As in previous years, our winter ski season has included a trip to Park City. This year we decided to stay an extra week and fly, unlike previous years when we drove. First, we used our week at the first timeshare we purchased more than 20 years ago. Then for our additional week, we were able to move to the other Marriott timeshare in town. This year’s visit to Park City also included entertainment and the excitement of the Sundance Film Festival.
Getting to Park City
While our flight on Southwest Airlines was uneventful (we even managed to get an empty seat between us), the gate placements in San Jose and Salt Lake City (SLC) were particularly hard on Diana’s ailing knee.
Both the departure and arrival gates could hardly have been farther from check-in and baggage claim. The SLC airport is undergoing a multi-year expansion and you basically have to walk through two whole terminals and a tunnel to get to the Southwest gates. Diana was not pleased (total understatement).
Best Winter In 30 Years
The conditions at Park City Mountain Resort, however, were exceptionally good. It snowed 2-8″ many of our days in town. Coverage was excellent and the lift lines were manageable, especially since I chose to take Saturday off.
This was a far cry from last year when coverage was a bit below average and several chairs were closed because the resort couldn’t hire enough lift operators to run them. I guess they found money this year to entice more workers to sign up.
Skiing With A Friend
Since Diana was on the DL for the season, I was happy to find a recently retired friend, Joe, to come out for a few days and ski with me. I got a few days in before he arrived so I could be an informed guide. His ski mantra is to try to “follow my shadow”, meaning on a clear day with the sun at his back. Not a bad goal, IMHO.
We had fresh powder to ski on most days but powder skiing can be exhausting. So, we had to manage our runs so we didn’t party too hard or too fast. It was great to share this experience with Joe and I look forward to any time we can get a friend or two out on the slopes with us.
Switching Venues in Park City
Even though we have skied Park City for most of the last 30 years, we have never stayed more than a week, until this year. The Marriott’s Mountainside timeshare we own and use is at the base of the main lift. The amenities include an engaging hot tub area and a weekly Blues & Brats night, where you can roast your bratwurst or hot dog over the firepit outside and then settle in for live music and your beverage of choice.
This year, we decided to extend our time in Park City by a week by renting at Marriott’s Summit Watch timeshare. This resort is situated at the base of Main Street downtown, across from the Town Lift. It is a great location for exploring the apres ski, dining, and nightlife scene on Main Street. The activities staff led a free ghost tour one night, which was kind of fun. We got a good deal on the timeshare by renting the week from another owner via Redweek. I described how to do this in this article, in case you are interested.
SUV Swap in Salt Lake City
We planned to spend five weeks in the Rockies skiing this season, which is too long to rent a car and still be able to use the Chase credit card auto rental coverage. This meant I would need two separate car rentals. We decided to do the swap in the time between when we were forced to check out of the first timeshare at 11 am and when we were allowed to check in to the second timeshare at 4 pm.
The first rental was specifically for an all-wheel drive SUV, which is a must in snow country, as far as I’m concerned. When it came time to swap for the next car, I chose to rent a mid-size car because it was quite a bit cheaper. I was able to drop off all of my many bags at the second timeshare before turning in the first car. The status I’ve earned by renting a lot of cars from Hertz lets me pick from many SUVs. Even so, only a few had all-wheel drive, so I had to negotiate to get an AWD for the modest price I was paying. It all worked out and we drove off with another nice car for the remainder of our time in the mountains. This year we were really glad we had the AWD car because we needed it.
First, a Concert in a Historic Theater
Since Diana was unable to ski, I looked for some other entertainment we could enjoy together. Lucky for us, the historic Egyptian Theater in the middle of Main Street was in full swing and I was able to score a couple of tickets to see KT Tunstall solo in this intimate venue for only $35/each!
She put on a fun show using sound loops on the fly to provide her own backing instrumentals. I will definitely be checking for shows at the theater when we return in future years.
Then, Sundance Descends
Our second week ended with the kickoff of the Sundance Film Festival. Historically, we have avoided being in Park City during this time because food and lodging were difficult to get and I figured the slopes would be crowded. Knowing the overlap, we planned ahead and were able to get restaurant reservations. The ski hill was oddly uncrowded, and I thought that was odd. Then a local told me it’s a great week to ski since so many of the visitors are basically film geeks and they go nowhere near the snow. Who knew?
The other effect I noticed was a fairly swift transformation of Main Street. Of course, downtown was buzzing with people. Pop-up stores and clubs came into being almost overnight. It looked like the buildings had all been wrapped in different colored lights with huge signs. Chase opened a lounge in the middle of Main Street for Sapphire Reserve cardholders. I tried going in the first night, but they were having a private event and we were leaving the next day.
Food on the slopes still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic quality. I don’t think the Vail corporation (owner of the resort) sees a need to improve since the hungry people devour whatever is offered anyway. The fare looked like it was made by folks going through the motions. I couldn’t bring myself to get a mediocre $30+ burger meal.
In town, the quality was much better but the pricing reflected the resort status. We enjoyed alpine-inspired food at Courchevel Bistro and revisited Ghidotti’s for Italian food and Twisted Fern for new American cuisine. About 30 minutes away, Midway Mercantile served some nice plates, too. Alas, we decided to pass on the $50 duck enchiladas at former favorite Chimayo. Quack that!
Where have you found fun this winter?