With three world-class ski resorts within a ten-minute drive, Utah’s Park City is Nirvana for families, and as Helen Hayes and her family discovered, there is something for everyone.
Park City is a thriving town about 35 minutes drive from Salt Lake City, which is a short flight from Los Angeles. It’s an historic silver mining town and Park City’s Main Street is the prime example of how to blend the old with the new, with a thriving dining and shopping scene at home in the heritage buildings.
But the main appeal of Park City is its proximity to Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons. All are family friendly, have excellent ski schools, and are covered in what the Utah locals say is the “greatest snow on earth”. You won’t get any argument from me.
No wonder this resort has been named the top ski resort in North America an unprecedented five years in a row by the readers of America’s Ski magazine. It is luxurious, magical and so, so easy. It offers free ski storage, ski valets to help you from the car, and nothing is a problem. Even organising hire gear was easy. We did it online with Skibutlers.com and, just after we arrived, the guys delivered our gear to our room, tweaked the boys ski boots and were off.
Deer Valley is a ski-only resort, with six mountains to ski on, over a hundred trails and 21 chairlifts. We are there early in the season and although some of the areas are not open yet, we absolutely love it. We explore the runs on Little Baldy Peak, Flagstaff and Bald Eagle Mountain, and can’t stop raving about how well groomed they are and how good the snow is.
The highlight for the boys is doing the Nastar racetrack, set up on Bald Eagle Mountain and open to the public. We all do it and let me tell you it is a buzz, starting in proper race gates and hurtling (OK, in my case more like dawdling) around the poles and down the finish line.
The ski school caters for kids of all levels from age three to 18. Adults are also looked after and for those with young babies, there is child care for kids from two months. It is an impressive set up with a great deal of attention to detail ensuring kids are well cared for.
We stay at the Lodges of Deer Valley in a very roomy two-bedroom condo. It is extremely comfortable with a full kitchen, washing machine, dryer, lounge room and wonderful beds.
Take the kids to Daly’s Pub at the Montage Deer Valley. It has ten-pin bowling, pool, video games, amazing food and big TV screens everywhere.
Book in for the seafood buffet at the Snow Park Lodge. It is unbelievable and if you don’t eat seafood, there are plenty of delicious meaty options.
Don’t miss fireside dining at Empire Canyon Lodge. Chefs cook different things at separate fireplaces and it is all divine.
Afterwards, take a horse-drawn carriage in the snow. Perfect.
Park City Mountain Resort
This resort has been named “Best Family Vacation” by Ski magazine, and for good reason. It has eight peaks, nine bowls, 114 trails, three terrain parks and the Eagle superpipe to ski and board on, the terrain parks are mad and there’s a stack of other things to do.
For kids that like doing tricks, Park City Mountain Resort is manna from heaven. My boys disappeared into the Three Kings terrain park, so we explored the runs off Bonanza, Payday, Crescent and King Con. Thank goodness that the night skiing wasn’t up and running when we were there or we never would have seen the kids!
To ensure quick learning for children, Park City Mountain Resort has the Signature 5 program for six to 14 year olds, guaranteeing no more than five kids per class. For younger kids, aged three and a half to five, it’s Signature 3. Kids learn fast and make new friends, without being lost in the throng.
Make sure you take the kids to spot the snowbugs. These fun bug critters can be found at the marked adventure alleys around the resort. Take a photo of your child with their favourite snowbug and they could pick up some treasure.
Alpine Coaster is a speed ride that is a blast for thrill-seeking kids! The toboggan-style cars each have brakes, so you can control the speed if you want to. Also try the Flying Eagle Zip Rider.
This place has a fun vibe to it that is infectious. It’s huge, with 182 trails on nine mountains, as well as five bowls, six halfpipes, terrain parks and a ski beach. Sit back in a deck chair in the sun and wait for the kids at the end of the day. Perfect!
The coolest thing at The Canyons is the Orange Bubble chairlift. It has heated seats and a bubble that you can pull down. It is so bright and cheerful it makes you want to ride it just for the sake of it. There are so many areas to ski or board in, and even though it wasn’t all open when we were there, there was more than enough to keep us busy. We love the runs off the Tombstone Express, the Sun Peak chair and the Saddleback Express.
My favourite is the run down Another World to The Drop, whereas Josh loves the black glade runs near Painted Horse. Alex loves the bumps down Transitions, while my husband Matt flies down Doc’s Run.
We stay at the Hyatt Escala Lodge in a beautifully fitted out two-bedroom apartment, that was a pleasure to come home to. After a day on the snow, we relax in the heated pool, grab a ‘smore kit and cook them around the firepit.
Check out the annual Santa Skis Free day. It’s a lot of fun to see the men in red out and about.
Do the ziptour, have lunch at the Lookout Cabin and a massage at the Golden Door Spa at the Waldorf Astoria. Bliss!
Park City Fast Facts
For transfers from Salt Lake City to hotels in Park City go to www.allresort.com.