I try to spend a week each winter skiing somewhere in the Alps. I’m drawn back by the majestic beauty of the rugged peaks, the cracking glaciers and the expansive, treeless meadows of snow.
Of course, resort towns and villages are needed to access and enjoy all the skiing this dreamland offers. While each resort has its own personality they have much in common. After all, they’ve had a long time to define and refine the best ways to get us up those glorious alps; to wine us and dine us in Michelin star style and then lodge us in comfortable alpine chalets and rustic hotels.
Today, I find a typical European destination ski vacation is about picking one of the resort towns or villages. I love it that each has its own personality, restaurants, types of lodging and après-ski. Each resort has their own lifts and lift tickets but, in some cases, also offers a common lift ticket. Most resorts in an immediate area offer easy access between each town or village, either by interconnecting lifts but also by shuttle.
No matter which resort in the Alps I pick, I know I’m going to be relatively sure I’m going to find great skiing for every ability, excellent ski schools, lots of gondolas and chairlifts and a myriad of restaurants, both in town and on the mountain that will please every palate and pocketbook. I know I’ll have my choice of après-ski activities, be it a hot tub and bed, a shopping spree, a rocking night on the town or a quiet interlude.
Of course, any vacation always starts with where am I going stay. In the Alps I’ll have my choice of 5 star hotels or B&Bs, condos or chalets, ski-in/ski-out or a bit out of town.
Hey, if this is starting to sound a little like Park City, Utah it’s because that’s the way it is – there are three world class resorts in Park City and I can find my choice of lodging in town or ski in/ski out at any of the three resorts and – I can grab my skis and ride a bus from one to the other within a few minutes.
The first time I rode a heated Bubble Chairlift was in the Alps, the second time was at Canyons Resort. The first time I walked out of a hotel, stopped at a coffee shop and then hopped on a chairlift was in the Alps, the second time was in Park City for the Town Lift up Park City Mountain Resort. The first time I ate a gourmet meal at noon in an on-mountain restaurant was in the Alps, the second time was at Deer Valley Resort.
From fast food to four-star, the Park City area has more than one hundred restaurants and the resorts offer 25 on-mountain eateries. I really like that, within a few minute bus ride I can access a total of over 45 lift and ski almost 400 marked trails and 9,300 acres on 23 peaks and you know it’s all an easy 40 minute drive from SLC international airport.
So, in Park City, just as in Europe we have expansive skiing, choices for lodging and where to dine. There’s après ski to fit the mood, and there’s that special ambiance both in town and at the resorts that makes you feel really welcome.
By all means, put a ski trip to the Alps on your wish list but until you go put a ski vacation to Park City in your winter planner.