A Visit to Park City, Utah

I love it when resorts listen to their customers.

When families told Park City Mountain Resort they didn’t like such big ski school classes for their kids, the resort did something about it — besides suggesting parents pay mega pucks for private lessons.

Puh Leeze! Taking the kids skiing is expensive enough! What Park City did was initiate the Kids Signature Five Program which guarantees that there will be no more than five kids in a class with an instructor (for kids under five years-old it’s no more than 3 in a class). Even better, no more soggy hot dogs in the kids’ ski school cafeteria. The kids eat with their instructor on the mountain — and they can all ride up together on a six-seat chairlift.

Any parent who has ever checked a child in (me included) at a big ski resort ski school at a busy time worries about the kids getting lost. That doesn’t seem to happen. But with 10 kids in a class, they certainly aren’t getting the level of instruction you want — and are paying for. This seems like a win-win. You do pay a little more — but still a lot less than private lessons, and the program is winning positive reviews from guests. Your teens will love the night skiing — especially the park that’s lit up Just make sure to reserve your ski school spots ahead. They do sell out, especially during busy school break times. As soon as you book a hotel, and airfare, book ski school, resort officials say. You can always cancel! Any parent who has ever checked a child in (me included) at a big ski resort ski school at a busy time worries about the kids getting lost. That doesn’t seem to happen. But with 10 kids in a class, they certainly aren’t getting the level of instruction you want — and are paying for. This seems like a win-win. You do pay a little more — but still a lot less than private lessons, and the program is winning positive reviews from guests. Your teens will love the night skiing — especially the park that’s lit up Just make sure to reserve your ski school spots ahead. They do sell out, especially during busy school break times. As soon as you book a hotel, and airfare, book ski school, resort officials say. You can always cancel!

Park City, just a little more than 30 miles from the Salt Lake City Airport — yes, it’s possible to catch an early flight from the East Coast and be on the slopes in the afternoon (and many times during the season, your boarding pass will get you a free afternoon lift ticket) is home to three resorts — as well as the Sundance Film Festival. This is a town where you can thoroughly enjoy yourself without even putting on a pair of skis, with over 100 restaurants (including Zoom, owned by Robert Redford), 300 shops, so many galleries there are monthly evening gallery strolls, the Olympic Park (bobsledding anyone?) snowmobiling, hot air ballooning, snowshoeing and spas galore. You can even take a free tour of the historic mines — this was after all a mining town, built atop 1200 miles of mining tunnels!

It’s also the town where you don’t need a car, with its free shuttle service and where you can drop your kids at day care and hop the Town Lift up to the resort. A lot of locals ski down for a slice of pizza for lunch at Davanza. Check out www.parkcityinfo.com for lodging deals.
The Canyons, where I’ve come to join a women’s clinic, is one of the largest ski areas in the country and is known for its laid back ambiance, back country terrain. It’s just a few miles from the center of town.

Deer Valley, famous for its customer service (and its food) is geared to the country club set. No snowboarders allowed! “It’s for families who want to come and don’t want to deal with any of the hassles at all.”

Park City Mountain Resort is where the action is — you can get there, in fact , from the town lift. It’s also family central, though the other resorts certainly cater to families too. Park City is where your kids who love doing tricks on their boards and skis will want to check out the terrain parks and the super pipe — top rated. There’s even a website pcride.com geared to the young crowd an alpine coaster (yes, that’s a roller coaster on snow — one of just three in the country) tubing.

The resort has created another website, www.mymountainplanner.com , designed to make your vacation planning easier — it’s basically an interactive map of the ski area with more than 40 personal tours of the mountain, no matter what kind of terrain you want (50 per cent is intermediate)
And of course there’s the snow — more than 400 inches a year. It’s dumping right now. I can’t wait until the morning!

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