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Destination of the Week: Ski Trip To Park City, Utah

by on January 6, 2012 · 34 comments

in Chase, Delta, Destination of the Week, Park City, Ultimate Rewards

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Park City, Utah after a light snow.

Welcome to a new TPG feature series: Destination of the Week. You earned the points, now it’s time to burn some of them by heading to fantastic destinations all over the world. Every Friday TPG Managing Editor Eric will be bringing you another great destination that you can get to and enjoy using all those hard-earned points and miles you’ve racked up over the past year (or more).

Ski Season

It’s January, which means its prime ski season in the northern hemisphere, so we thought we’d spend this month telling you about some of the best ski (and snowboarding—no discrimination here!) destinations to get to using miles and points starting with this week’s pick: Park City, Utah.

Though celebrities and paparazzi mob this mountainside hamlet for a week every January during the Sundance Film Festival, for the rest of the year it’s a great, upscale, mostly quiet ski resort with some of the best mountain runs, scenery and accommodation options in the U.S.

Getting There

The closest major commercial airport is Salt Lake City, which serves over 700 flights a day connecting directly to over 90 cities in the US and Canada. It’s a Delta hub, making it easy for SkyMiles members to get here using the bare minimum of miles, though all the major domestic carriers fly through here, including American and United, as well as JetBlue. So with some diligent searching, you can use miles to book award seats. For Delta specifically, low-level awards are 25,000 miles for coach and 50,000 miles for business class, though peak ski weekends (especially around Sundance) might require peak awards, which are double that. Delta has three award tiers, and their middle one is 40,000 miles for coach, which usually has pretty good availability. As always, check what the airfare is before using your points to make sure redemption is a good value.

SLC is just about an hour flight from the West Coast and under 4 hours from the East Coast, making it a quick, easy getaway. Better still? The airport consistently has one of the highest on-time departure and arrival records in the country, so you won’t spend your weekend sitting around the terminal.

Park City itself is up in the mountains just under an hour’s drive east of Salt Lake City mostly along highway 80. If you rent a car, be sure to check the road conditions first and that you have all-weather tires or snow tires on the car, otherwise, there are plenty of shuttle and car services from SLC to the ski resorts.

Hotels

Since it’s one of the country’s premier winter destinations, Park City has no shortage of hotels and accommodations, many of which you can book using points or points and cash options.

The lodgey Waldorf Astoria Park City

Waldorf Astoria Park City: This beautiful lodge-like Hilton property is on the way into town from Salt Lake City, and is part of the Canyons Park City ski resort, one of the country’s largest single ski and snowboard resorts on 3,700 acres with around 170 trails and 17 lifts. Just to note, though, there’s not ski-in ski-out access since it’s at the base of the mountain, so you have to take a lift or shuttle to get to the runs. The hotel itself is just a few years old, and has just 175 rooms, so they can book up fast. It’s also got a new gourmet restaurant concept called SLOPES from the team behind the popular Talisker on Main restaurant in town, and a Golden Door Spa. Rates in January start at $499 a room, or 60,000 Hilton HHonors points since it’s high season.

A guest room at the Hyatt Escala Lodge.

Hyatt Escala Lodge: Also located at the Canyons resort, this Hyatt property has access to all the same activities and terrain as the Waldorf Astoria with direct access to the Sunrise chairlift right into the heart of the ski area.  It’s got just 150 rooms ranging from traditional guest rooms to 4-bedroom residential suites, though even the normal guest rooms have kitchenettes. Dining at the Escala Provisions Restaurant and Bar is all-day casual, and while there’s no spa on property, guests can use the Waldorf’s Golden Door Spa. This is a Category 4 hotel, so a free night will cost you 15,000 Gold Passport Points per night, or rates start at $399 a night in January.

A patio at the St. Regis overlooking Deer Valley--perfect place for a fireside cocktail.

St. Regis Deer Valley: This hotel is massive stone mountaintop edifice about 20 minutes from town with direct ski-in ski-out access to Olympic-level ski slopes. The resort boasts a team of ski valets who will help you into and out of your gear, as well as other activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowmobiling. One downside is that there’s no snowboarding in Deer Valley, so take that into account. The hotel itself has just 181 rooms and suites, so they book up fast and tend to go for a premium. The resort’s fancy restaurant is J&G Grill by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (check out the awesome wine vault while you’re here), and it also has a super high-end Remède Spa. The best rates we could find in January start at $809 or 20,000 Starpoints (Cash & Points wasn’t available).

The Marriott Mountainside resort, a Vacation Club property.

Park City Marriott: This isn’t quite a ski resort, but could be a good place to stay if you’re looking for a base near town and want to explore the various ski areas in Deer Valley, the Canyons and the Park City Mountain Resort without committing to one or the other. It’s just a bit outside town, and has 199 rooms and suites on 4 floors.  The rooms look spacious and okay, but nothing special, and there’s a rotisserie-style restaurant on property, though you’ll probably want to take the free shuttle into town for a nice meal. This is a Category 5 hotel, so free nights cost 25,000 Marriott Rewards points, while rates start at $219 a night in January. There are also two Marriott Vacation Club Villa properties near town and the Park City Mountain Resort which might be a better option if you need more space since rooms are newer and larger, though these accommodations lack some usual amenities like minibar, onsite restaurants, etc. At Summit Watch, rates start at $319 in January, and at MountainSide, rates start at $389 this month, while both will cost 30,000 Marriott Rewards points for a free night since they are both Category 6 hotels.

A guest room at the luxurious Montage Deer Valley.

Montage Deer Valley: Though the Montage Deer Valley, an uber-luxe year-old property 20 minutes from town, doesn’t have a points program, Chase Ultimate Rewards recently emailed members to let them know about a package available for March 15-18 that includes a three-night stay at the Montage, a ski clinic with Picabo Street, two-day lift tickets, ski and boot fittings, a special wine-paring dinner with sommelier Anthony Giglio, and a choice of either a treatment in the gorgeous 35,000-square-foot spa, or a winter sports activity like ice climbing or snowmobiling. The package costs either 200,000 points or $2,000 per two-person package (I’d recommend saving the Ultimate Rewards point for more lucrative redemptions). The hotel itself has several restaurants including the upscale Apex and the more casual Daly’s Pub & Rec (which has a bowling alley!), as well as its own team of ski valets and activity leaders to enliven your stay.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • http://www.theman1000.com/ The Man of a Thousand Places

    I’m not sure Park City is the best place for ski bums to be going right now. Snowfall is at record lows. There are rocks and saplings poking through the snow at resorts all over the Wasatch range. Of course, the resorts are making snow as fast as they can, but it just isn’t enough. About a week ago, I took a couple aerial shots of Park City and the surrounding area that you can see here: http://www.theman1000.com/2011/12/28/friends-in-high-places/

    There has been no new snowfall since that time, but there have been a few 50+ degree days.

  • Phil

    Nice post. I saw the Montage offer and while it looks nice agree it is not a great use of points

    @TMOATP – yes it’s been an abysmal start in Utah and CA. But in fairness it’s an odd year and this little snow is unusual.

    That said maybe you should do the next installment as Whistler who have been having record snow fall, with a reported snow base of 84 inches. We are going there early February staying at the Westin on points. There are other points options too with Hilton and Marriott. Not to mention some great ways to get to YVR from the East including the Cathay Pacific flight from JFK or several full international J class flights on AC from YYZ that go on to HKG/Sydney etc. We are actually coming back in Cathay F on the red-eye from YVR which should be fun after our last day of ski.

    Oh and for me no snow boarders is a big PLUS :)

  • http://twitter.com/sorrogrande Beau Sorensen

    There’s not a lot of snow, but the St Regis is a fantastic property. I stayed there using an SPG award redemption (stay 3 get 1 free from last summer), and it is a beautiful resort. As a Platinum, they upgraded me to their best available room – in this case, a 2 room suite complete with kitchenette (stocked with high end appliances) and a private butler.

  • Guest

    Kind of misleading to mention the Chase Ultimate Rewards offer for the Montage Deer Valley, since it sold out weeks ago (I wanted to buy it, but it was sold out before I could).

  • Dealswelike

    I stayed at the Waldorf Astoria last year. Great property and although it is not technically ski-in/ski-out, it kind of is. Right outside of the hotel is a private bubble lift will take you right to the base of the mountain. No car or shuttle needed. As a diamond member they are pretty stingy on upgrades.

    I will be staying at the Hyatt Escala lodge this year, so will be able to report back and compare the two.

  • Felicia Braude

    Like this weekly segment! excited to see more as the weeks go by because I’m hoarding my points/miles a bit :)

  • Pkerr

    St Regis is only about 5 min from PC (not 20 minutes) and the Special Offer for the Montage is sold out.

    No snowboarding at Deer Valley? Some people would count that as a plus! ;-)

    … and Phil – Whistler is NOT experiencing a record snowfall. 205in so far. Last 4 of 5 years have had more. It’s better than than the rest of North America but far from record.

    That being said… please do a trip report on your stay at the Westin. I’m planning on going there next year.

  • nyugator

    Awesome! Figuring out how to spend miles and points is the hardest part.

  • Anonymous

    Ski Free with Quick Start – http://www.visitparkcity.com/quickstart/?quickstartstep=1

    Catch a morning flight from almost anywhere to Salt Lake City International Airport and you can be on the slopes the same afternoon. The Park City Quick START (Ski Today and Ride Today) Vacation lets you convert your airline boarding pass into a same-day lift ticket to the Park City resort of your choice. It’s your chance to get a free same-day lift ticket at Canyons Resort, Park City Mountain Resort or Deer Valley Resort.

    After registering, you will receive via email your redemption voucher. You will need to bring the redemption voucher, along with your same-day boarding pass and out-of-state photo I.D., to the resort ticket window to receive your complimentary same-day lift ticket.

    Valid from respective resort opening day through Wednesday, December 21, 2011.
    Valid from Monday, January 2 through Friday, February 17, 2012.
    Blacked-out from Saturday, February 18 through Saturday, March 31, 2012.
    Valid from Sunday, April 1 through respective resort closing day 2012.

  • Jon S

    Hahaha yup very true. There’s no snow anywhere in the US except a little in New Mexico. Go to the Alps or wait til March and pray for snow

  • Phil

    Sorry you are right. I was getting carried away. But they have been making the most of the fact that they have had a LOT of snow and “most snow most ski-able terrain”. And good for them why not. We went last year which was also a big snow year but we were somewhat unfortunate to have rain most of the time we were there so more skating than snowing. Will report back my experiences at the Westin on the FT forum thread

  • Pkerr

    If I was doing a trip today, Whistler would definitely be the place to go.

    Rain huh? That’s my big fear when booking a trip for there. Was it raining on the whole mountain or just lower down. It does that a lot. Rain lower but dumping up higher.

    Looking forward to your TR for the Westin. where will you post it? Or post it here. That way I’ll be notified when it posts.

  • Miaminj03

    I’d love to hear about other ski resort hotels where you can use points. I love to travel all over to ski, and I’ve stayed at many of the hotels on the list below, but I’m always interested in finding out about new ones.

    Here’s what I’m aware of….

    Westin Monache (at Mammoth)
    Ritz Carlton at Northstar (Tahoe)
    Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, NV
    Embassy Suites, Lake Tahoe
    Marriott had three Vacation Clubs in Tahoe
    Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, CO
    Westin Beaver Creek, CO
    Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Avon / Vail Valley
    Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch (Beaver Creek)
    Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa
    St. Regis, Aspen, CO
    Westin will soon operate operate the Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass Village, CO [http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/149238]
    Sheraton Steamboat, CO
    Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge at Breckenridge, CO
    The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, VT (not that close, but near Stratton and Bromley)
    Westin Whistler, BC
    Hilton Whistler, BC
    Le Westin Resort & Spa, Tremblant, QC
    Sheraton Davos Hotel Waldhuus (Switzerland)
    Intercontinental is building a resort in Davos as well
    W is building a resort in Verbier, Switzerland [http://www.verbierresidences.com/w-verbier.html; http://www.verbier.ch/en/index.php

    Anything I’m missing?

  • http://frugaltravellawyer.wordpress.com/ Frugaltravellawyer

    Great review. Thanks! Just canceled our annual ski trip to Utah because of the lack of snow. All of us are very disappointed. My husband and I have another Utah ski trip planned for later this month. We are hoping the ski conditions improve soon.

  • http://osnews.com David Adams

    I live in Park City and I’m a big fan of the blog and it was fun seeing my home town mentioned. Unfortunately, as others have mentioned, I would not recommend coming here until the snow situation improves. It’s just unbelievably bad. I live high up on the mountain, and by this time in a normal year I’d have had six feet of snow at my house by now. We have barely four inches.

    But one of the great things about Park City is the same reason I live here instead of another mountain town: Access. It takes me exactly 29 minutes to get from my house on the mountain to the Salt Lake airport. Combine that with the Quick Start program that another reader mentioned, and you have just about the most quick and convenient world class skiing you will find. I have a friend from Washington DC who swears that it’s both quicker and cheaper to fly to Utah to ski for a few days than it would be to drive to an east coast ski resort and do the same.

  • MrHoju

    Utah is hurting this year for snow and I Park City’s website reports a 20″ base… so skiing doesn’t sound like a viable option there. The snow is in the NW and my recommendation would be to look at options at Whistler. You could do a bit on Vancouver BC and how easy it is to get to Whistler. Heck, even Mt Seymour has a decent amount of snow…

  • Phil

    I’ll be happy to update here after going.

    Yes the rain… I learned it’s local nickname is Pissler Fountain! On the bus up from YVR to Vancouver it was literally pissing it down with rain. Heavy plain rain. Once we got there it was more thin sleetish rain/snow mix but basically meant the surface was very icy. For the first few days the freezing level was very high up the mountain so everything below was either slushy or icy or a mix of both. That said by the end of the week we had a couple of big dumps of snow and after that it was out of this world. Last day was a Friday in mid-January and we went the whole 6000 odd feet from top to bottom with perfect snow and hardly saw another soul. Reality is the snow is not as good as Utah or Colorado, but it’s a huge, HUGE mountain, really nice people, pretty good facilities, and if you get lucky with the weather, great ski

  • Phil

    Good idea. Let me think, could add:

    Marriott Residence Inn, Tremblant, QC
    Country Inn & Suites, Tremblant, QC
    Homewood Suites, Tremblant, QC
    Radisson Blu Resort ARC 1950, France
    Radisson Blu Resort Trysil, Norway
    Radisson Blu Lillehammer, Norway
    Radisson Blu Resort Beitostølen, Norway
    Radisson Lazurnaya Hotel, Sochi, Russia (now aren’t you all glad you signed up for the 50k radisson blu promo? you signed up right!?)

    Must be some in Japan? Chile? NZ?

  • Pkerr

    So how was the Bus? I’m thinking of maybe doing a one way car rental up and then the bus back?

  • Phil

    I was in your camp… wanted to do one way car rental. Wife (who is Canadian) said no way we are taking the bus. She was right. Bus is very comfortable and convenient and saves the hassle of driving through the city and up to Whistler (which in the pouring rain would not have been much fun). I would recommend sticking with the bus

  • Larry

    FWIW, Sundance takes up the better part of two weekends in January — it goes from Thursday to the following Sunday. Interestingly, though, Sundance is one of the best times for skiing. The slopes are very uncrowded. With advance planning, if you’re using points, you can usually get a room even during Sundance. Town will be crowded, but the slopes won’t be. I’ve stayed at both the Marriott and Summit Watch. The Marriott is nice, because it has the restaurant (not great, but cozy and there is a cool little wine bar room with couches and fireplace), and can usually be booked on points, although 25,000 for a $250 room may not be an ideal redemption. SummitWatch is awesome. It’s right at the foot of Main Street, so easy walking distance to the restaurants. Zoom — Robert Redford’s restaurant — is right next door. It has a great bar/counter that looks into the kitchen and is a great spot after a cold day. The best thing about summit watch is that you can suit up right at the hotel and take the town lift, which is right there. It’s very slow, but it gets you up the mountain and combines almost ski-in/ski-out convenience with the main street location. The units in SummitWatch are phenomenal — timeshare accommodations of 1 and 2 bedrooms, all with a big tub with jets. It also has a great lobby with high wooden ceilings, comfy chairs, and a fireplace. Unfortunately, I think booking on points only gets you a studio/hotel sized room — not worth it for 30k Marriott points.

    The convenience is awesome. As others have mentioned, it’s a simple trip from the airport. Having a car isn’t a huge necessity in Park City, so consider taking a shuttle and just using the bus. Expect to pay nearly 3x for an SUV, though. Being in a mid-size or “full” size on the 80 during weather sucks. The car rental companies at SLC are mostly franchises and they all stink, by and large. Don’t expect your status and dreams of upgrades to get you far. Book the category you will be ok with. Hertz just opened a gold choice location there, I think, which may improve the situation. There is no National Emerald service there to speak of.

    If the snow isn’t cooperating, check out the olympic park — ziplines, watch the kids practice ski jumping, skating. Right where the road that goes to town hits the highway is a little spot called Red Stone, which is an outdoor mall, with a few neat restaurants. Some of the locals say they are annoyed by the out of towners. Sit at the bar at Red Rock, though, have a pint and a bite and you’ll almost certainly make a friend.

  • Terry

    Wait for more snow.

  • Miaminj03

    Never did the 50K promo. Too bad. Any others?

  • Kk

    This is the worst choice for “destination of the week” – no snow. Come on guys, don’t post lame things like this! I suggest Whistler instead- not great but one of the better ones so far this year.

  • Anonymous

    Park city isn’t going to have no snow forever! This series is more about giving ideas in the long term on how to use points for top destinations

  • Kk

    Maybe a title change then- “destination of the week- ski trip” implies to me at least there’s some sking…this week! Ok, we’ll cut Eric a break here- I think enough of us have trolled him on this so far…

    Can I suggest Whistler as a feature soon? That’s where everyone west coast is going so far..

  • Talee Roberts

    Nice post Eric, but surprised you didn’t mention that almost all the resorts allow you to redeem AMEX points for single & multiple day lift tickets!

    Despite the lack of snow, the resorts and the town are awesome. Hope they get big snow before my annual trip in February. We in Santa Fe have been enjoying excellent snow conditions so far this year – come on over to ski Santa fe!

  • Pkerr

    Which resorts are those? Just Amex points or Starwood as well?

  • Talee Roberts

    I know that Park City Resort, The Canyons, Deer Valley & Snowbird are all listed on the membershiprewards.com website. Most are around 7000 pts for 1 day lift, and there are also redemptions for rentals available and multi-day tickets. I’m not sure about the starwood points possibilities.

  • Terry

    Points Guy, about your comment on the “long term,” maybe your story would have been of interest if you had chosen to do it about a ski destination with adequate snow on the ground.

    Do you disclose whether you receive something of value from a card or destination you promote/write about on your blog?

  • Anonymous

    Have to agree with the others. For someone seeking skiing or snowboarding, Park City is not the destination of the week, the month, or–unfortunately–even the season this year. The base is woefully low.
    Nice to see the marketing effort, though.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t receive a dime to promote destinations. Whether or not Park City has adequate snow today or not, it’s still a top winter destination. I’m confident one day the snow will return :-)

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  • Deals We Like

    Just returned from Park City and it was great! There is now snow and still better than skiing on the Northeast. I stayed at the Hyatt Escala Lodge, but think I prefer the Waldorf property which I stayed at last year. However, 15k points at the Hyatt vs. 60k at the Waldorf is a much better redemption! Also, Diamond members get free breakfast at the Hyatt and nada at the Waldorf.

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