12 Best Free Stuff at Deer Valley Ski Resort


Yes – It’s hard to imagine that a Ski Resort would offer free stuff – but trust me – Deer Valley definitely does – and it’s pretty good free stuff too!

1. Newspapers in the restaurants. Hard to imagine with the incredible skiing going on – but sure enough – you can get your daily dose of the news – while everyone else is blasting thru the snow piles.

2. Condiments – Ok – I know – everyone offers stuff like ketscup and mustard – but Deer Valley Dining has bowl of cut up oranges, lemons and limes – free for adding to your water, your meal, whatever you want to do with them!

3. Hot and Cold Water – and not just at water fountains either. You can fill up with plain water at the soda machines (Snow Park even offers a choice between plain and seltzer water). And they provide real cups, not just paper cups. And that hot water is super handy – because you can bring a package of oatmeal, hot chocolate, or even Rama Soup.

4. Mango Chutney – This stuff is addictive – I should know – I never eat lunch at Deer Valley without a cup of this stuff to add to my flat breads.

5. Flat Bread! – Yup – you read that right – they give out free bread and free flat bread. The bread is just slices of Baguette – but the toasted flat bread is the truly yummy free stuff. Grab a stack – add mango chutney – you’ve eating the Deer Valley way – and it’s free. Also free – butter and jam in case Mango Chutney isn’t quite your thing.

6. Cell Phone Charging – This isn’t that unique – after all Park City Ski resort has do it yourself charging stations for sure at the Cloud Nine Restaurant and at the Miner’s Camp. But at Deer Valley – if you want your cell phone charged – you go to Guest Services – where they not only charge your cell phone – they smile!

7. Free Ski Storage – both during lunch – and over night. Why is that important – because you can leave your skis right at the lift – protected by locked doors – and all ready to grab when you need them. And you don’t have to worry about something taking your skis. And even better – you can keep two pairs! So I have both my ice skates and my powder skis easily available. It’s the best. And it’s free.

8. Free Overnight Boot Storage – during the day they charge $5 for a basket – but at night the basket room becomes Free Overnight Boot Storage. It’s warm, it’s dry – and so handy.

9. Boot heaters – Why haven’t other resorts figured out that people love to warm up their boots before putting them on in the morning. This is so user friendly – I love it. You put your boots on the heater – push a button – hot air blows into your boot for about a minute – and then – voila – warm boots. Wow. You can also use these to warm your gloves, or to dry your boots before putting them in overnight storage.

10. Greeting from every employee – and not just hello either – conversations – jokes – Questions – They enjoy working for Deer Valley – and their joy in doing their jobs – even if it is just holding a chair lift seat for you – is contagious. You have more fun skiing when the folks there to help you are having fun too. My favorite employee story – I skied down to a lift – and the lift operator was on one knee in the loading area. As I skied by – I said – sorry – I’m married. It took him a moment – then he called out with his arms open wide – If you ever change your mind – Call me! I laughed all the way up the ride on that lift.

11. Loaner stuff – Yes there are stores where you can buy high priced gear of the best quality – but Deer Valley goes a step beyond that. If you’ve lost a pole – there’s a collection of single ‘lost’ poles at the Empire lodge ski check – just ask and they will hand you one for the day. Lost or forgotten gloves or a face mask? Check lost and found. If you claim it – it’s yours for the day. And when you are done – you can just return it. No questions asked. But the best free loaner stuff? The Rosignol Yurt! They will fit you to the newest Rosignol skis – adjust the binding – and send you off to test the gear. You can try various sizes, different shapes, and then put your own skis back on to compare. It’s awesome.

12. But the very very best free stuff at Deer Valley are the Host guided tours. Offered twice a day – at Expert and Intermediate levels – these are beyond compare. The absolute best way to ski. The Intermediate level tours are generally (but not always) restricted to groomed blue runs. These are incredibly informative – the hosts that lead them love telling tales about Deer Valley – and it’s hard not to pick up something new every time you take a tour. The Expert tours are a completely different thing. These are high speed Bumps, Chutes, Powder and Trees experiences. You race down behind the host – exploring territority you might never ski on your own. Sometimes it’s more challenging that you might like, and for some experts – it’s way too easy – but it’s a lot more fun then skiing alone – and a whole lot safer. Every other ski hill I’ve visited will offer tours – but they are always restricted to groomed runs and a scheduled circuit – no where I’ve ever been takes the wild and wooly approach like they do at Deer Valley – and that makes all the difference. It’s the best.

Signing off to go on a Ski Tour! The skiing Soup Lady

Consider the Perfect Ski Day – Deer Valley Utah


For those to whom downhill skiing is either an unknown joy, or a fearful journey into the cold and wet – this particular blog entry is not for you. But do read on if you ski – or have always wondered why people would wake up early, strap their feet onto long boards and plunge down mountainsides.

I’m not going to be discussing how to keep your feet warm (although that is very important), how to pick a ski hill, or even how to decide what skis to wear.

Nope – I’m just going to describe a day on the Mountain – Deer Valley in Park City Utah to be exact – and try to explain why I had such a perfect ski day.

I’m a pretty good skier for my age and lack of ski days. I wasn’t a racer when I was young, I didn’t do a few years as a ski bum after college, and I actually only saw snow after I turned 21. So – yes I’ve had 46 years of skiing experience on paper – but starting late and missing a few years and having 3 kids – adds up to my being a pretty good skier, not a great skier.

But I love the feeling of standing in a field of trees and snow – with nary a track of another skier to be seen. I love the smell of the crisp air at a ski slope – generally located, once you are past the main area – in a building free zone of white snow, frosted trees, and complete quiet.

And I love my ability to swerve between trees – moving down thru the silence, snow, and trees eventually ending – as all downhill ski trails end – at a chair lift.

So – on to my perfect day!

As I said – I’m staying in Park City, Utah – and it’s Sundance. That means that the hotels are full of people who are not skiing – they are all going to the movies. So the ski hills are seriously empty. No lines, no waiting, no seeing other people among the trees.

This is good – but not why my day was perfect.

Nope – perfection comes from all of the above – plus a base depth of over 60″ – and over 8″ of fresh powder. Followed 3 days later by another 5″. Add it up – and if you know where to ski – you will find billowing mounds of white powder – just crying out for someone – anyone – to create curved tracks thru all that snow.

Something I’m so very happy to do!

I started the morning off on the far western side of the resort – on groomed runs that had been covered by snow overnight. That creates a carpet of smooth snow – no bumps, no lumps, no tracks! It was amazingly fun to glide down the carpet – not another skier in sight.

Eventually of course other skiers appeared – and the trails became cut up – not terrible you understand, but not that perfect untracked perfection.

So time to switch to the woods. Many skiers won’t go into the woods – fear of hitting a tree, fear of getting lost, fear of the unknown. I’m not sure why folks don’t love the trees like I do – but I know they don’t. Which is fine by me – since often that means that I can ski into the woods even 2 days after a snow fall – and still find powder puffs to call my own.

We started in Triangle Trees – a large wooded area that stretches between 2 runs – and most importantly – between 2 lifts. Effectively we are sking a ridge line, and eventually must choose to go left or right to get to one of the two lifts. We almost always choose to go right – the ridge faces north at this point and the snow skis much better on North facing slopes. It gets colder – and feels dryer and ‘fluffier’. And it was perfect.

I stop once to admire the woods – and am reminded of the Robert Frost poem – “Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening”. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep”. I’ve read critisim of this poem that implies that it is simplistic, trite, and even laughable. But my thought is that those critics have never stood in a snow covered woodside – alone, listening hard to the endless silence.

There is a curious truth about skiing in the woods – even if only 2 turns seperate you from your buddy – you can’t see or hear them. Trees absorb sound – and so of course does powder snow. There is a silence in the snowy woods that is unmatched elsewhere. Deep, profound, and beautiful.

Our next stop – the Black Forest – also an area between two lifts – and while not as large from side to side – it makes up for that in steepness and darkness. The trees are more pine than aspen – and pine trees create a dark envirnoment. They also lose branches easily – so a bit more care is needed to avoid having your skis get entangled. But proper powder skis that ‘float’ on the snow, and sufficient snow depth takes care of most issues – and an eye out for the occasional log pile means the skiing is safe and untimately beautiful.

22 Runs, 18,741 Vertical feet, 21.7 miles of skiing – as the Deer Valley Host quipped – was I driving a car… – it was an incredible day of skiing.

Best day ever.

Ok – Maybe it’s safer to say – Best day so far…

Signing off to ski some more off-piste powder…

The Soup Lady

Complete Unknown – Sundance 2016


Imagine walking into a dinner party and coming face to face with someone from your past – but being told they have a completely different name, different history, different life.

Complete Unknown puts Tom (Michael Shannon) into this exact position – and forces him and the audience along with him to examine not only their current happiness – but what it means to ‘be someone’.

Alice (aka Jennifer, aka 8 other people) is played with convincing sincerity by the lovely Rachael Weisz. An over-the-top brilliant young woman with incredible talents – she has come to realize that life can be boring – and one way to eliminate the boredom is to become someone else.

Which leaves the audience to wonder – would I be happier/more fullfilled/less regretful if I just re-invented myself. Is it even possible to just suddenly decide to be a nurse, or a doctor, or a research technician – and after carefully doing the required research – pass yourself off as same to an unwary world?

Would we – the unwary world in which Alice swims – even recognize the foolery – or do we make decisions about folks without doing the hard double checking? Do you really know who were the guests at your last dinner party? How would you re-act to a new person coming to dinner – would you accept them at face value – or wonder if they really were who and what they said they were.

Talented director Joshua Marston sets out to ask us to reconsider the enigma of humanity – and in doing so creates a completely engrossing and challenging film.

It seems easy to think that we’d be smarter than Tom’s family and friends – but I’m not so sure. I think I for one could be easily fooled – and if the ‘fooler’ was determined to carry on the charade – I’d probably go along for the ride.

And here’s a stunning thought – is being a re-enactor so very different from what Alice is doing? When I introduce myself as M. le Docteur Jean Vivant do Clairmont – am I not inventing a past and a career that of course has nothing to do with reality.

Something to think about surely!

Our plan – when the film comes out on DVD – as it surely will – we’ll organize a dinner party – and challenge our guests on the topic. When are you sure you really know someone – and when do you get surprised?

Signing off to see even more movies… The Soup Lady

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Sundance Must See


No Joke – I laughed till I cried at the outlandish things that happen in this run-away comedy by Taika Waititi. It’s an absolute must-see – and it’s playing 4 more times here at Sundance before it hits the distribution circuit – If you are also here in Park City – Go Check It Out! Otherwise – keep your eyes peeled for this film to hit a screen near you.

The plot is pretty simple – its the twists and turns and great acting that will totally rock you. As a member of the audience pointed out – it’s a buddy film – complete with a car chase. But this is only the frame work on which Taika has hung one amazingly wonderful film.

A 13 year old boy – called “A really Bad Egg” by the hare-brained and wildly offensive Social Worker – is delivered into the hands of a tacturn husband and his overly gragarious wife living at the edge of the New Zealand bush – nothing but glorious trees and vines and roots for miles and miles and miles in all directions. Naturally the boy is hardly happy to be there – but the wife of the family is willing to go the distance to help him get settled in. Bounce forward past some hilarious scenes including boar hunting – and the wife suddenly dies, not surprisingly leaving the husband (played to perfection by Sam Neil) on the run from an increasingly outrageous cast of characters – and of course that wild and crazy social worker.

It’s funny, it’s endearing, it’s delightful – and you will be quoting scenes – particularly the bits with non-so-psycho Sam – over and over.

One of the reasons one comes to Sundance in the first place is to see films that you’d never get to see in the real world. But this film is going to be distributed widely – so when it comes to your ‘art house theatre’ – Go!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Remember it.

Signing off to go to more films – and do much more skiing – The Soup Lady

A Tale of 2 Ski Hills – Deer Valley and Jackson Hole


Jackson Hole – wild, wooly, in your face, hard-core, deep powder, tight trees, lousy grooming – VS – Deer Valley – elegant, fashionable, respectfully, friendly, warm, happy, sunny, clear skies, awesome grooming.

A Tale of 2 Cities – Jackson, Wyoming and Park City, Utah


It’s odd how cities with so much in common can be so fundamentally different. So lets start with what they share.

Bourbon and Burgers – Way too expensive for what it is


Give the Montage credit for calling a dog a dog. Bourbon and Burgers says – we’re serving burgers. And knowing it’s in the Montage, one of Deer Valley’s seriously expensive hotels means you have to know it’s not going to be cheap.

But over $150 for 5? For Burgers? We didn’t even have any Bourbon.

But you pay for luxury – and the Montage serves that up in spades. Driving up the windy road into the mountains that surround Park City, you turn into the Montage access road – and are immediately surrounded by glowing trees on all sides. The impact is magical. Continuing the experience, a valet greets you at the entrance, a concierge welcomes you to the Montage and directs you to your destination.

The location of Bourbon and Burgers is upstairs a bit from the Apex, the Montage’s high-end restaurant. It has a commanding view of the surrounding ski slopes, totally dark of course at this time of night. Deep dark wood, a roaring fireplace, a full bar, and elaborate service – even if they are only serving burgers.

The menu – true to its name – consists primarily of burgers. I totally enjoyed the ahi tuna ‘burger’, the rest of our group ordered more standard fare – the double burger and the classic. We also ordered an appetizer of fried pickles which was very disappointing, and every one ordered a different flavor of fries – I had Sweet Potato Fried – but there were also orders of Truffle Fries and Garlic Fries. None were outstanding – all were seriously expensive.

After dinner we wandered the public spaces of the hotel, spending most of our time in the Vista Lounge. Huge space, giant fireplace large enough to stand in, luxury games including a wooden version of Clue that featured inlay rooms, and offerings of Fondu, mulled wine and mulled cider. Best of all – the quite enjoyable piano player who unobtrusively provided background music. The Vista Lounge was definitely the best part of dinner.

Bottom line – if money is no object – go and enjoy the burgers. As for the fries – Montage – you need to up the anty on those. And either fix the fried pickles – or take them off the menu.

Shabu Shabu – Fun – but 5 minutes later you are still hungry


Park City is a very cool place with a wild geography. There’s an awesome Main Street – with tons of restaurants – all with prices to match. So while you can count on quantity of options, and probably some pretty decent quality – you are also going to be paying the price of being on Main Street.

Getting off Main Street offers lots of options but not things are definitely going to be further apart. About 7 miles away towards the highway is an area called RedStone. It’s really an outdoor mall (there’s a Best Buy and a Bed Bath and Beyond) with a collection of restaurants – one of which is Shabu Shabu.

We opted for the drive because the price was very right – and the restaurant promised to be a bit different from what we’d been enjoying. And different it really is.

One Park City Restaurant Observation – despite the cold weather, Park City Restaurants do not believe in Vestibules or curtains over door ways. So every time a guest walks in – so does a cold draft. The trick is to pick a table far from the door – preferably around a corner.

So – since the Shabu Shabu is long and thin with no corners – finding a table away from the draft proved impossible. Annoying, yes. A reason not to go back? No. But do choose your seats careful.

On to the food concept. The idea of Shabu Shabu is individual cooking pots. Holes in the granite table tops are specially designed to hold good quality cooking pots securely on flat top cooking elements. The pots contain water which the water seasons according to your taste (mostly soy sauce), and then you pick your dinner protein off the menu. There’s beef, pork, chicken, various fish, even Kobe Beef. Each protein option is presented with vegetables, udon noodles and rice.

You take your platter of protein and veggies and pop them into the hot water. Instructions from the waiter tell you to put certain veggies in earlier – other protein in later depending on the cooking time. Since all the proteins are sliced extremely thin cooking time is minimal. Also since they are sliced so thin, it’s hard to tell exactly how much meat you are getting – but given how hungry we were shortly after leaving the restaurant – I’m guessing the portions are a lot smaller than they appear.

Price depends on Protein type – ranging from a low of $14 for a ‘Regular’ portion of Pork or Chicken to $26 for a ‘Large’ Portion of Kobe Beef. The amount of veggies and noodles didn’t seem to vary.

You cook, you eat, you leave. Meal done.

It’s quite social since it takes time to cook and you can chat during the cooking time – and it’s quite good. But you are cooking yourself, and you are in control of the seasoning, so it’s hard to tell how much effort the ‘chef’ contributed.

The only problem – and it’s easily solved – we all ordered ‘Regular’ portions – and honestly – ‘Large’ would have been a better option. While we were full when we left – I’m not kidding about being hungry 5 minutes later. Good think we had ice cream in the fridge.

So choose your seat carefully to avoid drafts, order ‘Large’, and enjoy.

Windy Ridge Cafe – Bill White for the Budget minded


I’m still in Utah – having gotten myself a nice ‘boot bruise’ which trust me isn’t much fun. So I’ve been keeping myself interested by watching TV, answering email, Skyping with anyone who calls – and eating out.

So tonight we decided to try Windy Ridge Cafe. The deciding factor was a 2 for 1 entrée offer from the Bill White Group – that and the no reservations required vibe.

The restaurant is not on Main Street. Which means that you are going to go by car or bus – which in Park City is ‘off the beaten track’. This probably keeps the prices reasonable – and on a Wednesday night – the crowds away.

The menu entrees run between $20 to $30 dollars – with my Utah Red Trout crusted with almonds was just $23. Nice price – and it came with 2 sides, veggies and my choice of potatoes. My fish was a bit overcooked – but the Sweet Potato Fries made up for any lack on the fish. Other entrees at the table included a Ruben Sandwich, a French Dip (bread was gummy – but the meat was great), pesto salmon over linguine and my favorite on the table – a mushroom crusted Sirloin which was seriously yummy.

Desserts – while relatively low-priced (just $5.50 each) were ok – but honestly nothing to write home about.

Bottom line – casual atmosphere is great, food is good to a bit better than good, but dessert is better eaten at home (sorry Windy Ridge).

Windy Ridge Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bangkok Thai – A must enjoy if you go to Park City, Utah


My husband and I have been fortunate enough over the last 10 years or so to spend at least 2 weeks enjoying the skiing, the people, the scenery, and the food in Park City, Utah.

Home to the Sundance Film Festival, and some completely amazing ski hills, Park City hardly lacks in restaurants to enjoy. Unfortunately, many of them are seriously expensive – and during Sundance time – incredibly crowded. So every year we tend to stay out of the main city area during Sundance – but the one restaurant in Park City that we always make time to enjoy is the Bangkok Thai.

Main Street in Park City during Sundance is definitely a must see and a must walk. There are people everywhere, and outlandish dress is the norm. Fur is every where – as are high heels (in January – in Ski country?), there are celebrities to see, movies to watch, and lots of free stuff to grab. I particularly like the L’Oreal booth which offered free min-make-overs.

But this blog isn’t about Main Street and Sundance – it’s about our fab meal at the Bangkok Thai!

The restaurant itself is tiny, and normally seats maybe 50, but for Sundance they cram in extra tables – beefing up the number of people they can serve to around 100. Yes – it’s crowded, but never mind – the food is worth it.

The Bangkok Thai offers 2 tasting menus in addition to its elaborate menu. Feeling hungry, we opted for the 9 dish Signature menu since it had all the standard yummy dishes – including a to-die-for sea cod dish. We checked that they were willing to do the tasting menu – even during Sundance – and once we got an ok – we sat back to enjoy the meal.

First up was a lobster spring roll, delicate and light. Next was one of my favorite dishes – a tuna tartare – served on a crisp cracker. Yum. I also really enjoyed the Pad Thai, the Gentle baked Prawn, and the curry was outstanding – sweet and spicy at the same time. It was actually hard to be sure to leave room for the Sea Bass 3 ways – but I did. The only let down was the desert – which one has to wonder why they bother.

Service – given the crowded conditions and demanding clientele – was actually excellent. Fast when we wanted it to be fast – and slow when we started to feel full.

Bottom line – if you get to Park City – check out the Bangkok Thai – it’s definitely worth enjoying!

Bangkok Thai on Main on Urbanspoon