We just returned from a fabulous long weekend in Park City, Utah, to check out the “new” Park City Mountain Resort. Vail Resorts recently acquired Park City Resort and Canyons Resort, and over the summer they joined the two with a new eight-passenger gondola, creating the largest ski resort in the U.S.
I’m thrilled to report that, as expected, Vail Resorts has done a phenomenal job of merging these two world-class ski resorts and making them even better. They have invested more than $50 million in capital improvements. The combined resort now has over 7,300 acres of skiable terrain on one lift ticket. And the best news: It’s obvious that families are definitely top of mind.
This new giant offers excellent skiing and boarding for all abilities, with more than enough trails to keep everyone from getting bored. In order to attract and maintain the loyalty of more and more skiers, Vail Resorts has created the Epic Pass. This season pass is good at all Vail Resorts properties: Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City Mountain Resort in Utah; Kirkwood and Northstar in California; Heavenly on the California-Nevada border; Perisher in Australia; and several smaller properties in the Midwest. In other words, it’s a really good deal!
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In the past, families had to choose between two very different home bases. They could either stay in the former mining town of Park City to enjoy many restaurants, shops and galleries, or at the base of Canyons, the largest of the area’s three resorts, for proximity to the slopes.
Now they can stay in either spot with easy access to the interconnected terrain. The lifts and trails of Park City Mountain Resort come right down to Main Street, essentially making the entire town a ski-in/ski-out base.
Two new luxury boutique hotels have opened near Main Street since our last visit. We visited the Washington Schoolhouse hotel and fell in love. It is the best of both worlds, located on a quiet residential road a short walk from Main Street, but with ski-in/ski-out access to Park City Mountain Resort via the Town Lift. This is a nice addition to the already wide range of accommodation options available, from condos and private homes families can rent through Park City Lodging to on-mountain luxury resort hotels at both Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.
Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley Resort had a new building project underway at the time of our visit. The beautiful ski-in/ski-out luxury condos, with 5-star amenities, are scheduled to open in December 2016.
In addition to the excellent options at Deer Valley, the stunning new Miners Camp Lodge at Park City Mountain Resort offers artisanal salads made to order — not the chicken tenders and greasy fries of the old days. Not only did Vail Resorts up the game on the food options on the mountain but their architects really got it right with the design. This is the first ski lodge I have seen where the bathrooms are on the same level and the entire facade has floor-to-ceiling windows, so all 500 indoor seats can enjoy the stunning view of the mountain. On warm days, there are an additional 200 outdoor seats.
High West Saloon & Restaurant, the only ski-in/ski-out distillery in the U.S., is a great intown option for families. Enjoy the fires outside for apres-ski, then head inside for wonderful western mountain fare. Reservations are suggested, as it is a very popular spot. Families with older children should try Riverhorse on Main, which features live music most nights.
There’s something special about reconnecting with the outdoors en famille. During our visit, we met many families who have been coming to Park City for generations, and we got the sense that family time is valued above all else. With the myriad activities for skiers and non-skiers, plus the wide selection of lodging and dining options, families might want to rethink that trip to the Caribbean for spring break.
Editor’s note: Sandy received a media package from the Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau. As always, our thoughts and opinions on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Sandy Pappas.
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