Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Park City Scene

Courtesy of Park City Mountain
Second stop on spring Utah trip: Park City, one of my favourite ski towns in the world! Not only is the skiing terrain in North America's top two in terms of acreage, it also sports a picture-perfect historic downtown with the prettiest pastel architecture, tons of great après both there and at the satellite village of Canyons Park City, and the only Waldorf Astoria on snow - all linked up by a free bus system. With chairlifts handily going over the centre of downtown PC, this could easily be the model ski town. 

Watched a fab moguls competition at Park City
Following a granola berry breakfast at Jupiter Java at Park City base, we skied all day in crowd-free bliss, despite the fact that it was a sunny, bustling Friday. If you stick to areas in what I call 'no man's land' between Park City and Canyons around the Cloud Dine area, you can be sure of slopes to yourself. A massive 130 runs are groomed over the 7,300 skiable acres each night, so there's masses to choose from as well as all the ungroomed advanced terrain - such as Thaynes bumps, McKonkeys steeps and Jupiter Bowl. Skiing through the most popular lunch period (12-1), we stopped for a later libation at Summit Lodge, which has reasonably-priced, large and tasty soup/chili and salad combos ($20), great views from the patio and window seats, and the bounty of having loos on the main floor - after three or four hours skiing, I admit to disliking stairs to access the facilities!

Canyons Orange Bubble Chairlift (heated) and a relevant run for us!
After an hour or so notching up more afternoon gnar, we skied down to Canyons Village for après. Disappointed that there's no wine to be had at the central outdoor bar which has weekend live music, we went instead to the sun-drenched patio at Red Tail Grille where I happily discovered perfect Prosecco and amazing nachos as well as a great chatty couple - Cathy and Chris Baglieri - whose table, and life stories, we shared.

Heated walkways around the pool and hot tubs - Courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Park City
Repairing to the Waldorf Astoria, we checked in speedily in order to have time for a decadent dunk in one of the spacious outdoor hot tubs (surrounded by wonderful heated walkways) before getting ready for dinner at Powder, the ultimate smart-casual blend both in terms of ambiance and menu motif. Think high-end and city-stylish but comfortable and unpretentious, with a melodious mix of local and global mountain influences care of new chef, Michael Zachman. Such delicious food - from the locally-sourced Wasatch meats and cheeses on the charcuterie platter to the succulent buffalo steaks and venison to the amazing array of desserts that we unfortunately had no room for. 

Our apartment, by the way, was just as dazzling as the last time we stayed here around five years ago. Huge, grand, dark woods and tile, lovely lights and decor finishes, lofty ceilings, glamorous bathrooms, scenic balcony overlooking the Wasatch Mountains, and - bonus when you're on a lengthy ski safari - big washer and dryer. Only used the commodious kitchen and dining area for making tea and coffee but it could have supported a large family for Christmas dinner! It's no surprise that the Waldorf Astoria Park City won US Best Ski Hotel at the 2017 World Ski Awards in Kitzbuhel and also made the top three in the World's Best Ski Hotels. Other bonuses include the exceptional ski valet department and the extended golf carts that take you from the front door to the Waldorf's own gondola which links with the Park City lift system. The Waldorf also works with Ski Butlers who fit skis, snowboards, boots and anything else you want to rent in your hotel room and then take it all down to the ski valet for you. You're on your own, though, once you hit the slopes!! No butlers on the black runs. 

Glam lobby at the Waldorf Astoria Park City

Waldorf Astoria Park City's Pow Day Beer
Courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Park City
Our second ski day, being a sunny Saturday with great snow, we were on crowd and queue avoidance tactics and keeping to the Canyons side worked perfectly. Slopes to ourselves, wide variety, lots of locals' tip offs from cheery chats on the chairlifts and a beautiful balmy bluebird day. I was following the advice, too, of Facebook friend, Angela Kwiatkowski who had told me about the runs around the Silverlode Express and Miners Camp area (which I had done on the Friday) and Canyons' Quicksilver Gondola. "Canyons is just beautiful," she says. "Going down runs surrounded by large pine trees with the smell of pine in the air, and the warmth of the sun on my face." Angela stayed right at the Park City Mountain Resort where she had a great room and was able to hop on the bus to head out to Main Street for après. "I loved Main Street and all the locals were more than friendly, wanting to talk my ear off about anything and everything," says the Wisconsin native. "I actually thought about moving to Park City for a quick second. I definitely will be going back because there is just too much area to cover in one stay to really feel like I've experienced it enough. Also, I fell in love with a breakfast joint on Main, called Atticus Coffee, Books & Teahouse. Tree of Life bowl had me hooked. Also, No Name Saloon is a great place, and Wasatch Brew Pub."

Tombstone Yurt, Canyons area Park City
Steven Buchko
Back on the mountain: I loved the Tombstone Yurt, set back in a wooded clearing by the Tombstone Lift. And I also noticed a second Yurt - the Viking, available for sleigh ride dinners - at the top of the Crescent Express on the Canyons side of the Quicksilver Gondola. As usual I was on the lookout for bright ski suits and bumped into one lady wearing a colourful shirt from the Park City logo store. But the best coup of the day was meeting newbie snowboarder Steven Buchko in a one-piece pineapple-printed chartreuse suit made by OOSC - a new brand to me. "I bought it partly because at $220 it was cheaper than buying a jacket and separate pants," said Steven who was on his third day on a snowboard. "My friend took me straight on a blue run on the first day but I managed to get down and I'm really getting into it now. I think it is quite an easy cross over from waterskiing and wakeboarding." As he managed to exit the chairlift without bringing the whole group down like Dominos, I was inclined to agree. 

His first ever run was Kokopelli, in the Canyons side of the resort, and it remains his favourite: "t was cool to see my improvement on that run from the first day to the last. Overall, it was just a great experience hanging out with a bunch of close friends."

Steven, who lives in Austin TX, stayed at The Canyons, cooking in some nights and eating out in downtown Park City quite often. "All the food was delicious - High West distillery definitely lives up to the hype," he said. "My stay was awesome! It was my first time snowboarding, and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it. The runs were great, it wasn’t too crowded, and everyone there was extremely friendly. On top of that, the views were out of this world."
Canyons Village outdoor beer garden
Nothing could compare with Friday's feast at The Waldorf, so dinner that second night was purposely down-market - burgers at Drafts Sports Bar which actually were excellent (wide range of choices included turkey and garlic versions), served with top quality customer service, great house wines and a fun relaxed atmosphere. Another cushy extra at The Waldorf, by the way, is free rides to anywhere in Canyons Village. And the public bus to Park City and Deer Valley stops right outside the heated foyer where you can wait outside on sofas around roaring firepits. 

Qualtrics Summit Ski Day at Park City
Another draw for me to Park City is the annual Qualtrics Summit Ski Day, always on the last day of the conference which I attend with my husband, Dr Simon Hudson. Over 2000 of the 7000 delegates took up the offer this year for free skiing and lunch. A fabulous finale to a great week of inspirational speakers and whimsical wow factors, courtesy of one of Utah's fastest growing tech businesses. The conference, which has grown four-fold since its first year, now brings over $6.5million in SLC hotel spending as well as priceless positive PR for the whole area. And who would not love a conference that has ski and boot pickup right at the registration desk in the Salt Palace Convention Center

Courtesy of Qualtrics - from X4 Summit 

New Last Spring at Park City Mountain
Spring festivities officially began on March 3 as Park City Mountain kicked off its Spring Concert Series and six straight weeks of free, Saturday afternoon concerts at both villages. At the end of March, Park City hosted the first annual Pink Park City charity event and the rocking resort closed out the 2017-18 ski season with the much-loved Spring Grüv festival and 22nd annual Pond Skimming competition.      
NEW Music with a View Series   
New this season, Park City Mountain debutted 
Music with a View, an on-mountain, lunchtime concert series presented by Verizon. On Saturdays throughout March, favorite local Park City bands including Motherlode Canyon Band and Lash Larue performed at on-mountain restaurants including Red Pine Lodge, Mid Mountain Lodge and Miners Camp.  
NEW Spring Chef Dinners at Legends Bar & Grill
Legends Bar & Grill hosted a series of Chef Dinners on Tuesday evenings in March, involving a five-course, prix fixe menu designed exclusively for the evening by the talented Legends' chefs. Select dishes included pan seared sea scallops with vanilla beurre blanc, lemon foam, blood orange caviar and squid ink tuile, and herb crusted beef tournedo medallions with a grapefruit scented demi glace.
Courtesy of Park City Mountain

This winter, Park City Mountain is encouraging skiers and snowboarders to Seize the Season and take advantage of early-season benefits. From opening day through the Christmas holiday, the resort will kick off the season with special events and a variety of offers including discounts on dining, lodging, spa treatments and rentals. It’s a great time to take a few runs, warm up those legs and log in the first few après ski sessions of the season. More information here.


High Meadow Park Beginner Learning Area
Debuting this season, the new High Meadow Park at Canyons Village offers guests a dedicated learning area designed exclusively for beginner skiers. The existing High Meadow four-passenger lift has been replaced with a high-speed, four-passenger lift, increasing uphill capacity with a ride time of only three minutes. Additional snowmaking added throughout the area will further ensure ideal snow surface conditions for learning. Three new adventure trails animated with carvings of local animals and wildlife have also been be added for guests to explore as they progress in skills. 

Mid-Mountain Lodge Transformation
Park City Mountain’s iconic Mid-Mountain Lodge has undergone an extensive transformation complete with a new full-service bar. Housed in a recently renovated 19th Century boarding house, Mid-Mountain Lodge now offers Park City's most discerning diners a fresh take on alpine dining. A thoughtful menu features flame broiled rotisserie meats, hearty grain bowls, comforting soups and over-the-top signature sandwiches, all perfectly paired with one of Utah’s only on-mountain, full-service cocktail bars. Add in a cozy deck framed with stunning views of the Uinta range, Mid-Mountain Lodge is redefining what it means to eat on the mountain. 

Cloud Dine Restaurant Expansion
New for the 2018-19 season, Cloud Dine, which was completely remodeled in 2014 as a modern, mountaintop bistro, will gain an additional 200 seats to increase guest capacity by more than 60 percent. Located on Dream Peak, this ski-in, ski-out restaurant offers guests amazing views of the Wasatch Range and an entirely new concept in on-mountain dining. Cloud Dine remains one of Park City Mountain’s most popular dining locations and the new addition will ensure that the guest’s dining experience at the location is elevated to match the superior quality and presentation of the food.         

Added Snowmaking
Park City Mountain has the most expansive snowmaking system in Utah ensuring world-class skiing conditions all season long. For 2018-19, new snowmaking will be added to High Meadow Park that will help maintain an ideal snow surface for beginner skiers and snowboarders. Snowmaking will also be added to Red Pine Road, a major intermediate connector trail off of Tombstone Lift.

2019 FIS World Championships
Park City, Utah, has a proud tradition of innovation and excellence in hosting international skiing and snowboarding events. This February 1-10, Park City will host the 2019 FIS World Championships in snowboard, freestyle and freeski. Park City Mountain is the official host venue for snowboard and ski halfpipe, slopestyle, big air and parallel giant slalom with venues at the Park City Mountain Village and Canyons Village.

Expanded Epic Pass

The Epic Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted access to Park City Mountain and 18 other mountain resorts plus additional access to 46 more, including 20 new mountains for the 2018-19 season. Discover 65 of the world’s premier resorts throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria. A variety of pass products including the Epic Local Pass are available online at Keep checking the site - you never know when a new resort might be added! 

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Courtesy of Park City Mountain