Montage Deer Valley Offers Exciting Summer Activities

For those of us who know the place, Montage Deer Valley often evokes a beautiful mountain retreat getaway, that offers the best in accommodations, superlative service and a suite of premier restaurants, but these marks of comfort should never make us forget that Montage is also all about outdoor activities, too. I wanted to find out for myself so I met with Andy Damman, Director of Resort Activities.

DVR-Montage (1)JF: Thanks for welcoming me. Tell me Andy, how long have you been with Montage Deer Valley?

Andy Damman: I have been here since September of 2010, about four months before the resort opened. As the director of resort activities I’m responsible for ski operations and tubing facilities in winter. The rest of the year, I’m running our Camp Compass program which includes hiking, biking and archery among other activities.

JF: Do these recreational activities address all age groups?

Andy Damman: Age-wise we want to able to accommodate everybody and we really mean it. We want our summer activities program to almost feel like “summer camp.” When guests come to the resort we want our activities to be readily accessible to all as they walk outside. Whether that’s life-size chess or checker by the pool, badminton, archery out on our Grand Lawn, volleyball, horse-shoe or, on a rainy day, a game of ping-pong. When guests walk out of these doors there’s always something fun they can participate in.

DVR-Montage (9)JF: How did you dream up all of these programs?

Andy Damman: We developed them from the ground up. We spent numerous meetings and countless hours designing them. We didn’t want to just pick five or ten activities, we wanted the sky to be the limit and, as of today, we keep coming up with more. We focused on creating outside activities that would be easy and fun to play with, not activities that keep people inside like Nintendo, Game Boys and other indoor entertainment. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy our beautiful mountain environment.

JF: How did you pick mountain biking as one of these focal points?

Andy Damman: Together, Deer Valley and Park City account for some 400 miles of dirt trails, many of them fully accessible from the backdoor of Compass Sports. We were able to work with Deer Valley Resort to create a program that would be fully integrated with their infrastructure and perfectly tailored to our guests.

DVR-Montage (8)JF: Excellent! Can you be more detailed about your mountain bike program and particularly, your special relationship with BMC?

Andy Damman: We went into this program with the mindset of picking the best partner possible; as you know, there are plenty of good bike companies out there that have a lot to offer, but as we began talking to BMC, a great relationship quickly developed and we’re about to become BMC’s test center for North America [BMC, which stands for Bicycle Manufacturing Company, is Swiss based]

JF: What makes BMC so special?

Andy Damman: I’d say high quality, excellent craftsmanship, exceptional ride and bikes ideally designed for this area. BMC the perfect fit for the Montage brand and its guests.

JF: How do you assist guests who rent your bikes and may not be familiar with mountain biking?

DVR-Montage (4)Andy Damman: We want to provide our guests all the assistance they need. New this year, we’re offering an introduction to mountain biking. It’s packed with instruction, lots of pointers, big smiles, fun and laughter. We actually take guests off property on a specific trail system that’s appropriate for all skill levels. Every morning at 9 a.m., we have a guide that’s available to our riding guests, and this coaching is included in the cost of the bike rental. These guides teach the foundation of the sport and give guests the skills and the confidence they need to enjoy riding a mountain bike.

JF: Do you do anything special in fitting your bikes to the rider?

DVR-Montage (5)Andy Damman: We carefully set everything up. Based on the rider’s weight and height, we set the tire pressure, we size the frame, we set the shock absorbers, we provide a guide who has no ego, is guest-oriented, and above all, wants every rider to discover the joy of mountain-biking. If guests rent a bike for more than one day, we will make sure that following their first ride the machine is thoroughly cleaned, lubed, works perfectly and looks immaculate for the next one.

JF: Do you have any promotional program associated with mountain biking?

Andy Damman: Yes, we’re participating in the great “Lift Package” program offered this summer in conjunction with Deer Valley Resort.  This offer runs from until September 2, 2013. The overnight package includes a $50 daily credit for breakfast, nightly valet parking and Deer Valley Resort chairlift passes.

JF: Is your bike program available to non-hotel guests?

Andy Damman: Our program is offered to our resort guests as a first priority. If there is space available, we will do whatever we can to accommodate other visiting guests as we are open to all people who come to see us.

JF: Can you share more technical details about your rental bike fleet?

DVR-Montage (7)Andy Damman: We’re very fortunate to have high-end products with BMC. These days, the name of the game seems to revolve around wheel sizes. We offer everything from 26 and 29 inch wheels, with the former being more nimble, more sporty, and the later having much better rolling capabilities once the bike is up to speed; larger wheels work perfectly on the smooth trails we have around Deer Valley Resort. Some of our bike frames are aluminum, others are carbon, but overall, our bikes climb very well, are very stiff for cornering and yet offer a very comfortable ride. The new thing in the industry this season is the full-suspension 29 inch wheel bike on ultra-light carbon frame!

JF: I see that you also offer road bikes…

Andy Damman: We have two models: The BMC TeamMachine bike, the one used by the Pros on the Tour de France; it climbs extremely well, descend extremely well; you don’t feel every bump along the way. That bike in my view is “a Ferrari with the comfort of a Cadillac!” Then we have the GranFondo Series, comfortable and designed for the long distance, a “century” rider (typically for longer rides 100 miles making a “century).

JF: What about mountain bikes for children?

Andy Damman: If kids can balance on two wheels, we’ve got a bike for them. We have 20 and 24 inch mountain bikes, both with full-suspension. My first year, here I remember we taught a child how to ride his first bike without training wheels and later that week we took him on his first mountain bike trail. Again, you don’t have to be between 18 and 25 to participate with us, we will accommodate anybody! Even if mountain biking seems outside of your comfort zone, we will give you the skills to get you into that comfort zone!

JF: Well this sounds inviting! Now, what else do you offer as part of your other Camp Compass activities?

Andy Damman: I’d like to start with what we call our “yard game programs;” we’re talking about basketball, volley ball, horse shoes, life-size checker and chess, shuffle board and the list goes on. At 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., we offer complimentary archery sessions for our guests. That’s on our Grand Lawn. We have sixty inch targets rounds to shoot at; every archery instructor that works for Compass Sports is certified. We make it fun by the fact that we start at 5 meters, 10 meters, 15 meters and keep working our way back, shooting at competition round targets. The range is extremely safe, everything is fun. And our guests shoot against the most beautiful backdrop, ever, right outside the doors, here at Montage…

JF: What about fly-fishing?

Andy Damman: That’s another great activity! We offer our very own fly-fishing program along with Joe Mitchell from Stonybrook Fly Fishing who – in my opinion – is the best guide in the Valley. This program like all the others we offer is all about our guests and their enjoyment. Fly-fishing with Joe is all about casting the rod, catching the fish with the most humble instructor there is. It’s just like oil on canvass to me!

JF: Is that a whole day trip?

Andy Damman: Most of our fly-fishing trips are either half-day or full day, our guests will be back just by dinner time at night, unless the fishing is so good that Joe decides to stay longer!

JF: …and dinner will be delayed! Well, this sounds like a treat. Anything else you would like to mention?

Andy Damman: Oh, yes! I almost forgot, we now have kites. We’ll be able to take our guest to the top of Guardsman Pass and fly kites, all kinds of them. So, please, stay tuned for that new exciting program!

JF: All these wonderful activities make me want to participate into all of them and I envy your guests for having to choose from such a wonderful array of outdoor sports that you’re serving spring, summer and fall.

Andy Damman: Every associate who works with us shares the same passion that we all have for these exciting activities. This is something our guests can discover, experience, and more importantly, can take away with them and remember fondly when they are home, long after their stay with us at Montage Deer Valley!

 

Adventures in Fly-Fishing

Flyfishing-cSince I have a Type-A personality, I didn’t know what to expect when I embarked with All Seasons Adventures, a local outfitter, for a fly-fishing excursion on the nearby Provo River. For those who don’t quite know what fly-fishing is all about, and I was one of them, it’s a form of angling in which an artificial lure, or “fly,” is used to catch a fish. All Seasons Adventures typically takes its guests to some great local streams that are referred to as “blue-ribbon.” The Provo River, where I went, happens to be one of them.

Flyfishing-aJustin, a guide for this local outfitter, picked us up at our door and drove us along the Jordanelle Reservoir, all the way down to the road to Midway, where we eventually stopped at a secluded parking lot, tucked away along the Provo River. There, we were outfitted with all the necessary gear starting with waterproof waders and wading shoes. In terms of personal difficulty, getting in and out of the intimidating waders was the highest challenge of the day. Once strapped into these protective garments we were given rods and disappeared into the woods coming out on the river bank.

The sun was shining; the temperature absolutely perfect and the ambient air was just cooled enough by the cold mountain water. Justin began by telling us about fish eating habits and the conversation quickly turned into an entomology lesson about all of the creatures, big and small, that are part of a Utah trout diet.  Justin literally left no stone unturned as he picked up a variety of rocks from the river bed and showed us that they represented a well-stocked pantry for all fish swimming in the Provo River.

flyfishing-bSoon, it was time to get acquainted with the rods, the lines and the different types of lures. At that point, we were told to get into the element and our guide warned us to walk very carefully, one step at a time, making especially sure to only take the next step when the other foot felt fully anchored on the river bed. Now, with our group in the midst of the cool river, with water well above our knees, Justin explained to us what “catch and release” was all about and how it was an essential practice in recreational fishing for conserving the fish population.

Flyfishing-dFinally, we went over casting. By that time I had received so much information that I felt overwhelmed and ready to mix it all up. That’s when Justin re-assured us that being a bit confused wasn’t as bad as we thought, and that all these bits of data would fall into place as soon as we began practicing. Began we did; quite tentatively at first and then gaining confidence until we almost felt we had done it for a lifetime.

Justin had also warned us that patience was the key to success and that catching a fish was a statistical number’s game. As the morning unfolded, time flew so fast that I couldn’t believe I had been in the water for more than one hour, until our guide summoned us to move to another spot. There were only three in our group and were able to spend quality, one-on-one time with Justin who emphasized that – as a matter of policy – All Seasons Adventures had never more than three guests per guide.

flyfishing-eSoon someone in the group felt the tension on the rod and realized he had a bite. This was fish number one and a large one to boot! The fish was aptly netted by Justin and the lucky fisher had the chance to release it into its natural habitat. As the morning came to a close, eight fish had been caught by the group, but I could unfortunately lay claim to only one of them! Soon, time sped on and suddenly it was early afternoon when we packed up, took of the waders (which again was the hardest part of the job) and left the beautiful Provo River.

I surprised myself by having remained so calm, so quiet, so patient, and for once let time go by just like the flow of the river, without realizing that I had spent about four solid hours just concentrating on some elusive trout… I sure didn’t expect to be “hooked” on this fly-fishing proposition, but had been smitten and never did I feel the urge of checking my phone the whole time I was in the water. This, in and of itself, should be considered a remarkable achievement!

So whether you’ve already tried fly-fishing or are a complete novice, this is the kind of experience you’ll want to repeat again and again. With such a pristine river only minutes away, all you need is to sign-up for a half-day or full-day trip and your fly fishing experience will become a memory that you will be eager to share with everyone you know.

flyfishing-hIf you are not quite sure yet about the idea, All Seasons Adventures, offers Casting Clinics late afternoon and early evening, not far from your Deer Valley summer home, just by the Deer Valley Plaza, where Central Reservation check-in and Deer Valley Grocery~Café are located. These Casting Clinics will teach you how to cast a dry fly, tie a knot, you’ll learn about entomology and the rest of it. Just call All Seasons Adventures at 435-649-9619 or visit them on the web at www.allseasonsadventures.com

Check out the video below for more fly-fishing with All Seasons Adventures!

Tips for Shoulder Season in Park City

The weeks when the chairlifts are closed between our two seasons are often called “shoulder season” at the resort.  Sometimes, on very snowy and wet years, they are more likely to be referred to as “mud season” by the locals.

This year we have been blessed with an early and fairly warm spring offering us plenty of opportunities to get outside while we wait for the lifts to start spinning again. (Deer Valley opens for our summer season on Friday, June 14, which includes lift-served biking, hiking and scenic rides, deck dining and Royal Street Café and concerts in the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater.)

While we wait for the resort to open, there are plenty of ways Park City locals keep busy.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to spend my weekend.

Trails, Trails, TrailsThe town of Park City has over 400 miles of trails for hiking and biking!  Many of these trail systems are maintained by Mountain Trails Foundation and are already accessible.

My first hike the season was the The Lost Prospector Loop, a very popular, mild trail that has expansive views of the resorts, Historic Main Street and Old Town.

Old Town, Park City

Old Town, Park City

 

Last weekend, I did the Iron Mountain trail behind the iconic White Barn on Hwy 224.  This is a shorter hike with a steady, steep incline. This trail is a great option for anyone looking for a good workout.

Iron Mountain HIke

Printed copies of the Park City summer trail map are available at:

  • Visitor’s Center
  • Museum on Main Street
  • ZB Sports
  • White Pine Touring
  • JANS Mountain Outfitters
  • Cole Sport
  • Pearl Izumi
  • Silver Star & Ski
  • Sports Authority
  • Dolly’s Bookstore
  • Starbucks

*A suggested donation of $5 is requested

Yoga at The Shop:  This is the perfect place to practice yoga for visitors.  This Anusara inspired studio encourages drop-in students and every class is donation based (suggested $7 minimum).  The space is a huge and beautiful place to practice with high ceilings, barn doors and wall-to-wall windows.  Don’t worry about brining your own mat, they provide everything including blankets, blocks and straps.  A complete class schedule can be found at http://parkcityyoga.com/classes.html  (Hint: If you can’t decide which class to try, my favorite instructors are Tiffany Wood and Sherri Russell)

Stand Up Paddleboarding on the Deer Valley Ponds: This is a new activity offered in the Snow Park area at Deer Valley, so new in fact, that I have yet to try it!  Stand Up Paddle Boarding has been coming increasingly popular and I can’t wait to get out and try it. (Future blog post?)  Rentals and demos are currently offered on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Starting in June, SUP yoga and paddle Pilates will also be offered seven days a week at 9 a.m. More info on SUP offerings and pricing can be found at http://pcsupcup.com/Home/About

SUP

City Park: On any sunny day, you will find half the town hanging out in Park City’s City Park.  With free access to grills, pavilions, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a softball field and expansive lawns, you will find an array of activities to participate in.  Many area hotels may have lawn games or volleyballs for you to check out during your stay. (Hint: There are local softball leagues that utilize the field every night from 6 to 10 p.m.)

Volleyball in City ParkFly Fishing on the Provo River:  I grew up fishing in Michigan and I can say I had one of my best catches on this river last August (the stretch in Provo Canyon).  I spent a half day with a guide and two girlfriends and caught 6 whitefish and this gorgeous Brown Trout.  We are so lucky to have such easy access to the Provo and Weber Rivers which offer Blue Ribbon Fly Fishing!  I highly suggest hiring a guide from Jans Outfitters as they can provide all the gear and knowledge to get you catching fish like this in no time. http://www.jans.com/park-city-fly-fishing-tours

fly fishing

Park City Municipal Golf Course:  An 18-hole course and driving range in the heart of Park City.  This is where I learned to golf thanks to their amazing Twilight Deal.  Tee off after 6 p.m. (no reservation needed) and it is just $9 per person!  The course is nestled alongside Park City Mountain Resort, providing for gorgeous views of the ski resorts. http://www.parkcity.org/index.aspx?page=171

Park City Golf Course

Main Street: A well-known “secret” is that many restaurants on Park City’s Historic Main Street offer Local’s Discounts during shoulder season.  Luckily, these local’s only deals are available to everyone.  Check the ads in the Park Record newspaper for tips on where to find these deals or just ask your fly fishing or SUP guide, a local in City Park or your favorite bartender for their favorites. We all have our recommendations on where to find the best deals.  I’m a huge sushi fan, so I will always direct you to Yuki Arashi or Oishi for 50% off rolls.  Wrap up your night on main by visiting the rooftop deck at the The No Name Saloon.

Enjoy your fun-filled visit to Park City this spring!