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Trip of the Month: Park City Mountain Resort–A Cut of the Good Life for Families

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“This is my best day ever!”

Thus squealed my 4-year-old daughter Hadley. It was Day 1 of our family vacation to Park City Mountain Resort last year. I suspect her proclamation had very little do with the 8-hour drive from Denver we had endured and everything to do with the soak in our private hot tub at Ski Lift Condominiums that overlooked the pulse of Park City’s Historic District.

I moved away from The Greatest Snow on Earth six years ago. And while Colorado is certainly not lacking in great resorts, there’s no place like home. I once made a career out of extolling the virtues of Utah’s powder playgrounds. This was my first time to return with family in tow so expectations to reap what I had once sowed were high.

Family Vacations Without the Kids

I love my children. Really, I do. But sometimes family vacations don’t have to be entirely about the family. Early in my children’s lives, I sacrificed the number of days I spent on the slopes. At Park City, those days were no more.

Clubbin’ at The Clubhouse
We dropped 2 ½-year-old Bode off at The Clubhouse, Park City’s hourly childcare center that accommodates children ages 2 months – 12 years. This was the first time I have left my self-professed Mama’s Boy in unfamiliar surroundings and I was a bit nervous.

My apprehension lasted exactly 2.5 seconds when the doting staff offered to change his noxious diaper prior to my departure. I then watched as my Mama’s-Boy-no-more joyfully delved into the onslaught of toys and activities that included arts and crafts, reading time, games, and song and dance activities. He had snacks, a healthy lunch he actually ate and naptime in a tranquil, darkened room. After his revelries at The Clubhouse, he was asking,

“Mommy? Mommy who?”

Park City’s Signature Ski Program

With one down, I had only one more to go. I enrolled Hadley in Park City’s Signature Ski Program. Classes feature a child-specialist instructor and blend ski instruction with additional activities in their world-class mountain school.

This was Hadley’s third time on skis and her previous attempts had been sketchy at best. But after two days in the program, she was getting on and off the chairlift by herself, snowplowing, turning and stopping. I couldn’t have taught her better myself.

This is exactly why I left it to Park City’s professionals.

When Grown-Ups Become Kids Again

For two uninterrupted days, my husband Jamie and I played to our heart’s content. We demoed top-of-the line skis from Park City Mountain Rentals. We tackled expanses of untracked powder, experienced thrills and spills on the moguls and marveled at the sea of awe-inspiring Wasatch mountaintops. Jamie’s family joined us for our second day and we played on the terrain park’s jumps, rails and funboxes. OK, more like they played while I took their picture.

I was not that intent on reliving my thrill-seeking years.

To add a dash of variety to its on-mountain activities, Park City Mountain Resort has added the Alpine Coaster, a cross between an alpine slide, a roller coaster and my husband’s worst nightmare.

You see, Jamie avoids roller coasters like a colicky baby shuns sleep. And the alpine coaster’s elevated track has more than a mile of loops and corkscrew turns that I was sure would send him over the edge.

Turns out I should have been more worried about my sanity. For about 10 minutes, my open “car” slowly climbed high above the resort center and then it turned back downhill on a gravity-fueled series of hair-pin curves at 30-40 mph. I screamed like a girl the entire time.

Good thing I am one.

Park City = Good Eatin’

Skiing is a lifestyle that involves all sorts of pleasures, excellent food being among them. Park City does not disappoint.

On-Mountain

My expectations are generally low when it comes to on-mountain cuisine because greasy burgers and French fries seem to be the staples. Not at Park City Mountain Resort. My husband and I had possibly the best chicken nachos and Kobe beef burger I have ever eaten at Legends Bar & Grill. Kristi’s Café had a delicious selection of gourmet pizzas, [non-greasy] burgers, pasta, and a soup and salad bar that puts most buffets to shame.

Off-Mountain

Ski Lift Condominiums have more than just luxurious accommodations going for them: they are centrally located on Park City’s Main Street, which boasts some of the best dining in Utah. Much to my delight, many of the restaurants offer kid-friendly menus and diversions.

On our first night we ate at Zoom, a Sundance-owned restaurant where the children ate the white cheddar macaroni and cheese while I indulged in the Wood-Grilled Filet Mignon. Another night, we ate at Butcher’s Chop House & Bar (http://www.butcherschophouse.com/) where the kids ordered chicken and papaya quesadillas while I opted for the “Le Chateau” Filet Mignon.

Sensing a pattern with my choice in menu items?

Let’s face it: when your life is all about “Ground Beef” at home, sometimes it’s nice spoil yourself with “The Filet Life” when on a family vacation.

And Park City Mountain Resort certainly delivers.

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