The Deer Valley Difference – A Concierge Review of Deer Valley Ski Resort

Front view Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort

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There are ski mountains, and then there are ski resorts, and of those, only a few ski resorts bring about nearly universal expressions of joy and satisfaction like Deer Valley. In a nutshell, that is the “Deer Valley Difference.”

Only, instead of taking our word that Deer Valley is where you’re treated like a guest, not just a customer, we’ll give you our Concierge Review from the parking lot in the morning to your pillow at night and show you why Deer Valley is consistently rated among the top ski resorts for customer experience.

Deer Valley Mountain Resort Utah
Deer Valley at dusk

Arriving at Deer Valley

As guests at the Lodges at Deer Valley, we took advantage of their free ski shuttle to Snow Park Lodge in the morning. However, Deer Valley Resort offers complimentary parking at five base area parking lots and a shuttle to Snow Park Lodge for all guests.

Plus, three of the four base areas are reachable by free transit, including Empire Canyon Lodge (homebase to Daly Chutes, the super-efficient Lady Morgan Express Lift, and groomed greens where you might find stealth wind-blown powder). Only, I don’t know what you’ll do with your car in Park City….They might want to reconsider that name if you know what I’m saying😉.

We even took a 100% car-free trip to Deer Valley by taking an Uber from the airport and a shared ride shuttle on the way back. Even if the weather gets nasty, the professional drivers of the 4×4 shuttles will get you there as long as the roads are open. Once we arrived, the Lodges at Deer Valley offers guests a complimentary luxury SUV service with an on-demand app that’s like a cheat code for car-free vacations. They do this for all guests of Deer Valley Lodging, but we loved the convenience of staying at the Lodges and how close we were to the Snow Park Lodge.

The Lodges at Deer Valley Resort Utah- Complimentary car service
Slopeside Service at Deer Valley Resort photo via Deer Valley Resort

Ski Rentals – Top Quality at All Levels

After 28 years as a professional skier, I’m a bit of a gear snob. The Deer Valley ski rental gear was all new and meticulously kept. Thanks to a partnership with Rossignol, you will have a wide section of skis for a variety of skill levels and types of terrain. If you are a solid intermediate+ skier looking to try a different pair of boards, you can skip the rental shop and head to the Demo Shack at the top of the race hill.

I chose to upgrade to demo skis in the shop for my second day on the mountain. Regardless of your skill level, there is a ski package you’ll enjoy waiting for you at Deer Valley.

Here’s the real kicker that makes the rental experience so different at Deer Valley, there’s a complimentary ski check upstairs. That way, you’ll be ready for some first-chair action if you’re so inclined, or at least avoid some lines. One other thing to note is that complimentary ski check means people hold onto their gear throughout their trip, so that the rental lines will tend to be less congested.

Pro-tip – Get your skis and lift ticket on your arrival day and check them for a smoother transition to the slopes in the morning.

Deer Valley Mountain Resort Utah- ski rentals
Complementarity Ski Check Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort

Lift Lines – Metered and Measured

Another thing contributing to the quality of lines throughout Deer Valley Resort is a meaningful cap on lift tickets. So yes, you should book early, especially on holiday weekends, but you will not have to wait too long (compared to many other resorts) on any lift. Or at the rental counter or restaurants, for that matter.

My first husband was a snowmaker at Park City, and I was an instructor at Alta, so I had ‘insider’ knowledge to plan a romantic holiday getaway to Deer Valley right on Valentine’s Day, which happens to be a sweet spot between Sundance and President’s Day Weekend. More often than not, the snow’s great and the lines are short.

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During our most recent visit I skied onto the lifts more often than not. Even after joining the Ikon Pass, Deer Valley has some of the shortest lift lines in the industry.

Pro Tip24/25 Ikon Passes are on sale NOW ! If you’re skiing for more than five days in a season, it’s totally worth it!!

Deer Valley Mountain Resort Utah-short lift lines at the Sterling Express Lift

Grooming – Industry Leading

Deer Valley is the Cadillac of corduroy carpet, the grand goombah of grooming. It’s what they’re known for. It’s what they do. And they do it oh, so well! Deer Valley is for you if you’re a zoomer on groomers, a connoisseur of coiffed cruisers, or just appreciate well-groomed snow.

For me, it was personal. Lousy genetics and delayed knee surgeries kept me from skiing for 15 years until I could find a knee brace to protect me in case of high-speed or tumbling falls. I knew Deer Valley’s grooming would be on point, so I chose them for my return to skiing campaign. Carving down the perfectly groomed slopes made me feel like I had a piece of my soul back that I thought I had lost forever, and I could flow from turn to turn with smooth, silky snow underfoot.

Girl carving up the groomed at Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort
Deer Valley Mountain Resort Utah- industry leading grooming up-close

Terrain – No Longer Bambi Basin

Deer Valley has a 3,000-foot vertical drop and over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain across six mountains. Twenty-one lifts service 103 runs, with many beginner or intermediate runs. Combine that with over 300 inches of Utah’s best powder and meticulous grooming, and you can see how Deer Valley earned its (former) nickname “Bambi-Basin.” Live it. Love it. Embrace it. There are green routes off every lift (except Empire Express), and beginners can tour the entire resort.

However, if you read a detailed Deer Valley ski guide or ask any of the Mountain Hosts in green jackets, they’ll tell you there’s some wicked good terrain in Deer Valley. Gladed tree pods comprise 45% of the resort, leading to legendary lines like the Triangle Trees and X Files.

The addition of the Lady Morgan Express Lift has really increased expert-level gladed vertical with a shockingly short chair ride. If you’re into steeps of the more exposed variety, maybe even hankering to huck a cornice, the Daly Chutes off Empire is worth the short traverse. The resort’s emphasis on accessibility leaves these runs underutilized and pristine for longer than you might expect after it dumps.

Girl dropping Daly Chute via Deer Valley Resort
Guy ripping powder on a blue bird day at Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort
Girl ripping pow at Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort
Powder glade skiing at Deer Valley Resort Image via Deer Valley Resort

Ski Lessons – Attention to Detail

Of course, Deer Valley offers a complete selection of children’s classes divided into five age groups. However, it was their adult lessons that I super appreciated.

I taught adult lessons for over 15 years, so take this next bit of advice for what it’s worth. It doesn’t matter how good you are (or think you are). Everybody can benefit from taking a lesson at least once a season. When I lived on the mountain, I took clinics on just about every day off. Everyone could be smoother and more efficient!

The “Deer Valley Difference” is that they cap adult group lessons at a maximum of four students. You can also book private lessons for all skill levels, whether you want to master getting off the lift to picking the best lines down the Daly Chutes.

Adult intermediate lesson at Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort
Adult ski school expert lesson at Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort

Ski-In Lunches – Delicious Choices

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Deer Valley has substantive lift pass caps. They’re set not by the maximum level that keeps the peasants from revolting but by the service capacity of the on-mountain restaurants. So lunch isn’t something to keep you from going hungry but an integral part of the Deer Valley experience.

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Fresh Tracks Kitchen at the Snow Park Lodge services skiers who want to maximize their turn time to their eating time. Empire Canyon Grill (Empire Canyon Lodge) and Silver Lake Restaurant (Silver Lake Lodge) offer upscale, cafeteria-style dining. The mid-mountain Silver Lake Lodge also offers full-service dining at the Royal Street Cafe because sometimes you need to sit down and have a waiter serve you a freshly grilled bison burger with aged white cheddar cheese and a fancy milkshake before making another turn.

Pro-Tip – Try the turkey chili in a sourdough bowl! If you love it you can buy the mix to bring home and enjoy!

Fresh Tracks Kitchen at the Snow Park - Salad Bar
Fresh Tracks Kitchen at the Snow Park - Deserts
Royal Street Café Silver Lake Lodge Deer Valley Utah - White Cheddar Burger
Royal Street Café Silver Lake Lodge Deer Valley Utah - Decadent Milkshakes

Après-ski – Beer or Bubbly

I always thought après-ski was French for day drinking in the snow. Used, in a sentence, mes bottes sont trop serrées alors il est temps pour après-ski. You’ll find the “Deer Valley Difference” in après-ski too.

The Veuve Clicquot Après Ski Lounge by Montage Deer Valley Hotel is distinctly Deer Valley with a champagne and caviar après-ski, but they close at 4:00 so you can ski out, which sounds like a milieu ski to me. Fresh Tracks by Snow Park is a great option to drop your skis at the check counter and enjoy the views from the oversize deck. Or, put the fun in funicular and head up the tracks to the St Regis to enjoy The Vintage Room’s 30-foot wooden bar. If you want, stash your boots back in your room and take the easy shuttle ride into downtown Park City. The No Name Saloon is a whiskey lover’s dream, and there’s no shame in taking the shuttle back from No Name.

New for 2023 – The second level of Royal Street Café is being transformed into a 21+ apres-ski bar which will be called Royal Street Café Bar.

Après ski refreshments at Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort
Après  ski at Deer Valley Resort via Deer Valley Resort

Deer Valley Dining – Culinary Experiences

We’ve written a full post on Deer Valley dining experiences, but the short story is that the dining options are as creative and customer-forward as the skiing. The Silver Lake Lodge metamorphoses into The Mariposa in the evening with a multi-course tasting menu. Empire Canyon Lodge turns into Fireside Dining, an homage to the European Alps with four fireside dining stations: raclette cheese, soups, carvery, and dessert fondue. There’s also a plethora of restaurant choices in downtown Park City, just a mile or two from Deer Valley.

Several restaurants require reservations, like Mariposa and Fireside Dining. Others, like Royal Street Café, take reservations during certain times of the year. The best way to make reservations is through the Deer Valley dining booking link or the Deer Valley App.

The app more than just a convenience. It’s like having a concierge in your pocket. In the morning, it will tell you the grooming report and parking situation. During the day, you can track your ski routes and keep in touch with your peeps (like Find a Friend on the slopes). At night you can make your dinner reservations and check the weather forecast. It’s just another part of the “Deer Valley difference.”

New for 2023 – The seafood buffet will make its triumphant return this winter at Snow Park Lodge. The restaurant is officially called: Cast & Cut | Seafood Dining.

The Mariposa in Silver Lake Lodge, Deer Valley Utah
The Mariposa in Silver Lake Lodge, Deer Valley Utah
Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge, Deer Valley Utah
Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge, Deer Valley Utah

Lodging – The Comfort of Upscale Elegance

We stayed at The Lodges of Deer Valley, with easy access to Snow Park Lodge and breakfast at the Brass Tag included, but there are plenty of Deer Valley Lodging options. Expert skiers might consider renting near Empire Pass for first chair action on the most challenging runs (hint – check out Argent, it just opened in 2022 and is super flash!). You can also look for ski-in / ski-out options or full-house rentals. Remember – all guests of Deer Valley Lodging have access to the free ride-share app.

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The Lodges at Deer Valley Resort Utah- Outside seating and fire pit
Lodges at Deer Valley- Oversized hot tub
Lodges at Deer Valley Spacious, comfortable room
Lodges at Deer Valley - look at the jetted tub!

The Difference is in the Details

When you’re treated as a guest of the resort and not just another skier on the mountain, that’s the “Deer Valley Difference,” and the difference is in the details. It felt like there was always a ski host when we needed one, from providing directions at the front steps or the top of many lifts. Even the restrooms were called lounges and were not only clean but contained amenities that, as a girl, I could uniquely appreciate. There are also abundant water fill stations that include paper cups by almost every “lounge,” making it easy to stay hydrated.

After dropping my skis at the complimentary ski check at the end of the day, I utilized the complimentary boot / glove dryers in the locker room. It’s a little thing that I powered through when I was younger, but now, I really appreciate warm, dry boots in the morning.

Time and time again, when I wished I had something, I found it waiting for me at Deer Valley. When I was a Training Coach at Ritz Carlton, we called that our 6th Diamond – Mystique – where we anticipated the guest’s spoken and unspoken needs. Here, it’s the “Deer Valley Difference.”

Deer Valley employee being helpful via Deer Valley Resort
The Deer Valley Difference via Deer Valley Resort

Wrap up Our Deer Valley Review

Deer Valley elevated both our experience and our expectations with superior service, maintained from start to finish. Everywhere I looked, from delicious food to unexpected offerings, like complimentary mountain host tours, the more I discovered to try “next time.” Their service consistently exceeded the price point and truly made us feel like guests. Plus, if you’re staying for five days or more, the Ikon Pass makes it an even better value. There’s no way you’ll even come close to exhausting the on or off mountain dining experiences.

Disclosure: A big thank you to Deer Valley Resort and Visit Park City for hosting us, setting up a fantastic itinerary, and usage of some of the images throughout (image credit in hover text 😉).

For more travel inspiration check out Deer Valley Resort’s InstagramFacebookTwitter, and YouTube accounts; and Visit Park City’s InstagramFacebookTwitter, and YouTube accounts

As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.

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Ski Instructor at Deer Valley ski resort making turns
Women having wine by a fire pit at Deer Valley Ski Resort
Man carving turns on a groomed run at Deer Valley Ski Resort
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