Reviewing Deer Valley is incredibly easy and yet challenging. Easy because it is hands down, my favorite place in the world to ski. Hard, because there’s so much to cover it’s a little daunting.
This was my second visit to Deer Valley (I took the family in 2014) so I thought I knew what to expect, but once again they exceeded expectations.
Things I love about Deer Valley:
The people. From when you unload your skis from your car or shuttle to loading lifts to figuring out which run to take, there’s a helpful staff member on hand. Talking with Emily Summers the head Deer Valley PR, I’m told the staff has incredible longevity (the retention rate hovers around 62-68% for employees). These folks know a good thing when they see it. We’ve talked about the thoughtful design of the ski school before, but it bears repeating that Deer Valley has an extremely low student to teacher ratio—you can’t miss starting your kids on skis at Deer Valley.
On the BUSIEST day, Deer Valley ski school has 1000 guests registered. But they are ready with a staff of 550 instructors. In fact, this year unlike many resorts they actually LOWERED The ratio of students to instructors. For kids ages 7-12 the ratio is 1:6 (this year my girls were at Jackson Hole with a ration of 1:10, they hated it).
TIP: Talk to the greeters. You’ll see these friendly folks all over in green jackets. They are a wealth of information on conditions, dining ideas and stories. Many of them are retirees and they know their stuff.
The groomers. I ski out East 75% of my time on skis. This means I’m accustomed to all sorts of conditions. Ice, slushy ice, icy slush, rocky slush and slushy rocks—yep, I think that covers the unusually grim 2015-16 ski season out east. Deer Valley gets “champagne powder” and they groom it to perfection. Miles of corduroy to enjoy, nowhere am I more comfortable dropping into a bowl than at Deer Valley. Even the fresh ungroomed powder behaves itself here.
Traffic Control. Deer Valley staffs the mountain to help visitors get the best possible visit. On busy days, they literally CAP the number of skiers they will allow on the mountain. This means you’ll spend more time on your skis and lest time in lines. They also have a fantastic system of high-speed lifts (and very few cat tracks) to get you exactly where you want to be. Deer Valley has 21 chairlifts, including 12 high speed detachable quads and an enclosed 4-passenger gondola. That’s a lot of hardware to keep folks moving.
TIP: Hire a guide the first day or take advantage of one of the on-mountain greeters. There are 6 peaks to ski and it’s a lot of terrain to navigate.
Convenience. Deer Valley is located in the Wasatch Range, located about 35 miles from of Salt Lake City. There are many direct flights to Deer Valley (including Delta, my carrier of choice). If you get an early flight from NYC, you can be skiing in the afternoon. Unlike Colorado, the drive to the mountains is a breeze with relatively little traffic to contend with.
Resort Feel. When the kids were little, my husband and I joked that ski adventures were “trips” and beach adventures were “vacations.” Implying that ski trips were a heck of a lot of work. Thanks to the above four reasons and a whole lot more, skiing turns into a vacation at Deer Valley. Little things like free glove dryers at the on-mountain restaurants, sun screen in the bathrooms (and tampons too!) illustrate that Deer Valley is heavily invested in the brand experience. Oh, and I devoted an entire post to the food at Deer Valley.
Discovering Deer Valley
Up to speed why I recommend this spot? Good. Now let’s talk about my new discoveries. I’m going to start with the on-snow fun. This visit to Deer Valley I had a secret weapon. Her name is Heidi Voekler. Heidi is a three-time Olympian and all around awesome person. Deer Valley is now her home mountain and you can hire her to spend the day with you.
Heidi grew up skiing in the Berkshires in New England and was named Junior Alpine Skier of the Year award (1988). She joined the U.S. Ski Team in 1985 and skied for the US until 1997). She holds six top-ten World Cup finishes to her credit, including a third place finish in 1994, and competed for gold during three Winter Olympics. Skiing with an Olympian, how cool is that! She’s a gorgeous skier and a lovely person. If you can swing it, join team Heidi for the day!
My new favorite way to get anywhere is the Jourdanelle Gondola. This is a zippy way to get to Little Baldy Peak (7950’) with amazing views of the Jourdenelle reservoir and Jourdanelle, the longest run on the mountain. I could have stayed over here all day, but Heidi was on a mission to get us to all six peaks in a day.
Over time, Deer Valley has grown to include six mountains with six bowls 2,026 acres of terrain. Having an expert like Heidi on hand to manage the day was awesome. You can head here to see some of my favorite runs.
One last note—do the NASTAR course. I bow down to the skills of my kids. My first time on a GS course was HILARIOUS. I raced “the bomber” aka Kim-Marie Evans of LuxuryTravelMom.com and she schooled me. Even though I lost big time, I had a blast. Now I appreciate just how hard it is to race. The good news? I’ve got nowhere to go but up in my racing career. I’ll just have to hire Heidi for my next trip.
Ready to plan your trip? Here are some of the current deals for 2016-17 Call to book your trip and get more details:
TIP: When you book lodging, call and book ski school and dining reservations so you don’t miss out.
Family Value Package: Kids ski FREE and save 20% on lodging, lift tickets and ski rentals.
Early and Late Value Package: receive 25% savings on lodging and lift tickets December 2 – 10, 2016, and March 26 – April 16, 2017.
Pre-Holiday Stay and Ski Package: Book during the pre-holiday season, December 11 – 22, 2016, and receive 20% savings on lodging and lift tickets.
Ski, Stay and Dine Package: 20% savings on lodging and lift tickets at participating properties and a $50 dining certificate valid at any of Deer Valley Resort’s owned and operated evening restaurants. January 2 – February 15, 2017.
Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Ski Package: 20% savings on lodging, lift tickets and select rental packages. January 12 – 16, 2017.
Short digression—an old college pal looked me up a few months ago. Apparently I’ve got a following among ski dads which is pretty cool. He asked if I though Big Sky would be a good spot for his kids 2 & 4 to start skiing. While I adore Big Sky, I told him to wait. Start at Deer Valley, have your kids fall in love with skiing and then you can take them anywhere. But I bet, like me, they’ll keep wanting to return to Deer Valley. #spoiledforlife
This is not a sponsored post. The trip was part of our Ski Utah coverage this year. Travel arrangements were made by Utah to facilitate this review.