My Favorite Things: Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley

Julie Andrews and Carrie Underwood may have enjoyed raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and brown paper packages tied up with string when they reflected on their favorite things. For me, though these don’t rhyme, I love the mountains, I am addicted to skiing, and am crazy about sushi. Since the combination can be found at Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley, this restaurant is officially one of my favorite things.

My husband Jay and I pulled up to the resort to the complimentary valet parking, walked through the lobby and we made our way to Yama Sushi. The restaurant is nestled along the windows over looking ski runs and the expansive deck with a roaring outdoor fire pit.

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I have to admit we started with a sesame wings appetizer with chili and peanuts because we just couldn’t resist them – we decided it isn’t a “first date” item to order.  Since we’ve been married for 19 years, we were safe!  We weren’t worried about getting any sauce on our chins.  Besides, we were kindly provided with a warm towel for quick clean up, so we started our sushi night in wing heaven.

Our server Brittany was full of good advice and since we love trying new things, we decided to try the local favorite “Wasatch Roll” with Montage Mountain Ale battered shrimp, spicy tuna, salmon, cucumber, avocado, chipotle aioli, and tobiko.  After trying, the lemony Yama Roll with spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, yuzu-shisito pepper “pesto” suzuki, lemon and micro shiso, my husband now has a new favorite roll!

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Since I am normally more of a wine lover than a sake aficionado, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try the sake flight.  As a sake novice, in the past I had only tried warm sake. To keep up with my quest to try something new every single week of my life, I decided to try three different cold sakes.   I won’t tell you which was my favorite. You’ll just have to check them out for yourself and maybe you’ll find that Yama Sushi becomes one of your favorite things, too.

A0002494with vignette

For a sample menu, click here.

More information on Yama Sushi, click here.

 

 

 

Unexpected Surprises: Fall Colors Montage Deer Valley – Mercedes Tour

Aspen and Snow pinesDo you love aspens the way I do?  Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up with them, but I simply adore aspen trees.  I love them! Its not just “love”; it feels more like “being in love.” You know that feeling? Your heart is just taken over and there is nothing you can do about it.  I love how their leaves rustle in the wind. I love the stillness and beauty of their white bark. I can’t get enough of them.

I was excited to experience the aspens as they changed their leaves from green to a blanket of yellow and the reds and pinks of the shrubs that share the mountain with them. Snow was the first unexpected surprise. Since we planned our Montage Deer Valley– Mercedes Fall Colors Tour for the last week in September, snow on the ground was the last thing I counted on. I understand the first snowfall on record in Park City was as early as September 17 so we weren’t far off when it snowed on September 25 this year.

Guardsman PassWhen we arrived at the Montage, our driver, Nick decided to take a Mercedes 350L with all wheel drive. Then he could take us wherever we wanted to go – back roads, tight turnouts on winding roads, and enjoying comfort on the open road. Nick started us off at Guardsman’s Pass just above the Montage Deer Valley. It seemed like we were on top of the world!  Seeing a few inches of snow on the ground with the groves of aspens starting to turn yellow was delightful.

We’d never been to Big Cottonwood Canyon so Nick made a detour so we could see all sides of the Wasatch Mountains.  On our way, we saw hillsides full of evergreens covered in snow with pockets of bright yellow and orange foliage – so unusual and beautiful.  Here is a “locals tip” Nick shared – take a drive from the top of Guardsman’s Pass through Big Cottonwood Canyon and stop for lunch at the Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant near Solitude Resort.  We’ll remember that one.

Big Cottonwood2Another unexpected surprise was just how nice it was to have a driver. Whenever we go for a drive, my husband is always at the wheel. That’s great for me, of course, but the driver needs to pay attention to the road and navigate as well!  Jay really enjoyed being a passenger for this trip, taking in the full experience of the beauty of fall. We noticed whenever the words, “beautiful” or “amazing” came out of our mouths, Nick had already stopped and got out of the car while saying, “Do you want to stop and take a photo?”  “Of course we do!” I answered as he opened my door.

Guardsman Pass2Guardsman’s Pass Road to Midway was our next route.  It seemed like the whole stretch is one huge aspen grove and my head was spinning.

Guardsman Pass at HeberNext stop, the view of Heber Valley from the top of the Wasatch.  Another “locals tip” Nick shared was going to Cascade Springs near Soldier Hollow Cross Country Ski Resort then stop in Midway for pizza at the Café Galleria.  We’ll remember that one, too.

Nick's towards GuardsmanThe next unexpected surprise was a special road to a secret spot Nick had scoped out a week earlier. I have no idea how to get there so you’ll have to ask Nick. He showed us an amazing scenic overlook and I can imagine this is what Switzerland might look like.

Next we were off to Sundance resort, Nick took us on the 20 mile Alpine Loop above the resort and maneuvered the Mercedes onto every turnout he could find.  The end of a winding road or a narrow turnout was no match for Nick if we wanted to stop and get our fill of the beauty and snap photos.  The glacier carved peaks of Mt. Timpanogos that rise above the Sundance Resort made for an amazing view.

Jay at Alpine Loop at SundanceAnother delightful surprise, Nick found a wonderful picnic spot nestled in the forest with a sunny table and pulled out two wine glasses and a bottle of Pinot Gris from the picnic basket filled to the brim with chicken pesto sandwiches, red quinoa salad, Caesar salad, berries galore and a huge brownie to share. The wine tasted crisp and fruity to me but even sweeter for my husband who could simply relax and enjoy the day since Nick was doing the driving.Nancy and JayOn the trip back, Jay and I were a little quieter as we made fewer stops and simply took in the beauty on our comfortable drive.  I got to gaze at my beloved aspens, while holding my sweetheart’s hand.  I had to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure this wasn’t just a dream.

 

 

The Park City Food and Wine Classic

bari nan and husbandThis summer, Jeff and I were invited to enjoy “The Best of the Best” event during the Park City Food and Wine Classic, held at the Montage Deer Valley. Lucky for us, we got to spend the night, too.

There is something magical about pulling up to the Montage—for me, it means my blood pressure drops to near-sedated levels. I’m in my favorite corner of Deer Valley Resort, Empire Canyon, and I’m just minutes from home, but a world away. This time, it felt even more “away,” because my kids were not with me. And my husband was. To say we were excited about the prospect of an overnight “away,” is a mild understatement.

hotel roomHere’s where I will include traditional disclaimer about how we LOVE our kids, and can’t IMAGINE life without them—it’s all true. Except for the second part. I remember quite clearly the 30 years of my life before them, and they were good years. The years with the kids? Better than good. But a night off from parenting is a key ingredient in recharging one’s parenting batteries. A night off at the Montage is even better, because I could turn off the whirring in my brain—the schedules and bedtime battles and snack requests that serve as so much white noise (and a trusted friend was in charge of the kids and accompanying “noise” for 24 hours).

See, all the thinking is, well, pre-thought for you at Montage. The details of daily living are sorted out for you by the able staff. Even checking in is a treat, as a staff member greets you, room keys and paperwork in hand, to escort you directly to your room, and handle check in procedures there.  Imagine my delight when I found our room equipped with in-wall USB charging ports for the gizmos we brought with us (iPads, phones, kindles), as well as current issues of our favorite magazines. (By the way, I needed none of these items—the view from our twin terraces was breathtaking and all-consuming).

people archeryThe property is beautiful—wandering the grounds makes a person feel like she’s ensconced in a lovely movie about resort life, since the gardens have hidden speakers that makes it seem like the flowerbeds are singing to you. We took in a view of the archery field (lessons offered multiple times a day), and then went to lounge by the pool. Kermut, a helpful staffer, situated us on lounge chairs that he outfitted with comfy toweling covers, and then proffered cocktail and snack menus. We ordered the Park City Mule and For Jonas cocktails—light, refreshing and fun—, and a charcuterie platter, and while we were waiting, a lovely woman arrived to ask if she could give my sunglasses a complimentary polish. Who was I to refuse?

drinkscheese and meatpoolAnd with the clarity of vision returned to my favorite pair of shades, came a moment of clarity: One of the best things about staying at a property where all the details are managed so that your stay is effortless is that your brain has time to relax and explore some of the terrain that usually goes neglected when you’re fussing and fretting over the actual running of your life.  Which meant that Jeff and I had the chance to let our minds wander, do some brainstorming about various creative endeavors we’ve been pondering, and, yes, notice how much the kids would totally enjoy a stay at the Montage, as well. Tons of kid-friendly activities were available at nearly every turn—from the human-sized chess pieces on a walk-on board adjacent to the pool deck, to the aforementioned archery lessons, Paintbox Kids activities, lawn games, and, of course, Daly’s—the sports pub/grill complete with bowling alley and a gaming arcade. A pact was made: We would satisfy our craving for more top-notch service and relaxed unwinding time by returning with the kids in a few weeks. After all, they deserve to see that their parents are more than just schedule keepers, meal-providers and homework-naggers, too!

Before long, it was time to return to our room and prep for the evening ahead—which promised wine and food paired tasting stations featuring inventive dishes from the Montage (everything from fire-roasted wild boar tostadas to DIY s’mores with homemade flavored marshmallows and locally sourced dark chocolate). I didn’t get to any other events at this year’s Park City Food and Wine Classic, but from everything we sampled and tasted over the course of the evening, I have to agree—the Montage presented The Best of the Best.  I don’t think anyone at the property would take credit, but some much-needed rain sprinkled onto the terrace off the lounge, and then…a rainbow.

hotel room bedAn evening of revelry behind us, we retreated to our room—and to the world’s most comfortable bed. (Yes, I did look up the bedding on the hotel’s website, and I may or may not have ordered a feather bed and some new pillowcases by the time you are reading this post.) By morning, we felt refreshed— and ready for alfresco breakfast at Apex. Now, we were well-entertained, well-rested and well-fed, which may well be the trifecta of the mini-break.

By the time we checked out, I had a to-do list for our next visit: Hang out with the hotel’s resident Bernese Mountain Dogs, take archery lessons, dine at Daly’s and hit the Deer Valley trails for a hike—all of the above, with the kids. Plus, a detour to the spa for Mom. Yes, it does sound like the makings of a great family getaway. Stay tuned!

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!

 

Apres Ski at Montage Deer Valley

dvr-montage (30)Dan Howard has been Director of Public Relations for the Montage Deer Valley, located in Empire Canyon, ever since the establishment opened up to the public three years ago. We wanted to know more about the Montage’s Après-Ski options that are made available to its guests and day-visitors, and we asked Dan to provide us with an update of what happens at his hotel when the ski day comes to an end…

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What is the meaning of Après-Ski at Montage?

It means everything to us. Montage was recently named the number one family-friendly hotel of any resort in the world, and our Après-Ski program is one of the reasons we have been recognized in that way.

Are you saying an “Après-Ski Program?”

Yes, we have eight activities that really fall into that category at Montage.  Again, we’re a family-oriented, multi-generational resort. The family generally skis together and Après-Ski together at Montage and all of these activities are geared to everyone, from the youngest to the oldest.

Can you start with traditional Après-Ski that includes food and beverages?

dvr-montage (8)Although Après-Ski isn’t limited to food and wine, I will start with that category and introduce the Apex Restaurant that is easily accessible from the mountain. It’s located directly above Compass Sports and features a large wrap-around terrace, perfect for blue-bird days, with Adirondack chairs circling a large fire-pit. We have some wonderful foods available including a lunch menu until 3 p.m. followed by a bar menu that runs until 5:30 p.m. when the dinner menu begins. To accompany our delicious bar menu we have two beers that are brewed for us locally by Wasatch Brew Pub, the Montage Mountain Ale, on tap, and the Monty Belgian White Ale, in bottles, that is named after Monty, our Bernese mountain dog. We also offer our extended wine list and local whiskey.

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Montage Deer Valley

What else is available?

Right below Apex near Compass Sports, we’ve added a new popular option, the Beach Haus, that is also a children favorite. There, we’re grilling bratwursts, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, right on the mountain, and people can ski-in and stay in their ski boots while making just a fast stop if they wish to still keep skiing.

What happens if some guests, not staying at Montage, have so much fun that they miss the last Ruby Express chair at 4 p.m.?

If guests are enjoying Après-Ski so much and find themselves still with us at 6 or 7 p.m., on the “wrong” side of the mountain from where they’re staying, we’ll gladly take them home. We have complimentary transportation, and we’ll take them to Silver Lake, Snow Park or even Main Street, wherever they came from, within Park City, we’ll take them there.

Is there live music available anywhere at your hotel?

dvr-montage (27)Yes, we do! It begins in the Apex from 12 to 4 p.m. and we have speakers for those outside on the patio can also enjoy the music. At 4 p.m., it moves into the Vista Lounge.  (Here’s a tip: the Lounge fills up between 5 and 7 p.m.) The Lounge features a roaring fireplace and live music, the menu is Asian entrees, served in a relaxed lounge setting with a huge variety of signature drinks. Vista is wonderful because it’s a true family gathering place, a giant living room; it’s our largest space and the classic Après-Ski lounge.

Is there a place where guests can get light fare?

dvr-montage (9)Yama-Sushi near the Vista Lounge is perfect for that. It opens as early as 4 p.m. It’s another great option for Après-Ski that offers signature rolls, nigiri, Japanese beers and sake pairings. As you probably know, “Yama” means mountain in Japanese. Then from 4 until 5 p.m. each day, we offer complimentary marshmallow s’mores for guests staying at the hotel and everyone can roast the s’mores on the open fire-pit, next to the Vista Lounge.

Do you have outdoor Après-Ski activities too?

dvr-montage (18)Yes, we have the Powder Park, our own tubing park. Even though it starts at 11 a.m. it is another after ski favorite. Access to the park is complimentary to our hotel guests. It’s a fun Après-Ski option for kids who still want to play in the snow and it’s always a perfect complement to roasting s’mores at the end of the ski day.

What else is there for kids and their families?

dvr-montage (24)The other family gathering place is the Daly’s Pub and Rec, on the lower floor of the resort. There, we offer four bowling lanes, billiards, English darts, a nostalgic video game arcade and the more modern, Wii Lounge. Fresh pizzas made from scratch and other pop foods are served and are perfect for families that choose to hang out in what is the most popular section of the whole hotel.dvr-montage (21)

Does your famous Spa also participate in Après-Ski activities?

As you perhaps know, ours is the largest spa in Utah. It’s also a place where guests can enjoy their Après-Ski experience with food and wine served right in this indoor, mosaic spa pool. Lots of people are looking to this unique spa experience after a long day on the slopes. Guests can pick between the whirlpool, the swimming pool or even book a spa treatment. While our spa doesn’t offer family hours during the day, our guests’ families are always welcome from 6 to 8 p.m. in the spa pool.

Any other Après-Ski options?

Oh yes, I almost forgot; there’s Buzz, our coffee, hot-chocolate and tea quick-stop. There, you can find homemade sweets from our pastry kitchen and it’s where our resident beekeeper offers his honey production that is available along with some hand-made gelato. Buzz is located alongside the retail promenade, a wonderful shopping area complete with designer jewelry and extraordinary fashions which completes in high-style the Après-Ski cornucopia at Montage.

What happens to Après-Ski at Montage when winter is over?

When the ski chairlifts close, Montage becomes a family camp as the days grow longer. One of the first things that changes is that s’more-time goes from 4 and 5 p.m., to 8 and 9 p.m. in the summer months around our camp fires that remain a daily, year-round routine, and then Compass Sports converts from ski shop into a mountain bike shop. We’re the only official demo center from BMC Swiss mountain bikes and guest can try them all on Deer Valley’s trails.

What other activities do you offer outside of winter?

Compass Sports becomes the recreation hub for 30 different activities that are offered to families in the summer and in the fall as long as the sun is up. Activities cover soccer, croquet, badminton, complimentary archery lessons on the front lawn, now that the tubing park has long melted. When the sun goes down we also offer star-gazing, a non-winter activity, that gives the opportunity to urban guests to discover a sky and some constellations that are almost impossible to observe from any large metro areas.

So, are you magically turning Après-Ski into Après-Sports as soon as the snow melts?

Absolutely, you can say it; the end-of-day fun never stops at Montage!