Friday, March 29, 2019

Powdery, Playful, Picturesque, and Popular Park City #PCski

Park City Playtime - Courtesy of Park City Mountain 

Olympian Kelly Clark showing one of her gold medals to
Dr Simon Hudson at Qualtrics' Park City ski day
For about the eighth year in a row I included Utah on my ski season itinerary. It’s a mountain must: almost always incredible snow conditions (especially this year); so many unique distinctive resorts to choose from (every year); great value for money (still); easy and unbelievably close access from Salt Lake City Airport with direct flights from so many international and domestic hubs (always increasing); slowly gentrifying and expanding resorts (with character and style); and lovely lifestyle-likeminded people (rooted in the charismatic culture). As usual my trip was partly business, partly pleasure – but with a very fluid, indistinct dividing line. In fact, I enjoyed every bit of business as much as the pleasure, really fulfilling that whole ‘bleisure’ concept I started writing about many years ago.

You could say the first component of the trip was ‘business’ – attending a conference - but it was definitely the most entertaining work of all time:

Qualtrics Quotient

What can I say? Qualtrics Experience Management Summit held annually in Salt Lake City must be the cushiest conference in the world! It’s an event in itself, an inspirational experience, and an interactive entertainment, facilitating transformative motivation for everyone there. Qualtrics’ Summit X4 attendees got to watch live arm chair chats with President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Ashton Kutcher, and Sir Richard Branson and learn about dance psychology from playful Professor Peter Lovatt, live experience management from StubHub president Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, and employee experience from the Disney Institute. “Qualtrics Summit X4 is all about breakthrough experiences,” said Ryan Smith, charismatic CEO and co-founder, in his opening address. “With over 11,000 people here this year, this is the largest gathering of experience management professionals in the entire world by a long way.”

Masterpiece or Mess? Whatever, it was fun doing it!
Eclectic evening entertainments included an interactive art reception where we all got to paint while snacking and quaffing. Then there was ‘Fight Night’: a street-style dance battle between top TV dance stars hosted by tWitch from The Ellen Show and Cyrus Spencer from So You Think You Can Dance and raising money for 5 for the Fight’s cancer research. Tony Hawk and team set up a mega skateboarding demo on a huge half pipe, topped off with a private concert from Imagine Dragons

Wow, that medal weighs a ton! Me with Kelly Clark at Park City Mountain
To cap it off in true @skiblogger style: a ski/snowboard day at Park City Mountain Resort with photo opps with Kelly Clark, three-time Olympic medalist in snowboarding and dominant force in halfpipe perfection.

On the Qualtrics shuttle bus, I met Ipsos Market Researcher, Trevor Clarke who started his working life as a manager (for eight years) of the Nordic Centre at Horseshoe Resort, Canada. This confirmed his as a backcountry, telemark, Nordic “Bush Skier”, he says. His latest skis are Altai, named after the ancient ski-hunters of the Chinese Russian borderlands. His take on the Qualtrics Summit: “The best part was meeting some of the others in the partner network of Qualtrics and understanding, learning. Oprah was good – I didn’t think I’d ever listen to Oprah with interest for an hour. I’m definitely coming again next year.” When I asked him if the Park City ski experience was the icing on the cake he said: “The ski day is a valued bonus, I sure enjoy it.”

With Qualtrics now merged with SAP (for a cool $8million), anyone in the fields of experience data, operational data and experience management can attend this annual Salt Lake City extravaganza – go to to find out how. As Ryan said: “Take some time for yourself to learn outside of your discipline.”

Perhaps this guy should heed Ryan's advice and take more time to learn outside his discipline!
Pond Skim at Park City last year - Photo by Justin Olsen/Courtesy of Park City Mountain

Quintessential Qualtrics Quotes X4 Summit:

“I’m a person that looks forward rather than looks back… a born optimist. My attitude is to give everything I can to solve a problem” - Sir Richard Branson - latest brainwaves: Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and Virgin Voyages.

Qualtrics Question: “Raise your hand if you are in the biggest job you’ve ever had in your life” – Ryan Smith (lots of hands raised). Answer: “I can’t raise my hand” – President Barack Obama (big laughs)

Party Posing - Photo by D Campbell/Courtesy of Park City Mountain 
“We can’t leave it to governments to sort out the world’s problems. The first thing you do is draw a circle around yourself and make sure you are looking after yourself: fitness, health, the right balance. Yes party, but not so the next day you’re longing for the following day. Then increase the circle a bit bigger around your family, your friends, the street outside your house, make sure that old lady who has no friends, you give her a hamper at Christmas. As you get more successful you can draw a bigger circle still, ultimately round the whole world, and use your entrepreneurial skills to help tackle big problems” – Sir Richard Branson, whose first business - at age 15 - was a magazine to help stop the Vietnam War.  

“I’m old fashioned - I believe in facts and reason” - President Barack Obama (This got a laugh to which Obama responded: “Clearly we have a fact-based crowd here and that’s good”)

Can't beat this "fascinating learning experience"
Photo by Dan Campbell/ Park City Mountain 
I just see every day as a fascinating learning experience” – Sir Richard Branson

“By taking your ego out of what you do, it’ll liberate you and you’ll perform better” – President Obama

“Let’s not be another boring tech conference, let’s provide everyone the best experience they could have” - Ryan Smith

Powder Paradise at Park City - #PCSki
 Pure Craving: how I feel about Park City. However much I get, I always want more! As well as America’s biggest lift-served ski territory, it’s such a beautiful resort and the town is pastel picture-perfect. With a free bus service linking up Canyons Village, Park City Mountain Resort, and the Town, no-one really needs to drive (although many do, especially up from SLC which is only half an hour away) and there are buses to Deer Valley too - although it is not on the Epic Pass (yet!)
Park City Lifts - Photo by Dan Campbell/Park City Mountain

Hubby, Simon at Park City

Love the Town Lift which scuds above the historic buildings, whisking townies into the revitalizing ski domain! How lucky are those who live right near that lift with the bonuses of ski town culture and the mountain lifestyle linked by the panoramic 13-minute ride. 

I met one such lucky local who owned two adjoining condos, living in one and living off the other rented via AirBnB. Jealous! You all know my plans for next season by now – to live in a ski resort for most of the season – well, Park City is in my top three targets. Anyone renting anything out from early Jan to end of April, please contact me on

Here’s what I discovered this March at Park City:

Mid Mountain Makeover – Now rigged out in a lovely white exterior with dark grey window and door trims, Mid Mountain Lodge looks exactly like its former 19th century mining motif. Inside a similar Modern Victorian theme pervades with dark wood accents and fabulous faux fur throws on some of the dining chairs (a ski lodge first)! 

As well as casual but classy cuisine, there’s now a fully licensed bar for draft/craft beers, an array of wines, a creatively-concocted cocktail collection using local liquors, honey and colourful garnishes – and the whole vibe is more upmarket and city chic but on the slopes. “Try the Poke Tuna Bowl,” says Park City’s Jessica Miller. “And definitely stop for a cocktail. It’s very unique in Utah to have an on-mountain full service bar – more like New York City.”

Booze News – Just like ski resorts across North America, opportunities to drink top wines, beers, and liquors are blooming at Park City. For wine, there’s Old Town Cellars on Lower Main Street. “It’s been there two or three years now,” Jess explains. “There’s a cool, local vibe and a city loft feel, wit and it’s run by two local guys who grew up in Park City. I go there a lot for the wine tastings, or a glass or bottle. You can ski there from the Town Lift.” Fifteen mins outside Park City centre is High West Distillery, famous for local whisky and vodka, and it also has an outlet in town. “At the Blue Sky Ranch, High West is also opening a new auberge property in May, super luxe with fishing and horseback riding as well as the skiing and the distillery. Great for weddings,” says Jess. Elsewhere around town there’s the new Alpine Distilling, specializing in gins and vodkas for the past two years. Breweries are blossoming, with Park City Brewery, Wasatch Brewery, and Squatters Brewery contributing considerable craft creativity. “Although the BAC level was just lowered for drink driving tolerance, this isn’t really an issue at Park City as once your parked for your stay you never need to drive,” says Jess. “It’s so walkable here, you can ski in/out everywhere, and there’s also the free regular bus shuttle system.”

Charcuterie Platter at The Farm Restaurant, Park City - Courtesy of Park City Mountain
Decadent Dining - The Farm at Canyons Village. “It’s one of the best restaurants here, a treat place for locals especially when friends and family come to town,” Jess recommends. “It’s local farm fresh food, it sometimes gets forgotten as it’s not on-mountain but you get solid, high quality and it’s not super flashy.” On Main Street, she favours Firewood, opened two years ago, for fragrant food cooked over wood fire stoves.

Five5eeds - The Hulk Smoothie Bowl
Cafe Culture – Aussie-inspired coffee stops in Park City include Five 5eeds which was recently expanded due to popularity: think avo on toast, chia pudding, smoothie bowls as well as the full range of caffeine confections. Also Aussie-run are Campos Coffee and Harvest, both serving high quality coffees, and moving into the gut-healthy Kombucha tea realm.  

Galantis at Park City Live
Music Mayhem – Check out O.P. Rockwell, a music hall-style cocktail lounge and concert venue featuring eclectic acts, small bands and a wide variety of genres. “It’s got a prohibition feeling with traveling acts,” says Jess. “Tickets are affordable, around $20, attracting lots of locals. Also, The Spur is fun at weekends with live local bands from 10pm and lots of fun and dancing until 1.” Park City Live is another gnarly nightspot, with DJs, bands, various acts.

Cake Boutique, Park City

Shopping – Head to Historic Main Street for cute boutiques and galleries, mostly high-end set in pastel Victorian converted houses. 

“It’s intrinsically western and historic, very authentic with a mix of home grown and luxe brands,” Jess describes. “It’s also intersected with coffee shops and bars, and there’s a free trolley up and down Main Street if you get overburdened with bags.”

Shops include clothes, sportswear, jewelry, t-shirts, spa, cowboy boots, home wares, books, gifts, deli, fine arts, olive oil, leather and fur, wine, sheepskin, socks, furniture, liquor, consignment, and photography.

Mining Tour at Park City - Courtesy of Park City Mountain
History Buffs – Main Street also houses the Park City Museum – a one-stop history snapshot of the area. On-mountain, there’s the Silver Slopes Historic Mining Tour – a fun way to tour and understand the mountain. Free with your lift ticket, tours run every day at 10 am and 1pm and you get a commemorative pin – as well as your own cool pictures!

Washington School House Hotel, Park City
Ski in/out – Almost everywhere, but The Grand Summit Hotel at the Canyons Village base is probably the closest to the action, right by the Orange Bubble. There’s also Marriott’s Mountainside and, by the Town Lift, Marriott’s Summit Watch right on Main Street. For the ultimate ‘Modern Victorian’ boutique experience there’s the Washington School House Hotel.

View over Jupiter Peak - Photo courtesy of Park City Mountain
The Rundown - “Best blacks are off Jupiter Peak, especially on a pow day, and 9990. This is the most iconic advanced terrain at Park City,” says Jess. “A hidden area – again great on pow days – is Peak 5 and Super Condor in Canyons, which is also good for a steep groomer on non-pow days.” For glade runners, those off Peak 5 are “pretty gnarly” and there are also fun, wider glades in McKonkey’s Bowl and, the sometimes overlooked, Blueslip Bowl off the Pioneer Lift. She recommends Boa for a long, fun, beautiful blue and Kings Crown as a “fun gripper”. “In the King Con area – that’s an old mining term - you can loop blue runs and the express lift makes it fast so you can squeeze in ten runs very quickly,” she adds. “In the Canyons area Dream Peak has awesome views and great blues.” The ‘no-man’s land’ around The Colony residences between Canyons and Park City is also great for a variety of pitches which seem to attract very little crowds even on busy weekends. There are over 330 trails (of which 115+ are groomed each night), 17 peaks, 3226 ft vertical, 10026 ft summit elevation, and the base is at 6800 ft. Average snowfall is 355 inches plus 500 acres of snowmaking. Epic’s brand new downhill digital guide, Emma is a handy helper for negotiating and getting the best out of this huge resort as well as the good old EpicMix App.

Mountain Munchies Park City Mountain has 15 executive chefs – overseen by a head honcho – proprietarily presiding over their own unique turf across the huge 7300-acre skiable terrain. (Just imagine the behind-the-scenes rivalry!!) “There’s pho, fondue, Asian, American, you name it. All very different menus, and you can literally eat your way across the mountain,” says Jess. “I know, I’ve tried it. At Cloud Dine they’re doing cool things with doughnuts - all in house, tweaking traditional recipes. For example, Red Bull doughnuts and creamsicle flavor. Everything is going specialty these days, thanks in part to the ‘Slow Mo’ food porn trend - 20 second videos of people eating gooey food, dripping off spoons - it’s the new thing on Instagram.” For decked-out hot chocolate, check out Murdock’s with a whole menu of different flavours – Jess’s pick: Mogul Mint with raspberry coca and whipped cream.

Murdock's hot chocolate confections - Courtesy of Park City Mountain

Ritzy Rossignol Rentals
The best renting experience I’ve ever had is with Ski Butlers (the worst was Japan, where the rudimentary rentals made me understand why 90 percent of beginner skiers give up after their first attempt!) Just like at Aspen Snowmass during my Feb visit, I chose again to rent skis with smooth operators, Ski Butlers. I went with the Rossignol Sky 7 HD that I had demoed – and loved and want - at snow-drenched Snowmass and they were perfect for all the powder we pounded at Park City – which incidentally is where Ski Butlers was founded in 2004. We stayed in Salt Lake City, driving up each ski day, and our ski butler was able to deliver right to our room at the Little America. The customer-centric company was also happy to pick up from our second Utah destination, Alta (blog coming up next week about that pivotal part of the trip).

If you check out the latest 2019 industry reports - - you’ll see that many people rent skis and snowboards still, rather than lugging heavy gear around. Ski Butlers takes that hassle out of the equation, allows you to try out a variety of skis, respond to different conditions or whims during your stay, and save time and effort by avoiding rental shop lineups. With nearly one million skis/snowboards delivered over the past decade, Ski Butlers is at the forefront of revving up the rental ritual. Their personal service is unparalleled, with the ability to switch equipment – and even from skis to snowboard - at any time during your rental at no extra cost.

Spring Breaks on Rentals: 
No blackout dates on Ski Butlers rentals for remainder 2018-19 season 
Aspen/Snowmass, Vail/Beaver Creek, Park City/Deer Valley, Big Sky and Jackson Hole:
Save 15% when you book online for at least 6 consecutive days or have a group of 15 or more. Save 25% when you book online for at least 9 consecutive days. 
Park Pow by Jesse Van Der Linden/Park City Mountain
Breck/Keystone/Copper, North and South Lake Tahoe:
Save 10% when you book online 7 days in advance of your delivery date. Save 15% when you book online for at least 6 consecutive days or have a group of 15 or more. Save 25% when you book 9 or more days.
Save 15% when you book online for at least 6 consecutive days or have a group of 15 or more. Save 25% when you book online for at least 9 consecutive days. Kids Rent FREE with each paying Adult Rental of 4 days or more with our Performance Package or above. First Timer Package is not eligible for this promotion.
Save 10% when you book online 7 days in advance of your delivery date. Save 15% when you book online for at least 6 consecutive days or have a group of 15 or more. Save 25% when you book online for at least 9 consecutive days. Kids Rent FREE with each paying Adult Rental of 5 days or more with our Performance Package or above. First Timer Package is not eligible for this promotion.
South Lake Tahoe & Sun Valley: 
Save 15% when you book online 7 days in advance of your delivery date. Save 20% when you book online for at least 6 consecutive days or have a group of 15 or more. Save 30% when you book online for at least 9 consecutive days.
Save 15% for groups of 15 or more. No blackout dates for multi-day discounts. 
Ski Butler Info and Contacts:

Michael Franti at last season's Spring Gruv - Photo by Justin Olsen/Park City Mountain

Park City Mountain’s Annual Spring Grüv festival launched March 23, jam-packed with 16 straight days of animated activities, magical music and entertaining events at both base areas, highlighted by three Saturday concerts: Changing Lanes Experience March 23 (Canyons Village), Anderson East March 30 (Park City Mountain Village) and Dragondeer April 6 (Canyons Village). Other activities include the second annual Pink Park City (which took place March 23), free s’mores, daily music, family après ski activities, meet and greets with avalanche dogs, and the annual Pond Skimming Competition on April 6. Find a full event schedule here. Closing Day is Sunday, April 7.

Longer days and sunnier weather provide the perfect excuse for a cold beverage on the deck of one – or more - of Park City Mountain’s restaurants. The resort will host live music by DJ Velvet on the Public House deck at made-over Mid-Mountain Lodge every Saturday in March from 1-3:30 p.m. And there’s $5 discount off fabulous fondues at Lookout Cabin this spring (Monday through Friday after 2 p.m.) 

This Spring at Park City Mountain, when you stay longer, you save more on lodging: 15% off a four night stay, 20% off a five-six night stay and 25% off a seven night stay or longer.

Finally, Epic Passes are now on sale for the 2019-20 season and, with the addition of the new, Epic Day Pass, there’s a customizable ‘Epic for Everyone’. More info here. Epic Pass Utah now includes Snowbasin as well as Park City.You'll never regret buying a season's pass at the earlybird pricing - but you might regret NOT buying one!


Pinecone Ridge at Park City - Courtesy of Park City Mountain