Deer Valley – Consistently Satisfying Skiing

Deer Valley
Consistently Satisfying Skiing

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Having lived in Southern California for three decades, I am nearly a native.  And I have been a fan of California skiing for all those years.  Whether Tahoe or Mammoth or Big Bear, I figured California skiing can’t be beat. But I have strayed recently, and I am becoming a fan of skiing in Utah.  And lately, Deer Valley has me hooked.

Part of the attraction is the ease of arrival into Park City.  One can grab an early morning flight on Southwest out of LAX and be into Salt Lake City 90 minutes and 90 dollars later.  A quick shuttle ride and you are in Park City and on the slopes by noon.  When I compare that to the 5 hour car trip to Mammoth, I find I like Utah.  And I like Park City even better when I print two copies of my boarding pass, using one to board the flight and the other for a free lift ticket for the afternoon of my arrival. Print the voucher before you fly, take it with your second boarding pass and ski free the day you arrive.  Sweet!  The deal is good at the three Park City ski resorts: The Canyons, Park City or Deer Valley.

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Although I have been snowboarding a lot the last few years, the overall quality of Deer Valley has me putting on the skis more than I expected.  Deer Valley is one of the last ski-only resorts. That is not the only reason that Deer Valley has been honored with being named the #1 ski resort in North America by the readers of SKI magazine for the second year in a row. Indeed, for the past eight years, Deer Valley's rating hasn’t dipped lower than third.

The riding at Park City’s other two resorts is excellent, but for a consistent level of quality, Deer Valley can’t be beat.

Whether you pull up to the resort by car or shuttle, the Deer Valley ski valets grab your skis while welcoming you. The parking lot is a close and an easy walk, or wait for the open air shuttle that circumnavigates the perimeter of the lot.

The ski rental crew is helpful and efficient, getting you up and out in short order. I found that the inevitable ‘ski dread’ process of gathering, fitting and donning equipment was minimized.

Deer Valley Resort invested over $8 million in improvements for the just-completed season, which only adds to the sense that the guest receives first class treatment. The resort also stands tall with its commitment to a sustainable and eco-friendly operation. "Deer Valley sponsors numerous reseeding and recycling programs and more," says Bob Wheaton, resort president and general manager. "Although Deer Valley is located entirely on private lands, the Forest Service brings tours through Deer Valley so that we can help broaden their perspectives on what we're doing here. They, in turn, have brought their concessionaires to Deer Valley and used us as an example of good management practices. The truth is, we've been working on environmental practices for years without anyone telling us or forcing us to do it. Surveys, scorecards or not, we'll continue with the environmentally friendly practices we have in place and continue to focus on adopting new, innovative programs."

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The beauty of Park City is highlighted at Deer Valley.  The skiing stretches across six mountains, the tallest of which is Empire at 9,570 feet.  I found the runs consistently groomed and well-marked.  A particularly nice touch, that I have not noticed elsewhere, is the marking of the trails on the uphill side.  I could track particularly enticing runs while riding the chairlifts. The resort offers a well-balanced array of runs, 99 in total.  Most are wide, and a few course through glades of birch and evergreen trees. Of the latter, my favorite remains Hidden Treasure.  The longest run at Deer Valley is 2.8 miles, and the resort offers a total vertical drop of 3000 feet. Part of the 2002 Olympics were held on several of the runs. The ski season runs from early December to mid-April, which is shorter than Mammoth’s season. I admit that I still like skiing at Mammoth in shorts and a T-shirt.

The food at Deer Valley is excellent.  I sampled breakfast and lunch across several venues, and the quality and value was remarkable.  For one lunch, I opted for a filling turkey chili and fries, but I should have selected the grilled salmon fillet on ciabatta with dill-caper aioli, field greens, marinated cucumbers and red onions.  Undoubtedly the best dinner I have had at any ski resort was at Fireside Dining.  Based on the European Alpine tradition, an array of dishes are offered at four fireplaces.

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The first stop was Swiss “raclette”, incorporating cheese melted from the fire, scraped onto a plate and garnished with prosciutto, chutneys and baguettes. The next stop was a bevy of stews, the best of which was a veal and wild mushroom combination.  I could have stopped there, but I eventually moved to the next fireplace for a delicious roasted lamb. A bounty of fresh and roasted vegetables, field greens and breads rounded out the meal. Dessert was a trio of fondues (caramel, white and/or dark chocolate) warmed by the fireside and ready for dipping with tart apple wedges, strawberries, pineapple chunks and the like.

From our window we saw a horse drawn sleigh bringing some lucky diners, and the Olde European imagery was complete.

Deer Valley is a classic winter ski resort, and the locals speak about the incredible summers.  I will be making return plans soon.

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Southwest Airlines 

www.southwest.com

800-435-9792

Park City Transportation


800-558-DEER (3337)

Ski Free on Arrival

www.parkcityinfo.com/quickstart/ 

800-453-1360

Deer Valley Resort

www.deervalley.com/

800-424-DEER (3337)

Fireside Dining

www.deervalley.com/dining_shopping

435-645-6632

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment and technology scene for many years. He has written for Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and once upon a time won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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