Ready for a snowball fight?
We are in the outdoor hot tub at the Montage Deer Valley (www.montagedeervalley.com) in Park City, Utah, as that famous Utah powder is dumped on our heads.
Three little boys are having a spirited snowball fight on the other side of the hot tub. Of course, you can have as much fun off the slopes as on at a snow resort, especially in January, which is designated as Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (www.skiandsnowboardmonth.org) with special programs at resorts around the country.
Vermont, for example, is touting $29 packages, including professional lessons, equipment rentals and a beginner lift ticket at resorts all over the state (www.skivermont.com/learn) while each of Utah’s 14 resorts offer special discounts and deals for beginners (www.skiutah.com/winter/deals/deals/lssm).
We’ve chosen Deer Valley (www.deervalley.com), five minutes from Park City, Utah’s historic Main Street (www.visitparkcity.com) and just 40 minutes from Salt Lake City National Airport. Though Deer Valley is known for its groomed terrain with six peaks, there are plenty of expert caches to discover, as long as you aren’t snowboarders – no snowboarding allowed here). Deer Valley also is famous in ski country for its food.
We also have the opportunity to explore Park City, from the Park City Museum that tells this town’s story from mining to snow sports (underneath the ski slopes there are some 1,000 miles of mining tunnels) to the Utah Olympic Park (www.olyparks.org), where you can hitch a ride down the length of the Olympic bobsled track. Park City boasts two other huge ski resorts, Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort.
I’m just glad for the rare opportunity to spend some just-us-girls-R-and-R with my daughter Reggie, who lives in San Francisco, and her college roommate.
The Montage has everything from great views to great places to cozy up by the fire (we loved the Vista Lounge with live music and the hotel’s own microbrew) to great eats (the farm-to-table Apex restaurant is awesome for breakfast, as well as dinner, complete with Utah Trout and foraged mushrooms).
The Paintbox offers organized kids’ activities should parents need a break – maybe at the 35,000-square-foot spa (ready to surrender your stress with a customized treatment) – as well as a lending library of books. No wonder this place is packed with families! Everyone loves the big pooch who is the resort mascot.
To get to know the mountain better, you can sign on for a complimentary tour with a Deer Valley Mountain Host. My daughter Reggie joins an expert tour on a powder day and reports the guide took the group through glades and trees and areas she never would have found on her own. I also loved Deer Valley’s kids’ trail maps complete with fun facts about local critters. Did you know a raccoon’s hands are so nimble they could unlace a shoe or that deer can move their ears in any direction without moving their heads? There are fun games to do and some runs kids love like Bucky’s Humps or the Enchanted Forest.
There are plenty of luxurious options to stay at Deer Valley – sumptuous condos, a one-bedroom suite complete with private hot tub at Stein Eriksen Lodge, with its newly renovated spa and emphasis on wellness (there are teen treatments, too, if your getaway includes a teen) and the St. Regis Deer Valley.
I worried, in fact, that Deer Valley would prove too chi-chi for my wilderness-loving daughter. I shouldn’t have. The Montage proved the perfect respite where we could catch up, relax and indulge ourselves a bit.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
We wake up to more snow. The girls can’t wait to get out there.
To get to know the mountain better, you can sign up for a complimentary tour.