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Skiing in Park City, Utah: Ski tourism has boomed following the Olympic GamesOctober 30, 2006 By: Dan Butcher Travel Agent
With many top-notch resorts within 45 minutes of Salt Lake City, Utah is a convenient winter sports destination. Its 13 developed resorts average between 300 and 500 inches per year of the champagne powder that the Rocky Mountains are famous for; Utah can make a legitimate claim to their slogan, "The Greatest Snow on Earth."
Salt Lake City offers very nice accommodations and excellent restaurants within easy driving distance from seven major resorts (the three Park City resorts and the four located in the Cottonwood Canyons east of town). Clients can stay in Salt Lake and ski or ride a different resort every day (although Deer Valley and Alta do not allow snowboarders). The city, despite its teetotalist reputation, does have a variety of clubs and bars for nightlife, though many clubs require visitors to buy a temporary membership to enter, usually $4. Visit www.visitsaltlake.com for information.
The headquarters for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association is in Park City (www.parkcityinfo.com), and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games raised the profile of the resort town. Kelly Wallace, a mountain vacation specialist for Ski.com, says that the town's tourism has boomed in the past few years. "Park City is currently our second most popular ski destination after Snowmass [CO]," she says. "That wasn't the case five years ago."
The Utah Olympic Park is a huge draw, as visitors can watch athletes in training, visit the Alf Engen Ski History Museum and the 2002 Eccles Winter Olympic Museum, go bobsledding or extreme snow rafting, ride the zip line, or join a Nordic ski race or biathalon shoot.
For peak season, Wallace advises agents to book early, at least a month or two in advance. She warns that virtually every motel room in Park City is booked during the Christmas-to-New-Years period, as well as President's Day weekend and during the Sundance Film Festival in mid-January. March attracts Spring Break crowds and people looking to take advantage of late-season discounts. The first half of December almost always offers excellent snow conditions without the crowds that will come later in the month. As a bonus, you can often get discounted lodging rates during that period. Essential Links
The three Park City resorts are The Canyons, the Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. Visitors showing a same-day airline boarding pass, a completed redemption coupon and photo ID can receive one free lift ticket at any of those three resorts. The Silver Passport offers access to all three and is available for three to seven days, from December 2, 2006, through the end of the season (with December 26, 2006, to January 1, 2007, blacked out). Call 800-453-1360.
The Canyons Resort is the largest ski and snowboard resort in Utah and one of the largest in North America. Located just four miles from Park City's historic Main Street, the resort is a personal favorite of Wallace, who praised its vast, varied terrain and the fact that it rarely gets too crowded. "During a trip with friends last year, we just about had the mountain to ourselves," she says.
For the upcoming season, there have been over $10 million worth of improvements and new features. The resort will open more than 200 acres of new terrain serviced by the DreamCatcher quad lift. The central Tombstone Express lift has been upgraded from a quad to a high-speed six-pack chair that will increase its capacity by 52 percent. Dining on the mountain is also being revamped, with an expanded second floor at the mid-mountain Red Pine Lodge.
As for slopeside lodging, construction on the Silverado Lodge will be completed by December, providing an additional 200 rentable units at the base of The Canyons. The resort manages two high-quality properties: the Sundial Lodge (866-604-4170), with one-and two-bedroom condos and a rooftop hot tub, and the Grand Summit Resort Hotel (888-591-5138, [email protected]), a AAA Four Diamond Resort. The highlight, however, is the Westgate Park City Resort and Spa, a 185-unit luxury condo-hotel offering such amenities as an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, two hot tubs, Papillon the Spa, ski valet and concierge services, complimentary area shuttle, child care, bicycle rentals, fitness center, arcade, pool tables, playground, tennis and basketball courts, Pizza Hut Express and the Westgate Grill, with gourmet American fare and mountain views. Their villas range from standard to four-bedroom, and feature high-speed wireless Internet access, a private balcony, whirlpool tub, wet bar, washer/dryer and kitchen and dining areas. The best room to book is the palatial, 3,000-square-foot Presidential Suite, which has four bedrooms and an additional hot tub on the deck. The agent contact is Debra Kosaka, sales manager (435-940-3964, [email protected]).
For guests who want the convenience and creature comforts of staying right in town, recommend the Park City Mountain Resort, with 15 lifts (including one picking up and dropping off guests on Main Street) accessing nine bowls, world-class terrain parks, the Eagle Superpipe (the largest in North America) and 104 runs on 3,300 acres. New for the upcoming season: the Online Personal Mountain Planner mapping web tool, the Kids Signature Programs mountain club with guaranteed small class sizes (either three or five children per instructor), the Silver Star triple chair lift and an exclusive five-year contract with Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White, who trains at the resort. Contact the Reservations Center at 800-222-7275.
The best in-town accommodations to book for clients are at the Hotel Park City, a luxury ski and spa resort located on the Park City Golf Course with direct Nordic ski access and complimentary shuttle service. The property is a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World. All 54 suites feature majestic mountain views, king-sized feather beds with a large leather sofa sleeper, fireplaces, a private balcony or patio, jetted tubs, Bulgari amenities, a Bose surround sound entertainment system with DVD player and T1 wireless Internet access. Call 435-200-2000, 888-999-0098, or visit www.hotelparkcity.com.
Skiers will appreciate the $7 million in improvements that are new for '06-'07 at the Deer Valley Resort, including the Sterling chair lift (upgraded from a triple to a high-speed detachable quad), improved amenities at Snow Park Lodge, access to additional glade skiing off the Sultan lift and 50 new snowmobiles for the Summit Meadows Adventures program.
The resort will host the FIS Freestyle World Cup, January 11-13.
Make sure your clients know that Deer Valley does not allow snowboarding. Agent contact is Erin Grady, communications manager (435-645-6522, [email protected]).
For ski-in/ski-out luxury condominium accommodations with après ski activities and excellent dining options just steps away in Deer Valley's Silver Lake Village, book Mont Cervin Plaza, which was completely remodeled for the 2005 ski season. Each condo features a kitchen equipped for gourmet cooks, daily housekeeping service, a private deck with hot tub and a fireplace. The best room is the three-bedroom penthouse.
For information or reservations, call 800-519-5789, 435-649-6606, or visit www.montcervinplazaatdeervalley.com.