Every winter, people flock to Utah’s resorts to enjoy the “Greatest Snow on Earth,” but those visitors also get to experience great hotels, spas and restaurants, as well as activities off the slopes in beautiful mountain settings. While most of the world has to hop a plane to enjoy all of this, Utahns can get out of the smog-clogged valleys for a vacation in their own world-famous backyard—even if you have no intention of getting on skis or a snowboard.
Newpark Resort & Hotel (1456 Newpark Blvd., 435-649-3600, NewparkResort.com) just off Interstate 80 at Kimball Junction, has a fun, modern feel. It sits in a large mall area within walking distance of Jupiter Bowl, Redstone 8 Cinemas, shops and Swaner EcoCenter. For those who want to be closer to the action along Park City’s Main Street but still enjoy the feel of a boutique hotel, it’s worth the splurge to try the Washington School House Hotel (543 Park Ave., 435-649-3800, WashingtonSchoolHouse.com); a complete remodel in 2011 gave it a chic atmosphere while retaining all of the charms of a bed & breakfast. You can pop on and off the lifts at Park City’s Canyons Resort at the Waldorf Astoria Park City (2100 Frostwood Drive, 435-647-5500, ParkCityWaldorfAstoria.com), which has a chair lift just outside the front door.
Heading down south, the newest lodge at Brian Head Resort (329 S. Highway 143, 866-930-1010, BrianHead.com) is a Doubletree Resort & Spa (314 Hunter Ridge Drive, 435-677-9000, Doubletree3.Hilton.com), which brings the famous Hilton brand to the slopes at 9,600 feet. Regardless of the altitude, you’ll still get those delicious cookies.
Nothing makes you feel like you’re a world away from home like a spa. The Cliff Spa at Snowbird (Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 801-933-2225, Snowbird.com/cliff-spa) offers a variety of treatments, but the best part of the visit may be before or after. Head up to the rooftop pool and hot tub to enjoy the mountain air and views straight across to the other side of the canyon.
A location of the famed Golden Door Spa (435-647-5555, GoldenDoor.com) can be found in Park City at the Waldorf. Try the signature Lavender Zen treatment that combines a massage with a full-body scrub. Use of the outdoor facilities is included with your treatment, so make a full day of it. At Deer Valley, ride the funicular to the St. Regis Hotel (2300 Deer Valley Drive East, 435-940-5700, StRegisDeerValley.com) to check out the RemÃ¨de Spa, and enjoy a variety of teas and handmade artisan truffles in the waiting room before getting one of their nouveau oxygen facial treatments.
Part of the reason that Eden is a fitting name for a town in the Ogden Valley is that the food at Harley & Buck’s (3900 N. Wolf Creek Drive, 801-745-2060, HarleyAndBucks.com) is a paradise of choices, featuring everything from ribs to sushi and prime rib to pasta. For something out of the ordinary, head to Eats of Eden (2595 N. Highway 162, 801-745-8618, EatsOfEden.biz) to try the Amazon pizza that features a spicy Peruvian cheese sauce.
Park City has long featured some of Utah’s finest dining. You can also enjoy the winter night air while taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the mountains between the main course and dessert at Deer Valley’s Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge (9200 Marsac Ave., 435-645-6632, DeerValley.com/dining). Bistro at Canyons Resort (Silverado Lodge, 4000 Canyon Resort Drive, Park City, 435-615-3400, CanyonsResort.com) opened in December 2011 as the only kosher restaurant in America located at a ski resort—complete with rabbis on staff. Park City Mountain Resort has a great on-the-go option in Cobra Dogs (1345 Lowell Ave., 435-649-8111, ParkCityMountain.com), a well-known hot-dog stand that is set up right at the base of the 3 Kings lift. Those looking for vegetarian options, or just great Indian and Persian food, will find it at Good Karma (1782 Prospector Ave., 435-658-0958, Park City, GoodKarmaRestaurants.com).
There are plenty of ways to experience the mountains that don’t involve getting on a chair lift. Sundance Resort (8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, 801-223-4170, SundanceResort.com), up Provo Canyon, has a night program where you pay just $15 for equipment rental before heading out for a Full Moon cross-country ski or snowshoe adventure.
Snowmobiling can be fun in any terrain, but the course offered by Thunder Mountain Motorsports (BrianHeadThunder.com) at Brian Head Resort is hard to beat, as it takes you to a cliff overlooking the beautiful red rocks of Cedar Breaks. Outdoor ice-skating is featured at Solitude Mountain Resort (12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-534-1400, SkiSolitude.com), where the rink is surrounded by the shops and restaurants of the resort’s charming Alpine Village. If you like traveling downhill at good speeds but don’t want to strap on skis or a snowboard, try Park City Mountain Resort’s (1345 Lowell Ave., 435-649-8111, ParkCityMountain.com) Alpine Coaster or Flying Eagle zip line, which both take you over the snow, but high above it.
Whether you head north, east or south out of the Salt Lake Valley, it won’t be long before you can be enjoying places and experiences that the rest of the world is willing to travel far and wide to savor.
Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin regularly blog about their treks near and far as the Travel Tramps on CityWeekly.net. They also host the weekly Travel Brigade Radio Show.