Photo: Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley
You would be hard-pressed to find a cooler winter destination in the American West than Park City, Utah. The place is not only filled with alpine adventure activities (Salt Lake City did play host to the 2002 Winter Olympics, after all), but it also serves as host for the annual star-studded Sundance Film Festival — and of course, aprés-ski drinks and cozying up by a fireplace make for a seriously romantic getaway.
That's not to mention that Park City is also one of the most newsworthy destinations this year. The reason why involves some complex business, but to put it plainly, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) was acquired last fall by Vail Resorts and this season marks its reopening after $50 million in capital improvements. (Yes, Vail, the destination, is also a company that owns "mountain resorts" like Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge, in Colorado; Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood, in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; among others).
By combining Park City and nearby Canyons Resort, PCMR is now the largest ski destination in the United States, with more than 3,000 runs (not counting the 101 on Deer Valley, right next door), and new amenities like an eight-passenger high-speed gondola to get you from one mountain to the next. Plus, there's also an adorable village filled with stylish shops and farm-to-table eateries. With so much to do, we took the liberty of narrowing down the best of the best. Here's how to spend a long weekend, aka a minimoon, in Park City:
If you're coming from the East Coast, book the earliest departure into Salt Lake City to be on the ground by midmorning. Grab an Uber Ski vehicle and make the quick, 40-minute drive to Park City, which is home to a number of lodges and private vacation rentals. Our favorite is the super luxe Montage Deer Valley. Set right on the mountain, this ski-in-ski out resort is bursting with amenities to keep you busy (or not busy, if you're the pampering type). Book a room on a high floor overlooking the slopes — but each suite is outfitted with a private balcony, gas fireplace (turns on at the click of a button, very cool and did we mention romantic?), and oversize tub, so it doesn't much matter where you post up.
Purchase a half-day lift ticket to Deer Valley at Compass Sports, the local ski outfitter located in a sprawling 7,000-square foot facility at the Montage. There you can also rent equipment, buy stylish gear, and book private (for you and your hubby) or small-group lessons (if a ski bachelorette is why you're here). The best part is the "ski concierge," who will actually help strap you into your (pre-warmed) boots and lay out your skis just a short scoot from the Empire and Ruby lifts. (Expect sugar cookies and warm apple cider when your return to drop off your equipment later.)
Book a table at Montage's fine-dining restaurant, Apex, which features mountain-chic décor, stunning high ceilings, and seasonal dishes like spicy tuna tartare, seared sea scallops with truffle jus, and Snake River Farms wagyu steak and frites.
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Lifts are open! Buy a one-day pass to Deer Valley and cruise down groomed runs ideal for intermediate to advanced skiers. (The ski-only mountain is known for meticulous grooming and an abundance of manageable blues and blacks.) Among the best runs to test out: Keno, Nabob, and Orient Express, on Bald Mountain, and Supreme, Orion, and Domingo on Empire Canyon.
Chances are you're hungry, so make your way to either Snow Park Lodge at the base of the mountain or Silver Lake Lodge mid-mountain. Thaw off as you take your pick among comfort foods before heading back out on the slopes.
As the lifts start shutting down for the day, it's time to indulge — and there's no place better than the spa at the Montage, which, at 35,000 square feet, is the largest in Utah. Book a couples massage in a room overlooking the mountain, or head to the indoor pool for laps and a jacuzzi soak with your man.
Locals dine early, so grab a complimentary shuttle from the Montage and make the quick drive down the mountain. Park City is a historic mining town, so expect a quaint, one-lane Main Street with an old-time vibe. Hopefully you won't wait long for a spot at the bar at High West Distillery & Saloon, a throwback Western tavern with hundreds of whiskeys on offer. After a drink (or two) head to Handle, a popular tapas-style joint around the corner (don't miss the shaved brussels sprouts, beef cheek sliders, and fried chicken with bok choy).
Order an Uber Ski and head to PCMR. Good news: Park City has already received 238 inches of snowfall this year, which is expected to continue through the spring season because of current weather patterns caused by El Niño— so get ready to test your skills on a new set of runs.
Make sure you're back at the resort in time for complimentary s'mores and hot chocolate on the Vista Patio (served until 5 pm). But these aren't your average marshmallows — plan on roasting flavors like peppermint, vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice for a gourmet pairing with graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate (both milk and dark, of course). After that, it's time for a soak in the heated outdoor hot tub and pool — but don't forget to order a Park City Moscow Mule to cool you off.
Head back to town for a reservation at Tupelo, a new farm-to-table restaurant on Main Street. Request a table on the third floor for a more secluded ambiance, and order delicious plates like housemade Ricotta with honey and black truffles; farro and butternut squash risotto; and pan-roasted Skuna Bay salmon.
Don't head back to the room at the Montage just yet; instead, park yourself in the mid-lobby lounge for a nightcap and live music performance by a local artist. If you're in town on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you're in luck — singer-songwriter Jarett DeCarl is on the mic, and his rendition of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" will stop you in your tracks. For added romance, settle into one of the secluded fireplace-lit libraries — the homey vibe will abate even the worst case of the "Sunday Scaries."