Despite laying claim to a dozen world-class ski resorts and indulgent desert retreats, Utah has flown largely under the radar as a luxury destination. This anonymity has meant crowd-free ski slopes and great deals at posh spa retreats, but an influx of internationally recognized hoteliers and high-profile events may foil Utah’s secret as a year-round hot spot.
For those yet to discover the America’s “Mild West”, start with these five extravagant resorts:
A resort known for its five-star service, prime ski-in/ski-out lodging and impeccably groomed slopes, Deer Valley recently expanded its luxury profile to include a St. Regis, the Montage Deer Valley, and a growing number of slope-side private chalets. With five of six mountains offering at least one beginner ski run to the bottom, Deer Valley allows skiers of all abilities to explore multiple areas of the resort. In addition to the odd celebrity wedding, Deer Valley hosts the annual Celebrity Skifest, a lighthearted slalom race between television stars and former Olympians for charity, and Freestyle World Cup Ski events.
Two years after a multi-million dollar makeover, which introduced the nation’s first heated, covered chairlift (affectionately called the Orange Bubble Lift), new terrain, a ski beach and expanded luxury dining options, Canyons Resort has become one of the top 10 resorts in North America as voted by readers of SKI Magazine. Luxury accommodations are available at the ski-in/ski-out Waldorf Astoria and in the Dreamscape area, where private vacation homes offer out-the-door access to Another World and Sanctuary runs. Guests seeking an elevated experience can buy a weeklong pass to Canyons Club, which includes priority lift line access, a private ski locker, valet parking and complimentary breakfast.
Despite its growing prominence as a ski haven, hiking mecca and cultural epicenter, Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort has maintained the feel of a hidden retreat, untouched by modern development. Set in the stunning backdrop of the Provo Canyon, the ski slopes of Sundance are surrounded by the peaks of Mount Timpanogos and the Provo River, a paradise for fly fishermen. The resort hosts writers’ workshops through Sundance Institute, the nonprofit organization behind the Sundance Film Festival, along with art classes, yoga and spa retreats. Guests primarily find accommodations in quaint cottages that dot the resort’s base.
Just a few hours south of Utah’s powder-filled ski country lies a desert of red rock, blue skies and lavish resorts. Amangiri, meaning “Peaceful Mountain” is one such hot spot on the Utah-Arizona border. Designed for relaxation, the resort offers spa treatments, hiking trails, hot air balloon rides and even private aviation tours. Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley and the shores of Lake Powell are within a day’s drive, adding a touch of culture to an otherwise pleasantly isolated destination. Visitors can access the area via the Page, Arizona airport, located 25 minutes from the resort.
Enveloped by Navajo sandstone and black lava rock, this desert oasis is a lavish resort for the relaxation-minded and adventure seeking alike. Guests can enjoy horseback riding, repelling, kayaking and canyoneering before recovering with a Desert Rain massage, a soak in the indoor pool, or a toxin-banishing spa treatment. The resort recently welcomed new executive chef Chad Luethje, who has added his natural foods influence (he is the co-author of “Mindful Eating” to create an eclectic menu that includes Wapiti Elk, Cervena Venison and Tempeh Napoleon. Guests can access the resort from the St. George or Las Vegas airports.
Tracie Heffernan is the Communications Director at Resorts West.