words by Melissa Fields
While pointing your skis down the fall line of a meticulously groomed, sparkling white slope—with the sun and fresh air kissing your cheeks and your friends hooting and hollering in your wake—it’s easy to forget we’re still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. By now, you’re likely aware that this season, experiencing that delicious, high-altitude escape requires jumping through a few more hoops than we’re typically accustomed to. But that’s why Deer Valley Resort has created a slew of tools to help deliver you seamlessly and easily from your daily grind to living out your snow-sliding daydreams.
Step One: as soon as you know the dates you’ll be visiting Park City, log onto deervalley.com. There you can explore lodging options, peruse vacation deals (abundant this season), research travel options (including both drive times to Park City and Salt Lake City International Airport flight schedules), book ski lessons and, most importantly, reserve lift tickets—which, this winter, are available for advance purchase only.
If you’re planning to ski Deer Valley midweek or during a non-holiday time period, you’ll likely have no problem purchasing lift tickets within a day or two of your visit. But if you’d like to ski there during the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. and President’s Day holiday periods or Spring Break—January 16-18, February 13-21 and all of March, respectively—Deer Valley strongly advises purchasing your lift tickets as far in advance of your visit as possible to guarantee access. (Deer Valley season passes and Ikon passes do not need to make reservations at this time, though Ikon passholders should be sure to double-check their pass’s blackout dates before arrival.)
“As of now, we’re not anticipating selling out for the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. But we all know that can change in an instant, particularly when there’s a snowstorm in the weather forecast,” says Abby Railton, Deer Valley Communications and Content Coordinator. “Additionally, we anticipate being busy in March as well, mostly in the middle of the month, in conjunction with various spring breaks. We don’t have any dates sold out yet, but encourage people looking to visit during that time to purchase tickets as soon as they can.”
At the same time you’re purchasing lift tickets, consider booking dining reservations as well. This season, Deer Valley’s daytime food and beverage restaurants—at Snow Park, Silver Lake and Empire Canyon lodges—have been converted from a cafeteria-style format to table service. (Good news: due to this format change, beer, wine and cocktails are available at these restaurants during lunch.) And while not required, guests are strongly encouraged to make advance lunch reservations to sit down, eat lunch and warm up within any of these lodges during their day on the mountain.
Not into cutting into your slide time by sitting down for lunch? No problem. Grab-and-go options (including hot and cold drinks; sandwiches and wraps; salads; and Deer Valley turkey chili, cookies, bars and gourmet gorp) are available for purchase at Snow Park and Silver Lake lodges outside of the main dining areas. There you can eat on the run, grab a table in one of the nearby heated tents or pull up a chair around the fire pits and heat lamps on the day lodges’ outdoor decks. Après ski is, understandably, a bit toned down this season, but you can still enjoy a slopeside libation at either EBS Lounge or the Goldener Hirsh, advance reservations required. If you’re considering having dinner at one of Deer Valley’s award-winning evening restaurants—the family-friendly Brass Tag, Euro-esque Fireside Dining, the rustically elegant Mariposa, the always-fresh Seafood Dining or the contemporary Alpine Goldener Hirsch—reservations are not only well worth it, but required.
Step Two: just before your arrival, be sure to download the free Deer Valley mobile app, aka the keys to Deer Valley’s skidom. With it, you’ll be able to check weather and snow conditions, make and alter dining reservations—including ordering food in advance so it’s ready when you arrive for your reservation, explore the resort’s trail map, browse Deer Valley’s events calendar, off-slope activity offerings and much more.
Something else to keep in mind just before and as you arrive: masks or face coverings are required everywhere at Deer Valley Resort, unless you are actively skiing, eating or drinking. And while one of those thin neck gators, made by brands like Buff, is OK for when you’re actually skiing, it is not enough for interacting with staff, waiting in the lift line, riding the chairlifts and spending any time indoors. So remember to have a medical or at least a two-layer cloth mask on or with you at all times. Please also remember to cover both your nose and mouth—Deer Valley may be located in the West, but holstering your mask under your nose or chin is not kosher there.
Another pro tip: plan to dress to stay outside longer than you might in more normal times. Layers are key, both to keeping warm during those frigid mountain mornings and cooling off when temps rise on those spring afternoons. Consider making a backpack part of your on-mountain outfit, where you can stash an extra layer or two, some hand warmers, water, extra face masks, and some sunscreen.
Despite the early and abrupt end to the 2019–20 season due to the pandemic, Deer Valley still managed to rack up many of the awards and accolades that have, over the years, helped cement it’s impeccable reputation, including being named 2020’s Best U.S. Ski Resort by the World Ski Awards for the eighth year in a row, and earning the 2021 top spots in the West for families, accessibility, service, dining, grooming and lifts—as well as second best overall Western resort—in SKI Magazine’s annual reader survey.
No doubt, skiing is one of the precious few activities that are both relatively safe and feels close to normal during these definitely not normal times. When you do go to Deer Valley this winter, please also be patient and flexible. The end of the pandemic is near, but until then, we’re all in this together.
This post is sponsored by Deer Valley Resort
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