Winter Wonders at the St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah
When we were very young, with the advent of winter, we were often so excited by the prospect of snow that we would wake in the early morning hours and hurry to the window - to see if the world had been blanketed in white. And when it had, when the snow covered the hills and the lake beyond, we would stand in silent awe, transfixed in wonder.
We were recently reminded of that childhood scene one early morning while in residence at the St. Regis Deer Valley, in Park City, Utah. Completed in December 2009 at a cost of $320 million, the St. Regis Deer Valley was one of the first, and largest, projects to be completed in the state of Utah after the economic scares of 2008 - and its opening was heralded as a harbinger of good times ahead.
Spanning twelve impeccably groomed acres, the St. Regis Deer Valley is a slope-side, bespoke resort with 181 guest rooms, including 67 one-bedroom suites, which can be combined with single rooms to form multiple-bedroom, en suite residences.
Our recent arrival at the St. Regis Deer Valley came on the tail end of one of those cross-country flights for which the adjective infernal was coined (a non-stop choir of six incessantly screaming and crying children), which made the fabled St. Regis hospitality all the more welcome. Trust us, there is nothing so restorative after a flight from hell than to be embraced into the arms of a brand-new, five-star ski resort nestled in the Wasatch Mountains of Deer Valley - and particularly when that resort is one of the St. Regis brand.
Personal Butler Service
More than one hundred years ago, John Jacob Astor IV, son of the visionary Lady Astor, opened the St. Regis in New York in 1904 - and ever since then, the St. Regis name has stood as a benchmark for impeccable service and restrained elegance. With the help of his mother’s acumen and superior taste, Astor strove to create an establishment that would enable his Gilded Age cohorts to feel as comfortable at the St. Regis as they would in their own palatial residences.
Lady Astor would have been quite pleased with Eddie, the white-gloved St. Regis butler, who escorted us to our 900-square foot one-bedroom suite. Twenty-four- hour butler service is one of the signatures of the St. Regis brand - and the butlers in the employ of St. Regis have been trained in the same program as those who serve the British monarchy. Eddie was faultless in his bearing and demeanor, offering to unpack for us, as well as press our garments and polish our shoes. We couldn’t resist this last overture - and when our shoes were returned to us an hour later, they merited their own photograph. Complete with shoe bags, tissue paper, and Eddie’s business card engraved with the St. Regis crest, our shoes looked brand-new - and as spiffy as if they’d been purchased from John Lobb in London.
Exactly as John Jacob Astor IV, and Lady Astor, Wished It to Be
Meanwhile, as our shoes were getting a makeover, we were dancing around our suite. Yes, literally dancing (thanks to the iPod dock). Ensconced amidst such grandeur, it was hard not to feel giddy - and every time we passed a mirror, we radiated with delight. And why not? There were two fireplaces, both of which were activated with an electronic switch: et voila, a crackling, warm fire was toasting the premises. The handmade rugs were wool, laid upon Australian chestnut hardwood flooring. The tile in the powder room was marble. The kitchen had granite countertops - and a SubZero fridge and a Bosch dishwasher, with a Wolf cooktop and oven, as well as bar seating. There were two 37" high definition LCD flat-screen televisions, with DVD surround theater system. Everything was tastefully done in that mountain lodge sort of way, in shades of cream and brown. The furniture was handcrafted: upholstered settees and banquettes, a ponyhide tuffet, a tufted loveseat in the bedroom.
And oh, that bathroom! A dual-sink vanity, with a European glass-enclosed shower with rain showerhead - as well as a soaking tub! And a separate lavatory closet! Eddie had already apprised us of the 17" LCD flat screen TV embedded within the bathroom mirror. Yes, that’s right: a TV in the mirror. You could stand and shave, literally right next to Blaine from Glee.
Throughout our travels, it has sometimes been the case that we arrive in hotel rooms, whereupon the first thing we do is...rearrange. Sometimes there’s too much clutter, too many tchotchkes. But here we were at the St. Regis Deer Valley - and everything was perfect. Everything was exactly where it should be, exactly where a design queen would place it - and everything branded (and embroidered and etched and engraved) with the signature St. Regis crest. This suite was immediately home to us - exactly as John Jacob Astor IV (and Lady Astor) would have wished it to be.
Deer Valley: Number One North American Ski Resort
A knock on the door; it was Eddie, our butler, bringing us hot chocolate. A silver pitcher of hot milk, and a white porcelain tray with a trio of chocolates: dark, milk, and white, along with a flight of liqueurs to add to the hot chocolate. Eddie poured our hot chocolate - and then bowed his way out the door.
Oh, please! We were dying; this was heaven - and we still hadn’t even wandered out onto the balcony, with its seating and mountain views. Truly breathtaking views. If you have visited Deer Valley Resort (named the number one North American resort by SKI Magazine for the past four years), you might understand why Forbes Traveler named Park City one of the twenty prettiest towns in the United States. With only eight thousand year-round locals, Park City attracts nearly four million tourists - and more than half of them are skiers.
The fires were crackling; our shoes were polished. The hot chocolate was followed by strawberries dipped in chocolate - and gold leaf. Yes, gold leaf. (Try it; it’s delicious - but then everything tastes better with gold...) At some point, there was also a split of champagne, which necessitated a bath, thereby recreating our own variant of a chapter from a Jackie Collins novel.
Attention to detail, of both the needs of their clients and their surroundings, has always been a hallmark of the St. Regis. The grille work, for example, is the same grille work from the St. Regis flagship in New York. We couldn’t stop marveling: at the lavender bath salts, the closet sachets, the chocolates, the silver trays. If we were Jackie Collins, we’d have written a page-turning potboiler right there in the soaking tub at the St. Regis Deer Valley.
Wintry Breathtaking Vistas
It would be tempting to remain under suite arrest during one’s time at the St. Regis Deer Valley - but to do so would be to miss out on the many winter enchantments that await one outside the door. For one thing, more than fifty per cent of the St. Regis Deer Valley is given over to the public spaces, including a soaring double-height lobby with a two-sided stone fireplace. There’s also a library, with complimentary hot beverage service throughout the day and evening wine and champagne - and over 7,500 square feet of outdoor terrace space, including the two-tiered, year-round infinity-edge swimming pool.
One late afternoon, we went snowshoeing, and as the gloaming descended upon the mountains, leaving the alpine glow upon the mountaintops, the wintry vistas were breathtaking - and that, combined with the altitude and the aforementioned champagne - rendered us both speechless and breathless.
As for the skiing, Deer Valley Resort has been voted number one for a reason; the skiing is sublime - and everything related to skiing at the St. Regis Deer Valley is about valet service. Everything that might have once seemed unpleasant about skiing has been taken care of: your equipment is delivered to you, your street shoes returned warm and toasty, and all of this solicitous attention rendered by a staff that is both professional and endearing. The St. Regis Deer Valley works to insure that your focus is on the slopes - and the exhilaration that comes from seeking oneness with the mountain.
As for après-ski, there’s the Val d’Isere ski "beach," and the St. Regis Bar (one suggestion: truffle pizza), or J&G Grill, one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s more stellar outposts - or perhaps Remède Spa, a 14,000 square-foot sanctum sanctorum of serenity and well-being.
After only a few hours at the St. Regis Deer Valley, it’s only natural that you find yourself sinking into a reverie about a life lived like this on a daily basis - in which case, you might think about the twenty-six residences on premises. Some people...
As for us, it was early one morning when we woke to a glow just beyond the windows of our beautifully-appointed bedroom. The fire had died out; it was four a.m. We rose from the bed and went to the window, pulling back the velvet drapes to reveal: a forest of white-lit Christmas trees softly glowing against a snowy backdrop. In all honesty, our jaw dropped. This was the scene we’d been waiting for, ever since we were a child - and here it was, an enchanted winter wonderland at the St. Regis Deer Valley.
(Continued on next page: What to Do at the Resort)
Skiing in a Winter Wonderland
Ski: In case you have yet to hear, Deer Valley Resort has been voted the number one North American resort by SKI Magazine for the past four years. That fact should say enough - but here’s the skinny: 2,026 acres, 21 lifts, 100 trails, and six bowls. Seriously, this is one of the more beautiful and pristine settings in the world - and to ski here is akin to skiing in a winter wonderland.
Après-Ski: Schuss down Deer Hollow ski run, right into the waiting arms of a St. Regis Deer Valley butler (or ski valet). The incredibly comely St. Regis staff removes all of your equipment - and then puts you into your street shoes, which have been warmed in your absence. The definition of heaven: toasty warm shoes after a day on the slopes.
The St. Regis Deer Valley’s European-style ski "beach" provides the seamless integration of exhilarating skiing and sophisticated après-ski - with you looking as fabulous as Garbo at Gstaad.
Furthermore, all retail and rental services are run by JANS Mountain Outfitters, experts in their field (ask for Devan), who insure that you’re not only looking good - but skiing safely.
Remède Spa: Encompassing 14,000 square feet on two levels connected by a grand spiral staircase, the Remède Spa is one of the more serene and pristine resort spas in the nation. With a reflecting pool that flows from the lobby out onto the heated outdoor terrace (where there’s also a waterfall stream), this is a spa that exemplifies the connection between one’s environment and one’s internal space. To be here is to relax, almost immediately. The companion suites are particularly deluxe, complete with fireplaces, soaking tubs, and al fresco patios. And if all that pampering weren’t enough, there are also truffles and handmade candies in the sumptuous lounges. Warning: with eleven treatment rooms, Jacuzzi, steam, and sauna, you might be loath to leave.
Luxury Tram to Heaven
Champagne Sabering: According to legend (and the champagne-sabering expert at the St. Regis Deer Valley), Madame Veuve Clicquot enjoyed "entertaining" soldiers (but then, who doesn’t?) during the reign of Napoleon - and as a token of her affection, she gave them champagne as a memento. Galloping off, the soldiers sabered open the bottles as they rode into the sunset. Romantic and perhaps far-fetched, the story becomes more credible around the Garden of Fire on the St. Regis Mountain Terrace, with a bottle of bubbly in hand - and a saber in the other. Suddenly, you’re beheading that bottle and bubbles are shooting through the air. La Vieille Dame Clicquot smiles down from above - as do Patsy and Edina.
Swim and Soak: A marvel of engineering, the two-tiered, year-round infinity-edge swimming pool at the St. Regis Deer Valley is framed by slope-side hot tubs. With a cascading waterfall, the pool ranges in depth from three to ten-feet, encompassing 2,400 square feet. Imagine yourself swimming while skiers schuss down the slope beside you - or while the snow falls from above. This is romance.
Art Walk: Within the premises of the St. Regis Deer Valley, there are more than 200 pieces of original, commissioned art, including a magnificent glass sculpture in the main lobby - as well as a mural depicting the history of Utah. Stroll the hotel with a glass of champagne and soak up the creative spirit.
Ride the Funicular: Because the St. Regis Deer Valley is nestled high along the slopes of Deer Valley Resort (which provides both privacy and slope-side access), a funicular was built to transport St. Regis guests 537 feet down (and back up) the mountain. The St. Regis Deer Valley funicular, the first at a North American ski resort, is a two-cab luxurious Swiss-made tram that seats fifteen in each car, with each car operating independently, carrying guests on a 20-degree to 80-degree angle from the upper building down to the St. Regis Snow Park building. The funicular cabins, complete with leather seats, heating, and air-conditioning, as well as a separate luggage compartment, are built by Gangloff of Berne, Switzerland, carriage maker to European royalty, and the makers of the first funicular railway in 1929. Settle back and enjoy the spectacular views of Deer Valley on your way down to Park City. Once you’re ready to return back to the St. Regis Deer Valley, sink into the leather seats and regard the ninety-second ride as a luxury tram to heaven. Open to the public at no charge.
(Continued on next page: Where to Eat and What to Do Beyond the Resort)
Butterscotch Budino with Caramel and Sea Salt
J&G Grill: The room is expansive - and welcoming. With a double-side, wood-burning fireplace amidst columns of gray quartz stacked stone, and a walnut-beamed ceiling that complements the walnut furnishings, J&G Grill evokes the mountain lodge home in North By Northwest - and you almost expect to see Cary Grant schussing down the slopes to be seated in one of the cream-colored, leather banquettes. The atmosphere is refined, and yet convivial, with a crowd as casual about their sophistication as they are earnest about their cuisine.
The food is as incredible as the views onto the Wasatch Mountains from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Michelin-starred Jean-Georges Vongerichten is also an avid skier and his menu showcases the kind of food a skier yearns for at the end of a day: grilled, with bold condiments, and assertive flavors. Dine courtside at the exhibition kitchen and watch Chef de Cuisine, Matt Harris, practice his
slow food and farm-to-table cuisine for which he was celebrated in Atlanta. There’s also a chef’s private table, with views onto the slopes as well as the kitchen.
One of the highlights of our culinary life was a nine-course meal at Jean-Georges with its views onto Central Park, just then hitting its spring stride. With a slopeside setting equally as sublime and magnificent as New York’s Central Park, J&G Grill proves the perfect mountaintop counterpoint to Vongerichten’s urban triumph.
The St. Regis Wine Vault: For the more celebratory evenings, you might consider this private dining room, with its 8,000 bottle wine vault, from more than 1,000 labels. Sink into the crescent-shaped, red leather banquette - and into the hands of the St. Regis sommelier. This is a true oenophile’s sanctuary, and particularly when combined with Harris’s sublime cuisine. Toast to William Randolph Heart at San Simeon; this is your personal "Rosebud."
High West Distillery & Saloon: Located in a 100-year-old livery stable that’s listed on the Register of Historic Places, High West is Park City’s first distillery since 1870, back when Park City was one of the richest silver mining towns in the West. Order one of the Classic Cocktails made with silver whiskey or bourye, and let High West proprietor, David Perkins, regale you with tales about life in Park City, past and present. A natural raconteur as entertaining and humorous as Mark Twain (and as literate as Faulkner), Perkins possesses enough ebullient energy to convince every man, woman, and child to pack it all up and head to Utah full-time. Don’t you dare miss the butterscotch budino with caramel and sea salt.
Three of the Nation’s Top Fifteen Ski Resorts
Ski: Park City has no less than three of the nation’s Top Fifteen ski resorts: Deer Valley, Park City Mountain, and the Canyons.
Utah Olympic Park: Built for the 2002 Winter Olympics (one of the few Olympics to earn a profit), this winter sports park serves as a training center of Olympic teams. Standing atop the Nordic jump is both inspiring and daunting, as is a glance at the luge track. Guided tours available.
Eat: For a town with less than 8,000 full-time residents, Park City has more restaurants per capita than most metropolitan areas. There are more than 100 restaurants in town, with 22 of them rated by Zagat (which is more than Aspen and Vail combined).
Sundance Film Festival: The largest independent film festival in the United States is held each January, showcasing new work from filmmakers from around the world.
Leisure: More than 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, along with seven golf courses, and thirty art galleries, insure that no one gets bored in Park City.
The St. Regis Deer Valley Resort is one mile from Main Street in Park City, and 39 miles from Salt Lake City Airport, where more than 700 direct flights depart and land each day. Salt Lake City is Delta’s second largest hub after Atlanta. Leave your hometown by morning - and be on the Deer Valley Resort slopes by the afternoon.