Postcards From… Park City
If there’s one place to catch the tail end of spring ski season this year, it’s Park City, Utah. Founded in the late 1800s, the historic mining town located just 35 miles from Salt Lake City was once a hotbed for gold, lead, and silver. These days, the area is known for world-famous skiing and snowboarding (there’s three resorts comprising more than 9,000 total skiable acres), the training grounds for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, and the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Now, thanks to a $50 million transformation project and improvements by Vail Resorts, Inc. connecting Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort—complete with a new eight-passenger, high-speed gondola, two chairlifts, and a new restaurant—the area will be the largest ski area in the country.
But, apart from the obvious, there’s much more to this picture-perfect ski town lined with storied brick buildings (64 are listed on the Historic National Register) than ski resorts and winter gear. Park City is home to the annual Sundance Film Festival, a crop of luxury resorts, art galleries, and a burgeoning culinary scene.
By Jennie Nunn
The Montage Deer Valley features ski-in/ski-out access to Deer Valley Resort, five restaurants, a 34,000-square-foot spa, and guestrooms and suites with gas fireplaces, private balconies, and sweeping views of the mountains or valley. The 154-room Craftsman-style property also offers a slew of outdoor activities from cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, to a new Montage to Moab program, a guided day trip tour of Moab National Park or Arches National Park. Guests depart the resort via private charter plane and have a choice of one of two excursions: an 18-mile mountain bike loop and lunch overlooking Arches National Park, or a hike along the red rocks of the Windows section trails followed by a gourmet picnic. Built in 1889, the Washington School House Hotel was initially designed as a local elementary school and operated until it was ultimately sold in 1936. The 12-room restored inn, fashioned with wood floors, crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors, original artwork, and upholstered velvet wing chairs, is also replete with a heated outdoor lap pool and spa anchored by the official steel torch culled from the 2002 Winter Olympics. Going skiing? Forgo long lines and buy lift tickets on-site, and after, recharge with après drinks and snacks fireside in the ski lounge. Non-skiers can opt for guided fly fishing on the Provo River, or a yoga paddleboarding adventure inside a 10,000-year-old crater at the Homestead Resort. At the Waldorf Astoria Park City, guestrooms are equipped with fireplaces, mirrored dressers, and upholstered velvet headboards. Guests can spend an afternoon in the spa with treatments such as the Lavender Zen with a lavender and eucalyptus body scrub followed by a massage with special rose profyr stones, or sign-up for a private ice-skating or speedskating lesson with Olympic hopeful and US National team member Patrick Meek.
After a long day on the slopes or on the hiking trails, check-in for the ultimate relaxation at The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge complete with a sauna, steam room, a cold plunge pool, and jacuzzi for cold/hot circuit therapy. For sore legs, try the 50-minute Ski Boot relief with reflexology, or the Aprés Soak and Muscle Therapy with sage, peppermint, and wintergreen to soothe aching muscles. At Canyons Resort Spa, book the High Meadow hot stone therapy designed to relieve muscle tension, or the Ninety-Nine 90 anti-fatigue leg treatment using a cooling aromatic compress on lower legs to reduce inflammation and water retention.
Take a trip back in time with a visit to the Park City Museum. Situated on Main Street, the historic brick building houses a well-edited mix of artifacts from the mining days (think provisions such as canned soup and old telephones), to skiing paraphernalia spanning the decades from vintage Lange skis to a real-life gondola, and a portion of the 1960s Underground Ski Train, or “skier subway” used to transport skiers underground for two-and-a-half miles to the Thaynes Chair Lift. After, take a stroll down Main Street to boutiques such as Cake with a curated mix of clothing and accessories from cargo pants to silk blouses by Vince, Rag+Bone, and James Perse, or Flight for printed jumpsuits and select pieces by Novella Royale. Across the street, head to Rootd stocked with wares from blown-glass vessels, soy-based wax candles, a selection of design tomes, and linen pillows. Pretend to be an Olympian for a day at the Utah Olympic Park with facilities including a ski jump and the original sliding track used for the 2002 Olympics. Try the Comet bobsled, choose from two different zipline tours, or peruse two on-site museums with interactive ski exhibits, photos, maps, and artifacts. At the Kimball Art Center, check out works by local and national artists and current exhibits including Susan Cofer: Drawings from 1977-2006 highlighting the Georgia–based artist.
Headed up by Executive Chef and owner Briar Handly, newcomer Handle features handcrafted cocktails and farm fresh dishes such as the beet root salad with ricotta and Vermont maple syrup, and Idaho lamb with chestnut brown butter. The cozy space, designed by Melissa Gray, is outfitted with vintage botanical prints culled from old books, leather banquettes, ceramic-tiled bars, and industrial-style stools. For dessert, try the caramel pudding (served in a mason jar), or the stone fruit cobbler. Designed as a wink to Salzburg, Austria, with hand-carved Alpine-inspired wooden chairs, the Goldener Hirsch Restaurant is the ideal spot for a quiet dinner or après ski scene. Executive Chef Ryan Burnham meticulously prepares starters from fondue paired with green apple slices, red grapes, broccoli, and lemon potatoes, to a meat and cheese board layered with local cheeses and cured meats. Main courses range from the Maine diver scallops with celeriac chowder, to Wagyu beef bavette steak with creamed spinach and onion rings, and the Utah Steelhead trout paired with roasted fennel and quinoa. For hearty après ski bites served in a rustic setting in the Canyons Village, head to The Farm at Canyons Resort. The wood-paneled eatery serves up specialty cocktails and lunch and dinner selections from the Harvest soup with locally-sourced ingredients, to the broccoli casserole with wild mushrooms, and the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with smoked bacon and roasted garlic aioli. At High West Distillery & Saloon, take a tour (three tours offered daily), see a 250-gallon copper pot still, and learn about the small-batch mountain rocky whiskeys made in-house. Or, recap the afternoon of skiing and snowboarding with locals over drinks such as the Ol’ Smokey with high west campfire, meyer lemon, and toasted pecan simple syrup, and the Albino Manhattan with High West silver oak whiskey, Dolin Blanc, and Regan’s orange bitters.
Pictured: The Washington School House
Photos Courtesy of The Washington School House