Fly In, Bliss Out

Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah


There’s a shade of green that can stop city dwellers in their tracks. I often crave it and the cool shade that comes with. So from Salt Lake City, I recently shuttled up to Old Town Park City, itself an ideal escape for a Las Vegan who can no longer take the heat.

Perched just above that high-end, down-to-earth mountain town, Montage Deer Valley opened in December. At 8,300 feet, it’s the highest resort in these posh environs. Deer Valley is the newest member of the Montage family, which includes Laguna Beach and Beverly Hills, Calif. The resort’s 13 floors wrap around and over the crest of a ridge, affording gorgeous vistas of North America’s No. 1 ski resort, Deer Valley Resort, and the distant Uinta Mountains. And when winter’s snowfall melts away it reveals miles of pristine, aspen-canopied mountain trails. Winter’s nightly rate of more than $1,000 also melts down to an attractive $350.

Montage’s outward focus is on being in harmony with its surroundings, but the inward focus is on the guest. The service culture is proactive and seamless. This is the kind of place where you only have to introduce yourself once.

After an in-room check-in, head straight for Spa Montage and learn the Art of Spa ritual to get your blood pumping. Dine at Daly’s Pub & Rec (bistro cuisine plus bowling, arcade games and a Wii lounge), or Apex, an elegant mountain-inspired farm-to-table restaurant overlooking the Empire Express ski lift. Here I enjoyed bison carpaccio, local lettuce and goat cheese, and an incredible elk chop.

The moment the sun finally slipped behind the mountains, temperatures dropped into the 50s—time for s’mores and live music at the Vista Lounge & Terrace firepit as sunset gave way to a canopy of more stars than I ever knew existed. In my sprawling suite, the luxury continued with two gas fireplaces, two patios, a voluminous soaking tub, heated tile floors and a bed so fluffy as to suggest that I wouldn’t be heeding tomorrow’s wake-up call.

But the Utah summer sun crept in just after 5 a.m., when the mountains take on a glistening shimmer as the aspens quake in the breeze. The outdoors beckoned, offering endless activity: mountain biking, trail hiking, fly-fishing rivers swollen with snowmelt or paddle boarding on the Jordanelle Reservoir.

As I hiked up Flagstaff Mountain, my host from Compass Sports was the perfect companion—pleasantly chatty during the straightaways, helpful with stray branches when the going got tough and silently respectful when the vista took my breath away.

Too soon, it was time to leave the green behind. When next I see it, all will be winter white.

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I’d been charmed by the decrepit Happi Inn for years. A two-story motor lodge built in 1973, it sat across from Mandalay Bay without offering even a hint of the same comfort or safety. It was a couple of plain, two-story buildings covered in fading salmon paint, with rotting AC units hanging under each window like loose teeth. For a long time, the marquee sign was missing the panel that said “Happi Inn,” leaving just “MOTEL.”