I first learned to ski 25 years ago on a ramp in a garage in Los Angeles. A good girlfriend’s boyfriend at the time was a world champion skier turned instructor to the stars. I took a handful of lessons on his tilted treadmill like contraption before heading to the slopes of Park City to actually try skiing on snow. Though my body got the general idea, my skills on the machine didn’t translate 100% to the mountain. I am not a ski lover by nature. I don’t like being cold or managing a lot of gear. I am also not a fan of speed and heights. Warm weather hiking and yoga on the beach are more my comfort zones. However, there is something about the start of the holiday season that makes me want to cozy up by a fire with some hot cocoa in a winter wonderland. The holidays had me nostalgic for the times I spent in Deer Valley with my late husband who used to ski with Stein Erikson back in the day. We honeymooned at Stein’s resort and after a couple of seasons with some private lessons I had finally gotten past the fear of fumbling downhill. We went skiing several winters in a row before life got in the way and years slipped by without setting foot in the snow. Overdue for an alpine escape I began researching vacation resorts from Aspen to Jackson Hole thinking maybe I should try someplace new. Then, like a Christmas blessing, I received an email from Montage Deer Valley inviting me to the opening weekend of their 2021 winter season. Coming out of another year of Covid, with new variants on the rise and possible travel restrictions on the horizon, I figured I should jump at the opportunity to squeeze in a ski trip sooner rather than later. I was so happy that I said “Yes!” and returned to Utah to discover my new favorite escape at my old favorite ski resort.
The Montage is an exclusive mountain refuge with unrivaled access to North America’s No. 1 ski resort, Deer Valley. It is located just five minutes from Park City – named by Forbes Traveler Magazine among one of the “20 prettiest towns in the United States”. The retreat is also home to a 35,000-square-foot spa sanctuary, inspired dining and multi-million-dollar luxury residences. Needless to say it is a ski lovers paradise. Getting to Montage Deer Valley is easy. Hall Transportation picked me up from my quick Delta flight from LAX to Salt Lake City and I was brought straight to the 5-Star resort where the receptionist, Katie, surprised me with a fairytale residence on the 9th floor with a peak view, more square footage than my Los Angeles bungalow, and a welcome treat of chocolate covered strawberries. I am seriously staying in mountain heaven.
Montage Residences Deer Valley, located on the upper six floors of the hotel, reflect the relaxed and elegant lifestyle of a magnificent ski-in, ski-out home in Park City, Utah. Traditional and comfortable furnishings match the style of their grand ski resort. A large open living room with a gas fireplace connects to a dining area and full Viking kitchen. Down the hall is an en-suite laundry, guest room with bath, extra powder room, and huge master suite with a walk-in closet, deluxe bathroom with a steam shower, and a bathtub with a view. Although I was still a little nervous to step back in my Surefoot custom ski boots after nearly a decade, at least I knew I would thoroughly enjoy the stay.
I had a fully loaded kitchen and could grocery shop in town and cook if I chose. However, since it was just me and some local friends that I was meeting, I skipped messing up the sparkling designer stove and opted to explore Montage’s many restaurant options. When it comes to food, Montage Deer Valley’s signature restaurant, Apex, serves classic continental cuisine in a gorgeous mountain setting (think prime meats, seafood towers, foie gras & caviar) offering a relaxed yet refined dining experience. Their Burgers & Bourbon menu is full of hearty gourmet sandwiches, salads, and fresh cut fries perfect for lunch. The Montage menus emphasize local artisans and farmers who produce the finest ingredients. Vegan options are available as are an array of decadent desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth.
For afternoon snack time fun, Montage had a complimentary s’mores station set up with gourmet house-made marshmallows everyday at 4:30pm at the outdoor fire pits overlooking the snow-covered hills. I tried each of the marshmallow flavors – regular, caramel, espresso – each one better than the last. My s’mores making culminated in a When Harry Met Sally-esque “Yes. Yes! Yes!! I hadn’t even gotten on a lift before remembering why I enjoyed ski vacations.
Whether for an hour or an entire day, Spa Montage Deer Valley invites you to relax and rejuvenate. Experience their signature Elements of Wellness therapies as you enjoy the finest spa amenities; redwood saunas, steam rooms, strong-jetted whirlpools, and an exquisite wellness center. Spa Montage is the largest spa in all of Utah. Their serene sanctuary takes you to new heights of relaxation, beauty and healing. Their experienced Montage therapists undergo hundreds of hours of specialized training to create customized therapies that best address your needs. To take advantage of their unique experiences, and to get ready for a minor surgery over the holiday break, I chose a treatment that I had never tried before, “Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)”, performed by a Vodder School certified therapist. MLD is a technique developed to reduce inflammation and bruising ideal for pre-and post-surgical operations and injuries, resulting in improved lymph and blood circulation. I fell into a deep meditative state during the subtle yet powerful service and left feeling peaceful and grounded.
Over the past several years, I had pared down my old ski clothes to a few essentials; Smartwool long underwear and socks, gloves, helmet, and goggles. I packed semi-light but with an extra duffle so I could do a little shopping. I broke out the closeted Chanel sweater dresses and Moncler boots and outerwear so I could be warm, and just as importantly, look cute après ski. I ’m glad that I threw in some yoga pants too, as to my delight, they offered daily yoga classes in the state-of-the-art fitness center.
The Shops at Montage Deer Valley offer several premium boutiques filled with designer apres-ski wear, outdoor accessories, and more. The resort’s premiere boutique, Pique, is the exclusive home for several designer lines offered nowhere else in Utah. Compass Sports retails many of the world’s prized athletic and sportswear along with some of the most extraordinary skis offered anywhere. I picked up some new ski pants and a shiny new bomber jacket. The boutique at Spa Montage retails some of the finest cosmetic brands, like one of my favorite organic lines Tata Harper, alongside designer gym and loungewear. Luckily they had a lovely selection of swimsuits since I somehow forgot to pack mine. Housewares and the tantalizing truffles they place on your pillow at turndown time can be found at Buzz Coffee & Tea.
Deer Valley is the Disneyland of ski resorts. It’s the happiest place on earth! The people are warm and welcoming – which is essential for beginner-again-intermediates like me. Before I ventured out on my own I arranged for a couple of private ski lessons through Deer Valley Ski School. I took the Montage complimentary shuttle to Silverlake Lodge to purchase lift tickets, rent skis and meet my instructor. My teacher Terry was awesome. He got my vibe right away. I told him how long it had been since I was in skis and together, we reached my goal to get comfortable again and have some fun. I didn’t want to push myself too hard. I just wanted to enjoy the fresh air and leisurely take in the winter wonder of it all. Deer Valley is a ski only resort, so I didn’t have to worry about a bunch of kids on snowboards racing around me. We got back to basics day one on the training and green slopes and by day 2, I had my ski legs back…and my snow bunny smile. Though I didn’t daredevil down any Black Diamonds I did get a gold star on some sweet little Blues.
Watch my Deer Valley Ski Video HERE.
One thing is for sure: I am not going to wait another decade to return to Deer Valley. When I do – I will most certainly stay at Montage.