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First trip to US skiing - where to go?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I know this is a difficult question and I guess all resorts are good but having skied in Europe several times, we are keen to try the US due to the (suggested) better snow conditions Where should we go? Our criteria:-
2 good,fit intermediate on piste skiers in their 40's who like:-

good snow
groomed pistes - like bashing the miles
ski in / ski out
good food, good service, 4 star hotel (or similar)
nice atmosphere, friendly people
(ideally) not too long transfers from airport
would like to learn to ski off piste, but nothing too aggresive
Cheers
post #2 of 15
In no particular order

park City
Deer Valley
Copper

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post #3 of 15
Your description fits Deer Valley perfectly. There is always plenty of good famous Utah snow. Deer Valley is #1 in grooming for a reason, there a so many groomed, fast runs, you can really put up some speed and runs. There is a ton of nice lodging at Deer Valley, a lot of slopeside- you won't have a problem finding a 4 star place to stay. It is also #1 in service and food, so you can't go wrong here. The atmosphere is very nice and relaxing...they want to make your vacation as relaxing as possible. SLC airport is only 35m away...so it is definatly the place you want to go if you want to be near an airport.

Deer Valley fits your description perfectly. If this is what you want, then you will be happy at DV.
post #4 of 15
Some other good choices for your preferences: Beaver Creek and/or nearby Vail, Snowmass near Aspen. These and Deer Valley are for those with hefty budgets, but will provide tremendous assortment of finely groomed pistes, top quality accommodations, and upper class atmosphere. Possibly comparable to Lech.
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dartmoorskier View Post
groomed pistes - like bashing the miles
Well, Vail claims to have the "most groomed terrain on the planet", ( http://www.vailresorts.com/ourresorts.cfm?mode=vail ) so that should probably be your first choice.

Bear in mind that all US ski areas are much smaller than the big ones in the French Alps, if that's what you're used to.

Other large (by US standards) ski areas with a lot of groomed runs: Heavenly (4800 acres), Mammoth (3500 acres), Mount Bachelor (3683 acres) , Snowmass (3128 acres).

Snowbird/Alta (4700 acres), Squaw Valley (4000 acres) and Big Sky/Moonlight Basin (5512 acres) are also relatively large areas but tend to have a lower proportion of groomed terrain, and more off-piste.

Because US ski areas are so small, what a lot of people do is base themselves somewhere central and drive to many different resorts during their holiday. "Clusters" of resorts suitable for this would be central Colorado, the Salt Lake City area (Utah), or Lake Tahoe (California/Nevada). But this would negate your "ski-in, ski-out" criterion...
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thankyou for your replies. Deer Valley would be top of my list, but it's just too far for a 10 day break. (2 plane changes - 20hrs from SW England)
Martin, would we find US resorts small ? I don't understand the acreage descriptions - how does this translate into kilometres on piste? On a good day we could ski from Courchevel to Val Thorens and back, taking in runs along the way. If Courchevel itself has 160km of piste, how many does Vail have?
post #7 of 15

first trip

As 40 something year old skiers from the UK my wife and I ski both Europe and the USA. They ARE different. The states have no queing ( or what there is is well organised and polite), the slopes are empty compared to Europe and the people are all polite and friendly.

But the areas are a LOT smaller than the big ski areas of Europe and the vertical drop( or length of runs) is smaller. That shouldnt put you off because although the areas are not linked they are very accessible by car and close together - eg Utah, Summit county Colorado, Tahoe.

We love Utah, but you cannot get a direct flight there so that may put you off. Only British airways flys direct to Denver from Heathrow, so book early. Or I would strongly recommend the areas around Tahoe - Virgin offer incredibly cheap packages.

But the beauty of the US is it is so easy to book everything yourself , flights , car, accomodation, discounts. Fly to San Francisco, then drive up 4 hours to North Tahoe and stop in a condo. You can ski a different resort every day with the most fantastic views of the lake around you.

Freefall
post #8 of 15
I think you would need to compromise. Martin Bell has it well summed up.

Salt Lake City will give you good snow in the Cottonwood Canyons. You could stay at ski in/out accommodation, though it is pricey. I do not think Park City on its own would fit the bill for the classic British piste basher.

Furthermore, you would not get miles of piste in any one resort. People are fine. Atmosphere is subjective. You would get the opportunity to sample off piste and get good English speaking tuition..

San Francisco, or better still Reno, would give you access to Heavenly, Kirkwood, Sierra, and Squaw. Transfer is not bad from Reno.These resorts are not ski in/out and the snow quality is not as good as in Utah/Colorado but you could ring the changes by visting several of them. Buses will take you there - a car is not required.

Colorado is the other option but I cannot add anything as I have not been there.

With all of these resorts it is pointless to expect them to be as extensive as the Three Valleys.
post #9 of 15
A bit of lateral thinking. If you can extend it to North American rather than American you could take in Whistler. That is fairly extensive with a fair mileage of piste. Ski Esprit would give a good intro to off piste. It is fairly lively too.
post #10 of 15
Okay, I'll chime in as I ski Tahoe regularly (have a cabin in Truckee, grew up in SF Bay Area) and have skied Colo frequently (5 times for 3-5 days each time) and have skied Utah, JH, Sun Valley, Bachelor, and Whistler.

I cannot comment on Park City or Deer Valley as I tend to ski with boarders (DV is one of 4 resorts in North America that doesn't allow boarding). I can comment on Cottonwood Canyon area. The snow is awesome. But the skiing tends to lean more toward ungroomed off-piste.

In terms of Tahoe, if you want to ski in/ski out, then Heavenly is your best option. Though you can also get slopeside accomodations at Squaw (Squaw Creek has their own lift that shoots you right into Squaw proper). Heavenly and Squaw are perhaps the most "destination" oriented resorts in Tahoe, although Northstar has just spent a bundle building a village.

There is also Whistler, outside of Vancouver, B.C., which I believe has the most skiable acreage in North America (bigger than any of the ones listed in previous posts, if I'm not mistaken). You can get cheap accomdations that allow you to ski in/ski out. My dad and I did a week there several years ago and it was only about $600 for lodging, lift tix, and the flight up there.

All of that said, my bet would be on Colorado, though. You can get the best of both worlds. Sounds like Vail would be up your alley. You can ski in/ski out there. If it doesn't suit you then you have a short drive to many other great resorts such as Breckinridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek. Though I've never skied there, my friends enjoy Aspen, since it has two mountains to choose from.

As for your remarks about no queues and no crowds here in the U.S.? I would REALLY love to know where you are skiing. There's always crowds and queues (what we would call lift lines) at all of the resorts, unless you go mid-week or manage to ski during a storm. I've found the smallest amounts of crowds only during the end of the season and close to closing day at the bigger resorts. Of course then you're dealing with debateable snow conditions, as well.

Anyway, in short, I would shoot for Colorado. When I skied there last April with my dad, I kept running into tons of Brits. They said it was actually cheaper for them to come to Colo than to go to France/Europe.
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dartmoorskier View Post
I don't understand the acreage descriptions - how does this translate into kilometres on piste? On a good day we could ski from Courchevel to Val Thorens and back, taking in runs along the way. If Courchevel itself has 160km of piste, how many does Vail have?
I don't believe that any US areas have ever "converted" their statistics from area to length, but a couple of the French resorts have released area-based stats:
Paradiski (the linked Les Arcs and La Plagne area): 34,000 acres.
Trois Vallees (Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens, Les Menuires): 29,500 acres
(Those stats are from Stephen Wood in The Independent - normally a very well-informed ski writer.)
In Vail it certainly won't take you a whole day to get from, say, Lionshead to Blue Sky Basin and back. But it could take at least half a day if you throw in extra runs on the way.
post #12 of 15
If not Deer Valley, then Vail.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dartmoorskier View Post
(ideally) not too long transfers from airport
From Denver:
Winter Park - 1.5 hrs
Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper - approx. 2 hrs
Vail - 2.5 hrs
Steamboat - 3.5 hrs
Aspen - 4.5 hrs

Utah transfer times from Salt Lake City airport tend to be shorter, but it is not possible to fly direct from the UK to Salt Lake City, unlike to Denver, so the overall journey time would probably be similar.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dartmoorskier View Post

good food, good service, 4 star hotel (or similar)
nice atmosphere, friendly people
VERY hard to beat Deer Valley in these categories! I have never eaten as well on a mountain. Very posh atmosphere. Flowers in the restrooms, restroom attendants (at least at the base), courtesy ski check. It might be worth the two transfers. Heck, sometimes I have to change planes twice just to get somewhere here in the U.S. You would probably consider it small, but there are two other great resorts within a free shuttle ride away, and several more just a short drive.
post #15 of 15
I would think only one transfer to Salt Lake City as it's a Delta hub airport. If you decide you really want Deer Valley, I wouldn't let travel issues be a deterrent.

Whistler is definitely the most European resort here in scale and topography.

Sun Valley would be near the top of the list for piste-bashing and definitely has the ambience you want, but it will take an effort to get there.

I also agree on the Vail and Aspen recommendations. I suggest you make the resort/ski area research your priority, then worry about what it will take to get there.
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