It’s unclear whether the reader was applauding or shaming Deer Valley with his comment that a vacation here is like “skiing in the lap of luxury.” No matter. Because it is clear that Deer Valley’s faithful fully embrace the resort’s pampering ethos, which is the basis of its repeat no. 1 ranking. Its consistent success is built from the bottom up, as “these guys understand how important it is to manage the details." To that end, the mountain crew coddles the snow as if each flake were a Fabergé egg. Not surprisingly, ripping down groomers is “like driving a Ferrari.” And more often than not, dining out is akin to visiting a four-star hotel. However, Deer Valley’s particular insight isn’t that service matters—that’s no secret—nor is it the fresh dill chèvre, nor the army of smiling ambassadors perpetually at the ready. The difference here is the sincere business belief that attitude and effort trump all. Yes, that’s the president of the resort stopping to reunite you with your skis after a tumble in the Centennial glades. To be sure, Deer Valley’s top ranking—fueled by setting the standard in Grooming, Service, Dining and Lodging—peeves alpine purists, who would rather measure a mountain’s success in vertical feet skied and toenails blackened. Fair enough. On the other hand, “this is a resort that perfectly knows its niche.” There's no shame in that. —Greg Ditrinco
Off-the-Map Trail » Venture into the unmarked X-Files glades. Go left off the Empire Express and follow Orion as it slides by Daly Bowl and the Daly Chutes. The trees—and the conspiracies— thicken on your left. Drop in.
Après Spot » Ride the Funicular from Snow Park Lodge up to the St. Regis Deer Valley and head to the Terrace Café’s outdoor patio. The views are spectacular, and we’ll let you see for yourself how the Garden of Fire got its name.
Don’t Miss » Fireside Dining at the Empire Canyon Lodge is one of those experiences you take home. Dishes from the Alps are served from five stone fireplaces as you circulate from hearth to hearth, wondering why you would ever want to leave.