Park City, Utah, might be an under-the-radar ski destination compared with its flashier counterparts, but its low-key vibe belies its superstar regulars, perfect snow and burgeoning farm-to-table dining scene.
Ski-season perfection in Park City, Utah.
FROMTHE FIRST salt-crusted, snow-blanketed aerial view via my plane window of Salt Lake Valley and the Wasatch Mountains, the Park City landscape is beautiful, raw, sublime. Best known as the home of Sundance Film Festival, Park City is also a ski location prized for its consistent powder, extensive terrain and plentiful bluebird days each season.
Vail Resorts acquired Park City Mountain Resort in 2014 and linked it with Canyons village by way of the Quicksilver gondola to create what is the largest single ski and snowboard resort in the US (it offers an Epic Australia Pass that covers ski fields across the US and Canada as well as in Perisher, New South Wales). It’s a surprisingly quick trip from Australia: fly into LA, transfer to a two-hour flight to Salt Lake City, and you’re only a 40-minute drive from the heart of Park City. Nestled at the foot of the snowfields, downtown has a decidedly urban feel. The former mining town’s streets are lined with preserved historical buildings that now house an eclectic mix of contemporary restaurants, chic shops and boutique accommodation. Spend a day shopping and keep an eye out for one of the Banksy pieces dotted around.
There is an understated luxury to Park City. This is a quieter celebrity hotspot, home to The Colony, perhaps the most exclusive housing development in any ski resort in the world, where Will Smith, Justin Bieber and Robert Redford
are said to own or rent houses. My ski instructor, Alex Fleet, who seems to have had quite a number of celebrity pupils, describes one of the ski runs, Mystic Pines, as “Hilary Swank’s favourite”. But unlike other, glitzier, better-known resorts, this is where celebrities come to ski without being seen.
My first day in Park City is spent skiing Canyons Village, where the wide terrain feels endless once I make it off the magic carpet with the help of my very patient and very pro instructor. The landscape is picturesque, and the feeling of zooming along between quietly reverberating aspens under clear skies is second to none.
Park City Mountain is a little more built-up, until we make our way up the mountain, where we are greeted by views to Deer Valley. Lunch options on both mountains are all-american, ski-lodge style. I become addicted to warming bowls of vegetarian chilli; burgers, fries and salads are on offer, too.the menu is much the same at each spot, but it’s worth trying a few different vantage points — at Summit House, views sweep all the way down the valley and up to the highest point in Park City, known as Ninety-nine 90 for its elevation in feet.
By the end of our second day, Alex has me confident on blue runs with minimal tumbles, I learn to ski backwards (slowly, on a very slight incline, with a lot of squealing), and we’ve visited all of the impressive spots for photo opportunities. I vow never to ski without a private instructor again.
While the days are spent swishing down the mountain, evenings in Park City are all about relaxed après-ski followed by farm-totable dining. For drinks right off the slopes, visit the world’s first and only ski-in gastro-distillery, High West, for the incredibly well-executed cocktails and delicious modern-southern food.the dining scene in Park City is young yet impressive, with a strong focus on seasonality and local ingredients, chefs delicately balancing inventiveness with comfort-food offerings. Make a reservation and settle in for a night of shared feasting at buzzy Handle.
On our final day, we join Park City Yoga Adventures at nearby Blue Sky ranch for a gentle guided hike among quiet alpine forest and across snow-blanketed hills. Our hourlong walk finishes in a Norwegian-style yurt perched on a mountaintop meadow, where we are treated to a private yoga session in front of a crackling wood fire followed by cups of herbal tea. a deeply restorative day off the slopes and the perfect tonic for ski-tired muscles (and, in our case, a godsend for a last-night-in-park-city-induced hangover).
“My ski instructor, Alex Fleet, who seems to have had quite a number of celebrity pupils, describes one of the ski runs as ‘Hilary Swank’s favourite’.”
Grand Summit Hotel. Left: the Wasatch Range.
From top: downtown Park City; the living room at Washington School House Hotel features an antler chandelier adorned with Swarovski crystals and a gilded mirror from France; the hotel’s outdoor pool.