The big difference between skiing in Europe and skiing in the US is how fancy and special you want your lunches to be versus utmost service and comfort. European resorts usually have a wider selection of gourmet lunch venues on the slopes and a more lively après ski scene while American ski resorts are meticulous about customer service, safety, and provide unparalleled comfort with a wide selection of ski-in/ski out lodging and ski valet services. Plus, for most parts, getting in and out of US ski resorts is much easier than getting in and out of European ski resorts.
Even though I am not an accomplished skier, I absolutely love skiing, ski resorts and the whole ski resort atmosphere and landscape. I am very lucky to have skied in the US, Canada and Europe at several world renowned resorts such as Beaver Creek, Vail, Jackson Hole, Deer Valley, Lake Louise, Chamonix, Courchevel, Méribel, St. Moritz, and Val Gardena. I must confess that despite I enjoyed my time at every single one of these locations, and I would separately recommend all of them, I would in general prefer to ski in the US over Europe. It’s hard to beat the comforts and ultimate luxury of ski-in/ski-out resorts serviced by top notch ski valets. Think about stretching out your legs and having someone put your toasty ski boots on and more importantly, take them off after a long day of skiing right after you were greeted at the slope by a valet who takes your equipment in for storage. These luxury services are specially important and appreciated when traveling with kids and I must say that once you’ve experienced such comfort and level of service, you will never want to drag kids and equipment in and out of vans and up a hill again!
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
When I think about my favorite US ski resorts Jackson Hole and Deer Valley come to mind! Jackson Hole is very unique, breathtakingly stunning, surrounded by mind blowing nature and overall more suited for advanced skiers though there are some great beginners/intermediate runs. It can be a little tricky to get to Jackson Hole, flight wise, since many cities don’t have a direct flight there. However, once you land it’s a short car ride to your hotel and you will immediately forget how long it took you to get there!
During our visit we stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole and I would strongly recommend it! It’s superb in every aspect for both couples and families (despite we didn’t bring the kids their kids club seemed to be excellent). The hotel is surrounded by the famous Grand Teton Mountain Range which provides you with a wide range of activities such as skiing, rafting, biking, fly fishing, golf and wildlife exploration and safaris. Yellowstone National Park is not very far and you will surely be enchanted and enticed to explore Wyoming’s unspoiled wilderness.
Despite many know Jackson Hole for its ski resorts, I’m told it’s surprisingly busier during summertime. The town itself is a highlight with beautiful buildings, galleries, and a wide range of exclusive shops selling local craft, jewelry, cowboy outfits, and more. The food in the area is also a big draw with amazing game and local ingredients. The locals are very proud of their town, very environmentally responsible, and extremely welcoming.
Deer Valley, Utah
Now if you are looking for a ski resort that’s only an hour from a major airport, has the most charming historic and lively town, Park City, within minutes away, a wide range of gourmet restaurants and entertainment, top service standards, and fantastic ski in/ski out resorts, with amazing snow conditions and terrain, look no further…Deer Valley is sure to please everyone. I have skied in Deer Valley 5 times over the last 15+ years and it’s been amazing every time. Even with unseasonably warm weather this February the resort somehow managed to guarantee excellent skiing conditions. I have also not come across better: signage, service, wide range and conditions of ski terrain, and amenities in any other place. Deer Valley would be my number one recommended ski resort for families and also for beginners/intermediates. Having said that, it’s also excellent for accomplished skiers. Please note that Deer Valley is a ski only resort but snowboarders can easily access Park City and The Canyons which are right next door.
Deer Valley is also one of the few resorts I know that limits the number of ski lift tickets sold per day which guarantees a less crowded and more pleasant ski experience. You hardly ever stand in line for a lift more than a few minutes and the slopes are never very busy. For me this is a huge advantage over Colorado resorts, which are usually very crowded, and much harder to get to. (Unless you are lucky to be able to land at Eagle airport! Most times we flew to Eagle we were diverted to Denver due to bad weather…which added 3+ hours to our journey.) As a side note, in terms of Colorado resorts, I’m a big fan of Beaver Creek and would recommend you stay at The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek: fabulous in every way for couples as well as families!
If you are traveling to Deer Valley I would recommend you stay at the St. Regis Deer Valley. It is an amazing resort with fantastic spacious and luxurious rooms, cozy interiors, a fabulous spa (Jeff is the best massage therapist I have ever come across), excellent food (I haven’t had something at J&G I have not liked-make sure to try the Black Truffle Pizza with Fontina Cheese and the Steamed Shrimp Salad with Local Greens, Avocado and a Champagne Dressing) and a prime location at the side of a slope, and within 10 mins of Park City. Stein Eriksen Lodge is an old time favorite with European flair, also ski-in/ski-out and perhaps more appropriate for those looking for the ultimate service and indulgent luxurious holiday. It’s a bit higher up the mountain and therefore, a bit further from Park City. Finally, the Montage Deer Valley, is the ‘new kid on the block’ and also a ski-in/ski-out resort. In my opinion, because it’s further up the mountain it can be a little harder to get in and out during winter storms; so dining trips to Park City, for example, may not be as stress free as from other locations. I have not stayed at the Montage and it does look amazing but I prefer the location of the St. Regis for ease of access and for being more ‘in the midst’ of everything. There’s not much around the Montage besides the ski slopes. Nevertheless, it’s not far from the other hotels and Park City either so definitely a great option to be considered.
I hope that you enjoy skiing in Deer Valley as much as I have enjoyed over the past several years and please feel free to share some of your favorite ski resorts and insider tips!