Skiing at Stein’s House: Deer Valley Ski Resort Does It Best

By: ANNE Z. COOKE & STEVE HAGGERTY

DEER VALLEY, UT-- You’ve probably noticed: It’s a do-it-yourself world and getting more so every day.

You pump your own gas and buy stamps from a machine. The automatic teller serves cash, and a website takes orders for shirts and shoes. You can purchase airplane tickets online, get boarding passes from the computer and not speak to a single soul until you actually board the plane – and sometimes not even then.   

Which is why Deer Valley Resort and Stein Eriksen Lodge, at Park City, Utah, can safely claim to be North America’s premiere ski destination. Partners in pampering since 1982, this  dynamic duo delivers a killer mix of manicured ski slopes, alpine charm, personal service and fine cuisine from the first moment you park your car to your last run down the mountain.

The experience starts at the Lodge when ski valets appear from nowhere to open your car door, carry your luggage and unload skis and boots. If you haven’t brought skis, they’ll direct you to the Lodge’s rental shop. A word to an obliging concierge and your lift tickets are bought (and added to your bill), ski lessons are booked and on-mountain lunch reservations secured.

Tables for Sunday Brunch at Glitretind, the Lodge’s legendary restaurant, must be booked in advance. Usually it’s full. But when the concierge works his magic, finding space for you and your gang, it’s as easy as pulling rabbits from a hat. If your trip has been tiring and you have a few free hours before dinner, you can relax in the Lodge’s heated outdoor pool, a hot water adventure often enhanced by wafting snowflakes.

Or you could visit the spa, for a facial, a foot treatment, or a massage. The fitness room is adjacent, the very place to work out post-travel kinks. Meanwhile, your room, one of the hotel’s 171 one-to-four bedroom rooms and suites, awaits your arrival. Individually decorated and furnished with satiny linens, wi-fi access and an entertainment center, it also sports a minibar, coffee maker, bathrobes, electronic safe and scented lotions.  

When you’re ready to ski, call for your gear and step out the door. Stein Eriksen Lodge, in Deer Valley’s mid-mountain Village, is on the slopes.  

The ski resort, for its part, is regularly rated among the country’s top five ski hideaways.   Meticulously groomed slopes and high speed quad chairlifts climb to each separate summit, mountain hosts wait at each lift to help you decipher the trail map, and even the lift operators hustle, smiling as they help gradeschoolers climb aboard, and picking up dropped poles and gloves.  

As skiable acreage goes, Deer Valley is one of Utah’s smaller resorts, though you’d never guess it. With just 1,825 skiable acres, long lift lines and crowded trails should be likely, especially on holiday weekends. But with daily lift ticket sales limited to 6,500, there’s room for all. How did the resort pick that figure? It’s the maximum number of diners who can be seated for lunch at any one time. Heaven forbid that any Deer Valley guest might have to wait for a table. 

Waiting is never an option when you top off your ski holiday with dinner at the resort’s “Fireside Dining,” served white-tablecloth style at the Empire Canyon Lodge, from Wednesday through Friday nights. A banquet worthy of royalty, the five-course feast matches waiter-served wines to a cornucopia of items, from freshly-melted raclette cheese and roast potatoes, to a let of lamp on a spit. Beef and chicken fricassees, roast beef, salmon au jus, vegetable dishes, sauces, salads, curried rice, dried and fresh fruits, pastries, chocolate cakes and ice cream complete the meal.

For lunch on the mountain, eat at the Royal Street Café, at Silver Lake, the place to see and be seen. Sit outside on the patio and look for celebs behind their sunglasses. You can also reserve a table inside, where it’s quieter, easier to talk and the sun isn’t so fierce. The same menu is served in both locations.    

If you’re lucky you may spot former Olympic gold medalist Stein Eriksen, Deer Valley’s guiding spirit, whose lifelong love of skiing helped launch the resort and the Lodge that bears his name. Eriksen, who celebrates his 85th birthday on December 11, this year (2012) is a familiar figure, often spotted zipping down black diamond steeps, chatting in lift lines or stopping to sign autographs.  

“He loves to ski with visitors,” says Craig McCarthy, a Park City spokesman, chuckling. “But you better be able to keep up. Stein doesn’t wait.”    

 If it weren’t for Eriksen, lending his name to the Lodge and his reputation to Deer Valley, things might be different. And we’d be the poorer for it. Happy Birthday, Stein. Live long and prosper.

IF YOU GO:

*  Stein Eriksen Lodge is on the slopes at Deer Valley Resort, near Park City, Utah. Salt Lake City International Airport is 36 miles away, a 40-minute ride by rental car or shuttle bus.

*  Deluxe rooms with one king or two queen beds (including a full daily breakfast for all in a room)  start at $610 per night in shoulder season, $735 in high season and $805 during holiday weeks. In April the rate drops to $410.  Adults can share and children of any age can stay free.

*  Call 800-453-1302 or go to www.steinlodge.com.

*  Other luxury lodging at Deer Valley includes the Montage Hotel, which opened in late 2010 with 154 rooms and 66 suites; and the St. Regis Hotel, opened in 2008 with 180 rooms.  

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