UTAH Travel Guide
The world is officially in "Countdown to Christmas" mode and now, so are we. Every day until Christmas we'll be featuring a hotel that's in a holiday mood--whether it be with gigantic gingerbread houses, over-the-top Christmas decorations, thrilling lighting displays and best of all, Santa appearances. But of course, any hotel can assemble a fake tree, put on some lights and declare themselves "festive." Which is why we're looking at hotels that are really going ALL OUT. Know of a hotel that's super excited for Christmas? Let us know!
With a name like The Grand America Hotel, you can be sure the hotel is going to go all out for the holidays. And indeed the five diamond hotel in Salt Lake City has done just that.
For starters, the hotel itself is lit up with red and green Christmas lights (Thankfully, it's on the exterior of the building and not something that they string up on every guest room window) Then outside in their 2 1/2 acre courtyard, there's a giant Christmas tree that's surrounded by lighted trees and bushes (pretty much everything has some lights strung on it.) Inside, there's a giant Victorian gingerbread house while the Shops at The Grand have created old-school retail window designs for guests to admire. (We especially love the Paint Department.)
Fat camp. That's a terrible way to put it, isn't it? Well, it's true. Before Red Mountain Resort in St. George was Red Mountain Resort, it was the National Institute of Fitness, a weight-loss, calorie-controlled establishment where people went specifically to change their lifestyles and trim down. There was no snacking, there was no drinking. It was, from the sound of it, hell on earth in the desert.
But that all changed in 1998, when the 106-room property officially transitioned and rebranded to the Red Mountain Resort. It went through a major "chill out" makeover in the process, and today it stands as one of the most impressive soft-adventure home bases we've come across in a while. A lot of you expressed during our editor faceoff last month that active vacations were something you valued and enjoyed. Allow us to introduce you to your next destination.
One of the best things Red Mountain has going for it that it didn't have to reinvent was its location an hour from Zion at the mouth of Snow Canyon State Park, an epicenter of sandstone mountains and red rock scenery where many movies were filmed, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There is a private trail that runs from the hotel to the gate of the park, which means you're a stone's throw from some epic hiking and biking. The hotel runs at least one free guided hiking excursion a day in the Park, or you can take one of the free bikes and explore on your own. Red Mountain also manages trips for guests to kayak, canyoneer, and visit Zion.
You may be enjoying the last few weeks of summer but we can't help ourselves. We're already thinking about snowy winterland escapes, specifically the new Snow Lodge coming to Park City from the folks behind the Surf Lodge in the Hamptons.
The 80 room ski lodge set to open in the Canyons Resort was announced back in January but we've heard that plans are still very much a "go" with a 2015 opening expected.
The Canyons area is home to some pretty swank properties already including the Waldorf-Astoria, The Grand Summit Hotel and the Silverado. But the Surf Lodge's founder Jayma Cardosa has promised a European apres ski vibe, unlike anything else in Park City. But if it's anything like the Surf Lodge in the Hamptons you can expect minimalist rooms and a big party scene. Oh and really high room rates. Rates in the summer for the Surf Lodge start around $500 a night. We can't imagine what they will be like Sundance Festival rolls around.
Remember your first retail or fast food job you were told part of your wages would go to your unattractive polyester uniform? Remember the collective "Oh, hell naw!" heard around the world? We know. BTDT. But perhaps the drama wouldn't have been that wide, if you'd been working for Washington School House?
See, the Park City, UT hotel just announced their staff will now wear designer winter uniforms by J Crew, including blingy jewelry and Ariat or Aquatalia riding boots, an outfit all said to be worth $500 (which they get to keep!).
Hmph, Burger King sure never put out that kindness into our threads. No, sir!
When you first pull into Deer Valley, you'll probably notice the funicular cruising up the hillside. Most devices of the sort found in Park City are centered around skiing, but this one doesn't service any bunny slopes or extreme terrain -- it's how guests of The St. Regis Deer Valley access the hotel.
We suppose the grandeur makes sense given that the current rates for the St. Regis start at over $1000 a night (or 25,000 Starpoints) for a Superior room. That's some serious coin!
The hotel consists of 67 condo suites available for rent and 26 others that are privately owned. The residential units are on the top four floors and accessible via private elevator. Who makes their (second) home at the St. Regis? John Schnatter, better known as Papa John of Papa John's Pizza. We're not sure what he paid, but perhaps this investment is a reason why he's pinching his pizza pennies these days.
The image above is an accurate representation of what you'd experience in a perfect world during a stay at Utah's The View in Monument Valley. But most travelers know that rarely do circumstances turn out the way we envision them. Part of being a savvy traveler is adapting, and maybe even finding beauty in less-than-perfect conditions.
Last year around this time, we made the trek up to the border of Utah and Arizona, eager to see if The View did indeed live up to its name. We arrived under cloudy skies, the weather soon turning damp and snowy, and the next morning filled with clouds. Looking at our photos, you'll see the weather pattern put on quite a show.
Check out the photo gallery for a taste of the experience. What do you think? Does the weather make the scenery even better?
Wish you were here. No really. Wishing is about as close as you can get to Amangiri.
Here's the thing about Amangiri: you need to book well in advance for a room here, and we mean way head like The Book of Mormon-style when that Broadway show was at its peak run.
This 34-suite, 600-acre hideaway in Canyon Point, Utah (basically, the middle of nowhere) has been at almost full-capacity for nearly two years now. Even getting in off-season (November-March) has been damn near impossible, thanks to Amangiri's "adventure and rejuvenation" package, where all meals are included in the nightly rate (the food here isn’t cheap, people), so the resort seems even more attractive when the regular season rates without meals begin at $1,100 per night for a desert view suite and climb to $3,600 for the Amangiri Suite.
Amangiri is a fave for celebs like Brangelina, all of whom (like every guest) will have to check in at the security gate miles from the actual resort. We’re talking serious security control.
There's travel talk everywhere about how expensive it'll be to fly and drive this summer, so there has to be some savings somewhere, yes? The most obvious place will be in hotel rates, and so our gift to you this week was one hotel a day under $100 a night. Now, we're not saying every place is of Ritz quality, because then it would be...well, the bloody Ritz. But the places are nice enough for you to sleep at night.
Our Last Pick: Alta Lodge