There were some amazing ski properties on show when NEIL ENGLISH visited the Utah resorts of Deer Valley and Park City, which now claims to be the biggest ski area in America. But one well-heeled owner of a slopeside mansion is now having to eat a slice of humble pie…
AFTER Americans out-shocked the UK’s Brexit decision with their vote for Donald J Trump, former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney probably felt like running for the Utah hills to take refuge in his $9million ski lodge.
I saw his mountain hideaway during a ski trip and can confirm that it would be the perfect refuge for some political rehabilitation – for which Mr Romney would have been sorely in need.
Before the US election, I had joined staff and guests in my Utah hotel to watch him on television, publicly denouncing Donald Trump, his fellow party member – he called him ‘a phony and a fraud’. Romney, himself a former Republican nominee who lost the 2012 election to President Obama, warned against the potential disaster of letting Trump run for the White House.
Romney’s pleas, of course, went unheeded. To add salt to the wound, Trump even won the state of Utah, from where Mr Romney, possibly while trying to soak away his despair in the giant hot-tub on the deck, had little choice but to send him a congratulatory tweet. His wife Ann, it is said, had to press his finger on the send button as he tackled this slice of humble pie.
Ironically, the surprise electoral outcome will not, it seems, allow Romney more time on the ski slopes – he’s apparently needed by Trump in Washington despite his lambasting of the new president.
The dedicated 69-year-old Mormon, who headed the organising committee for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, will have to wait before he can retire to his lovely piste-side holiday home in Deer Valley.
On my trip there I stopped to take a picture of the six-bedroom mansion, with 8,730 square feet of living space. And as it happened, I felt very much at home in these affluent surroundings, thanks to the skis on which I was cruising Deer Valley’s luxurious slopes – some extremely handsome-looking boards with a price tag of $10,000 a pair!
They were hand made by Zai skis in Switzerland and finished with a Bentley cosmetic, and on loan to me from the posh Gorsuch shop on Park City’s Main Street. I guarded them with such devotion that I was sure the President’s own secret service agents could not have done a better job.
But I had bigger ski areas to explore and happier local VIPs to discover. Next door to Deer Valley is the ski area of Park City, famous for hosting the Sundance Film Festival and being the U.S Ski Team’s official training ground.
An eight-person gondola was installed last season to link up with the neighbouring Canyons resort, giving Park City and its new owner, Vail Resorts, the bragging rights to ‘America’s Largest Ski Area’. The name ‘Canyons’ has now been dropped and integrated under the Park City banner although locals say it will still always be The Canyons to them.
The 7,300 skiable acres constitute an impressive and diverse playground comparable, in groomed trails, to about half the size of the Three Valleys in France but with extra heaps of off-piste spread amongst the 14 bowls and elsewhere. This is all included on Vail’s ever more encompassing Epic Pass.
My guide, Alex, collected me from the Snow Flower condominium complex which has the advantage of being slope-side, though sadly not convenient for access to the wonderful town of Park City. We headed for the new Quicksilver gondola and from the top did a run down the White Pine piste.
After the gondola ride, the four-seater Dreamcatcher chair seems very slow but it does give you time to have a good look at the highly desirable ski-in, ski-out residential enclave below known as The Colony. One of the more modest homes here could be yours for $10 million. One larger property was on sale for $37 million.
Park City dwellers can’t get over to this side before 10am so Colony locals get a good hour of priority free-riding on a powder day.
Alex took me on an exhilarating blast down Alpenglow, onto the Harmony trail which all adds up to one of the Canyons’ longest runs from the top of Peak 5 down to the Tombstone Express chair. He screeched to a halt, half way down, to point out film star Will Smith’s rather attractive home with lone Aspen tree, chateau-style turret feature and superb views.
Alex told me he taught Taylor Swift when she rented a home in The Colony a few years back, with her mum and Selena Gomez – it was while Selena was reportedly dating Justin Bieber. By all accounts it was not a pleasant experience for Alex, so more for legal reasons than to spare Miss Swift’s reputation, we’ll leave that anecdote alone because as Alex said, ‘it goes with the territory’.
Park City has plenty of great terrain for all ability levels but particularly intermediate and expert.
On a clear day with new snow the vast high mountain amphitheatre of Jupiter Bowl boasts some of the best skiing and views in the Wasatch range. Being able to cruise all the way to town, then kicking off your skis outside the High West Distillery before grabbing a cocktail or even lunch, is something of a treat too.
It really is the town that is king for me. Park City is one of America’s authentic ski towns, complete with mining, logging and cowboy ranching heritage. It’s up there with the likes of Jackson in Wyoming, Aspen, Telluride and Crested Butte in Colorado, Ketchum in Idaho, and Bozeman in Montana.
Perhaps Park City’s 100 bars, live music, wealth of boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, including Zoom, Robert Redford’s fine dining establishment, help its appeal too.
Apres-ski is a lot of fun here – epitomised by a different sort of cocktail I discovered called a Sazerac. The inside of a tumbler is coated with absinthe and rye whiskey, aromatic bitters and lemon zest are added. The glass’s rim is coated with lemon juice and sugar. The outcome is mind altering! Being a Mormon, Mitt Romney must be teetotal. Shame – this could make him feel a whole lot better.
Ski Independence (www.ski-i.com 0131 243 8097) offers a twin centre stay including five nights at Snow Flower condos in Park City and two nights in the Chateau at Deer Valley including the new direct Delta Airlines flight from London to Salt Lake City, plus car hire, from £1,749 per person. The company has a range of accommodation available in all resorts.
Deer Valley – www.deervalley.com
Park City – www.parkcitymountain.com
Berthoud Pass remembered – historic photos of what is believed to have been the first ski area with a lift in Colorado
Frank ‘Scoop’ Baldwin, editor of the Skier & Snowboarder magazine writes:
I skied the Berthoud Pass Ski area in Colorado about 25 years ago – and it was of my most memorable ski days ever.
Once you were at the top of the lifts you skied down between trees in unpisted deep powder, dropping out into the road at the bottom of the pass where a bus would pick you up to take you back to the lifts.
It was proper ‘get away from it all’ skiing. So, I was very sad when in 2002 I saw that the ski area had shut down due to financial problems. A year later the lifts were taken down, but Berthoud Pass refused to lie down and die. Skiers and snowboarders – the area was one of the first in Colorado to accept boarders – continue to hike or use snowcats to access the great powder runs.
Although the original ski lodge was demolished some years ago, a new warming hut was built in 2008 and a group called the Friends of Berthoud Pass has formed with the intention of keeping the memory of this great ski area alive through safety, access and education. The non profit organisation was founded in 2003 by ski patrollers and backcountry riders.
The high cost of trans-Atlantic air fares has always been one of the stumbling blocks when trying to attract UK skiers and snowboarders to the Rockies in America.
But there are changes in the air as Norwegian is offering return flights from London Gatwick to Seattle and Denver for under £400.
This season the airline will be operating three flights a week between London Gatwick and Denver International Airport.
Skiers and snowboarders can then choose between many well known Colorado resorts such as Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Winter Park and Steamboat to name but a few.
Or if you prefer the smaller ‘ma and pa’ ski areas there are the Colorado Gems which include, among others, Arapahoe Basin, Sunshine and Ski Cooper
There will also be as many as four weekly flights to Seattle Tacoma International Airport, which is a stone’s throw away from resorts such as The Summit at Snoqaulmie, Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass. Whistler in Canada is also only a four-hour drive away if you were thinking of ticking that one off the bucket list. And why not pay a visit to Cypress Mountain in Vancouver on your way? This itinerary is writing itself!
For more details and fares go to:
After a weekend of fun and frolics, the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area season, which was extended because of fantastic late snow falls in Colorado, finally came to an end on Sunday (11 June).
Closing Day was full of costumes, pond skimming on Lake Reveal, tunes from the resort favourite local band High 5 in the base area, and lots of smiling faces.
Photos: Dave Camara/Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
A-Basin’s 2016-17 season by the numbers:
* Approximately 373 inches of snow for the season
* 230 days of operation (we opened for the season all the way back on October 21, 2016)
* That means A-Basin was open for skiing over 60% of the regular year (365 days)
* Nearly 40,000 A-Basin Bloody Marys sold (with 204 orders for an extra strip of bacon!)
* Over $40,000 raised during fundraising events (Beacon Bowl, Save Our Snow and The Enduro)
We often get calls at the Skier & Snowboarder from people looking to get a final fix of skiing and snowboarding right at the end of the season. All of the major European resorts are now closed, but due to some unusually late snowfalls in North America there are some great conditions to be had if you don’t mind a transatlantic crossing.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area (A-Basin), home of the longest ski and ride season in Colorado, is reopening its lifts for a bonus weekend of skiing and snowboarding on Friday, 9 June 9 through to Sunday, 11 June.
The Black Mountain Express and Lenawee Mountain lifts will operate from 8:30am to 2:30pm with top-to-bottom skiing. If snow conditions allow, there is a chance that A-Basin will be able to extend to another bonus weekend as well.
“We had a tremendous storm in mid-May that brought two feet of snow to the ski area, and the conditions have been outstanding,” said Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin Chief Operating Officer. “We’re not closing yet, and if the snow quality remains this good, we may be able to extend even beyond the 11th.”
“There is definitely a demand for skiing in the late spring in Colorado. People are excited to be out on the hill,” Henceroth said.
If you can go at short notice, Arapahoe Basin will still be open seven days a week until Sunday, June 4. Discounted lift tickets can be purchased online in advance on the ski area’s website: tickets.arapahoebasin.com.
For more information about A-Basin’s extended season, including lift ticket pricing and skier service information, please go to:
The recent winter storms that dropped 18 inches of new snow recently also means Aspen Mountain in Colorado is opening this Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-29).
The Ajax Express chairlift will run from 10am-2pm for skiers and snowboarders to take advantage of the 130 acres of Aspen Mountain’s upper blue runs as well as black runs such as Summit and Blondie’s.
“With a pleasant spring squall dropping additional snow on the top of Aspen Mountain last week, we are excited to kick-off our summer season with skiing/riding,” said Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operations, Aspen Skiing Company. “The weekend will offer classic conditions for a Colorado multi-sport weekend with town green and the mountain white.”
Lift tickets are $42 a day for adults, children (ages 4 and up), teens and seniors.
For more information visit:
Sitting comfortably on the stateline between California and Nevada, Heavenly Ski Resort offers skiers and boarders a unique opportunity to ski two US states in one day, on top of experiencing the lively, flashy casino atmosphere that Nevada is famous for.
The ski area, which is one of the largest in the USA, offers 4,800 acres of terrain, all at well over 2,000m above sea level, accessed by 28 lifts (mainly chairlifts), unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe in one direction, and Nevada’s ‘desert’ on the other. California offers steeper slopes lower down the mountain while Nevada’s are perfect for intermediates with excellent tree skiing in the area where the forest isn’t too dense. The other resorts around the lake are linked by bus, some of them free of charge with a valid lift pass.
Crystal Ski has added Heavenly to its list of resorts for next season and is offering accommodation at the following properties:
Known for its eclectic, and impressive, collection of musical memorabilia, from the likes of Johnny Cash, The Monkees and the Sex Pistols, this hotel is definitely one for the music lovers. As well as a casino with slot machines and table games, it also features the largest outdoor pool in the area. Other delights include the Park Prime Steakhouse, often home to live music and the Fire Break Kitchen & Bar. The resort is about six-minute’ walk from the Heavenly Gondola.
Typical-American Resort Hotel. The Disneyesque exterior of the property is framed perfectly by white mountains and snowy fir trees, making it one of the most picturesque properties on Southern Lake Tahoe. Conveniently located with just a two-minute’ walk to the main gondola and shopping area in Heavenly Village. The suites are family friendly with spacious rooms. There is an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and a fitness centre as well as the Echo Restaurant.
The 438 luxurious hotel rooms are colourful, with contemporary décor (and very jazzy carpets), and many even come with spectacular lake or mountain views. Under a 10-minute walk from the Heavenly Gondola. There’re restaurants and shops to nightclubs, wellness facilities (Onsen Salon & Spa and Ashiatsu Massage treatments). Worth mentioning is the Ciera Steak & Chophouse, Tahoe’s only 4-diamond restaurant, prepares a selection of steaks, chops and seafood, alongside a 300-long wine menu.
For a week’s stay at the 3* Hard Hotel & Casino from £1,254 per person (two sharing) including United Airlines flights from London Heathrow via San Francisco to Reno departing 10 January 2018 and transfers.
For further information visit www.crystalski.co.uk
When Dave McCoy celebrated his 100th birthday
in August, he only had to look at the many photos of Mammoth Mountain lining the office walls at his Californian home to remind him of everything he has achieved during his full and eventful lifetime.
The photos bear witness to the remarkable story of a living legend without whose drive and determination Mammoth, as it is today, might not exist.
Dave’s achievements include opening Mammoth to skiing in 1941 before getting a permit for a permanent ski location there in 1948, allowing him to bring Alpine skiing to southern Californians.
In later years, he launched his Mammoth Lakes Foundation, helping the town grow around the resort.
Luckily for the millions of people who have enjoyed skiing and snowboarding there over the last 60+ years, he ignored the advice of locals who warned him the location was ‘too high, too windy, and too steep’.
Dave first saw Mammoth’s potential aged 21, while working as hydrographer. In 1935, he and some friends built his first rope tow out of an old truck frame and engine to haul skiers uphill; later, he even sold his beloved Harley-Davidson to raise funds for equipment.
Today, Mammoth Mountain is a sprawling resort that draws 1.3 million skiers and snowboarders annually, with outdoor adventurers and mountain bikers doubling that figure in summer.
Over the years, Dave declined many offers to work on other resorts for big money. “I was working to make things good at Mammoth Mountain,” he told his local paper, The Press
“I always looked at how tomorrow would be better. I never worried about money.”
Dave last put on his Salomon skis 10 years ago, but his unbridled enthusiasm for new projects continues. This year, after eight years of research, he licensed his latest venture, a new vehicle that runs on solar power.
There’s no doubt that Dave’s adventurous spirit combined with his vision has had spectacular results, but for him it’s fun, not business, that lies at the heart of his achievements – and his long life.
“Everyone has a different life, but longevity happens because you do something fun,” Dave said.
“I just wish I had a hundred more years. There are a hundred more things I want to do.”
Happy birthday Dave!
For more information on Mammoth Mountain, click here
1941 – Dave McCoy obtains a roving permit for his own portable rope tow.
1953 – Forest Service awards Dave the permanent permit to operate at Mammoth Mountain free of charge on the condition he begins developing the
mountain. Dave opens lifts to public as official ski resort. First Main Lodge opens, nicknamed ‘The Pit’.
1955 – Thanksgiving Day, Firstchair lift (Chair 1) opens at
1957 – Chair 2 installed.
1959 – Chair 3 installed plus a T-Bar 1 Doppelmayer
1962 – Chair 4, T-Bar 2
1964 – Chair 5
1965 – Chair 6
1966 – Lower Gondola built and installed.
1967 – Upper Gondola installed.
1969 – Chairs 7, 8, and 9 go into operation
1969 – The Great Snow of ‘69’ hits the Sierra and Mammoth is buried under 25 feet of snow.
Tunnels had to be dug down from the surface to chair lifts
and lodge entrances.
1970 – Chair 10
1972 – Chairs 11, 12, 13, and 14
1973 – Canyon Lodge built
1975 – Chairs 15 and 16
1979 – Chairs 17, 18, and 19
1980 – Chairs 20 and 21, ticket office at chair 15
1981 – Main Lodge Remodel, 4th Floor Addition
1982 – Chairs 22 and 23, Mid-Chalet remodel
1984 – Chair 7 turned into triple chair
1985 – Chair 24 and 25; Building at Chair 4
1986 – Purchase of June Mountain.
1988 – Chair 26 is built and Chair 1 becomes
detachable high-speed quad lift.
1988 – Mammoth Mountain allows snowboarding on all slopes.
1990 – Bronze Woolly given to Dave McCoy on his 75th birthday
1991 – Snowmaking installed
1994 – Chair 27 built and Chair 16 becomes
detachable high-speed quad lift.
1994 – Longest season so far at Mammoth Mountain. Open
from 8 October to August 13.
1996 – Dave teams up with Intrawest.
1997 – The Mill Café opens at bottom of Chair 2
2000 – Little Eagle tent warming hut installed; Mid-Chalet remodelled and named
2000 – Mammoth builds the world’s largest snow cone weighing
4,640 pounds with 71 gallonsof syrup which gets them into
Guinness World Records.
2001 – The Village, Mountain Center andVillage Gondola officially open.
2005 – Dave sells Mammoth Mountain toStarwood Capital Group, LLC. Top ofthe Sierra Interpretive Center opens
on the summit.
2007 – Cloud Nine Express, Mammoth’s second six-pack chairlift, replaces
2010 – Snowiest season on record with 668 inches (55 feet). Ski area stays open until the 4 July.
2013 –60th anniversary celebrations.
2014 – Despite lack of natural snow, Mammoth’s snowmaking enabled the area to open with top to bottom skiing
in December and the entire mountain by February.
2015 – Founder of Mammoth Mountain, Dave
McCoy celebrates his 100th birthday.