flights. High West’s Campfire has been making waves on both sides of the ocean, featuring a proprietary blend of ripe bourbon, mature rye whiskey and smoky, peaty Scotch whiskey. Pair with a plate of High West pork “wings.” Also in town, Handle uses locally sourced, (mostly) organic ingredients arranged into small plate American fare that is sure to satisfy. Think sweet corn-glazed pork belly, buffalo-style cauliflower, crispy duck egg and lemon-ricotta pappardelle. 

In Canyons Village, take in a beautiful meal at the Farm. The charcuterie board is possibly the best experience of its kind, loaded with paper-thin meat slices, cheeses, pickled vegetables, mustards, chutneys and bread.

 

Deer Valley

Located adjacent to Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley is a crème de la crème ski resort known for its service (note: snowboards are not permitted at Deer Valley). The runs are immaculately groomed. Private homes dot the slopes—two, belonging to brothers, have an ongoing comical rivalry involving raccoon and black bear sculptures that delight even older kids (like adults). 

Deer Valley is flush with fabulous accommodations like the Stein Eriksen Lodge, the Montage and the St. Regis, along with condo-style options at Black Diamond Lodge. New this season, the Stein Eriksen has added “Residences” to its portfolio. Fifteen stunning homes and 40 condos located mid-mountain come with five-star concierge and amenities in addition to the ultimate ski-in/ski-out situation. Reserve a session at Utah’s only five-star spa—the 23,000-square-foot space at Stein Eriksen Lodge. Ease sore muscles with alternating hot sauna/cold pool plunges or a nap in the relaxation room.

At the Montage, guests can choose from more than 20 sizes and styles of room options and dozens of wellness classes in addition to pampering spa treatments. Launched this season, Montage Expeditions takes the Utah experience to a whole new level with private flight day trips to southern Utah in celebration of the National Parks centennial aboard a Pilatus-12 craft complete with a chef-prepared lunch.

As if luxury options were lacking, there is also the St. Regis hotel, a brand synonymous with the good life. The sparkling year-round heated infinity pool and rocking kids’ club are slam-dunk family pleasers.

Each hotel has its own high-end restaurant (Glitretind Restaurant, Apex, J&G Grill), but even the ski resort restaurants located on the mountain have been thoughtfully designed around top-notch cuisine. The Royal Street Café is a great place for a lunch order of short-rib tacos. For a unique dining experience, make reservations at Fireside Dining. Four roaring fireplaces serve as service stations for each course. Diners make their way from one to another at their leisure (and going back for seconds is encouraged). The Swiss-style raclette cheese station mesmerizes diners who stop to stare at the ooey-gooey strands of melting cheese. Step outside for a brisk horse-drawn sleigh ride before heading to the dessert course (melted chocolate fondue, of course!).

 

Snowbasin

Snowbasin may be the least-known resort of the Gold Medal trio, but that’s a plus for skiers looking for a less crowded mountain. Located near Ogden, Snowbasin has some of the best runs and views in the area. Its unique terrain-based learning area caters to brand-new skiers who will be catching air up top in no time.

Grab a post-run beer at Cinnabar, a grand lounge decorated with red Italian Murano glass chandeliers. For dinner, drive the 25 minutes to North Fork Table & Tavern located in Eden for panoramic views of the valley and fantastic food—seriously, the crispy brussels sprouts will change your life; but then again, the vermicelli bowl, tavern wings and bison rib eye are almost as amazing.

There are no big hotels located at the resort, but just down the hill are some choice townhouse-style accommodations at Lakeside Resort. Expansive three-level homes offer views of the nearby lake and Powder Mountain in the distance. 

Insider’s tip: Rent skis and other equipment through Ski Butlers. A trained professional will meet you at your hotel room and fit you with skis, boots, helmets, etc. If you have a problem with a piece of equipment, they will come to you to refit or exchange items. At the end of your trip, simply leave the equipment in your room and a Ski Butler technician will retrieve it.

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