Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The "Deer Valley Difference"- 16,130 vertical feet

I got my first taste of Deer Valley today, and it was sweet. Deer Valley Mountain Resort is like no other mountain resort that I have ever been to. Certain elements make Deer Valley unlike any other in Utah, the Wasatch Range, the USA, and maybe even the world.

First, Deer Valley has an excellent grooming standard. All green, blue, and double blue trails are groomed every night totaling about 1/2 of the mountain. But, the snow is not just rolled over by a CAT to be made into "corduroy" (so named because of the appearance of groomed snow), it is chopped up deeper than the surface and then groomed over to be made into what Mom aptly calls, "velvet corduroy". I didn't get to the mountain early enough to experience a freshly groomed trail, but I can attest to the fact that the snow was still great at the end of the day, something that is not necessarily that easy to find.

Second, Deer Valley has the most incredibly accessible mountain. Deer Valley is privately owned (as opposed to being leased from the US Forest Service). It's owner and creator Edgar Stern sought to create a luxury ski resort. I think he certainly succeeded. The aforementioned snow grooming and the mountain accessibility certainly make Deer Valley a pleasant place to ski, and a place that affluent skiers would be more likely to spend money because of the numerous services provided. On most mountains you will find yourself taking the "catwalk" to get across the mountain to other lifts and sections of the mountain. Deer Valley does no such thing! There are lifts to get to other lifts! I never once today found myself on a catwalk shuffling over to the other side of the mountain. With it's six mountain peaks, one would think traveling between the six would be a difficult task. Deer Valley makes it so easy to get from mountain to mountain that one can ski the entire mountain in a day! I skied four mountains today, Bald Mountain (elevation 9,400ft), Bald Eagle Mountain (elevation 8,400ft), Flagstaff Mountain (elevation 9,100ft), and Empire (elevation 9,570). Granted on some mountains I only skied one run, but the sheer fact that I was able to access four mountain peaks is quite impressive, especially considering I was only at Deer Valley for 5 hours.

Third, the food at Deer Valley is top notch. Since Deer Valley is catering (pun intended) to a more affluent crowd that is more accustomed to the finer things in life, Deer Valley has to make sure it's food is "good enough to eat". Mom and I dined at the Empire Canyon Grill at the bottom of the Ruby and Empire Express lifts. We each had chili, con carne for me and turkey for her. It was served in real flatware (not paper or plastic) and with real silverware. The cornbread with paprika sprinkled on top served on the side was to die for. It hit the spot after skiing out on the cold side of the mountain. We dined by the fire on the second story loft which was also a great place to warm our gloves. Also, the bathrooms were the nicest public bathrooms I have used in a long time. The hardware was gold... colored, not real gold obviously (or was it?). There was also a coat rack and shelf conveniently located at the entrance to the restroom so I was able to hang up my coat and leave my mittens outside of the stall, because no one wants their mitten to fall into a toilet bowl.

Fourth, the customer service at Deer Valley is outstanding. The customer service was actually the first thing I noticed. At every large scale map located on the mountain (usually at the tops of lifts) a "Mountain Host" was present to help skiers negotiate the mountain. We asked multiple mountain hosts questions like, "Where is the sunniest trail? Which double blue do you recommend? and How do we get to X lift?" They always had the answer, and were so pleasant upon answering. We were never steered in the wrong direction. The lift attendants were so friendly, always saying "Good morning/afternoon" and asking us how our day was going. When we had questions they answered enthusiastically. The servers and bussers at the Empire Canyon Grill were also very friendly and courteous. But, my favorite customer service experience was when we were leaving Empire Canyon Grill to head up the Ruby Express lift, which is very flat terrain to ski across, especially while trying to dodge skiers coming downhill from three directions. A gentleman wearing the signature Deer Valley green jacket was asking my mom how she liked her skis (Volkl Aura's) while she was putting them on outside, so they were chatting for a bit. Then he asked us where we were going and we told him to the Ruby Express lift. Then, he grabbed hold of our poles and gave us a tow across the flat terrain and whipped us into the lift line. It was so fun, and a perfect example of the amazing customer service at Deer Valley.

Mom said I would love Deer Valley, and I did. I fully intend to go back there on a day when I am not so tired (third day leg muscle soreness was kicking in) so that I can go earlier to experience the "velvet corduroy" and because I can ski so much of the mountain due to the accessibility. Today I skied 16,130 vertical feet, which is over 4,000 feet than I skied yesterday. Deer Valley definitely exceeded my expectations for a ski resort, but I know better than to expect it from all ski resorts, and because of that I will look forward to my days at Deer Valley with eagerness.

This video was taken at the top of Empire Express, the mountain peak all the way to skiers left.

This video was taken at the top of Bald Mountain where the Sultan, Wasatch, and Sterling Express lifts converge. Weren't we blessed with the most gorgeous day?!

This final video, is me "interviewing" Mom about our lunch. She is so cute.


  1. So my question is...how much more expensive is it? haha

  2. Park City and Deer Valley both cost $86 for an all day adult lift ticket. But, the discount tickets at Park City come out to $52/adult all day vs. Deer Valley $79/adult all day. $27 is a lot of moolah. Also, the hotels and resorts in Deer Valley are generally more expensive than in Park City, where you are more likely to find budget friendly hotels.

  3. I adore your mother!
    And you, of course.
    I'm so glad that you are having a great time!