Escape to a lavish hotel in North America’s top-rated ski resort.
Ask any skier about Deer Valley and their eyes will light up. Their excitement reveals one of two things: either gleeful memories of a recent visit there, or innate recognition of the name that has become synonymous with the crème de la crème of ski holidays.
Deer Valley is a unique ski resort tucked among the snow-capped pines of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. It is about a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport and just five minutes uphill from the pretty mountain town of Park City – a shopping and culinary hotspot that bulges with 40,000 Hollywood stars, film critics and spectators when it hosts the Sundance Film Festival each January.
Deer Valley is an almost mythical place for skiers, claiming an average 7.6 metres of Utah’s unrivalled dry powder snow each year. Immaculately groomed ski runs, gourmet dining options and legion resort hosts who refuse to let you carry your own skis anywhere have earned Deer Valley the title of Best Ski Resort in the US at the World Ski Awards for the past five years running. Notice that I don’t say “snowboard” anywhere, because Deer Valley is one of just three remaining resorts in the world that prohibit single-plank riffraff, preserving the slopes for “proper” old-school snow play.
A-listers like Dustin Hoffman, Pierce Brosnan and the Kardashians have been snapped holidaying at this top-rated resort. If you are going to check it out for yourself, why not stick with the theme and stay at the world’s best ski hotel?
Cruise down Empire lift run and click off your skis at the Montage. This five-star hotel has unrivalled ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes, two pools, the largest spa in Utah, and five dining options – including a pub with its own bowling alley. Conde Nast Traveller voted it the World’s Top Ski Hotel in 2015 and 2017, and it regularly reaches the top of Travel + Leisure and Forbes best hotel lists. And if you ski straight up to the slope-side entrance, “ski valets” will store your skis safely overnight. The next morning, as if by magic, the same skis will be lying silently on the snow, poles in the ground on either side, ready for you to click back in and ski off.
Montage offers grand luxury in a style reminiscent of America’s Old West mountain lodges. Each of the 220 guest rooms, suites and private residences feature deep leather lounges, heated limestone bathroom floors, marble vanities, deep-soak tubs and separate steam showers. The rooms averaged US$2 million each to build and furnish, but the hotel’s unique on-mountain location – which enables powder hounds to score the first turns in a virtually private ski area of medium- and advanced-level runs – is priceless.
Guests at Montage tend to rise late, so beat the crowds and hit that glorious Utah powder when the lifts open at 9am. You can recover later with a treatment at Spa Montage, or simply drink away the pain at the Veuve Clicquot Après Lounge, a cosy orange yurt adorned with fur and fireplaces, outside in the snow. You can also choose from two swimming pools (indoors or outdoors, both heated to 25 degrees), try a yoga class or hit the uber-modern gym if you’re still feeling energetic.
Refuel at Apex Restaurant (known for steak), Daly’s Pub (that’s the one with the bowling alley) or Yama Sushi (for a more refined Japanese dinner). Or throw the diet out the window and indulge at Burgers and Bourbon, Montage’s gourmet version of a classic American diner. The hotel’s in-house café Buzz offers a slightly burnt latte between 6am and 3pm, but a cup of Montage-branded drip is good enough for a fur-coated Jane Fonda, who whisks past me one morning before I have a chance to gasp.
If you don’t ski, you can book more than 30 activities through the hotel’s concierge, including snowshoeing, tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and train rides – anything but snowboarding, really. The Montage Expeditions program will even fly you and a gourmet picnic to Yellowstone National Park on a small private jet. Meanwhile, Paintbox day-care centre will keep little ones occupied with cooking, science and art lessons.
Every afternoon at 4.30pm, kitchen staff light a huge outdoor fire pit and wheel out slabs of chocolate, multi-flavoured marshmallows and long metal prongs for a uniquely American pastime: cooking s’mores. Devouring these biscuit sandwiches full of melted marshmallow and chocolate captures the experience of a stay at Montage. Warm and almost sickeningly indulgent, but impossible to leave without wanting s’more.
Rates for a Standard King room start at US$685 per night while the Summit View Four Bedroom Penthouse, which has full kitchen facilities and five bathrooms, and can sleep up to 10, will set you back US$7,500 per night.
One-day adult lift tickets start from US$135 but it is much cheaper to buy multiple days in advance. Check out deervalley.com/tickets or consider the newly announced Ikon Pass, which offers season-round access to 26 North American resorts, including Deer Valley, for US$899.