I have to say, when first asked if I wanted to visit the Utah ski resorts to tour our inventory, I wasn’t jumping out of my seat. We have such an extensive destination list that I’d envisioned myself planted on white sands and dipping into the crystal clear waters of Turks and Caicos or soaking up delicious sun rays on one of Anguilla’s 33 pristine beaches (while working, of course). Being from Miami where many islanders reside and having been raised in the Haitian culture, I cannot get enough of the islands. There is nothing more tranquil or more beautiful to me than Caribbean waters, though the setting sun is a strong runner-up. I live for the sounds of Reggae, Soca, Chutney and other island music and the taste of sensational Caribbean delights. So you see, my vision was a long way from Utah.
I’d heard talk about how fabulous the ski resorts there are and from our website, saw what amazing rental homes were situated in the area so my curiosity peaked the week leading up to my departure. Doggy daycare was set for my fur baby, Marshmallow, airline tickets were purchased, accommodations booked and the ink on my printed itinerary dried. I, Elizabeth Philippe, was heading to Utah.
After a grueling 17-hour journey from Atlanta for many reasons I won’t bore you with (nor wish to relive), I arrived in Salt Lake City. A private car awaited my 1:30 a.m. Mountain Time arrival. I’d officially been awake for 22 hours. Glen, my driver, relieved my aching arms of three heavy bags (of course I over-packed AGAIN) and though I was frustrated and exhausted after the long trip, he and I sparked up a lively conversation and chatted throughout the entire 40-minute, scenic drive – even through the darkness – to my accommodation for the weekend.
I-80, the windiest highway I’ve ever ridden on, took us past downtown Salt Lake City and into the Park City area. The night backdrop looked almost like a movie set, the dark outline of beautiful mountain ranges in the distance. We drove through the mountains and into the resort town. We first passed The Canyons, followed by Park City and finally, drove up the mountain to Deer Valley where my weekend home awaited my arrival. My colleague, Allegra, and I were stationed at 2 Northside in the Empire Pass neighborhood. I adore this home! I trudged up the stairs to my Master Suite, lit the electric fireplace and took the longest, hottest shower. It felt so good to be wrapped in the tender arms of the perfect steam, drowning out the cold air. By 3:30 a.m. I was in bed. My eyes shut and, in what felt like two seconds, it was 7 a.m. With three and a half hours of sleep under my belt, I was up and ready to take on the day.
Unbeknownst to me, but to my delight, an earlier snow shower left the mountains a picturesque white; the terrain covered in fluffy, glittering snow. My eyes are automatically drawn to anything shiny so it was so beautiful to see! I suddenly understood why these resorts are the top ski destinations in the States. The scene was a perfect visual for me – this is what our clients would experience, and more, come the start of the season. Though everything was closed while we were there, the fallen snow made the ski runs evident.
First thing in the morning after my morning juice, i.e. coffee, Allegra motioned me to our living room patio to view the amazing fog that blanketed Park City below us. I have never seen anything like it. A few moments after our host arrived, I stepped out onto the front patio, inhaled the crisp mountain air and took in the sight of snow-covered trees and rooftops. I am a nature geek so I was in love. The second I set foot onto the icy driveway I was on my back. Apparently, not all boots are appropriate for snow, who knew? We visited properties in Deer Crest, Emerald Pass and Silver Lake. We toured numerous homes and condos and I quickly noted that there was a property to suit every budget! Many are great for multiple families or large groups. All of the accommodations are kid-friendly and to be quite honest, I would have no problem as an adult bunking up in some of the rooms I saw that were dedicated to children. They were just THAT spectacular! Nothing was spared when it came to design, decoration and amenities of several of the homes.
Deer Valley is definitely the place to be for great ski in/out access and views! In addition, you are still only about 15 minutes or less away, using FREE transportation in season, from the action on Main Street!
The following would be my recommendations for Deer Valley homes of those seen. Call me to find out why!
Some of the art at Gandhara
I found Park City to be a very quaint community, not at all what I’d imagined. I envisioned Main Street to be a bustling promenade scattered with strategically-positioned benches for winter cuddles and hot chocolate, littered with thousands of colorful lights from post to post. I dreamt up a spectacle that did not exactly match my thoughts, especially not during the off-season. Walking up and down Main Street and popping into a shop or a restaurant every so often changed my opinion because although it wasn’t the whimsical image I’d pictured, there are so many gems on Main and it is THE place to be when visiting.
Everything is situated close together, the streets narrow. The homes are built vertically and are therefore on several levels. Only the strong survive the multiple staircases but some homes are also equipped with elevators. The neighborhoods were not impressive but I was pleasantly surprised by what treasures lay indoors! For Park City, it is all about location. This is definitely where I will direct my clients who would like to be able to walk to Main Street for easy access to mouth-watering eats (the possibilities are endless!), après-ski, shopping, access to the Town Lift and the Park City Base area.
My favorite properties in Park City of those seen:
During our downtime, Allegra and I had the opportunity to get to know the area, things to do both on and off season, places to eat (I think I gained a pound a day, easily… much eating took place during our 5-day stay), and we visited downtown Salt Lake City.
We made our way to Utah Olympic Park. Only the museum was open but in season, one can zip line or even bobsled at the park. You read correctly, bobsled! Imagine: racing down the track at speeds of 80 mph like a true Olympic athlete. My heart could not take it and I’d be out cold by the time I reached the bottom of the track but it is definitely a great opportunity for the curious … and courageous.
Sunday was probably my favorite day but I could be a bit biased as it included a deep tissue massage, private in-home chef service by a celebrity chef and a trip into downtown Salt Lake to visit Hogle Zoo! At the recommendation of one of our masseuses, we had lunch at Settebello in downtown Salt Lake, a true taste of Italian pizza. It was simply delicious!!! The nearly perfect, authentic Italian pizza (according to Allegra, a true foodie) at Settebello, the “make your nose run and eyes water” spicy, most flavorful Chicken Tikka Masala at Good Karma (Indian) and the four-course meal prepared by our chef were my favorite eats of the entire stay.
I must confess, my time in Utah was very well spent. Granted, I did not bask in the sunshine or dip my feet into turquoise waters, but I saw icicles! (Please don’t judge me; I’d never seen them before so it was quite exciting for me!). My only disappointment was that I did not see any moose. On a daily basis, another stranger I ran into boasted about how he/she had a moose encounter. I am convinced that the next time I visit, a family of moose will be waiting for me at the door step of my accommodation.
I left Utah with a deeper appreciation for the mountains. I expanded my knowledge of the majority of the properties in all three ski resorts, the appropriate areas and accommodations to recommend to clients based on desires, activities to partake in and the best restaurants and dishes to add to the “must-eat while in Utah” list!