When I’m not out playing in the snow, Park City has some nice places to pass the time. Despite what you may have heard, cocktails, fine wine and dining are easy to come by in this part of Utah. For more information about skiing in Park City see A Week in Park City Powder.
Our home for the week was the Marriott Mountainside timeshare, which Diana and I purchased 20 years ago. We have not stayed in our won resort for 8 years, preferring to trade to other locations in the Rockies for variety sake. We arrived to find the unit had been refurbished in the past couple of years and was now pretty nicely appointed. In fact, I don’t remember staying at a nicer timeshare, especially when considering the onsite extras of the hot tubs, games tables, workout room, ski valet and free activities. I particularly appreciated the nightly social, which included some form of alcoholic libation, and the Brats, Beer and Blues night, all of it free.
The experience was so pleasant that we decided to return to the same place next year. The building is adjacent to the Payday lift, which is the main way to ascend the hill for skiing. Ski-in and ski-out are made even easier with a complimentary ski valet on the ground floor. Happily, I never had much challenge finding a spot in the below-ground garage since parking is limited to 1 car per unit.
The rooms are fairly spacious and have nice, reasonably comfortable furnishings. We got a fair amount of use from the fully equipped kitchen, meaning we only went out for food a few of the nights. We got lucky with the location this year, as we had a spectacular view straight onto the main slopes.
Another nice timeshare in Park City that we have stayed at is Marriott’s Summit Watch, conveniently located on lower Main Street across from the Town Lift. While not technically ski-in, ski-out, the distance to walk is much shorter than many of the ski hill parking lots I’ve had to negotiate over the years. It, too, has a nice hot-tub and Apres ski social scene. Also, proximity to dining and shopping on Main Street from Summit Watch is a big plus.
Food is where Park City comes up a bit short, IMHO. Admittedly, there are many nice restaurants in town, but many are on Main Street, where parking and pick up/drop off can be a challenge. The offerings are a bit overpriced and less inventive than years passed, when we could typically find game, such as Elk and Buffalo, on the menu at a reasonable price. Reservations for lodging and dining become especially difficult during Sundance and over holidays like Christmas, New Years, MLK and President’s week. On weekends and holiday weeks, getting a restaurant reservation at a decent time can be difficult, so book in advance if you can. Deer Valley has nicer restaurants in general, but the prices trend even higher there.
Here is a list of places we’ve dined at over the years and some thoughts:
- Main Street
- Chimayo – Inventive Mexican food at a decent price for the location
- Grappa – Good Italian food, located at the top of Main Street
- Wahso – Forgettable Chinese dishes, not one of my faves
- Shabu – Good family place, but the Shabu Shabu experience was not as fun as I remember
- Buona Vita – Decent Italian food next to Town Lift, service was spotty on our last visit
- The Caledonian – Good American bistro next to Town Lift, worth a look for lunch off the hill
- Fletcher’s – Nice place with good American food, the short rib was quite nice 🙂
- Deer Valley – location and pricing (i.e. expensive)
- J&G Grill – Very nice Jean Georges outlet at the St. Regis
- The Mariposa – My favorite for a special night, they have the best gnocchi I have ever had
- Goldener Hirsch – A go-to choice for traditional continental food, Diana thinks it is overpriced for what you get
- Fireside Dining – A massive, expensive buffet takes over a ski lodge at night. Come very hungry. But the setting is lovely.
- Away from Main Street
- Ghidotti’s – Decent Italian food at a good price where ambiance tends toward gaudy
- Lespri Prime Steak – An odd steak and sushi place, I probably won’t go back
- Squatters – Last time I went (long ago), they served me a crappy steak au poivre and raw shrimp
- Windy Ridge – Decent but a little pricy American bistro
- Powdr – I expected more from this bistro at the Waldorf Astoria, it was uninspired
The Vail company Epic season pass has been in a competition with Ikon for the last couple of years. The Ikon Pass has risen to challenge, successfully competing for the hearts and minds of traveling skiers. Both programs have been aggressively inking marketing deals with independent ski resorts in a dizzying land grab to make the most places available to their patrons. At present, the Ikon Pass allows you to ski at 41 locations, including Squaw Valley, Deer Valley, Alta, and Aspen. The Epic Pass can now be used at 61 locations, such as Vail, Whistler, Heavenly, Park City and Northstar.
This year, Vail added Snowbasin and Sun Valley to their list, among others. I’ve been curious about Snowbasin for a long time and jumped at the chance to take it in using my Epic pass since it is only 90 minutes from Park City.
After checking out of our room, I skied the rest of the day at Park City, since it had received 8 inches of fresh pow overnight. I learned long ago to never leave a ski hill in search of something different if it has fresh powder and I’m already there. After ending the ski day, we headed to Ogden, which is 30 minutes from Snowbasin and has a decent selection of hotels and restaurants.
The next morning I drove to Snowbasin. Wow. I mean, Wow. This resort, which hosted the downhill ski competition in the 2002 Olympics, has a lot of serious downhill. It’s 11 chair lifts access 3000 acres of skiable terrain. While 50% of the 104 runs are listed as intermediate, the resort’s of piste terrain really shines. There is an abundance of places to play for the expert skier, much of it steeper than what I found in Park City. Looming over it all is an imposing, Matterhorn-like peak, with gorgeous cornices nearby. The lodges were all updated for the Olympics and have a homey feel to them with several fireplaces inside each.
Nearby Ogden, is medium size town with ordinary hotels. We enjoyed a nice meat sampler platter at Smokey’s BBQ and Grill downtown. All of it was tender and juicy. A great selection of beer and pizza is available at Slackwater, although it gets very crowded and it can be a long wait for a table.
Overall, I’m very impressed with what Snowbasin has to offer. Since I was going at the end of my week at Park City, I didn’t have a lot of energy to really tackle the hill. I hope to return next year and see what I can do when I have more gas in my tank.
Which of these places appeal to you?