1. Where to Stay
Located mid-mountain in posh Deer Valley, the cushy Chateaux at Silver Lake (from $510; prices drop after March 25) places skiers just a boot-shuffle away from the high-speed quad lift to majestic Bald Mountain. The four-story hotel has a mix of spacious multiroom suites and Murphy-bedded studios, most with flip-switch fireplaces, roomy jet tubs, and homey (if generic) chalet décor.
The Treasure Mountain Inn (from $225) offers a quirky alternative to the corporate-resort competition. Rooms are owned (and therefore decorated) by individual families with varied tastes, but all make use of the hotel’s prime, top–of–Main Street location, chlorine-free therapy pool, and hand-picked DVD library.
The Washington School Inn bed-and-breakfast (from $175) sits on dead-silent Park Avenue, just two blocks from Park City Mountain Resort’s Town Lift. The 1889 landmark’s original coal-storage room has been remade into a street-level sweat lodge. Splurge on one of the top-floor suites: They’re less cramped, and their windows aren’t blocked in by the hillside. (Irony alert: This ex-school no longer welcomes children as guests.)
Easily the cheapest option in town, bare-bones Chateau Après ($90 for two people), near the base of Park City Mountain Resort, is made for ski rats who just need a clean place to sleep and (possibly) shower.
2. Where to Eat
Shabu has overcome a daunting location (stashed on the second floor of a Main Street mini-mall) to become one of this restaurant-saturated town’s most popular hideaways. Credit in part goes to Nobu Matsuhisa, who trained chef–co-owner Bob Valaika at New York’s Nobu and whose influence can be seen in “Freestyle Asian” creations like coconut-crusted tofu and the lightly tempuraed firecracker shrimp.
At Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge, the glamorous tree house that is the Mariposa draws well-heeled executives and exchange-rate-blessed Europeans for seven-course wine-pairing dinners that are either heavy on game—all the bison filet, wild-boar sausage, and rack of lamb one can stomach—or strictly vegetarian.
At the Wasatch Brew Pub on Main Street, pass up a booth and sit instead at the bar, where you can sip on a rich brown Polygamy Porter (“Why Have Just One!”) while staring through a window at seven mammoth brewing tanks.
To fuel up for a day of downhill aerobics, grab one of the reasonably priced miner’s breakfasts at the Eating Establishment, a warm, gently weathered greasy spoon on Main Street.
3. What to Do
To maximize your on-mountain time, book one of Delta or JetBlue’s early-morning flights to Salt Lake City out of JFK or Newark and drive (or shuttle) the 35 minutes to Park City. If you’re traveling between March 26 and April 15, hold on to that boarding pass: All out-of-staters are eligible for a free half-day of skiing upon arrival. (Register for the promotion here.)
The only decision left to make (and it’s a big one) is which mountain to tackle. Choose Deer Valley Resort if you’re a skier who likes to be pampered (also if you don’t like sharing the slopes with snowboarders). Centrally located Park City Mountain Resort is a mecca for rail-jibbers and funbox-fliers; its four terrain parks are considered tops in the country by Transworld Snowboarding. And for those who just want to get lost, the backcountry access and sheer diversity of terrain at the colossal (3,700 acres) Canyons Resort is unmatched.
Though each resort has admirable après-ski options, locals know to gather at these Main Street watering holes: the classy Spur Bar for a quiet cocktail, Sidecar for down-and-dirty dancing, and loud, smoky No Name Saloon for a drunken group discussion on the day’s shredding conditions.
4. Insider’s Tip
No skier likes to waste time in a rental shop. Avoid the aggravation altogether by having one of Park City’s mobile rental companies deliver boots, skis, and boards right to your hotel room. Services like Skis on the Run and Ski Butlers actually charge less for rentals than some on-mountain shops. (Plus the latter takes 10 percent off if you sign up online a week or more in advance.) If you have problems with equipment, staffers will sprint over with replacement gear.
5. An Oddball Day
If a warm front hits, head to Park City Mountain Resort a little before 11 a.m. to be first in line for the recently built Alpine Coaster, a 6,000-foot-long track that whips you through sharp bends on a gravity-propelled cart. Next, check out the resort’s off-site Gorgoza Park, where you can race kids (yours or other people’s) on inflatable tubes. The park’s seven tubing lanes are lit so you can careen straight through to dinnertime. Finally, reserve a spot inside the Canyons’ Viking Yurt, a mid-mountain dining hut reachable only by Cat-powered sleigh. A five-course meal, with complimentary spiced-berry glogg, coffee, live piano music, and—if you can still walk—a guided, pre-supper snowshoe trek, awaits.
6. Related Links
Professional free-skier Kent Hyden blogs excitedly for SkiUtah.com, focusing mostly on the twelve resorts located within an hour of Salt Lake City.
The Park Record details local disputes between snow plowers and car parkers and publishes a daily rundown of ski conditions.
Peruse Indie Wire’s Sundance archive to retrace celebrities’ steps at this winter’s festival.
On the Snow posts daily ski reports and links to lodging deals.