DEER VALLEY RESORT
If you want to ski like a hero, eat like a king and sleep like Rip Van Winkle, Deer Valley-where luxury comes standard-is the place for you.
Though it has exactly half the skiable terrain of Alta, it has 67 trails and is a corduroy kingdom where a third to half of the runs are groomed nightly. SKI readers annually rate these the most perfectly groomed slopes in North America, and they're kept that way by restricting the number of skiers. Deer Valley is also notable for what it doesn't have: flats, long traverses, dangerous intersections and long liftlines.
Along with stellar service, what makes this mountain a skier's delight is that each of Deer Valley's four mountains is served by a high-speed detachable quad. There are 13 lifts in all, capable of moving 22,800 skiers per hour, more than three times what Alta can do. The result is that you can really rack up the vertical here. Despite impressive, new expert terrain, Deer Valley is pegged at just 15 percent novice and 35 percent expert. It remains the Western nexus of hero skiing. Every intermediate is made to feel like an expert, and true experts can utilize expert-only maps to effortlessly locate steeper trails such as Gumby Glade and DT's Trees.
While Deer Valley gets just 300 inches a year of snow (200 inches less than Alta), its consistently good conditions are nothing to sneeze at. With snowmaking covering 26 percent of its mountain, you have state-of-the-art machines to fall back on during a sparse early season. As for style, the endless parade of Postcard and Bogner makes Deer Valley seem like a fashion runway. Unless you want to ante up for something similar, wear your 5-year-old Obermeyer with pride.
The daily price you pay for Deer Valley's expert grooming and speedy lifts hits $60 this year, but at $220 per person, or $440 for two, a four-out-of-seven-day pass takes a little of the sting out.
Fortunately, you can forget about a car unless you really want one. The complimentary bus service throughout Deer Valley and Park City means you can pocket the cost of a rental.
Deer Valley's base and its self-contained mid-mountain village, Silver Lake Village, are filled with fashionable shops, restaurants and hotels. Impeccably planned and eminently tasteful, they allow you to spend money like water-if you choose to-on exceptional cuisine, five-star accommodations and haute couture from signature shops.
If you desire downy comfort, you can't do better than the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Silver Lake Village, one of the best resort hotels in the country. But with rooms starting at $450 per night, a five-night stay is $2,250 before you've so much as buttered a scone. A light breakfast will run about $30 a day for two ($150 total). Lunch on the mountain at the resort's burger-and-chili bargain eatery, McHenry's, will cost about $40 for two or another $200. Most restaurants on the mountain are more expensive than McHenry's-and hard to resist. Take, for example, Mariposa, where charbroiled yellowfin tuna or rack of Rocky Mountain lamb will set two diners back about $100 before drinks, tax and tip. Ballparking another $500 for dinners, your food tab comes to approximately $850. Add that to your room and lift tickets, and you've totaled $3,540 before taxes, service charges and cocktails.
A less pricey Deer Valley option is to stay in Snow Park Village, located at the resort base. The Snow Park Condominiums aren't new, but they are roomy and supply all a skiing couple needs. Here, a one-bedroom condo runs $300 nightly and comes with a kitchenette. That's $1,500 for lodging, another $440 for lift tickets and a food tab that can be kept to maybe $400 if you use that kitchenette, for a grand total of $2,340.
The most economical way to ski Deer Valley is to stay in nearby Park City, a mile down the road. You won't be alone, because it's estimated that half the people who ski Deer Valley stay in Park City. Some come for the nightlife and restaaurants, but most stay here to save money. At the Copperbottom Inn, which has a Jacuzzi and units with woodburning fireplaces and full kitchens, one-bedroom units run $877. Then consider the new Silver Passport, which offers joint skiing privileges at Park City and Deer Valley. At $224 for 4 out 5 days, it's just a few bucks more than a Deer Valley pass. So tack on $448 for two Passports, $400 for food by steering clear of the pricier Park City eateries and you've spent $1,725. Not bad for skiing one of the priciest resorts in the West.
So, presented with the manmade charms of Deer Valley and the natural bounty of Alta, where should you go skiing? Clearly, it all depends upon what you value.
HIGHLIGHTS OF A CUSTOM PACKAGE FOR TWO AT DEER VALLEY
MOUNTAIN STATS 2,200 vertical feet; 1,100 skiable acres; 300 inches of snow annually; 13 chairlifts; 67 named trails; the longest run is 2 miles.
LIFT TICKETS A one-day ticket costs $60 per person; a four-out-of-seven-day pass costs $220 per person.
LODGING Depending on where you stay.
ACCOMMODATIONS during January run from $175-$450 per night.
DINING DEER Valley boasts the finest on-mountain dining of any resort in North America. That honor doesn't come cheap: Expect to spend no less than $40 per person, per day on food.
TOTAL COST $1,253-$1,789
CONTACT (800) 424-3337; www.deervalley.com