Two seasons into new Alterra ownership, Deer Valley’s focus on customer service, established by Edgar Stern and Stein Eriksen 40 years ago, still shines brightly. From On-Mountain Dining and Lodging to Service and Family Friendly, Deer Valley swept nearly all of the key customer-service categories. “Deer Valley employees still treat you like royalty and the on-mountain dining continues to impress,” writes one skier. While some say it’s more crowded under Ikon, a new RFID access system helped the mountain manage its capacity control numbers in real-time last year. “They restrict the density of skiers on the mountain and consistently exceed our expectations.” Skiers cast plenty of votes for Deer Valley’s grooming, boosting it to the No. 1 spot. “It lived up to the memory of great grooming,” says one skier making a return visit after a decade.
Like any resort, it’s good to know the local tips for parking. Savvy skiers use the free bus system or carpool on busy days for exclusive access to the first lot. The three on-mountain lodges—Snow Park, Silver Lake, and Empire Canyon—get busy at lunch so time your dining carefully. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but tucked away on the second floor of Silver Lake Lodge is Royal Street Café, a hidden gem sit-down lunch destination that even takes reservations. For spring skiing, nothing beats some relaxing après in a lounge chair on the mid-mountain beach at Silver Lake. Or head down to the Snow Park Lodge base and have a cocktail at the EBS Lounge. In the evening, elevate your dining at RIME, a new venture from noted chef Matthew Harris in St. Regis Deer Valley. The resort is also just a hop, skip, and a free bus ride to historic downtown. “Main Street, Park City is the place to go after hours for great meals and drinks.” True story. —Tom Kelly
2021 Reader Resort Ranking for Deer Valley: No. 2 in the West
- WHAT’S NEW: Surprise! A new airport is now open in Salt Lake City, complete with a modern ski baggage system and recharging ports at all seats.
- BRAGGING RIGHTS: For a breathtaking challenge, traverse out to the imposing Daly Canyon. Chute 4 will get your heart rate going.
- FAMILY EXPERIENCE: For a fun evening, snowshoe to a crackling fire with All Seasons Adventures’ Snow and S’mores tour.
- APRÈS SPOT: The Salzburg-inspired Goldener Hirsch offers Austrian Gemütlichkeit in the Wasatch.
Revisit No. 3 in the West: Whitefish, Mont.
Who topped the charts in the West this year? Annoucement coming Oct. 30
Deer Valley's 2020 Reader Ranking for 2020: No. 5 in the West
You get a special sensation arcing a turn over the pitch on Stein’s Way. It’s a true feel-good black diamond that symbolizes the Deer Valley experience. DV introduced that feeling to a lot of new guests last year (“Ikon makes Deer Valley an exceptional value”), though some might say too many. “Did seem it was more crowded but don’t know if it was a fantastic amount of snow or the Ikon Pass,” surmises one reader.But one aspect rings true again: Deer Valley knows how to take care of its guests. “Best groomed, best service-oriented, best attitudes of employees, best food, best overall skiing,” says an experienced skier.
Deer Valley leads in dining and on-mountain food, ringing true from its signature on-mountain dish (“Two words: Turkey Chili … yum.”) to innovative offerings like a pho bar and taqueria at Silver Lake Lodge. On a snowy winter evening, cozy in at Empire Lodge after a sleigh ride with Fireside Dining featuring bubbly raclette and steaming stews, all cooked in stone fireplaces. DV is near the top on grooming, but if you want to ski like a local, head into the woods. Triangle Trees, Sunset Trees, and the ever-so-secret X Files (ask around) are hidden gems. Gladed tree pods comprise 45 percent of the terrain with forestry teams clearing them every summer. Advanced skiers quickly head to Empire for some steep lines. “More advanced terrain is empty (a good thing!),” opines one expert skier. “The quality of the entire skiing experience at Deer Valley is unmatched.” — Tom Kelly
- LOCAL TIP: Forget parking—take the bus! Three of four base areas are reachable by free transit. Just don’t tell anyone about the #9 purple line to Empire.
- DOWN DAY ACTIVITY: Learn more about Deer Valley Legend Stein Eriksen and ski powder without clicking into skis at the interactive exhibits in the Alf Engen Ski Museum.
- FAMILY EXPERIENCE: The new Champion’s Club in Stein Eriksen Lodge features a pub with wings and milkshakes, plus an entertainment center with the world’s largest Pac-Man game.
- APRÈS-SKI: Rich Dutch cocoa makes for an elegant Winter’s Dream hot chocolate by the fire at the St. Regis Deer Valley. Add Amaretto for a kick.
SKI Magazine's 2019 Review of Deer Valley, Utah
There are ski trips, and there are ski vacations. These are two very different animals. At Deer Valley, you enjoy a ski vacation—a welcome break from the travails of daily life, from things like schlepping your own equipment and taking care of your own dishes. It’s the little things, but this is what makes a Deer Valley vacation stand apart from the rest.
For starters, nowhere on the continent will you find better customer service and friendlier faces waiting to point you in the right direction. And more often than not, that direction is towards fast and efficient high-speed lifts and wide, well-groomed trails with nary a lift line or a crowd in sight. Across its 2,026 skiable acres spread over six peaks are the well-coiffed cruisers that skiers have come to know and love, but also Children’s Trails that wind through the forest on family-friendly Flagstaff Mountain, perfectly spaced glades in Triangle Trees on Bald Mountain, and knee-knocking extreme terrain in Empire’s Daly Chutes.
DV fans make much ado about the dining. For good reason: the fish tacos at Empire Canyon Lodge are divine, and Royal Street Café’s Ahi Tuna Tartare just might be unrivaled in the ski space. Ski, eat, sleep ... do it all over again. Isn’t that what vacations are all about?
Come for the...
- GROOMING Creating perfect carpets of corduroy is religion at Deer Valley; if you like your carve with a view, head to Morningstar, on Bald Mountain, which serves up lovely views of Jordanelle Reservoir.
- SERVICE Stash your skis overnight at the complimentary Ski Valet “barn” at the Snow Park base. Yep, it’s the little things.
- TREE STASH Sunset Glades, on Bald Mountain, for perfectly spaced aspens and plentiful pow at a moderate pitch, perfect for those testing the tree-skiing waters.
- LATE-NIGHT HANGOUT Snag a spot on the patio at the Terrace Café at the St. Regis with a view of the stunning Fire Garden and soak in the sizzling vibes.
- APRÈS SPOT Hot pretzels with three dipping sauces (the fig mustard is a must-try) and a Squatters Double IPA at The Brass Tag.
- DINNER RESERVATION The Mariposa—excellent small plates and a thoughtfully chosen wine list in an intimate space in Silver Lake Lodge.