Park City is the consummate destination resort, whether for budget backpackers looking to ski-and-save or big-money travelers after some select pampering. So rest assured that whatever the color of your charge card, Utah's 2002 Olympic star has got you covered.
Accordingly, we offer two versions of a destination guide for Park City and environs -- one for those on a shoestring budget and one for those seeking pleasure in the Park.
PARK CITY ON A SHOESTRING
The erstwhile stoner sport of snowboarding came of age at the 2002 Winter Olympics -- and Park City was its turn-a-blind-eye chaperone. The telegenic halfpipe competitions, plus equally telegenic acrobatic stars like Kelly Clark and Danny Cass, raked in record crowds, not to mention a new generation of vert-obsessed groms.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Park City is the place both to play and party, this despite its location in the heart of Utah's buttoned-up Mormon country. Indeed, Park City was shaking things up long before the 2002 Olympics' X-Games vibe introduced the former mining town to millions of TV viewers.
In 1868 the discovery of silver in the mountains brought a flood of businesses, miners, and chancers to the Wasatch slopes for a shot at striking it rich. Sixteen years later, in 1884, Park City was officially incorporated and the mines kept things growing right up until their final closure in 1949. Walk up and down the historic Main Street today and you'll still get a sense of that hardscrabble 19th-century graft, even if the jail and old flophouses are now flanked by high-end galleries and ritzy restaurants. Fox fur and Dior sunglasses may intermingle with the weathered hoodies and baggy jeans, but you get the picture....
Rock up to a ticket kiosk at any of Park City's three resorts -- Park City Mountain, Deer Valley, and The Canyons -- and any self-respecting powderhound will reel from sticker shock. With some of the highest prices in the country, any budget will be blown if you're spending upwards of $70 for a daily lift ticket.
So be a good scrounger and save by buying in bulk -- in other words, check out the deals on multi-day tickets. The Canyons (435.649.5400; www.thecanyons.com) offers a free day's skiing if you buy multi-day lift tickets from their central reservations office at least 48 hours in advance; call 888-226-9667. Not a bad deal for 3,500 acres of primo powder, 100 runs, and five terrain parks in which to hone those wanabee Ross Powers skillz.
Another way to save up your nightly beer money is to sign up for Park City's Quick START program, offering a complimentary ticket to any one of the town's three resorts on the day you fly into Salt Lake City. Simply register online for a redemption voucher, hop the next SLC-bound flight, and present your voucher and your boarding pass along with a photo ID to the resort of your choice. Then you've got what remains of a snow-filled day to kick off your vacation in grand style. Visit www.parkcityinfo.com/skiing/quickstart/ for more information.
Don't tell mom you're staying here, but the Chateau Apres (800.357.9372; www.chateauapres.com) is where to stay and save while rocking out on the slopes and in the après-ski department. A slightly garish alpine-cum-gingerbread creation, this 32-room lodge (plus two hostel-style dorms with bunks) won't exactly get the home fires burning, but it's clean, convenient (a short walk from the Park City Mountain lifts and Main Street), and cheap ($90 for a double; $35 per bunk berth). Better, it's a great place to meet fellow skiers and travelers and get in on the local scene.
If this sounds too spartan for your tastes, Park City boasts hundreds of condos for those traveling with a crowd, or B&B's for something simple, sweet, and cost-effective. Even though some properties might be a distance from Main Street or the slopes, a free shuttle service means you'll never be far from your desired locale. Check out the Park City Chamber of Commerce's lodging locator, plus their "Hot Deals" section. Here you'll find late-breaking deals on the town's 120 lodging properties, updated weekly each Monday. Visit www.parkcityinfo.com for more. Après-Ski
You've scrimped, you've saved, all in the name of ripping up some of Utah's best snow. Congrats, now it's time to treat yourself (some more). Free fun is never far in Park City, with numerous concerts, costume events, arts festivals, and film events -- including the Sundance jamboree in January, where you can score reasonably priced $10 tickets to individual screenings, maybe even including a Q&A with the director and cast into the bargain. Stay on the ball and pre-register online for advance ticket info (www.sundance.org), or get in the "Wait List Line" at theaters an hour before screenings for a chance to scoop up any extra tickets. If you're not in town for the festival itself (and face it, rooms will be scarce and prices inflated), sneak in for free film screenings pre-Sundance in January to get a flavor of what's coming up.
Other places to eke out savings (and have fun in the process) are at the resorts themselves, which throw free bashes throughout the season. Deer Valley hosts the Freestyle International World Cup for two days each January, a great time to watch hot-dogging superstars race each other down the Olympics moguls course and get big air off the freestyle ramps. Their athleticism will either inspire, amaze, or terrify you. This annual event also features live musical entertainment and fireworks. The ten-day Winterfest -- Park City's self-styled "non-stop, ten-day party" to celebrate its 2002 Olympics legacy -- runs from February 2-11 in 2007.
Back on Main Street, you don't have to be a gourmand to forage. Reasonably priced eateries, pubs, and grocery stores abound, including the legendary spit-and-sawdust No Name Saloon and Grill (447 Main St., 435.649.6667), where local ski bums, ski patrolers, and visitors in the know come to drink, dance, and party. In no time at all, you'll be back in turn-of-the-century mining mode and wondering how the hell Utah got that dry-state rep.
PLEASURE IN THE PARK
The glitterati and indie film crowd descend on Park City each January for the Sundance Film Festival, a great time to see and be seen. Naturally, for a place used to hosting Hollywood royalty and prima donnas, Park City knows how to roll out the red carpet with plenty of luxe accommodations, Platinum Card-worthy dining, and skiing that's fit for a king (and his queen and all their little princelings).
Most mere mortals will only glimpse the opulence of the haute side of Park City as they schuss past grand chalets shadowing the slopes and hogging the best promontories. But even without a gated mansion within sight of a chairlift, you'll still find Park City caters to the taste for the luxuries in life.
Utah's powder is world-class white gold, nowhere more so than at Deer Valley (800.424.3337; www.deervalley.com), which will leave you powering through dump-filled glades and imagining you're in a winter wonderland of Narnia proportions.
And if luxury's your aim, this is your place. Period. This 1,750-acre resort pulls no punches in its raison d'être: to provide the most sumptuous ski experience possible (no snowboarders allowed!). All of which is to say, expect perfectly groomed trails, immaculately mannered staff, a dearth of serenity-shattering sound systems, luxe fittings and finishings, and award-winning cuisine that wouldn't be sniffed at by an Upper West Manhattan snob fest. In fact, Deer Valley's daily skier limit tops out at 6,500, a number based on the resort's restaurant capacity. You just know you'll eat well when a place goes to those lengths to keep your stomach and your claustrophobe tendencies happy. Lift tickets for the 2006-07 season start at $77.
With 91 runs to choose from, the skiing at Deer Valley is no slouch either. Cruise your way down pleasing groomers on Flagstaff Mountain or Little Baldy Peak, or up your game on Empire Canyon, where the double-black chutes will elicit less than polite cussing -- and maybe even some rebel snowboarder antics.
A little closer to the Main Street action, Park City Mountain Resort (800.222.7275; www.parkcitymountain.com) is the place for true ski-in, ski-out ambience, including a small tramway that sifts skiers from the downtown hotels right to the base lodge. Daily lift tickets start at $69.
Finally, word to the wise: to experience chichi Park City's skiing at its very cushiest, hit the slopes during the Sundance Film Festival when the great and the good are too busy striking deals -- the slopes are empty and your lift ticket will suddenly seem worth twice as much.
After a day of pampering yourself on Deer Valley's slopes, spend a night pampering yourself at the equally cushy, slopeside Lodges at Deer Valley (800.782.4813; www.lodges-deervalley.com). A hotel shuttle will whisk you and your gear all of 500 meters to your lodging, and you'll be sprawled on your massive, ache-busting bed before the sweat's had time to evaporate off your back.
This 190-unit complex of hotel-style rooms and condos is grand yet welcoming, with a towering three-story fireplace and open lobby beckoning you in, and similarly large rooms providing all the comforts of home (including big timber or stone fireplaces in each condo). An outdoor heated pool plus hot tub are great ways to soothe away the aches of too many turns (or tumbles?), while the staff stand alert to answer your every A-list beck and call. Rates for hotel-style rooms start at $360 in the regular season, with a two-bedroom condo running $800 per night over the same period.
For something a little closer to Main Street, though no less exclusive, consider the charming Silver Queen Hotel (435.649.5986; www.silverqueenhotel.com), a 12-suite boutique hotel that's a stone's throw from the Park City Town Lift. Beyond the killer location, each room exudes its own distinct styles, while amenities include a rooftop hot tub with mountain views and washer/dryers in every room for the long-haul stay. Rates start at $468 per night in the regular season.
Not content with a mere post-ski soak in the hotel hot tub? Then book yourself some true muscle rehab in one of Park City's dozen luxury spas, the pick of them being the 10,000-square-foot Spa at Hotel Park City (435.200.2000; www.hotelparkcity.com), conveniently located at the base of the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort and a 20-minute stroll from Main Street. Let one of their qualified sports masseuses give you a deep-tissue workover as you replay your day's athletic feats to the soft tinkle of New Age melodies and wave of aromatic scents. The spa also boasts steam and meditation rooms, Jacuzzi, hydrotherapy tub, and a whole menu of massages and treatments for total body rejuvenation. The 80-minute Deep Tissue Sports Massage costs $180.
With your limbs now like loose spaghetti, turn your thoughts to food: Main Street is lined with a number of classy, eclectic places to eat, including the atmospheric Wahso (570 Main St., 435.615.0300; www.wahso.com). The creative menu twists Asian staples like duck or Thai curry into more modern platters, with fusion flourishes and unexpected local ingredients. And while the combos don't always work (oyster tempura, anyone?), the restaurant receives full marks for its bold style and mouthwatering flavors. To really cap off a grand day, choose from over 100 wines in a cellar that has garnered Wahso accolades from foodie bibles like Wine Spectator.
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