PARK CITY, UT, January 28, 2015 – The Grand Summit Hotel is the impressive centerpiece of The Canyons, a quintessentially expansive and beautifully designed ski resort, the largest in Utah, with miles of wildly varied and frequently challenging mountain terrain.
A part of the Vail Resorts family of great alpine ski resorts, The Canyons and its surrounding development caters to a wide range of families, young day trippers, adventurous tourists, and the cream of expert skiers as well, with some of the finest and most challenging skiing in the country.
One of three world class ski resorts in Park City, Utah, The Canyons is in many ways the grandest and most challenging of the three, and only a couple miles from the historic district and nightlife of Park City.
At the center of it all is the Grand Summit Hotel, an impressive edifice with a soaring lobby, beautiful rooms, exquisite views, excellent fine dining, and the central gateway to all the ski activities, including the principle gondolas, on the mountain.
Located just outside of Park City and only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City airport The Canyons terrain stretches from family friendly runs to wonderfully expansive intermediate, dark blue, and single black diamond skiing, to terrifying peaks that are the domain of the most expert skiers in the country.
In many ways it is the more difficult companion piece to Park City Mountain’s equally challenging terrain, but there is simply so much of it, a cacophony of double diamonds in the far sky above the ever challenging lower slopes.
Up the Orange Bubble Express and to the right is a daylong expanse of glorious, steep long blue runs, like Eclipse, terrain to keep the legs pumping and the mind in flux across snow packed canyons packed with the powder of last night’s deluge.
At least two feet have fallen and is still coming down. Conditions are extraordinary, the runs are filled with fresh unblemished snow, and a whole range of steep flyways lay out in all directions in the canyon below.
It is a blissful winter wonderland on a truly impressive sprawling resort. Trails lead across thousands of acres on a series of lifts along the front side of the mountain.
The legendary Ninety Nine 90 Express lift is about to open, taking the most intrepid to the top of the mountain, at 9990 feet, of course, to plunge down runs of serious magnitude that must be bursting on this stellar day.
The outrageous terrain and the supply of eager skiers seems inexhaustible, as the best and the most advanced take advantage of the most exhilarating skiing the mountain and Park City has to offer.
While skiing the trails through the beautiful Colony area of residential homes a white out of snow ensues and it is a mystical glide through a fairy tale forest dotted with stunning lovingly integrated homes appearing through the snow.
It’s a welcome warming lunch on the mountain, in the middle of a blizzard, at the exceptional Red Pine Lodge at the top of the Red Pine Gondola. A few beers and a hearty sandwich make for a perfect break from the raging snowstorm outside on a glorious day of skiing.
The afternoon continues with a series of runs down Eclipse and then several more down the challenging Apex Ridge. Conditions are stunning, fresh powder still falling, and after a few more runs down Eclipse, it’s nice to take refuge at the Sun Lodge at the bottom of the Sun Peak Express lift for an end of the day brewski. Skis and boots have been procured from Black Tie Ski Rentals, a concierge ski rental company wildly popular in a number of ski resorts from Telluride and Crested Butte to Park City for its personalized service and equipment.
Black Tie Ski Rentals delivers and fits the latest ski equipment in the hotel room, in this case some Atomic 176 parabolic skis, and then picks them up when the ski trip is over.
Following the trails back to the village the stunning vision of the Grand Summit Hotel comes into view, set against a snow filled mountain. Truly the central nervous system of The Canyons, the Grand Summit is also the apre’ ski headquarters for all things, and the bar and restaurant at the slope side Red Tail Grill is humming as the deluge of skiers return to base camp.
Rooms at the Grand Summit are quite large and comfortable, with the one bedroom suites being particularly spacious with a full kitchen, fireplace, and room for six to sleep in the living room and sumptuous master bedroom.
Skiing arrangements and concierge services are all in the hotel on the upper lobby just outside the entrance to the Orange Bubble Express lift. The lobby itself is a gem, three stories high with giant stone fireplaces, warm and comfortable.
The Farm, the principle fine dining restaurant at The Grand Summit, is a fabulous dining experience from Executive Chef Phillip Grubisa that emphasizes classic elements with a regional twist featuring fresh produce, fowl, meats and game from locally sourced farms.
The bar area is warm and lively, while the principle dining area is open to the kitchen with more of the air of a bistro.
A large yurt in the courtyard is attached to the dining room, giving a warm, welcoming, elemental air for the diners eating there, surrounded by glass panels, as the snow continues to fall.
New York Foie Gras is outstanding, seared brilliantly on a bed of white polenta and pistachio, while the roasted carrot salad is amazing, as is the winter salad with fresh farm lettuces, radishes, beets, and goat cheese. A round of custom made charcuterie of aged meats is a welcome surprise and a specialty of the house.
Truffle risotto Milanese is fabulous, perfectly cooked, light, with crispy wild mushrooms, truffle oil, and charred leek. Utah trout is undeniable, fresh, locally caught, delicious, and beautifully presented with goat yoghurt, house kim chi, and trout roe.
Niman’s Farm Bear Lake beef tenderloin is a delightful elite cut of steak perfect after a day or hearty skiing, brilliantly succulent, with a sweet pommes puree and huckleberry sauce. It fairly melts in a gaping and awestruck mouth and is a wonderful match for the French Burgundy wine chosen for the occasion.Under the passionate guidance of General Manager and Sommelier Ryan Koemans, it is a lovely capper to a wonderful dinner, the evening flying by, before setting off into the falling snow for the night’s romantic finale.
One of the great aspects of the Grand Summit Hotel is the heated pool and Jacuzzi deck that wraps around the inner courtyard on the outside of the hotel.
Looking out from the large balcony is a perfect picture of winding swimming pools and the impressive façade of the hotel. Even more impressive, as the sun goes down and the lights come on, are the number of people in the pool and Jacuzzi’s.
It is a lovely and quite lively scene, as families, friends, lovers and hangers on gather in groups or alone in the hot pool or the more cozy Jacuzzi and wear off the bone chilling day on the slopes with a hot soak and a cold beer with friends. It starts soon after the slopes close and continues until later into the evening.
Returning from dinner at The Farm, and gazing from the window across the glowing lighted pool, and its celebrants, at the hotel façade and the mountains behind, it is easy to imagine the day that lies ahead, as another 8 inches of fresh snow continues to fall.
The Canyons more than impresses with its vast acreage of world class skiing, its multiple additions to the Park City ski scene, and its new ownership as part of the esteemed Vail Resorts group of world class alpine ski resorts.
At the center of the vortex, The Grand Summit Hotel remains the gateway to the undiscovered wonders of the mountainous winter wonderland surrounding it, just a few miles from downtown Park City, and just 35 minutes from Salt Lake City Airport.
Standard rooms start at around $375 a night, with a one bedroom suite starting at about $580 per night. Larger suites, and accommodations elsewhere in the central village and on the mountain are available as well.
Lift Passes begin at $112 a day, but can begin at $72 a day when bought online.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal