Savor The Summit 2014: More Than Meets The Eye

There is more than meets the eye at Savor the Summit in Park City. That is saying a lot because the event is pretty amazing. Imagine one long table stretching the length of historic Main Street, with each restaurant putting on their special decorative touches you can enjoy fine dining in the outdoors with 1,500 of your closest friends.

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The event is unique and the food is amazing but there is more!  Even if you don’t participate in the elegant meal, you can still enjoy great music and special libations at Savor the Summit.

That’s what we did this year. We made sure to go to the Spirit Garden Main Stage at the Kimball Arts Center to taste Constellation wines, Wasatch and Squatters brews and sip the signature cocktails.

Mountain Town Music did not let us down with their choice of bands for the event. Guests got their party started dancing to the funky Changing Lanes Experience.

Picture 3 Picture 4 PATWA Reggae Band closed the party with their classic and authentic sounds.

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Old friends, new friends and even a few four-legged friends (at the Spirit Garden) enjoyed a celebration of summer nights in the mountains at Savor the Summit. If you were at this year’s Savor the Summit, let me know what you thought of the experience in the comments below or on Twitter at @Nancy_MoneyDiva. Here are a few more of my favorite pictures from the event. Until next time, enjoy your #DeerValleySummer.

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Summer Fun, Family Style

It has taken me a little while to get into the swing of summer apparently, it’s taken Mother Nature a bit of time, too. We had a spring snowstorm on Tuesday June 17 but with the Community Concert series set to kick off the following night (yep, it had to be postponed) and lift-served hiking and mountain biking already in full swing, the storm felt like a summertime sucker punch. In our family, we’d already spent a day exploring the activities at YMCA Camp Roger, where Lance will spend a week this summer—his first sleep-away camp experience. I’m happy to report there were cute, cozy cabins each with its own fire pit, plus archery, basketball, mountain biking and horseback riding. What’s not to love? (If it were acceptable, I’d sign up!)

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In my house, summer means a new routine nearly every week—and sometimes every day. It makes me marvel when I get to the end of the day and haven’t messed up, taken people to the wrong locations or missed a start time. Yeah, it happens.

Certainly, we’ve already crammed a ton of summer fun into the two quick weeks since school let out. My boys have enjoyed several days of tennis camp at the Park City MARC. You know it’s a good camp when you sign them up for two days and they come out at the end of the second day and ask, politely, for a third. You can bet that they’ll be doing more of that camp. I’m guessing, too, that part of their love of tennis camp is that it takes place at the MARC, where there’s free access to a rock climbing wall—perfect for killing time before camp starts.

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Some weeks, their camp pursuits are more academic. Seth went back to school for a French Immersion Camp. He’s in a dual language immersion program at school and his teacher runs week-long camps so that the language doesn’t fall out of the kids’ heads over the summer. Of course, it culminated in a hike—this is Park City, after all. Lance, on the other hand, headed to Zaniac, an awesome learning center in Redstone, where he’s been taking math classes (which thankfully, he loves, and which seemed to boost his math grades at school…win, win!). The camp he chose was “Intro to Computer Programming,”and he couldn’t get enough of the half-day program, learning to write code in lots of fun ways. He even created a music video for “Radioactive,” by Imagine Dragons.

Most of the camps we’re enrolling in this summer are partial-day camps, in part because I figured out that while there are many awesome full-day options (including Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp and options through Park City Recreation and Basin Recreation), I’ve realized that sending my kids to full-day camps often means someone else gets to hang with them while they are having fun and I get the cranky-exhausted kids afterwards. So, we compromise. There will be some full-day camps (they may yet decide to go to the UOP’s awesome FUNdamentals Sports Camp or Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp, because, heck, it’s summer, and who wouldn’t want a full day of fun?) But mostly, we’ll do partial-day camps and then head to the pool.

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Cf course, we’re planning a bunch of RV trips too—Bear Lake in July, so we can get our fill of that area’s crystal-blue waters and famous raspberry milkshakes. I would love to hear what camps you’re sending your kids to in the comments below or Tweet me @BariNanCohen.

Three Unique Adventures Near Park City – Racing Mustangs, Watching Bison and the Wild West

Race a high performance Ford Mustang GT, spot a bison herd and go back 200 years in history, all within about an hour’s drive of Park City. Who knew there were so many adventures so close by?

There is so much to do in Park City that until we moved here full time, we never even considered getting in the car and exploring.

Now that we have been here a few seasons, we have ventured out exploring in different directions. Here are some unique adventures we came across that are close enough for a day trip.

Due west -

Racing Ford Mustang GTs at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah

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Is driving upwards of 100 mph in a Ford Mustang on your bucket list?  If so, head west on Interstate 80 to Miller Motorsports Park.  My husband Jay and his “motorhead” friend Tom enjoyed the experience immensely.

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After 30 minutes of classroom instruction, the guys headed to race at high speeds on the 4.5-mile circuit track – the longest track in North America.  After following the pace car for a few laps to learn the ropes, each guy got a chance to be the lead and “let her rip” at close to 100 mph.

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Not a Ford fan?  Drive your own car on Wide Open Wednesdays – WOW.

Resource: http://www.utah.com/saltlake/miller_park.htm

Wide Open Wednesdays – http://www.millermotorsportspark.com/get-on-track/wide-open-wednesday.html

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Heading north –

Day trip to Antelope Island

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Did you know there is an island in the Great Salt Lake connected by a land bridge?  Did you know the island has fresh water springs and is home to a herd of about 600 bison?  It’s a little over an hour and a half drive from Park City (because you have to travel north of Salt Lake City to access it).

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Get out your hiking boots or bring your bike to visit Antelope Island State Park for the day (or you can even camp overnight if you are so inclined).  In addition to the bison, Antelope Island is home to large herds of mule deer, pronghorn antelope and big horn sheep. Also, take in the working farm– the Fielding Garr Ranch museum.

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Resource:  http://stateparks.utah.gov/park/antelope-island-state-park

Heading east –

Rendezvous at Fort Bridger, Wyoming

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Ever dreamed of being a frontiersman or woman during the fur trade when the west was really wild? You are almost 200 years tardy … but not too late.  You can still celebrate an old west rendezvous that occurred from 1825 to 1840 at Fort Bridger, Wyoming (a short distance east of Evanston.)

Drive east on Interstate 80 for about an hour and a half to the annual Rendezvous at Fort Bridger – a reenactment of the events when fur traders would bring their wares for trade. These gatherings were attended by hundreds of fur trappers and traders, mountain men, thousands of Native Americans and the occasional missionary or two.

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The event happens over Labor Day weekend and over 40,000 visitors and participants attend.  Many dress in period costumes to take part in festivities such as black powder musket shooting, archery and a frying pan toss competition. Hmmm… sounds interesting.

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Come in costume to participate or street cloths to watch. You can also shop at any of the 120 trading booths set up during the event.

Walking through the teepees and camps, you are transported in time and have the chance to experience a little slice of what life was like back then.

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Resource: http://www.wyomingtourism.org/articles/detail/Mountain-Man-Rendezvous/30972

Whichever direction you decide to go (even if it’s just staying right where you are), you’ll never be lacking for something to do in Park City and the surrounding area.

Deer Valley Resort Announces 2014 Summer Concert Schedule

248 Deer Valleys Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater

Dierks Bentley, Ben Folds, Vince Gill and more to bring music to the mountains in Park City, Utah. From classical to country and a little rock and roll, Deer Valley Resort has announced the lineup of celebrated singers, songwriters and musicians who will entertain guests on the resort’s mountainside this summer. The 2014 summer concert series, performed at the resort’s renowned Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, includes the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Deer Valley® Music Festival, the Park City Institute’s St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Outdoor Concert Series and the Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series presented by Mountain Town Music.

For its eleventh year at Deer Valley Resort, the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Deer Valley® Music Festival kicks off its series with a Fourth of July celebration featuring The Texas Tenors: Let Freedom Sing! and follows it up the next night with Kenny Rogers joining the Utah Symphony for a heartwarming special performance. Additional featured guests include Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Ben Folds Orchestra Experience, Super Diamond: The Neil Diamond Tribute Band, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and more. Running from July 4 to August 9, the 2014 season also includes the 1812 Overture!, the Music of U2, the Music of John Williams (famed for movie soundtracks including “Indiana Jones”, “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” and the “Star Wars” trilogy) and Disney in Concert which will feature a medley from the blockbuster movie “Frozen”. Show times and ticket information are available at deervalleymusicfestival.org.

The St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Outdoor Concert Series, presented by the Park City Institute, is also in its eleventh season sharing summer concerts on Deer Valley’s outdoor stage. The 2014 concert series features ten powerhouse concerts: The Bacon Brothers (June 28); Martina McBride (July 3); Punch Brothers (July 6); Dierks Bentley (July 24); Kix Brooks (July 31); Muscle Shoals Live with Lisa Fischer (Aug. 3); Five for Fighting (Aug. 16); Trampled by Turtles (Aug. 19); Nashville Café (August 23); and Vince Gill with the Time Jumpers (Aug. 30). For show times and ticket information, please visit bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.

The Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series, presented by Mountain Town Music, a weekly staple of Park City’s social scene, is a free event, highlighting local musical acts every Wednesday night. June 18 to August 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. This year’s musical showcase includes Afro Omega, Bonanza Town, Matt Wink, Junior and Transportation and more. Additional information is available at mountaintownmusic.org.

Deer Valley Resort Lodging and Reservations is offering a Summer Concert Package that provides a 20 percent savings on deluxe accommodations and tickets to select concerts. And to complement any evening concert, Deer Valley also features Gourmet Picnic Baskets or Bags filled with delicious epicurean items from Deer Valley’s kitchens, with options for children, single bags as well as gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan meals. Orders must be placed and purchased by 5 p.m. the day prior to the event; cancellations will not be accepted after that point.

The shows, performed rain or shine, are family-friendly and guests are welcome to bring picnics, blankets and chairs; dogs are not permitted. For more information on Deer Valley’s summer concert series, concert packages and Gourmet Picnic Baskets and Bags, please visit deervalley.com.

The Little Things Make the Difference

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Deer Valley Resort is where I learned to ski, so I don’t know anything other than being spoiled. Until my friends came up for a girl’s ski weekend, I didn’t fully appreciate all the special things that make Deer Valley so wonderful.  Sometimes when you don’t know anything else, you don’t realize how good you have it.

Here are a few things that delighted my friends about skiing at Deer Valley:

Drop off is easy. The ski concierge helps you unload your skis and poles and hold them for you while you park.  It’s so nice to not have to lug your equipment up from the parking lot.

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Toasty warm boots and gloves. There are boot warmers in the locker room at Snow Park  (and at Silver Lake Lodge and even at Cushing’s Cabin) so you can slip your feet into toasty warm boots for the start of your day (or after a break.) Having warm boots makes them easier to slip on, too. Sometimes, I’ll pop my gloves on the warmers, too if it a little chilly outside.

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Fresh flowers. How nice is it to have fresh flower arrangements in the ladies room?  Also with our high desert climate in Utah, it sure is helpful to have hand lotion to keep hands soft after washing up.  Ladies, do you agree?

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Mountain Hosts. The informative Mountain Hosts are perched at strategic locations to help you figure out your next move.  Since my girlfriends hadn’t skied in a few years, we tapped the Mountain Hosts to help us decide which runs to take and in what order.

Choices for great eats. You can find just about anything you’d like to eat one of the Deer Valley Resort restaurants.  Do you want pizza or sushi? World famous turkey chili or a salad bar? Would you like to sit down for fine dining? You got it. Not only are there the lodges at Snow Park, Silver Lake and Empire, but you can also experience dining at the Royal St Café, Montage, Stein Eriksen Lodge and St. Regis.

Ski storage for lunch. When you take a lunch break, you can store your skis for no charge so you never have to worry that you forgot where you left them or that you’ll mistakenly pick up someone’s that look just like yours. You can also leave your ski’s overnight at no charge and even have them waxed and ready for you the next day for a small charge.

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Boot baskets. The daily basket rental allows in-and-out privileges from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.  This makes it easy to drop a layer when you start to warm up and store your car keys for the day. (Yeah, I don’t bring my keys with me on the chairlift or down any ski runs for obvious reasons.)

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If you are coming back the next day, you can also store your boots overnight for no charge. This way in the morning, all you need is you and your helmet! Your skis, poles and boots all can be stored overnight waiting for you the next day — gratis from Deer Valley.

A ride to your car. The Deer Valley tram comes by every few minutes and drops you right by your car. All you have to do is remember which lot you parked in. You can be like me and forget where you left your car since you are so excited to ski in the morning. I am often seen walking through the parking lot at the end of the day, clicking my door opener and listening for a sound.  Works like a charm.

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When I was a kid, my father worked in Washington D.C., so my family went to the Smithsonian all the time. Seeing the Star Spangled Banner, the Hope Diamond, and the Bill of Rights was a regular occurrence for me – I thought all kids were “Smithsonian museum rats.”  I really didn’t know how good I had it back then.

Now as an adult, having the opportunity to ski at Deer Valley, I am spoiled once again and so are you. Isn’t it wonderful?

Girl’s Weekend – Ski Rental Makes Life Easy and, in Our Case, Memorable.

What do you pack for your girl’s ski weekend? Well, everything of course! You need bibs and ski jacket or two, under layers for warmth, choices of outfits for dinners out and your après ski boots. My girlfriends from California were so sweet to pack hostess gifts (yeah!), a bottle of my favorite Old Vine Zinfandel and a Barbera from the California wine country.

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Let’s see what else? Girls have to have their hair care products, make up, and skin care goodies. Plenty of fashion accessories are necessary so we can all share when we are getting ready to go out for dinner. Do you think there was much room in their suitcases for ski boots? Not really. As I suspected, their suitcases were completely packed so they had to sit on them to close the zippers!

Knowing this might happen, ahead of time I set them up with ski rentals from Deer Valley’s Ski Rental shop. Who wants so schlep their stuff on the plane and check an extra bag for skis and poles? Besides, their equipment is quite a few years old, and this gave them a chance to try new technology. Bonuses: less stuff to carry, fewer baggage fees and opportunity to test new equipment.

Here is how it went:

Preparation: I made a call to the Deer Valley Rental shop with my friend’s names, ages, height, weight, and ski ability. Then I reserved rentals for them during their stay. Confirmations were emailed back and we were good to go.

Morning of Day 1: Since they were set up and I knew they’d be well taken care of, I dropped them off at Snow Park to get started. “See those guys dressed in green?” I said. “Have them point you to the rental shop and I’ll meet you down there.” Then I parked the car and grabbed the shuttle.

By the time I met up with them, they were already through registration with boots in hand, and were getting their skis and poles. Deer Valley Rental shop wants to get every customer through their rental experience in 5 – 10 minutes so they can get out and enjoy the snow. My girlfriends were floored it was so quick and easy. We headed to the boot warmers and hit Wide West ski run to warm up!

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End of Day 1: We handed our skis and poles to the valet for free overnight storage at Snow Park Lodge. No schlepping boots either; we loved that we could leave the boots with the basket concierge for free overnight storage, too. Boots were placed in the baskets, and off we went.

Morning of Day 2: These girls were antsy to get back out there. They wanted to get in as many runs as possible so we arrived just after the resort opened. My friends quickly put on their matching rental boots, grabbed a basket to store our shoes and we were off. On the stairs, the girls were walking a little funny but I shrugged it off as being a little sore from the long day skiing the day before.

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At the base of the Carpenter chairlift, my 5’2” friend Lynn was really having trouble getting her skis on. I said to her, “Lynn, set your skis sideways on the hill. They are sliding backwards.” She shot me a look that said, “I am not stupid! I know that.” She seemed a little agitated (which is not like her) so I popped out of my skis and went to investigate.

Her boots weren’t clicking into her bindings. It didn’t make any sense since she’d skied on them yesterday. The bindings looked too small. Then 5’7” Heidi couldn’t get her skis on either. Her bindings looked too big.

Einstein here (yeah, that was me) wasn’t connecting the dots either. I said, “Do you have the right skis?” Yep. Heidi’s skis had her name of them and so did Lynn’s. Ok. It’s not the skis. The three of us (normally fairly intelligent people) all deducted that it must be the bindings!

So we take the equipment back to the rental shop to investigate the bindings. We meet up with Deer Valley ski technician Howard Ritter who helps Lynn. He pulls up her information and grabs a boot the same size (then she won’t have to take off her boot – very thoughtful.) He checks the boot and binding. “This fits. Let’s take a look at your boot.” We both look down at the personalized sticker on her boot. It doesn’t match the ski.

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Two stations down, Heidi’s technician is telling her that the boots she has on aren’t hers. Heidi says, “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BOOTS?” (You might be wondering, “How many skiers does it take to change a light bulb?”)

Gary Wassmer, the rental shop supervisor happens to be standing there. He smiles as he and Howard state the obvious at the exact same time. You and your friend switched boots – you have each other’s boots on.

Lynn and Heidi lock eyes and simultaneously look down at the boots and burst our laughing.

Howard, the voice of reason, says with a huge smile on his face, “How did this girl (pointing to the long skis) fit into this girl’s (pointing to the shorter skis) boots?” Scratching our heads, we wondered how we could have possibly missed this when, (tiny feet) Lynn’s boots went on so easy and (tall) Heidi had a lot of trouble with hers and both could hardly walk up the stairs?

Now all the technicians and other renters are laughing with us. I get this party moving by directing my girlfriends to sit down and switch boots (while snapping photos to embarrass them). They are no longer hobbling and miraculously, their boots lock right into the bindings on their skis. We wave to our new best friends in the rental shop and hit the lift for an amazing day of run after run of Utah powder.

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End of Day 2: I have asked my friends for the tenth time, “now who put their boots on first?” Someone tells me not to bother applying for Mensa anytime soon.

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Despite our “user error,” we have a fantastic experience renting skis and skiing at Deer Valley.

Lessons learned:

Renting equipment is a great hassle-free way to enjoy a ski weekend out of town.

If the shoe fits, wear it. (Check your tag anyways to make sure it’s yours.)

If the shoe doesn’t fit, it’s probably not your shoe. (Check your tag to see whose it is.)

And laugh early and often with your girlfriends. Repeat.

For more information on ski rentals at Deer Valley resort, click here.

Check out more photos from our girls weekend ski trip.

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Spring Break at Deer Valley Resort

Spring weather and bluebird days in the mountains bring exceptional values at Deer Valley Resort. During the coming months, guests can experience Deer Valley’s award-winning accommodations at a fraction of its winter rates. Spring break holidays provide families an ideal time to experience a getaway tailor-made for all ages, from Deer Valley’s lodging specials and packages that offer great savings to the new Steeps & Stashes specialty clinic for adults.

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New this year, is “Steeps and Stashes,” an adult co-ed specialty clinic for strong intermediate, advanced and expert skiers. The two-day clinic takes skiers to Deer Valley’s lesser known off-trail terrain, where guests will push their limits and test their stamina. Deer Valley’s professional ski instructors help guests improve their skills, while creating lasting, memorable experiences. Included in the program is an opportunity to try a variety of skis from the resort’s Rental Shop (a Rossignol Experience Center) and a closing reception.

Family Value Package

Kids ski FREE and save 20% on lodging, lift tickets and kids’ ski rentals. With family-friendly amenities, including an outdoor pool and hot tub, free hot breakfast buffet, onsite Deer Valley Rental Shop and complimentary in-town shuttle all within close proximity to Snow Park Lodge and ski school, Lodges at Deer Valley and Silver Baron Lodge are the perfect choice for families vacationing at Deer Valley Resort. Package is valid March 30-April 6, 2014. Receive up to two complimentary child lift tickets per day and two Deer Valley ski rental discount vouchers for children 12 and under. The purchase of four adult lift tickets is required.

Late Season Package

Experience Deer Valley Resort during the late winter season period and receive 25% savings on lodging and lift tickets at a wide range of accommodations managed by Deer Valley. Package is valid March 30-April 6, 2014. A minimum of four lift tickets total must be purchased with this package. Minimum night stay is required and varies by property.

Spring Ski and Stay Package

Save 15% on lodging and lift tickets when you book your Deer Valley Resort spring ski vacation. Package is validFebruary 23-March 8, and March 23-29, 2014. A minimum of four lift tickets total must be purchased with this package. Minimum night stay is required and varies by property. This package is not offered at Black Diamond Lodge.

Spring Lodging at Summer Rates
Enjoy spring skiing at Deer Valley Resort with summer lodging rates starting at $165 per night for a hotel room at Lodges at Deer Valley and 25% off lift tickets. Valid from April 6-13, 2014. Minimum night stay is required and varies by property.
 
Stay Longer, Save More

Receive free nights lodging the longer you stay at Deer Valley Resort. Purchase six nights and receive one additional night free, purchase eight through 10 nights and receive two additional nights free, purchase 11 through 13 nights and receive three additional nights free, stay 14 nights or more and receive four additional nights free. The ‘stay six nights and receive one night free’ option is not valid March 7-22, 2014.

The following apply to all packages: At time of booking, offers are based on availability at select properties, on new reservations only and packages cannot be combined; tax and service fees not included. Purchase of daily adult lift tickets is, at times, required to obtain lodging discounts; end dates are checkout dates.

Please speak with a Vacation Planner to clarify all package details. Visit deervalley.com for additional packages or promotions.Guests can visit deervalley.com or inquire with one of the resort’s Vacation Planners at 800-558-3337 or 435-645-6528 for further package details. For a complete list of Deer Valley Resort’s 2014 spring packages, rates and restrictions, please view Deer Valley Resort Lodging & Reservations on our website.

Don’t Worry About #FOMOS (Fear of Missing Out on Seafood) at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet

There are two distinct strategies for having a fantastic evening at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. The first is to enjoy your absolute favorite seafood with no restrictions. I overheard another guest planning out his evening with this in mind.

He said, while gazing at the raw oyster and sushi bar, “Wow, I could make a whole night of this!” I observed him filling up two plates of oysters with horseradish and slices of lemons and then coming back for more. With this approach, you can be in seafood bliss enjoying the dishes you love most for an entire evening.

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While I respect this approach, the “fear of missing out on seafood” held me back. I wanted to try everything since it was my first time dining at the Seafood Buffet. I anticipated this reaction so I came prepared. Trying everything took a little planning and a whole lot of self-control at first.

If you want to try the second approach – a little bit of everything – here are a few suggestions:

Empty the tank before you go. Burn some calories earlier in the day. Whether it’s downhill skiing for a few hours, trying out some cross-country skiing at White Pine or snowshoeing, come hungry.

Start with appetizers at the raw oyster bar.

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Then hit the Natural Buffet to fill out your appetizers and add some salads – Pile your plate high with crab, prawns and salmon. Try a few bites of each of the salads. I have to admit I neglected to try the salads because I was so excited about the Dungeness crab. (two helpings plus one of snow crab. I know. Heaven.)

Delicacies are next at the Hot Entrée Station – When our waitress went over all the seafood specials, my thought was simply, “Yes to all.”  I wasn’t worried about which ones.  Try a bite of each!  I sampled the Honey Soy Glazed Scallops with Fresh Ginger Sauce and Pecan Crusted Sailfish among other things.

The seafood buffet is not complete without the Carvery Station.  I had Double R Ranch prime rib and potatoes. OK, mine wasn’t “a little bite,” it was a whole plate with au jus and mushroom sauce on the side.  Remember how I recommended emptying the tank?

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Wait!  We forgot the sushi bar.  This is exactly what happened to me so I went ahead and tasted a few pieces of fresh sushi at this juncture in the evening and it was wonderful.  Sushi doesn’t need to be an appetizer!

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Dessert from the bakery – Everyone will tell you to save room for dessert. No need here. There are plenty of small bites to choose from: Truffles, chocolate, mini cupcakes, and fruit parfaits if you want just a bite of dessert or something light.  If your sweet tooth is calling for something more substantial, there are choices to your heart desires. I am too embarrassed to share with you all the desserts I tried!

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My best tip of all – relax and enjoy! Slow down and take your time, you never have to fear missing out on seafood at Deer Valley Resort.

For more information on the Seafood Buffet or to make reservations, click here.

Lessons from a Local Tourist

One of my favorite things about living in Park City is that we sometimes have the opportunity to “check out” of our regular routine and check in to a hotel and play the part of tourists.

We got to do this on the second weekend of ski season, when Jeffrey and I were invited to dine and stay at Goldener Hirsch Inn, at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Village. We made arrangements for the kids to spend the night with our good friend (and theirs) Mel. But we also had the chance to bring them up to the property to see what it was like.

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It turned into a brief glimpse of what it means to take a ski vacation with the kids. I’ve always tipped my hats to families who pack up all their gear and brave the wilds of air travel to then decamp to Deer Valley for a ski vacation. It seems daunting, but of course, it’s not without rewards. And, I realized, there are lots of ways in which being a tourist is way more fun than being a local. (I didn’t have to do a single household chore while I was at the Hirsch.)

As we proceeded through the weekend, I picked up a few insider tips and tricks that might make your vacation here a little easier to manage.

Tip #1: Call about early check-in

Granted, if you are traveling here during the busiest weeks, your room is unlikely to be available before the property’s official check-in time. But most lodge/hotel/inn style properties will have secure baggage storage, so that you can stash your belongings and get on with your day, as quickly as possible after arriving. We were visiting the Goldener Hirsch on a “pre-holiday” weekend, meaning they were not busy, and were happy to welcome us early, so we could take advantage of the ski-in, ski-out location. It was a massive luxury to be able to layer up and boot up in the room—which had a lovely sitting area with plenty of room to organize our stuff. Even if you are not staying in a slopes-side property (as I don’t, nearly every night), it pays to get geared up as head-to-toe as possible, at your lodging location. Fewer items get dropped or left-behind if you are wearing them. By the same token, if you’re looking for a more leisurely approach, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the lockers and basket-check at both Snow Park and Silver Lake Lodges.

Tip #2: Invest time in getting your ducks in a row  

Note that in the tip, above, I did not say “get on the slopes as quickly as possible after arriving.” Honestly, when you’re traveling with kids, it is well worth the investment of time to allow a few business hours after your arrival (whether it’s the afternoon/evening you arrive, or the next morning) to sort out all the gear and arrangements. For instance, getting fitted for your rental gear the night before your first ski day is a great time-and-sanity saver (the Deer Valley Ski Rental Shop at Snow Park Lodge is open until TK time). If you or your kids are taking ski lessons, visit the Children’s Center or the Ski School well before the lesson’s start time to make sure all the waivers are signed, and that any allergies or special requests are noted in the file. I did exactly that. We pulled up to Snow Park Lodge, and Jeff dropped me off at the curb before he pulled into a designated “waiting” spot. I’m telling you this detail for two reasons: First, this really is a quick errand. Second, if you are going to be at the lodge for more than 10 minutes, find a spot in the regular parking lots.

Bari Nan fireplace done

It took just minutes for me to visit the Children’s Center and make sure everything was in order for the boys’ lessons the next morning, as well as for the Children’s Sunday Ski Experience programs that begin next month. The super-helpful staff even printed the tickets for the private lesson Jeff and I had scheduled with Letitia Lussier, and my ticket for the Women on Wednesdays program, which begins next month. I learned that one of the members of the team, there, has the initials J.Z. so I couldn’t resist taking a photo of “J.Z. and His Ladies.”

“We wish more people did what you are doing,” the staffers in the Children’s Center explained. “It makes it less stressful for everyone.” I thought back to many seasons’ worth of chaotic first-days of the CSSE, and realized how right they are. Granted, the staff there are over-the-top helpful, but walking into the morning rush, with overheating geared-up kids, can be an unnerving experience. If you can’t get to the Ski School ahead of time, take a moment, a day or two before you depart for your vacation and call the Children’s Center to make sure everything’s arranged as you planned.

Tip #3: Manage Expectations—the kids’ and your own

Jeff and I agreed that we’d count on getting no more than two runs in with the kids, Saturday afternoon. Any additional snow time would be considered a “bonus.” (Granted, this would be an expensive proposition if we didn’t hold season passes, but we do, so we figured a couple of runs would be a good idea. But it can also work if you plan to do a half-day ski day, which will likely involve more than two runs, but not leave you all to exhausted to enjoy the rest of your vacation.) So, we let the kids know that we wanted to just “test” our ski legs, and have a nice lunch at Silver Lake Lodge restaurant. This dovetailed nicely with one of my oldie-but-goodie tips:

Tip #4: Leave them wanting more

This one never gets old. (For the Seinfeld fans, I call this the Costanza Rule.) If you want your kids to love skiing, call it a day while they are still enjoying it. The pros at the ski school say that frequent breaks can be the key to a successful day. We did exactly two runs on Ontario and then it was time to break for a late lunch. Yes, the lifts were still running when we finished, and the kids were BEGGING for more runs. “You will have all day tomorrow to ski,” I reminded them. Then, I engaged my supermom powers with a deft “look at the birdie” distraction move: I asked if they wanted to go back to the Goldener Hirsch and check out the live music in the lounge. People, there was yodeling. And it was a big hit. Also, there was a little nook on our guest room’s floor, where several varieties of freshly baked cookies, some hot beverages and fresh fruit were laid out for guests to enjoy. So, my chocoholic big boy availed himself of a chocolate chip cookie, while his (shockingly) sweet-tooth-impaired younger brother delighted in choosing and eating an apple. This was just one of the great details we appreciated at the Inn.

Tip #5 Stay Hydrated

While Jeff and I were in our private lesson with Letitia, on Sunday, she told us about a seminar she’d attended, through the Professional Ski Instructors Association, that focused on hydration. Among the highlights: Flying is dehydrating, as is staying at a higher altitude, as is eating spicy food and drinking alcohol. So if you do any or all of these before you make your first turns, you’re already at a hydration deficit. Then, when you’re skiing, you lose water through your breath, in the cold, dry air. Boom. Then, your muscles aren’t working at their capacity—and, to boot, once you start to dehydrate, your ability to feel thirsty shuts off. So, drink lots of water—and take plenty of breaks for water throughout your ski day. (I reviewed the previous evening’s delicious tasting meal at the Goldener Hirsch restaurant, including the bottle of Pinot Noir that Jeff and I shared, and realized, that I could benefit from an extra glass of water or two throughout the day.)

Tip #6 Know thyself

If you are tired, take a break. If you know you didn’t get enough sleep, or had a sore back the day before, take it easy. Skiing within your limits is way more fun that pushing yourself to the point of injury. Take an early lunch if your energy is starting to flag by 11 a.m. This is a great strategy, also, because the restaurants aren’t crowded, and then, when the rest of the skiing population is at lunch at noon, you’re back out on empty slopes. This is especially helpful if you are skiing with your kids—you get the benefit of keeping them fed and hydrated, and enjoying quieter trails with them. Plus, you can be the hero and call for a hot cocoa break at 2 p.m.

 Tip #7 Invest in a caribiner

Among its many handy uses you can attach your basket check tag, or ski-check tag to the handy metal clip—sliding those around your wrist or shoving them into a pocket can create an opportunity to lose those items. (Also, take a photo of the tag with your smartphone, so you can show it to the ski check staff in the event you do lose the tag, somehow.) Collecting your whole family’s tags at the end of the day, in one place,  is a great way to keep track of them. I use some sort of memory device to recall whose is whose. For instance, my current ski-check tag says “1619” and since I often think of myself as younger than I am, I told myself, “For the purposes of this exercise, I am in my teens.” Then, when my kids got their tags, I noticed that the older child had a tag with a higher number than his brother’s tag. There’s always some funky way to recall which tag correlates to which family member, so I find them where I can.

Game on!

After the excitement of Celebrity SkiFest was concluded, my family decided to extend the fun, and celebrate Opening Week.

One of the great benefits of getting out on the second weekend is that it’s quieter than it will be for weeks to come. Honestly, If you can come here on an “off” weekend (i.e., non-holiday) do it.1282013 099

On Sunday, we felt like we had the mountain to ourselves—the four of us were in ski school for the full day. Jeffrey and I had a private lesson with Letitia Lussier, the amazing instructor I met on my first Women’s Weekend, several years ago

Meanwhile, Seth spent the day in Reindeer Club, and Lance spent the day in Adventure Club. It was a treat to see Lance shredding Lost Boulder from our perch on Northside Express Chairlift—and the run was loosely –populated enough that we had the chance to spot him.

We bumped into friends, here and there, there was a Mahre Training Camp under way, so we said hello to Phil and Steve a couple of times on lift-lines. (I won’t name names, but one of those brothers may or may not have called me out for being too “matchy,” in my appearance—purple boots, purple-ish skis, white pants, jacket with a pattern that contained purple. I may or may not have retorted that I was owning it, so it was allowed.), and the overall atmosphere was both relaxed and festive, as staff and guests alike got our ski season on.

Bari Nan Kids done

One of the best benefits was something that had not occurred to me when I booked the boys into their group lessons: it wasn’t at all busy in ski school. Hence, Seth was the only child in his group. As his instructor noted, “This week is the ‘value week,’ in ski school,” because you have a higher likelihood of one on one coaching. Lance had only two other children in his group (both of whom were picked up 90 minutes early), leaving him with, essentially, a ninety-minute private lesson at the end of the day.

Finally, the restaurants were not crowded in the least.

So, don’t tell your kids’ principal I told you to do this, but if you can sneak them out of school for a day or two and grab a long weekend at Deer Valley when everyone else is not on vacation, I highly recommend it.