Words by Renae Spinks
It’s known for its outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, biking and rafting in national parks, or hitting the slopes for the 'Greatest Snow on Earth'. But did you know Utah is also a beacon of refinement, where you can stay in exclusive resorts, eat fire-roasted feasts, ski in luxury, massage your worries away and rub shoulders with the rich and famous? Here are five unique ways to experience this adventurous yet luxurious US state.
Amangiri in Canyon Point in Utah’s far south is the definition of ‘uber-luxury’. It has attracted the likes of Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, presumably for its secluded setting. The minimalist resort looks like something out of a Star Wars film, sitting near a canyon in the middle of the Utah desert. Think white stone floors, concrete walls offset by natural timber and blackened steel. It might seem stark, but somehow it all blends organically with the landscape, which you can admire from your suite’s outdoor lounge with fireplace. Take an early-morning balloon flight directly from the resort, or unearth fossils at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with a palaeontologist. And don’t even get me started on the spa.
Picture: Fireside Dining
There’s no shortage of fine dining options in Utah, but for something a little different, head to Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge in Deer Valley Resort. Four courses, five stone fireplaces. Feast on new potatoes, pearl onions and cured meats at the Raclette Fireplace; grilled quail and beef short ribs at the Alpine Favourites Fireplace; fire-roasted leg of lamb at the, er, Roasted Leg of Lamb Fireplace; and strawberries and biscotti dipped in chocolate, caramel and white chocolate Grand Marnier Fondues at the Fondue Fireplace. Picture yourself by the fire with a full belly, as the snow falls softly outside, and a horse-drawn sleigh passes by on a loop through the wintry landscape.
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Picture: Getty Images
For the refined skier, Deer Valley Resort is the swankiest of affairs – think ski valets to unburden you of your ski gear at the kerb and brush away snow from your chairlift bench. The resort is strategically sprinkled with Mountain Hosts, who can help you plan your runs. The resort is for skiers only (no snowboarders allowed), and the number of lift tickets sold each day is limited, so you don’t have to contend with long lift lines and crowded slopes. Oh, and did we mention the boot warmers? There are myriad fancy houses in which to stay, but a perennial favourite is the St Regis, offering ski-in, ski-out access to Deer Valley resort, slopeside views and a private ski ‘beach’. Stay in a suite and you even get your own butler.
Picture: Spa Montage Deer Valley
The Spa Montage Deer Valley consistently makes lists of the best spas in the US. The largest in Utah, it is bound to soothe sore muscles from a day of skiing or hiking. For added bliss, check out the Serenity Suite, complete with two deep, fireside, copper tubs, a swiss shower, and a private couples’ massage room. Elsewhere, take your pick of the redwood saunas, steam rooms, jetted whirlpools, deluge showers and wellness centre. There is also an indoor mosaic lap pool with breathtaking views and serene meditation areas. Try the Elements of Wellness Signature Experience, where a spa master therapist customises a treatment from therapies including massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, hydrotherapy and more.
Picture: Waldorf Astoria Park City
The annual Sundance Film Festival takes place in Park City (the next one is January 19-29, 2017). It sees tens of thousands of people descend on the mountain town to view more than 200 films – not to mention the celebrities. This year, Danny DeVito, Selena Gomez, Ellen Page and Paul Rudd were all in attendance. Make a sizeable donation to the Sundance Institute, and you will join the Sundance Circle, helping to support independent artists – and you’ll have premium access to films and parties, plus VIP service and merchandise. Need a place to stay? The ski-in/ski-out Waldorf Astoria Park City has chi-chi rooms, a top restaurant and delectable spa. And you may spot a celeb or two in the lift.