Here's your assignment. From your travel thesaurus select another phrase for mountaintop luxury. If you're stumped, don't worry, I've got an answer: Deer Valley in Park City, Utah.
Park City's history is colorful, having begun as a silver mining town, then a ski resort and now a luxury destination. But it was Deer Valley that transformed the ski industry 32 years ago. By offering such amenities as lodging, ski valets and groomed-to-perfection slopes, it became one of North America's first ski areas catering to first-class customers. Its extravagance is three-decades-old; so is a summer visit to the noted winter retreat wise? I investigated this premise from the area's most lavish digs — Montage Deer Valley. Photo Credit: Cynthia Dial
If you have not had the pleasure of an in-person intro to the five-star resort, allow me. As comfortable as an overstuffed sofa, yet as glamorous as a sparkling diamond, this less than three-year-old alpine hotel melds cozy and clubby with elegant and indulgent. Perched above Park City at an elevation of 8,300 feet, it sits higher than any lodge on the mountain. The air is sharper, crisper, and cleaner. But despite this up-in-the-clouds location, you're never isolated. Hotel transportation can deliver you to town in less than 10 minutes and nearby mountain resorts are as close as a short hike or a call to the bell stand.Photo Credit: Cynthia Dial
Only 38 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, Montage Deer Valley is conveniently located and has 154 rooms, 66 suites and residences, three culinary venues, a world-class spa and much more. But you may want to wait till the end of the day to get to your room, because once you are in it, you may never want to leave. A getaway in itself, each room showcases uninterrupted views from private balconies or patios. You'll be spoiled with plush robes, thick towels and slippers, comfortable bedding, a deep soak tub and turndown service with the finest of chocolates. And because Montage Deer Valley sits atop the site of the old Daly West Mine, it honors this history with silver chandeliers in each room.Photo Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley
At 35,000 square feet, Spa Montage is the state's largest. Meanwhile, that its mosaic pool is reminiscent of Hearst Castle's pool is more than coincidental, paying tribute to George Hearst, a significant Park City silver mine owner. Regenerative body products created exclusively for Spa Montage use such indigenous ingredients as aspen bark extract and bee propolis.
Further exploration of this mountain craftsman lodge revealed much more. Live music is often playing in the restaurant and bar. The lengthy bar area is grand with an oversized fireplace, beamed ceiling, dark hardwood floors and innumerable seating areas. You almost feel like you are in another age when you descend its spiral staircase. And museum-quality art is displayed throughout the hotel. Photo Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley
Featuring a farm-to-table philosophy, the resort showcases three dining experiences and serves its own beer, Montage Mountain Ale, made from local hops (some harvested at the resort). Crafted by Park City's award-winning Wasatch Beers, this beverage is available outside the resort only at the brewery. Additionally, s'mores (an old-fashioned favorite), is Montage's signature evening offering. Year-round guests can roast marshmallows around the campfire for dessert. And don't miss meeting the resident Bernese Mountain Dogs, Monty and Jonas — Montage's canine ambassadors who make daily appearances in the resort.Photo Credit: Cynthia Dial
"Good morning, Deer Valley!" I hear early morning while pondering my options. It's shouted from an adjacent room facing the same endless mountain view. The enthusiastic guest's echo mirrors my sentiments. With an open schedule, Montage's choices are bountiful: archery, horseshoes, croquet, hiking, mountain biking, and stargazing.
Park City is home to three mountain resorts: Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort and the Canyons. Located within a few miles of one another and linked by hiking and biking trails, the result is a 450-mile network. So no snow, no problem. In summer it's the kind of place where you want to hit the pause button, slow down and draw a deep breath. Yet, if you seek action, it's there in activities like scenic chairlift rides, fly-fishing, hot air ballooning, rock climbing, rafting, tennis, even standup paddle boarding. And there are 12 top-ranked golf courses designed by such notables as Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye, all within 20 miles of Park City. Photo Credit: Cynthia Dial
Then there are the outdoor concert venues, such as Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, where world-renowned artists, headlining musicians and local bands regularly take to the stage. Best part — Montage will provide blankets, chairs and even a picnic.
At Kimball Junction you'll find Utah Olympic Park, site of the 2002 games' bobsled, luge and Nordic ski jumping events; and a place observe young, rising athletes and Olympians training on the Nordic jumps. Its tour takes you to the top spot where the Olympic Games began, from which you'll experience the perspective of the athletes who competed before 20,000 spectators. Another adventure is Extreme Zip, the world's steepest zip line which simulates an Olympian flying off the K120 Nordic jumps. But the park's signature activity is the comet bobsled ride with a professional driver down the Olympic track at speeds of over 75 mph. Montage Deer Valley sponsors Sunday's 1 p.m. freestyle show featuring athletes jumping from the ski lifts and landing in the Olympic aerials pool. Photo Credit: Cynthia Dial
At the town's hub is Historic Main Street and its collection of art galleries, boutiques, bookshops, coffee shops, pubs, even a whisky distillery. I gravitated toward the delicious assortment of restaurants like Chimyo, Southwest cuisine; Riverhorse, locally-inspired (great trout); Grappa, Italian; Yuki Arashi, sushi and Asian tapas. No Name Saloon & Grill is known for their buffalo burgers and tongue-in-cheek rules: "If we don't have it, you don't need it" and "Keep your tips up." This is a street where summer dictates overflowing flower boxes, outdoor dining and warm weather enthusiasm. Additional city must-sees are: the Park City Museum, Ghost Tours and the Farmers Market.Photo Credit: Cynthia Dial
I could go on and on, but I'll let their accolades tell the tale. In recent years, Park City was named "Best Active Town" by Outside Magazine and one of America's 20 "Prettiest Towns" by Forbes Traveler Magazine. And in less than three years, Montage Deer Valley's titles include Condé Nast Traveler's annual "Hot List," Robb Report's "Best of the Best" and Travel + Leisure's annual "IT" list for the world's best new hotels.
Park City and Deer Valley's unique transition from a booming mining town to an emerging ski town to a world-class resort is a success story. And this story continues isn't just a wintery tale; so, go, because it's like seeing colors you've never seen before.