It’s already snowing in the mountains of Park City, and what mountains they are — there’s no other town in North America with three different world-class ski resorts, each well worth a visit (Deer Valley Resort, Canyons Resort, Park City Mountain Resort). In fact, it’s virtually impossible to argue against Park City as the nation’s premier ski town. Most destinations would be built on any one of this trio, but here you can ski them all, along with the nation’s largest slate of luxury lodging and Utah’s famously deep, dry powder, all car-free and just 45 minutes from the very reliable Salt Lake City International Airport. Whether you stay at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, the ski-in/ski-out Four-Star Waldorf Astoria Park City, or the luxurious boutique Sky Lodge in the heart of Park City, you’ll enjoy splendid comfort and access. There’s no ski town easier to get to, with more skiing and with better lodging — that’s a pretty formidable array. But Park City doesn’t rest on its laurels, it just keeps getting better — especially for out-of-town guests.
Perhaps the biggest change this season was the purchase of the Canyons Resort, the nation’s fourth largest, by Vail Resorts. This brings two immediate changes for visitors: The Canyons now accepts Vail’s multi-mountain Epic Pass, which includes 26 mountains in four countries, from Colorado’s Vail Mountain Resort and Beaver Creek Resort to Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Mountain Resort and Switzerland’s Verbier St-Bernard, along with resorts in Michigan and Minnesota. It’s priced so that if you take more than a single weeklong ski vacation a year, it’s a better deal than buying lift tickets. If you already have an Epic Pass from any of Vail’s 12 U.S. resorts, you ski free here. Vail also installed its popular EpicMix technology, which uses chips in lift tickets and passes to track your skiing stats, collect photos around the mountain, connect to social media and even virtually race Olympic gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn. This all comes on the heels of the nation’s largest ski resort investment in recent years, $75 million since 2010, which added the country’s only heated, enclosed high-speed chairlift, 300-acres of new terrain, several new dining options, and transformed the once staid base area with the addition of food truck-like grab-and-go kiosks and a hip new sunny outdoor après ski spot appropriately named, Ski Beach.
One of the mountain’s three luxury hotels, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The St. Regis Deer Valley, is adding an open air Mountain Terrace Pavilion overlooking the trails this winter, serving food from the resort’s casual J&G Grill and hosting its signature Bloody Mary clinics (an ode to the drink invented at The St. Regis New York). Expect teak wooden tables surrounding a fire pit overlooking the slopes, with musicians performing throughout the day.
In town, there are a couple of new additions to Park City’s already vibrant dining scene. Chef Viet Pham of Salt Lake City’s acclaimed Forage (a finalist on Food Network Star who also beat Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America), is opening a new restaurant, Ember + Ash, any day now, on the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue. Everything will be cooked with fire, including hearth-smoked, grilled, and over embers, although the menu will also predominantly feature seafood. Like his flagship, Ember + Ash will do some foraging and utilize local purveyors whenever possible. Pham’s vision is a relaxed atmosphere with communal dining, sharing, and family-style meals, plus counter seating for a more extensive chef’s tasting menu.
Another acclaimed local restaurateur, Bill White (Wanso, Grappa, Chimayo, among others), just opened Billy Blanco’s over the summer. Described as “Motor City Mexican, Burger & Taco Garage,” it has a decidedly relaxed feel modeled after a garage, complete with cars and motorcycles on hoists, diamond plate sheets on the walls and a 50-seat bar made of toolboxes. In addition to causal Mexican favorites such as tacos and burritos, the menu also features Southwestern roadhouse fare such as fried chicken and ribs, filling a surprising void in the town where most of the casual dining revolves around pizza and burgers.
Photos Courtesy of Starwood Hotels And Resorts Worldwide and Allison Wright